To attain knowledge, add things every day.
To attain wisdom, remove things every day.
For the past few weeks, while clearing out and redecorating the attic
I’ve been confronted by and obliged to deal with the past. It’s there not only in all the old books, photos and unused possessions that have lived there since God knows when, but also in the form of a mountain of old music magazines, some of them dating back to the 1980’s, unseen and forgotten for many years.
Rather than listening to my sensible better half and dumping them at the recycling plant I thought it might be interesting to trawl through them for whatever I may have missed, disregarded the first time around, or simply forgotten about as time passed. Old, new, borrowed or blue – anything that pricks my interest or nudges my intuition can now, with the aid of Grooveshark and YouTube etc. be quickly hunted down, rediscovered, re-experienced, or newly delighted in.
Invariably it’s the specialist magazines, Downbeat, Folk Roots, Songlines, or The Wire, for example, that tend to throw up the really interesting stuff, having always focussed on music that has less to do with contemporary trends or industry driven nostalgia than say Rolling Stone or Mojo Magazine. Special mention however should be made of the early Q Magazine which, in the 1980’s had a wide-ranging, inclusive philosophy and a level of erudition almost entirely absent from today’s pop and rock mags.
Plucked at random from the precarious and haphazardly organised piles these old magazines, (not to mention several suitcases crammed full of old cassette tapes) are once again opening up broad new avenues and half-remembered or entirely forgotten side-streets of wonderful music. An added bonus with the older stuff is the frequently intriguing “where are they now” aspect, and of course it’s often much more interesting to find and listen to the music a particular artist is currently making, rather than what they’ve done in the past. Inevitably collaborations and connections lead on to other musicians known and unknown in an endless and fascinating labyrinth. Meanwhile for me it’s become as much about how my own ability to hear and experience music has changed and adapted over time.
And so, with complete disregard for genre, chronology, or any other form of tedious categorisation I’ll regularly be placing my more intriguing (re)discoveries here, hopefully for others to enjoy. It’s great fun to hunt down often relatively obscure artist’s tracks and videos to see where they lead, and to be able to bring them together, entirely out of sync with trends, timeframes or familiar contexts.
If you’re anything like me after hearing these tracks you may soon find yourself rooting about in your own attic wondering where the intervening years have gone and realising that the best music really has little to do with a fixed place in time but can take on a life of its own, waiting patiently for you to come to it again.
I’ve been meaning to listen to Anais Mitchell for a few years now but have somehow never got around to it. My loss. I could have been enjoying her beautiful songs for a long time already. So deceptively simple at first hearing these are songs that get under your skin and stay there.
Sound sculptor Steve Tibbetts works as much with space and silence as with the filling of it. Possibly better known for his ambient soundscapes and adventures in World Music, this clip from the mid 80’s shows the band constructing a dense wall of sound before proceeding to break it down.
Divna Ljubojevic & ensemble
This is Serbian Orthodox Church music, and so beautiful that it brings a lump to my throat. Whoever said that the Devil has the best tunes surely had his silly head firmly jammed up his rear end.
To be continued…