On a ripping tear, getting work done too but a lot of time has been spent putting stuff through the 320kbps threshing machine and then out the door for meager, yet satisfying, wages. Meager in part because if I were getting rid of all the really good CDs I'd be making more money--a lot of nobodies and compilations all this shoveling through, some of it stuff that frankly nobody wants--including me, obviously, but at least I'm interested in an MP3 souvenir. What I've especially noticed, though, is that I've been holding onto a handful of discs--next to me is a "re-evaluate" pile that's become as important as the "sell," "rip then sell," "keep," and "unsaleable, deal with later" ones.
A lot of it is very heavily associated with The Wire magazine. I began today by playing all three discs of Stereolab's Oscillations From the Anti-Sun, a three-disc comp featuring some of the dullest sequencing I've ever sat through. It really buried their strengths; I've been wanting to start listening to their catalog in order, maybe even try some of the other comps, though the ever-enlarging number of them--I don't mean any Switched On--is making the smell slightly like the Who. It really was triggered by Geeta Dayal throwing me a YouTube URL that I've looked at/listened to a lot, of the groop playing on Jools Holland in 1996. It made me nostalgic for that time, when I was discovering those kinds of not-rock-historical things at the same time as a lot of others. Oscillations isn't a good place to start, really, and I was ready to let it go altogether when the very last song on disc three came up: "Soop Groove #1," from 1996, off the "Fluorescences" EP, 13 minutes of nonstop ectoplasm-funk that I could listen to for days. Decision made: the CD goes with me to Havana for the next few weeks.
I followed that up with King Tubby . . . At the Controls, Trojan, 1999, all Aggrovators stuff, if that makes any difference to you. It doesn't, really, to me, no matter how many reggae and dub reissues I bought or how many times I read The Rough Guide to Reggae beginning to end. At the Controls sounds terrific and I'm certainly going to keep it--the idea is to keep albums I like, will want to play, etc.--but it's not only good to hear in itself (as well as in-itself evoking my early 20s, a time I increasingly treasure), it's kind of freeing: I don't feel so boxed in by the self-made need to understand all this stuff on its own terms, and I can just listen to it again.
I'm three-quarters through disc one of Archives GRM, a five-CD box of French lab-coat electronic music studies, and it's a similar feeling: how many times have I passed this up because it was somehow forbidding, or because listening to albums beginning to end means you have to put a day aside for box sets and the like? I figured I'd just rip it all and leave it for another day. But as each disc went in, I grew curious--did I really want to give this up? Didn't you really like this kind of thing once, or at least convince yourself you did? And the truth is, I did. It's easy to forget that sometimes. I've tried a lot of things over the past decade, but when I got into experimental stuff it was partly because it seemed like a good area to write about: I was, as noted, a Wire reader and wanted to keep up with the mag, and also because there was stuff happening locally in Minneapolis and I could get paid to write about it. I moved away from that sort of thing over time, but hearing it again a lot of it sounds rather wonderful. Someday I'll even read the booklet.
Other stuff I'm keeping to re-evaluate: King Sunny Ade's Classics Volume 3 (I have I think the first half-dozen; no reason not to dive back in, especially with the weather nice again, finally); Burning Spear, Creation Rebel; One Day on Radio Mali; Bollywood Steel Guitar (replayed it already; probably the most enjoyable, approachable Sublime Frequencies title); DJ Language's Real Music for Real People (Jess Harvell reviewed it that year positively but put a different, promo-only Language mix in his Top 10 that year; all this time I've been hanging on to the wrong CD, though having listened to it now it's still pretty good); Various Artists, Decay Product (amazingly, the CD is not cracked).