10.08.2008

I Heart Analog


I miss my hi-fi. To be honest, the iPod* has been a woeful substitute despite its space-saving allure. I realized the depth of my regret at having relegated my audio components to the closet only after purchasing a few albums this month. I came home, used cds** in hand, flush with the excitement of shopping in the midst of financial catastrophe, ready to throw them on and bliss out. But life isn't that simple now.

First I must load the tracks into my computer and then I must plug my iPod into the computer and allow the songs to trickle onto the music player. Then the iPod demands more juice if it's to deliver a continual stream of music for longer than sixty minutes, which leaves me sitting about waiting for the battery to charge. 

It is at this point that my interest in listening to the albums begins to wane. I wash the dishes or sort the recycling. I add items to my TO DO list. I contemplate the exact date when JP Morgan will slap their branding on all of WAMU's printed collateral. I look up the word collateral and realize I'm not applying it correctly in the previous sentence. I check the iPod. Still charging. . .

When the earbuds are finally wedged into my ears I'm subjected to a very tinny sounding Cee-Lo. The Cure suffers from an aggressive treble and half the tracks on Bjork's Telegram are bogged down with mushy bass. I think back to the first time that I heard Massive Attack's Protection on something other than a boom-box and how the quality of the sound seemed so expansive and engulfing. Exactly how I managed to stray again from that experience I'll never know. I fell victim to the hype. I chuckled at those silly Mac and PC commercials and I lay my money down on the shiny counter of the Apple store. 

Now my ears often ache from the pressure of formed plastic and I can't remember what it was about the album art of OK Computer that affected me so much in my teens. My hi-fi collects dust in the closet, ashamed of its bulky cases and thick speaker cables. The CD collection has also entered the closet and is only briefly perused when a new album has been loaded onto the computer and needs to be stored out of sight. 

Meanwhile, the iPod travels about with me, delivering far more storage than sound. I watch everyone on the train nod their heads half-heartedly to the music being drowned out by the screech of the wheels on track and I think that we've all been fooled yet again. Now we own music; because experiencing it doesn't sell albums with the same frequency.

*I would put a TM symbol after every instance of the word iPod because I respect the Apple and do not wish to anger the Apple, but I cannot find this feature on Blogger, so let this serve as my disclaimer that iPod is a registered trademark of Apple. I understand that I have no rights to type the word iPod without a TM symbol but I respectfully submit that it is Blogger, not I, who has violated international intellectual property rights by not providing the appropriate typography to legally credit copyright and trademark holders.

**For those of you who care, the purchased cds in question were:
Gnarls Barkley- The Odd Couple
The Cure- Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me
Bjork- Telegram
Peter Gabriel- Peter Gabriel
MC Solaar- Paradisiaque
Massive Attack- Danny the Dog: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Underworld- Pearl's Girl

3 comments:

Esteban said...

Paradisiaque?! I laughed when I saw that one, seeing as how I made you wait so many years for me to dub you a tape copy and you've only just bought the CD. Your list put me in the oldies mood, though. Time to revisit the Pumpkins, Mazzy Star, and Portishead. Now there are some hi-fi groups if ever there were any.

Amy Louise Skorheim said...

And all this about decontextualizing the album experience, removing the music from the liner art and other physical properties, etc, is to say nothing about the heretofore beloved, seemingly ingenious, but actually heinous 'Shuffle' feature. It chops up your music and makes a mealy protein shake of what should be a five course meal.

Jeffrey T. Baker said...

French rap isn't exactly in high demand stateside. Strangely enough, after scouring multiple cd stores in Paris, Toulouse, and La Rochelle I still couldn't drum up a copy of Paradisiaque (although I did walk away with a double-cd limited release of Mach 6, which is more polished but less fun). Now I can listen to the Wonderbra track all I want!

As for the icksy Shuffle feature, the only interesting thing to come of that is the realization that my computer actually has its own warped musical taste— would you like some more Peaches with your Folk Implosion?