Saturday, May 08, 2010

There is something strange about realising that your culture doesn't seem to exist anymore. We can revisit the music and the places which once meant so much, but their potency has somehow diminished. Things are no longer as they were: we have grown up. We now listen to other music. There are moments of comfort though, when either you or I heave a great gust of retrospection. I so love it when you write to tell me how much you miss the excitement of our time. The post-punk revival that happened all of five years ago. I sometimes imagine it's what being a first generation punk would have been like. The jagged guitar lines thrashing our back and sides. The hurtling drum beats governing our every movement. The rally cries we shouted in boisterous unity and wholehearted sincerity. When I think of it we are dancing, happy and lost in the depths of Fitzroy. If Fitzroy had any depths...

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)

Download (52MB)


Anonymous said...

Sweet Elle! Absolutely agree, there's a certain appeal in the hard-to-get - the thrill is most certainly in the chase! Having said that, there is another (albeit slightly less respectable) appeal in the convenience of quick and easy access. (Don't call my name ... woberto?)
Lest we forget.
xx Tyra.

Eleanor said...

You're amazing, Miss Santos and I know I don't say that enough! Thank you muchly for your visiting and for your comment too!

And yes, I too agree that there is a certain thrill in the MP3 chase. It has become a little too easy to find the music we love (although, sometimes difficult in the case of Eugene McGuinness' GLUE).

Flukey Lukey said...

Your blog has helped me expand my music collection and vary my stagnant playlists.

I have broken a cycle of over-listening to a strange mix of Mike Oldfield, Pink Floyd and Tool and instead have embraced lighter-hearted tunes.

At the moment I’m jumping between They Might Be Giants and Vampire Weekend. Soon I will revisit Franz Ferdinand and then try out some more Brit Pop.

Nice work with the podcasts too. I sampled #22. I approve 