Since going along to Rough Trade East for record store day 2013 I’ve been thinking a great deal about formats. There are the obvious ones, vinyl, cassette, CD, digital, all of which I’ve owned stuff on over the years. However, it’s the characteristics of physical formats that I find most interesting and thought provoking, so I thought I’d write something about it.
There’s no doubt in my mind that digital music is incredibly convenient for a lot of my own listening needs. I love using spotify and I’ll often buy music digitally simply because of its convenience. However, remembering a love of vinyl has made start to question my buying and listening habits for the first time in many years, and made me remember some amazing releases in a variety of formats that are more art objects in some cases than just releases.
I’ll start with some tape …
I’ve been a big lover of cassettes since I was in my teens and I still love the idea of the cassette, but I haven’t bought a cassette release for years, or at least that was true until a day or so ago. I still have a handful of cassette releases, but none are as beautiful as the first edition of the Unknown Public, which I only bought on cassette by accident. I’m glad I made the mistake though, it was worth it.
Unknown Public was meant to be a monthly music magazine with a release of a selection of new musical works around a theme. I don’t think it ever became monthly and struggled to even be quarterly. However, every issue was worth a listen, and I’m glad I collected them all. Looking back they’re each a unique object that is more than just the music it contains.
CDs have a bad reputation, but here are a few examples that redeem them
So, the humble CD has had a bad reputation for a while, but I have some nice examples of CD releases that show what can be done with a simple CD release. Here’s David Sylvian’s Manafon boxed set and Amplified Gesture film.
In the case of the Manafon limited edition set I think that the object itself is almost more beautiful than the actual music, although I do like some of the album, and the DVD of the film is a great insight into the process that Sylvian and the other musicians went through to produce the album.
And so to some vinyl …
There are some wonderful things on vinyl, and I have a few. This was something I realised that I had never listened to until I bought a new turntable the other day.
So, where does this lead? It’s certainly made me rethink how I buy music and how I think about what is important to me in terms of objects that are music. I’ve found myself considering which format to buy things when they’re are options available.
Formats are important, in some ways they add something to the music itself, make it more enjoyable in many ways. I’m enjoying discovering them again, and I hope to even find a few more to explore. One thing that it very interesting is the rise of cassette labels again, but that’s for another post I think.
I listened to this on Spotify and was really impressed by how good it was. Very well produced synth pop music. In many ways what you’d expect from OMD. So I played it for a few days and now I’m starting to move on again. I’ve probably over listened to the Metroland remixes and had enough, for now anyway.
So i makes me wonder what is it that gets us to obsessively listen to something for a while, a few days usually in my case, and then move on. Of course, it could just be me, but I don’t think so. I do know that a few of my friends are like this too. It comes in cycles usually. I’ll listen to something intently for a while then put it down, then in a few months or years I’ll come back to it and rediscover just how good it is. I suppose that’s the thing with ‘pop’ music isn’t it.
Or have I? I got to the end of the fourth season to find that this wasn’t really the ending I was looking for at all! In fact it was in many ways just left hanging. Not satisfactory in any way. I realise that it is now very unlikely that there will be another series commissioned, but I just wish that these kind of things would get left in a decent state!
I’m a bit disappointed by this as you might tell.
This was something that their head of platform claimed that they were aiming for at the Music Ally App Side conference last month. An interesting claim. I have a slightly different take on it though. For me the OS of music isn’t just about listening, in fact it might not be about listening at all, or at least listening might only be a small part of the puzzle.
For me the idea of an OS for music has always been very enticing. Something that I don’t think I’ve ever seen done properly, but I’ve always wished for. The closest thing to it was the elusive Capers OS which was meant to be a replacement for the Palm OS and act as an OS for music making.
Back when that was being talked about it wasn’t really something that could be used for pure synthesis, so Capers OS was more about controlling other devices. That made sense then, but not now. I think now we have the capability in mobile devices for an actual mobile OS which is built for music making.
Will something like this ever come about? Who knows, I’d love to see it, but I can see it being difficult to get off the ground and fund properly. One day perhaps.
So, is Spotify going to be the OS of music? Not for me I don’t think, but I do think that they are doing a great deal for changing listening and discovery, and that’s a step in the right direction, albeit not my direction.
Well, I have well and truly stepped into the 21st Century now. I’m quite enjoying spotify and finding it works well. I can still myself buying a few things, but probably nowhere near as much from now on.
Is this a good thing? I’m not sure. After only just about a week I think it’s too early to give a complete verdict. Although it’s been a very positive experience so far I think. For me the most positive thing is having spotify on my iPhone, although I’d quite like a proper iPad app too.
So, about a week into my trial of Spotify and I have to say that I’m really enjoying it. It is very useful as a way to check out music I wouldn’t have otherwise heard. I’m not sure that I’m ready to make the full plunge to not buying music at all though. That might be just a bit too far for me to go at the moment.
I can’t believe it was 10 years ago Frank Tovey aka Fad Gadget passed away. My favourite track of his, “King of the Flies”. Excellent music.
So I’ve had my iPad 3 for a few days now, and of course it is lovely and all that. So what’s great about it? Well, for me, the best thing about it is that it isn’t broken. My iPad 2 had a smashed screen which meant it was almost completely unusable for the last 2 and a half months. The iPad 3 is lovely from that perspective.
Aside from that it feels very similar. The screen is better, there’s no doubt about that, and whilst that’s great to have it adds little in terms of functionality for any music app, which is one of my main uses of the device. The camera is better so I’m told, but as I never really used the camera it doesn’t make much difference to me either.
So, whilst I’m glad to have a functioning iPad again I can’t say that the 3rd generation unit has overwhelmed me really. I think there was more that Apple could have done to make this an innovative device, but perhaps they’re saving that for another time.
I wasn’t sure about this album but got it anyway. But having listened to it for the best part of 2 days I do like it. I don’t like all of it, I don’t like all the new material, but I think that some of the stuff that I haven’t heard before is really good. I’m glad I got it and I’m glad it was released.
I was listening to this compilation on Friday and I really enjoyed it for the most part. Which I found strange. I didn’t find it strange that I liked the individual songs, I knew those and knew that I liked them, but the order that they were in created a different feel to listening to them, and that made me think.
It made me remember the mixtape, that is, when it was an actual tape and not a digital representation of a tape. Curating (if that’s the right word for it) tracks together in a specific order can quite easily change their meaning or at least adapt it for a different purpose.
I found listening to Sylvian’s tracks in the order in this compilation gave them a different meaning in a way for me. Not a totally different meaning you understand, but something subtle. It also made me remember mixtape’s where they were in a different order and what tracks followed which was strange too.
I’m not entirely sure where this leads, but I think it’s interesting in itself, that’s all.
The people over at Music 4.5 are lovely. When I first spoke to Rassami about a mobile music conference last year I was just amazed to think that someone would be interested in that kind of thing, but now, less that twelve months on, it doesn’t seem so strange.
I’m looking forward to the event on the 8th. The panel of speakers looks really good (yep, I’m on it too), and I think there’ll be a broad spectrum of issues raised to cover the mobile music world and where it has got to.
If you’re interested in reading my piece over at Music 4.5′s blog, you can find it here.
Since the shattering of the screen on my iPad 2 I haven’t used it, that is, I’ve hardly used it. It does still work, but parts of the screen aren’t too nice to touch as the glass is broken. Hence, I haven’t used it. My plan was (is) to put a screen protector on it to effectively protect my fingers from the sharp edges, but actually getting hold of a screen protector has been amazingly difficult.
Anyway, what’s been interesting has been not using it. I do miss it. That’s for sure. But not nearly as much as I thought I would miss it. In fact, what I miss most are the ideas / experiments that I had planned that involved it that I can’t now carry out. Although hopefully I will be able to very soon.
It has also made me question getting an Android tablet. I’d almost decided on an Android 3.2 tablet, but then didn’t buy it. I couldn’t decide what I would actually do with it, which was a problem really, and it doesn’t make too much sense to spend a few hundred pounds on something you’re not sure you’ll use. So I didn’t buy it, and I’m not sure that I will at all now.
In some ways it’s made me reassess a lot of tech and my wishlist for gadgets too. However, that may change when I get it workable again, or indeed if the iPad 3 comes out any time soon.
I’ve been reading a lot of stuff over the last few days about what’s happening in TV. Especially about Samsung and their latest upgradable offering with gesture and facial recognition. All very impressive stuff. But, in many ways just a meshing of existing technologies from other sectors and form factors and nothing (as far as I can see) that is unique to or for the TV experience. Which is a shame really.
I’m not sure if I share the pundit’s view that TV is the next battle ground. It may be. It is certainly an area where there is plenty of room for innovation, which is in one way very good for the consumer, and in another very bad, as there will be winners and losers in a market land grab for TV, and some technologies will fall even if they are good.
So in some ways it’s a good time to buy a new TV and in others it isn’t. Maybe I’ll wait a couple of months or more.
I keep thinking about getting a decent Android device, but I never quite get around to it. The main reason being the enormous differences in devices and costs. In some ways I think the whole iOS device scene has it easy. There really isn’t much to choose from and you know what will work on what device.
But in Android land it is very different indeed. Not only are there far more screen sizes, but you have to worry about which kind of device will get an update to which next version of the Android OS. It’s confusing, and that’s not good when you’re spending a few hundred pounds on something.
Sometimes I wonder if I should bother. Maybe I should stick to iOS, but I keep coming back to Android on a regular basis, so maybe I should give it another look. It just feels like it’s going to cost money and by a let down though.