Weeknotes #22: on music discovery

Weeknotes

Back in grey London, via Gloucestershire/Suffolk/Norfolk, and feeling energised and ready for a packed few months of interesting work.

A (musical) stream-of-consciousness

Been thinking a lot about music discovery of late (partly due to some interesting conversations in Suffolk with someone who has worked in this space a lot).

While writing my dissertation I listened to a LOT of music and needed all kinds of discovery mechanisms to keep things interesting and to sustain the long spells at the computer.

One of the most rewarding routes involved reaching into the depths of last.fm to the first time I was writing a dissertation (late 2004) to rediscover what I was listening to back then. It was a true delight to listen, uninterrupted, to albums that I was listening to back then. Soundscapes that keep you in the zone for an hour or so, that tell a story. That evoke a time. It was great too to inspect the more recent work of those artists.

There were a few elements of this that struck me: so much modern music discovery is choppy, with a chaotic stream of genres mashed together in the hope that something sticks. I know that musical release length is in some part defined by the format (EP/LP/Cassette/CD etc) and so I understand this transition but soaking in a particular artist for a bit seems to work for me. Perhaps because of the era I grew up in. Perhaps just because my brain can’t handle the context switching (when I do a lot of this in my ‘day job’).

Anyway: I decided to pick a few of those rediscovered artists and start actively recommending them to people so they can share the joy I’d experienced. In San Francisco I recommended a couple of British artists to our lovely friend and host. She loves American female singer songwriters and the recommendations I made were on constant repeat in the days afterward.

The next few months I’m going to actively try and expand out what I’m listening to in ways that go beyond 6 music and discover weekly (my limited means at the moment). A post-masters treat will be to spend several hours exploring the new Ishkur guide to electronic music, for example.

And perhaps, the back catalogue of the joyous Kinsey Sicks, who I got to see in California.

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