Tuesday, October 16, 2018

remembering the last days of collecting

Pitchfork's Jeremy D. Larson on the imminent rebooting of Winamp and feeling wistful about a lost pre-stream moment "when MP3 were collectibles, like bugs or baseball cards":

"I’m not saying that I miss Winamp, the popular ’90s shareware program that is being rebooted like “Will & Grace” and “The Connors” (née “Roseanne”). But what its revival makes me realize are the manifold ways in which I have let the actual connection to the definite article of music fall by the wayside. Somewhere between paying $10 a month for access to everything that’s happening in music right now and buying physical LPs to fill up the space in my heart evacuated by digital culture, there is the memory of the halcyon days of downloading MP3s, pirating music, ripping CDs onto my computer, making CD-Rs for my car, making CD-RWs for my friends. It was a liminal ownership of music. I miss that, that last moment where it felt like I had some fleeting connection with digital music."

I don't miss CD-Rs - horrid things, especially when in paper sleeves.

But yeah, streaming - it's hard to establish any attachment to music in those conditions, or even to remember what you've listened to already, what you want to go back to, etc. 

My compensation strategies include assembling monstrously large playlists on Spotify that in 19 out of 20 cases I never ever return to.  That's a form of quasi-collection - setting yourself a listening task, a genre or a single artist's whole oeuvre gathered in one spot, that would be absurdly daunting (day after day of continuous listening) if it were not INSTANTLY unappetising the moment you've completed the 22 album long playlist -  any originating impulse of curiosity or desire snuffed by the dismal drag-and-click process of pulling together its contents.

But I am actually still harvesting MP3s - valueless little clots of sound-data in themselves, but that still accrue some marginal trace of libidinal investment on account of the foraging effort expended, plus a faint after-image of libido-stirring obscurity (as with the MP3s I audio-strip off of YouTube and Vimeo - impossibly hard to find, or never ever released even in this age of releasing everything, like the soundtracks on obscure experimental films and animations, especially East European animations).

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