17 May 2011

Music is my drugless drug, but it's still addictive!

For those people that know me well, you will know about my borderline-obsession with music. I listen to it all day, it’s always on in the car & I even have to fall asleep with music (specifically the Adam Freeland: Back to Mine, which has a massive play count of 1265…just on my laptop!)!

But one does occasionally need contemplate why this is the case – why does my life need a soundtrack?

There is a history to this – I will always say that I was brought up on a certain variety of music; it was a mix of some classic rock with Dire Straits & some new age electronic music with Tangerine Dream & Wavestar. Now 20 years have past since this & what has changed?

Dance & rock music has evolved since then. Rock has grown into many different directions & if you believe the the hype on the BBC is a dying art form as there were only 3 rock songs in the charts in 2010…quite frankly I don’t! there are some great rock albums from the last couple of years & if you look at the likes of Foo Fighters, Muse, Arcade Fire, Silversun Pickups, Kings of Leon, Them Cooked Vultures, Mumford & Sons, Smashing Pumpkins, the Mars Volta, it’s a big old list! Even if you remember Christmas 2009 when a Facebook campaign to get Rage Against the Machine’s “Killing in the Name” to number 1 in the charts, so that another bunch of cereal-box-created, written-by-someone-else pop music pap being celebrated by getting to the head of the charts (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Killing_in_the_Name).

But what does it mean to me?

Dance music, well that has exploded & keeps flitting with mainstream popularity, but champions like Pete Tong, Judge Jules, Annie Mac & Zane Lowe on Radio 1 keep exposing the scene, free podcasts like Adam Freeland's Marine Parade, Tiesto's Club Life, even David Guetta help showcase new out future tracks. But for me I've loved it since a cassette I heard many years ago - On a Dance Tip. I didn't understand why, but something clicked - it was new & different. Then after some mainstream albums, I was introduced to Gatecrasher back in 1998/9 - something amazingly melodic & a cut above any other dance music I had heard up till then - Trance - I was now officially hooked (although I have only visited Gatecrasher once...in 2011).

Fast forward a few years & it was then Hard House - Tidy Boys, Lab 4, etc. who have a very 'bouncy' sound & a high rate of BPM! Fast forward again & it's Breaks & something I'm not even sure which genre it fits into - Adam Freeland, Evil 9, Deadmau5, Wolfgang Garner & Pendulum (is it dance, drum & bass, rock, metal - I'm still not certain?!). There is a constant search to hear new things & listen to suggestions from close friends & those who regularly either create their own or have similar music tastes - so a friend from school suggests coming to a Breaks night in Oxford, at around the same time as another friend introduces the Adam Freeland album (2003's Now and Them. That same friend also says that I must hear this Deadmau5 guy - he's crazy good! Dance music is always going to be part of my life, because not only does it continually recycle itself, but it changes & develops & grows in new & unexpected & exciting ways.

Now rock music is something which has had a long emotional bond with me - not only with memories of people & places, but also of teenage rebellion & escapist from when I was a kid. But now, although there is some form of escapism, it is much more diminished. But my tastes are normally more specific - I need riffs, great riffs & a good loud noise! This is plainly evident with some of my favourite bands - Foo Fighters, Silversun Pickups, Queens ofthe Stone Age, Them Crooked Vultures, Smashing Pumpkins, Nirvana, Sonic Youth Rage Against the Machine, Muse, Arcade Fire, Autolux, etc.

The soundtrack thing is slightly more difficult to explain - originally it was as a form of bullsh*t remover - blocking out the irritating sound of someone at work who drove me nuts with their constant babble of current affairs...on television - soaps, celebrity gossip, Big Brother & other crap they had read in The Sun that day. But now it has become a staple part of my working life - I don't know anyone else who has a constant stream of music playing (in 1 ear) all day, every day, all year round! My theory is that it keeps me sane & working. I know that regardless of the tediousness of any task, I can prevail - so long as I have my choice beats to accompany me - be that gardening, accounting, HTML/CSS coding, or even writing long blogs(!).

I now have a massive collection of albums & remixes & have a firm belief that I could make a totally kick-ass set/soundtrack/playlist. However, a distinct lack of tech, self-belief, combined with a knowledge of my own failings means that I don't think I'll ever be a DJ, but I will always continue to enjoy music, creating playlists & introducing myself to new sounds & artists, regardless of the development of it all.

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