An Introduction

I first became interested in 4AD, a UK independent record label founded in 1980, towards the end of the '80's. I was falling in love with the music of Dead Can Dance, Clan of Xymox, Pixies, Bauhaus and The Birthday Party and was surprised when the 4AD label sampler "Lonely Is An Eyesore" came out in 1987 that all these bands were from the same label.

After visiting a Pre-Raphaelite exhibition of some American's collection of art, I came to thinking of all this musical art that 4AD have released that may one day drift into obscurity unless someone shows it as art. So now I'm on a crusade, to collect the first ten years of 4AD's releases and exhibit the collection on 4AD's 50th anniversary in 2030. This is a big task which will have some interesting twists and turns along the way.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Album Listening Clubs...Somebody set one up please

I very much like the thought of a new concept that has been sweeping the music world these last couple of years. It involves getting a group of like minded people together, which means lovers of music, not any genre specific grouping and devoting the evening to playing a couple of albums in their entirety and without interruption. The choice of album played is decided by an attendee in advance and there are strict rules applied about respecting the music and listening to it without talking, without other distractions and solely devoting attention to the album being played. Some clubs are taking this a little further and playing only vinyl, on top quality record players and amps.

I love this idea. It's unfortunate these days that the majority of people don't devote time to listening to music without any other distraction. I find myself listening to music when I can fit it in, while driving the car mostly, which is a real shame. When I was younger, I had a lot more respect for music and devoted more time to listening to it. I would decide in an evening that the TV wasn't going to be switched on, loads of incense would get burned and fill the room, the lighting would be dimmed and I would just listen to the music while at most studying the album sleeve and contents. When you listen to music that way, one studies the intricacies, the twists, turns and little nuances that make up the whole palette that otherwise would be missed. Also an album is put together without distraction. An artist doesn't record an album while watching the television at the same time or doesn't record vocals while driving down the motorway. All the structure of an album is also carefully thought out and put together as a single piece of artwork with a specific running order. Listening to it in any other way, other than with total attention and in proper running order is missing the point I suppose. We can't say we have seen a Rosetti painting if we just saw little close ups occasionally or if we saw a black and white photocopy from a magazine.

The idea of these book club style album listening groups just sound like the very thing for me. I love to listen to other peoples music (as long as it's an educated taste) and this kind of arrangement gets you listening to music that you may not naturally veer towards. Unfortunately, nobody for miles and miles around is doing anything like this at the moment. Yes, yes, I can hear you say "so why don't you do something yourself". I'm one of those sort of people that comes up with ideas, but for some reason has no idea how to execute them. In the past I've tried a couple of alternative music club nights myself with a couple of friends which died a death. I just don't understand people in the main, so when it comes to getting people together, I fall flat on my face. In my head I'm a leader, in reality I'm a loner with daft ideas, like this collecting crusade I suppose. I don't drink and I look like most younger people's dad nowadays, and because of that have no interest in dancing. If an evening doesn't involve drinking or dancing, that's 99.9 percent of the population disinterested.

If only the "build it and they will come" dream would work in that scenario, but I'm too realistic to realise that it wouldn't.

What started this train of thought? I spent last Tuesday evening, with myself and the dog listening to Dead Can Dance's two albums Within the Realm Of a Dying Sun and Spleen and Ideal, on vinyl, with the mood lights on, incense burning and no interruptions and it was fantastic. My problem when experiencing something wonderful on my own, is the pity I feel for those missing out on such an experience. But then you can't force anyone to appreciate something wonderful.

I am surprised when looking at the Album Listening clubs around the world, how many 4AD albums spring up such as This Mortal Coil or Pixies, mixed with the obvious classics such as Beatles, Stones, Zeppelin and Bowie. It just shows the influence of 4AD worldwide, punching far above it's weight.

Well the sabbatical month of April is well behind me and the collecting has carried on where it had left off. I picked up a nice Le Mystere Des Voix Bulgare CD recently. I hope soon that I can get everything on a many variants release. Some of the Dead Can Dance or This mortal Coil releases have tens of variants and would be good to show. Maybe sometime soon. For now thanks for reading

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