Edmund Welles via Wikipedia
Alex Ross writes about Internet Music and its "infinite playlist." But then towards the end of the article, he goes in an unanticipated direction:
Despite the fact that I now have forty days and eighteen hours of music on my computer, enough to outlast the Flood, I keep returning to a stack of favorite disks that I keep next to my stereo.
This is so not me. I can't remember the last time I listened to a CD.
Ok, actually I can, it was an attempt to hear a Messiaen opera in my car. Regardless, CDs are purely for purchasing, ripping, and storing. If I had to guess, 1/3 of my music is via lala.com streaming, 1/3 via MP3s on an iPod, and 1/3 via MP3s on my PC. No CDs, no LPs, no cassettes, no radio, no YouTube videos, no MySpace, almost no Pandora etc.
I owe my non-album habits mostly due to smart playlists. What I really like to do is find "greatest tracks" on a per composer (or artist) basis. I have a rotating list of candidates composers -- currently Angus MacLise, Bernard Herrmann, Charlie Parker, Chas Smith, Henry Flynt, John Cage, Morton Feldman, and Thelonious Monk. I'll make a first pass at listening to everything I own by a composer; in the case of Flynt all of two tracks, in the case of John Cage, for some reason, I have an amazing 857 tracks.
I also focus on the best of what I've heard using rated tracks, until at some point I reach a saturation point. I've found if I do this with only a couple of composers, I quickly go bonkers, while if I have too many, it becomes too random. I aspire to the infinite playlist but even I have my limits.
This does overcome the hegemony of listening by monolithic albums although the method doesn't really work for opera, which requires more coherence. But the end result is a good balance of listening to the "new" and the "good."
Ok, I do cheat and listen to other tracks from time to time. Today's favorite is Edmund Welles' Rumple as found on the group's Muzac for Devils recording. Can't beat a good all-bass clarinet track.
Ross' article tempts me to spend a week only listening to CDs to see if it is a more mindful and deep experience, as a I vaguely remember it being. Still, I have to stop and think if I even have a working CD player other than in the car.
And although I work for a company that builds audio and video codecs (at lunch today, we talked about the merits of FLAC vs. MP3), lossy compressed files are good enough for my ears. So yet another reason to not revert to CDs or re-rip all those John Cage tracks...
cd baby recommends the music of edmund welles if you like black sabbath, eric dolphy, and the world saxophone quartet. that's about right. lala has some edmund welles recordings although not the track i highlighted. and from the edmund welles website:
We are the world's only original, composing band of four bass clarinetists. We invent and perform Heavy Chamber Music. Our dense, pulsating sound utilizes virtuosic precision, innovative rhythmic texture, power, and rock perspective, resulting in vibrational fictions of lucid dementia.