• As a former niche record store owner, I can’t wait to see Other Music, the documentary on New York City’s much-loved and much-missed outsider music shop. Writer and investor Om Malik beat me to it, giving the film an enthusiastic thumbs up. He found a profound message about how the discovery of music we love attaches to a moment in time. There are people, memories, and places forever associated with songs and albums. Unfortunately, algorithmic discovery doesn’t connect itself to our memories, and the music becomes dissociated from personal meaning. Malik writes:
While the film is about a record store, it is really about serendipity and the emotion of discovery. We need a story to make something a memory. I watched the documentary and instantly remembered every single salesperson, their quirks, and even their snobbery. […] This is the missing piece of Spotify as we know of it today. The faceless algorithm does nothing to cement the moment of musical revelation in our memories. I am currently tripping on Oceanvs Orientalis, but I have no idea how I ended up finding them and liking their music. By comparison, a friend’s beau introduced me to El Jazzy Chavo. Every time I play his music, I think of the two of them and our bumpy car ride together.
Even if algorithms are efficient at providing basic “if you like this, then you might like this” music recommendations, they deprive us of the joy of discovery.
This sentiment is on point now more than ever. We’re living sequestered thanks to COVID-19, and opportunities to hear songs for the first time in clubs, restaurants, or in cars with friends are rare. That said, I wonder how much the music we’re finding now will live on in our emotions as the ‘songs of lockdown.’ [LINK]
• Shawn Reynaldo’s latest First Floor newsletter is remarkable. He asks himself, “What does ‘doing better’ actually look like?” Shawn refers to his desire to confront systemic racism, especially as part of the electronic dance music industry. His piece starts with a lay of the land and what others are doing — or are trying to do. Then Shawn leads into a self-examination:
Looking back at my own career, I’d like to say that I had avoided these traps, but the truth is that I’m just as guilty as most other music professionals I know. I admit that before last week, I hadn’t really considered some of these issues, as I was complacent in the fact that because I had written about and booked countless black artists over the years, I was doing my part to help. After all, even though my colleagues and I had been mostly all white, we were also “progressive” people with good intentions and the right politics, which placed us on the right side of this struggle. It almost feels ridiculous to be writing these things now, but after doing a lot of reading, reflecting and listening in recent days, it’s now obvious to me that I wasn’t doing enough.
Shawn goes on to list how he plans to start ‘doing better.’ These suggestions are thought-out and I’m making note, adopting them as well. And, as Shawn knows, these serve as a starting point. The changes we need to make go deep — both outside and within — and they will evolve as addressing lingering issues will reveal new challenges. Be sure to read Shawn’s full article — it’s powerful, and I can’t stop thinking about it. [LINK]
• Related to ‘doing better,’ One Little Indian Records has been using that name since 1985, releasing seminal records from Bjork, The Shamen, Chumbawamba, and others. As of yesterday, the label has renamed itself One Little Independent Records.
• I’m learning about Czech performance artist Milan Knizak, a ‘member of Fluxus behind the Iron Curtain.’ Like Christian Marclay, who followed him, Knizak broke, burned, soiled, and tormented records. Then he put them back together with glue, tape, and who knows what else. Much to the chagrin and detriment of his turntable and needle, he played these reassembled records. If you’re curious about what that sounded like, then hold on to your hat … here you go:
• Today’s Lake Holden photo at dawn is a pretty one = [LINK]