I signed up for iTunes match at the weekend. Ever since I've been merrily ripping my music collection: several hundred unboxed CD filed in a flight case. It's been a joyful experience, getting to know my old , physical music again. I'm only a third of the way through, but there have been some lovely surprises.
Music that sounds better than I remember
- Plaid - Double Figure (I knew Eyen was sublime, but has more going on than I recall. Assault on Precinct Zero was never a favourite. It is now.)
- Aphex Twin - Come to Daddy EP (Forgot all about the off-kilter weirdness of Little Lord Faulteroy Mix. It sounds like the soundtrack to an early Ian McEwan short story. But in a good way.)
- Tortoise - Standards (Just wow. Benway, particularly.)
- Prefuse 73 - Vocal Studies & Uprock Narratives (this still sounds _incredibly fresh to my ears)
Music I forgot I had, that I've forgotten the sound of, and need to spend time with
- Autechre - Garbage
- Cake - Comfort Eagle (except for Long Line of Cars, but then that song is unforgettable.)
- Elixir - Music, Mathematics, Magic (I recall this sounding dark, but can't put my finger on the sound, which is exciting)
- A bunch of albums that are either recorded by Aphex Twin under an alias other than AFX, or by people like him/friends of his (and I've forgotten which)
Now that I've binned my Spotify sub, I'm looking forward to being a proper consumer of music again. I'm not going to go nuts. The price of my sub on considered purchases seems like a good place to start. The obsessive in me wants to plug gaps I've identified. I'm lacking Plaid's most recent releases. I don't have nearly enough Amon Tobin. And relistening to Prefuse 73, I really should set about investigating everything he did after VS&UN.
Another part of me wants to fill in my collection with some of my favorites from my web-consuming years. Much of this is in more of an electro-pop area, though in recent years I think there's been some really good indie rock type stuff (I refuse to get more specific with genres, because I'll balls it up and sound like an arse.) Here's where the internet has been a good thing. I used to buy the odd guitar album because I liked a song or two I'd heard, or because of word of mouth, or a glowing review–and then I'd listen and it was like my ears weren't cut out for it. But I think if you compare music of recent years by the likes of Villagers and Foals to what was passing for indie in the 90s ... well, I think the genre's come on. But mainly, I need to buy some Ladytron.
I should probably note at this stage I haven't started on my hip hop collection yet. I'm wondering if, at this point, 90s hip hop (Dad-rap, basically) is my thing. Nothing used to wind me up more than people declaring all hip hop shit because they couldn't be bothered to find the good stuff. I wouldn't dare declare all hip hop shit. But it may be that I can no longer be bothered to find the good stuff.
The iTunes Match element of all this is going nicely, I should add. I'm using a spare Win-box I don't use much with a biggish hard drive to do the actual ripping. I've elected to rip to Apple lossless format. If I buy downloads they'll be FLAC, and I'll use free tools to covert to Apple Lossless. If you're not familiar with iTunes match, it basically makes digital copies of my music collection available on all of my devices. Where my CDs match iTunes store content, it just uses that. But neatly, where it can't find a match, it'll upload my music and then make 256 kbps rips available for streaming and download on my other devices (at least, that's my understanding). This is the technology I've been keeping my CD collection for, I think. This makes more sense to me than running a Spotify subscription. The gaps in subscription services' catalogues are their most frustrating shortcoming. I'll use the free version–but only to investigate music I've heard is good, just to find out if I agree. The final piece of the puzzle is Last.fm, which I'm re-embracing for random discovery and radio-type consumption. It's changed a lot since I used it last, but it's still really good.