Monday, December 7, 2009

Allow me to re-introduce myself...

THE DEADBEAT, never-present stiff who only occasionally checks in with a token gesture: that’s been me of late. I could plead busy! or distracted! and those things would be fully true, but only half the story. Disinterested! might be more accurate.

For a while there it seemed to me the most exciting thing I’d heard for a while was recorded in either 1982 or 1986 (take a bow, Mark E. Smith). That didn’t do much to stoke the fire that usually burns in me this time of year: the annual display of wankery that is the Year! End! List! I was, in a way that I’ve rarely been before, down on music. There were only a few stock pieces in the collection that I fell back on, mood pieces mostly, music for sleeping. Nothing new grabbed me.

Ah, but then Ron stepped in. I saw him on a recent trip to Ottawa, and he gave me a box of CDs (how many friends would do that?), the still-thriving fruit of our dormant enterprise. The contents of The Box, while not uniform in quality, were all new to me, and so they performed the neat trick of rousing me from my stupor.

THEN, STRANGE RUMBLINGS from Glenn Branca, of all people, opining that we’ve reached the End of Music; there’s nothing left to create! Maybe Branca’s out of ideas. Roses from dung: the piece served to awaken an anger in me (and others – check the comments) that someone would have the shortsighted nerve to declare such a thing. And it put my doldrums in perspective. It, along with the box of music Ron gifted, put me back on my course.

THE BOX was largely divided between three labels: Toronto’s Barnyard Records, Vancouver’s Drip Audio, and Chicago’s venerable Delmark (with a pinch of Long Song and a smattering of Altrisuoni). Of the first I was almost wholly ignorant; with the second I had only a passing acquaintance; with Delmark I was rather chummy. There were records by artists I’d lost track of, a few I’d been looking forward to hearing, and a bunch I’d never heard of. It was a good mix.

BUT THE POINT, really, is not that I was exposed to specific recordings, or discovered this artist or that label. The point is that, for the first time in a while, I was excited about music. And that brings us to now – December -- and to this blog’s reason for being. Heading into November of 2009, I wasn’t really looking forward to the annual exercise, something I’ve never felt before. Enter Ron, and The Box, and a revival of my enthusiasm.

Of the 20 or so CDs in that carton, only a couple will make it onto the list, but the wider point is that the gift, all that music, woke me up. So a debt is owed, Ron. Thank you.

SO, being as it is a bit late in the game, and that I find myself knee-deep in sawdust, paint, and IKEA kitchen components, this year’s exposition will be slightly truncated. Expect a lower word count, but all of the love. I’m thinking that the first, oh, ten or fifteen entries on the List will be devoid of explanation. I’ll save my verbiage for only the very top.

And to those of you who usually receive a CD: maybe January?


Patrick said...

i've almost given up on new music because i just can't keep up and find myself not caring about the direction of recent trends. also, i'm getting old and set in my ways.

but! this whole entry is mighty re-affirming and positive and just plain awesome. i'm envious of THE BOX and am relieved that it helped push you back to the year!end!roundup! because your work is always very much appreciated.

AGF said...

THE BOX was indeed inspiring, and is indeed worthy of envy. A great, green wave of it.

But yeah, I'm constantly nearly ready to declare it all over and just pore over the last century of recorded music. That alone would fill several lifetimes, right? But every time I'm just about to make such a declaration official (however one might do that), something comes along that spins my head and makes me reevaluate.