Random Thoughts: June 14, 2007

Rediscovering Music With Only Minor Trauma
by Jasmine Sailing

What's actually happening here is that I have not yet opened this section on the web site. Most technical tweaks are done, eg finding a colour scheme that I hated enough to use. I still need to do more work, though, like scan the image for the index page. If I wanted to scan things my cel site wouldn't be so hideously out of date!

So instead of finishing my work and opening the section... well, I do a little work here and there. Then I think "Gosh, wouldn't it be fun to be writing instead?". Here's to hoping this will appear on the site, and that I'm not merely sitting around talking to myself as usual.

Lately I've been rediscovering my love for music. Back in the busiest CPAOD days I hit overload, and for quite some time I've mostly listened to new things that can't possibly relate to any of THAT. The problems were several. Too many bands that sounded like too many other bands. Then too many bands, period. Writing literally hundreds of reviews. Everything became a blur, I couldn't remember any of what I was hearing, my reviews were steadily becoming shorter and more listless (the ones that weren't shorter likely resulted from me coming up with too many ways to ramble instead of precisely reviewing what I was hearing). I still remember writing reviews pre-CPAOD. I would go all out for some of those! Analyze precise sounds and mixing methods, compare regular stereo vs headphone sound, etc. I was into it! But, as always, the problem with doing too much of anything is that you develop a tolerance and then you hit the roof, go numb, whatever.

Technically I never stopped loving music. Maybe I largely stopped listening for a while, but it's easy to be sucked back in. I have been listening to perhaps a little too much anime music for several years now. It seemed a shame, not that I was listening to it (there are definitely some wonderful composers to be found there, and it's a vast treasure trove of variety) but that I was limiting my eclectic (not to mention sweepingly emotional) self so much. And that I was often thinking of old favourites without bothering to dig them out.

Now I'm digging them out, but so far I'm sticking with music I listened to in my teens. Still avoiding my 20s! As a kid I was compulsive about buying vinyl, immediately recording it to tape, and listening to tapes. I didn't want my records to be hurt, they're all still safely tucked away in plastic sleeves. When CDs came out (later teens) I worried about hurting those, if not nearly so much as records. Sometimes I made tape compilations off of them. Now it's so easy! I can listen to them, rip them, set aside tracks I'm most likely to get stuck in my head and play compulsively. Then I can over-play those at will, and also pull out all of the other tracks whenever the mood strikes. To make car compilations I would need to first make a CD compilation, then copy that to tape. Too many steps, I haven't gotten to it yet (with the exception of some compilations I made for my daughter).

Some of the first bands to come out of hiding were This Mortal Coil (obviously, I never did escape them, I still constantly wear my Filigree & Shadow jacket that my 1st husband stencilled and painted for me as a present for my 19th birthday -- I have the double-record and the very first CD issue), Dead Can Dance, Coil, Einsturzende Neubauten, Virgin Prunes and Gavin Friday, Fields of the Nephilim, Legendary Pink Dots, Tear Garden. I never managed to go for long without thinking about those bands, but it was phenomenally rare for me to listen to a single track by them. Now, of course, there are plenty of single tracks that I'm pretty well playing to death.

The spread continued, including a frantic search for my missing Bel Canto CD. Anilee Drecker was my favourite person to sing along with after my son was born and my vocal tones drifted further down-scale. After so many years of smoking I might be closer to a bass now, but I really really wanted that CD (maybe it'll be perfect vocal training, so I can achieve not sounding like a dying horse when I accidentally sing around anything with ears). We found it last night, when Bruce unearthed (we moved a touch over 2 years ago and will probably never finish unpacking) 3 more boxes of my CDs. I was largely satisfied as soon as I found that one, but I pulled out several other CDs and fuzzed off into delirious ecstasy over how many good ones I have that I didn't even remember. By the time I finished looking through box #3 I noted, in a somewhat overwhelmed fashion, "Wow, I have a lot of good CDs. Too many good CDs! No wonder I flipped out and ran away screaming!".

Ugh. During the review binge several labels switched to asking publishers to request CDs they wished to review. I wouldn't request anything, no matter how much I wanted it, because there was too much to deal with as it was. At least this made it easier for some of CPAOD's ranging reviewers to request what they wanted. Last night's archaeological dig yielded quite a few review CDs that I had thought would become favourites. It's a shame that I never listened to them again, due to the overload. I'm sure under better circumstances I would've made a habit of them. Hopefully after I've worked my way up from the music of my teens they still can become as cherished as they deserved to be.

During the recent drive to Oklahoma, I tried to delve yet deeper than I otherwise would have. Our car stereo is terrible: one muffled speaker. I looked through my tapes (of my vinyl) trying to make selections that were simplistic enough. Unfortunately I always had a love for complexities, and for panning, and for just about anything that won't play in the car. I did eye some very basic ones, like a TSOL record. That took all of a split second of remembering a bratty teen stint of singing Code Blue to veto it, because my daughter would hear it. Sure, the overall necrophilia would fly over her head. The "I wanna fuck the dead" chorus wouldn't, though! It's not a matter of restriction so much as that she herself gets offended and I respect that.

As it was I managed a double screw-up. First I thought "Bauhaus will play!", but, no, almost nothing I brought played. That was, in fact, the tape that made me finally give up in disgust on my own tapes (I was already surly about choices I really wanted to hear being too atmospheric or complex). Bauhaus should have been my actual correct choice, but what I brought was the 4AD mini record that is probably one of the most mixed Bauhaus records out there. Oops! As if that wasn't annoying me enough, during Crowds (which just had to go and be the song that came through loud and clear) I pondered whether I should turn the volume off for a moment. I was exhausted and stupid (the return trip) and thought "Nah, it's only a couple of lines, no biggie". Well, okay, now that I'm more awake I know there's "a couple of lines" and then there's "You worthless bitch, you fickle shit" coming through in an extremely clear and in your face fashion. Amara looked aghast. I apologized, feeling about 200% embarrassed (far worse than being googled!), popped the tape out, and (after considerable neurotic babbling) admitted my utter defeat. Next time... next time I pull out my hardcore and crust punk collection. Then I'll have simplicity AND indecipherable lyrics! (Probably famous last words, I know.)

The main reason for my managing to grab one of the only Bauhaus records that won't play in my car is because I only own 2 Bauhaus records and neither of them would work. The other one is Burning From the Inside, which I did have the sense to rule out due to the more atmospheric tunes on it (Slice of Life and Who Killed Mr. Moonlight). It's not that I don't like Bauhaus. I did buy imported video tapes... It's just that my vinyl buying habits tended to be dictated by popularity in the opposite direction. I was mostly buying things I couldn't hear elsewhere. So I bought the 4AD mini album because I couldn't find it elsewhere, and I bought Burning From the Inside because it was staring at me from the new releases wall of a record store while I was in a hurry (I was in the Huntsville or some similarly named Mall in Cockeysville, Maryland. Malls have always scared me and inspired me to be in a hurry). I did wind up with a fair chunk of the Bauhaus discography on CD -- in early CD days it was rough to find anything worth buying. The CD selection at Wax Trax in Denver was basically a teensy rack. But to this day I don't have a copy of the Bela Lugosi's Dead 12" (vinyl or CD). Why? You probably guessed it. Everyone had it! I'm so easily influenced! ;)

When I moved to California, right around my 15th birthday, I had a sad stretch of buying more popular records. I was stuck buying from a nearby chain. That yielded anything from new releases (eg the first Love and Rockets record) to passed over items of marginal interest (eg Altered Images' Happy Birthday). The first time I scored a ride to Beggar's Banquet in Anaheim I struggled out the door with a stack of records by bands like This Mortal Coil, Death in June, Einsturzende Neubauten, Sex Gang Children, Virgin Prunes, and even The March Violets (they didn't seem to be playing anywhere). Then I got set up with indie music order catalogues and started buying things largely because the descriptions looked interesting. Some of the bands I stumbled across that way were The Jasmine Minks (yeah, that was a bit of a name curiosity), Downy Mildew, Couch Flambeau, Shadow of Fear, Fahrenheit 451. The first 2 bands had a fair number of releases. I later surprised one acquaintance by mentioning Shadow of Fear, they were a local band he knew in Ohio. After returning to Denver and hearing Dark Shadowz, I loaned Couch Flambeau to John Graves under the assumption that he would get a kick out of them (he did think they were fun). Beyond that, I wouldn't expect too much more than random head scritchings over mentioning them. I so dearly loved exploring music, which makes it several more times the shame that I burnt out on it.

At least I've finally snapped back out of it, though, and can rediscover my love all over again. Fortunately, since I'm broke, the plus side will be that I don't even need to go shopping to do this! I have piles of largely unexplored (by me, this time) music right here in my house! After looking through those boxes last night I was both excited and intimidated.

I won't risk burning myself out again, I will take it slowly. I'm still warming up with records I would have memorized even if I went for a few decades without hearing them. From there I'll gradually listen to more and more, and when I enjoy it I'll keep listening to it long enough to pound it into my oft absent-mind so I won't automatically space it out again when I move along. I have every intention of enjoying this and revelling in it every bit as much as I used to and, so far, I am.

Back to the Thoughts Index.