The deal with promos.

As mentioned, I get promos sent to me sometimes, both physical and digital. Most of them I haven't requested. Some I do, though, particularly when it comes to the stuff distributed by Forced Exposure. Every few weeks they send a list of upcoming items they have available, and I choose a few to hear. It's like Christmas coming once a month.

What if you don't play with all your toys, though? During a recent purge I came across a shaming amount of still-shrinkwrapped, still-unheard FE promos, and had that old "oh, I better get around to that one" feeling that pretty much guarantees you'll never, ever hear something again. So while I was thinking of how to unclutter my listening I decided I was going to be very frugal about asking for promos, especially from FE, whose newest package arrived Monday. It contained 11 CDs.

When I opened it, I immediately began plotting an escape. Maybe I'll just go halves on promos, I thought. Or: hey, I said I would only listen to promos as I saw fit. FE titles usually go to the top of the stack, but I'd already encountered far too many pieces of evidence that this doesn't usually end up meaning anything.

Of course, this is when I'd only gotten through about two hours of that aforementioned eight-hour Sutekh-and-friends techno set. Which I finished last night, by the way, fair and square. I'd also downloaded and played a few singles/individual tracks with column potential. Since then, I've gotten the new RA Podcast, by the Orb (not just ambient--boring), and the first seven offerings from Kenny Melman (a.k.a. Herb of Kiki &) and his new Our Hit Parade blog, which I'm digesting as I type. (They're very much demos, but he's promising one a day for the entire year; 365 is a lot of songs by anyone doing anything, but I'm a fan, so I'll at least dip in. So far Mellman's Coldplay/Kanye medley and Jim Andralis & Larry Krone's mandolin-led version of Rihanna's "Take a Bow" have some appeal.)

Tomorrow, though, I'm going to dive through the FE CDs: the rule is that I have to play every promo I've specifically requested. I may put first impressions up here for at least a few, though probably not all--I may be systematizing the way I take things in, but what I listen to and how I listen to it remains erratic as ever, and I don't want that to change. Obviously an experiment like this is, to a degree, classicism in action, but I'm too hooked on the immediacy and surprise of digging through new releases, seeing what grabs my ear and what seems too horrible to bear. It's gambling for the ears: most of the time you come up duff, enough turns a profit to keep you interested, and when you're lucky you hit the jackpot.

SLM isn't really about spending more time with less music, but after a week there are noticeable net effects. When I play new acquisitions, I'm paying them more direct attention, partly because until the FE mailing I hadn't gotten any new CDs and everything was MP3s. There are also not that many of them, and none really albums. We'll see if the CD player-as-background-device pattern I've had repeats itself.

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