I don't wish to think of how it came together or how it fell apart. The time exists as some kind of pretentious mirage. O God, what it would be like to be a part of a gaggle of post-punk scenesters. O God, what it would be like to anticipate the move and motive of every British musical publication. O God, how it would be to undermine the rules and tacky guidelines ascribed by Mr Kingsmill and his suitably trendy honchos. We developed such an intense manner of assurance in our cultural sensibilities. We knew we were onto something, so we desperately campaigned for their popularity in any way we could. Slightly flushed, we discussed whatever tenuous links we had with members of the band. Slightly flustered, we emphatically insisted that we discovered them months before anyone else. We savoured that bittersweet irony: we so wanted them to be popular, but we would come to resent them in the very attainment of that popularity.
It's so easy to see it when we stand so far away. I understand why that music meant as much as it did. Even though the music possessed an unspeakably rare breed of pop charisma, its consequence was not contained within the music itself. It was the sharing of the music which created this community, this sense of unified enthusiasm for the movement. It's difficult to remember the musical climate but all this happened at a time when there was no Myspace, no Facebook. There were no MP3 blogs. There were a limited number of sites which provided free new music downloads. It was an intensely frustrating time to find that song by that band... and you could forget walking into Polyester Records to ask for that EP because they wouldn't have a clue what you were talking about. Believe me, it really happened. It was inevitable we would have to find one another in a forum, there was no other way we could find this music alone. It was just too hard.
I would recall going to extreme measures just to get a single song, ripping a streaming radio session or a live show online. I know that so many others had to resort to similar measures, simply due to the scarcity of resources at that time. This practice, however, is not discussed in light of its associated legal ramifications. Perhaps people are scared, perhaps people don't wish to acknowledge their downloading practices online. These are completely valid concerns. However, it is a terrible farce to deny these practices ever existed within the community. To ignore its prevalence would completely dismiss the love, dedication and motivation of the devoted few. We would go to such lengths to share our passion and in turn, we had an unyielding desire to indulge each others' every recommendation. It is a shame, because I know it is this very aspect of the culture which will be forgotten in time: that intense desire to share and to explore our music.
My attached podcast explores many of the songs that, at one time, made our hearts dance. Let's not think of how it all fell apart. Let's not recall how the jagged guitars and hurtling drums became so tiresome. Let's not think of how easy it became to find the music we wanted. It's a cruel thing that the interwebs had to become as amazing as it did. No longer are we compelled to chase individual tracks so desperately, albums leaks are now available so readily. Sordo and What.CD made us so inconsequential to one another. We no longer needed each others recommendations. We are now so-called independent tastemakers, cruelly susceptible to the hype and tacky guidelines by Mr Kingsmill & co. It fills me with a sense of utter complacency, really. I feel no desire to keep up with any of it, just because they insist I should. I'd rather retreat to 1982, where so many more things remain to be discovered.
Don't trust art, don't trust culture
Cassettes & Chocolate Milk: Britpop Podcast #22
The Rakes - Terror (Extended Mix)
Bloc Party - Staying Fat
Franz Ferdinand - 40'
Maximo Park - Once, A Glimpse
The Futureheads - Meanwhile (Acoustic)
The Cribs - Things Aren't Gonna Change
Battle - Tendency
The Cloud Room - Blackout!
Radio 4 - Absolute Affirmation
Lily Allen - Nan You're a Window Shopper (Demo)