furia furialog · New Particles · The War Against Silence · Aedliga (songs) · photography · code · other things     ↑vF
For a long time, I wrote a verbose, discursive weekly music-review column called The War Against Silence. For most of a decade, my listening life, if not my whole life, was organized around this, and thus procedurally dedicated to filtering through as much new music as I could physically buy and play in order to find a record or two each week to which I could attach some kind of story about what it's like to believe that music is the thing that humans do best.  

In my farewell column I said, among other things, that "Organizing my reactions to new music is no longer the central motif of my narrative of identity."  

I trust that I meant that when I wrote it, so apparently there was at least a moment in my life when it was true. Or, rather, it's still true, but there must have been a moment in my life when it seemed significant. I got married around then, and our daughter is now 8. So of course there's now more to it. I'm pretty sure my "narrative of identity", if I still have such a pompous-sounding thing, is not organized enough to have a central motif.  

But I've only gradually realized how much this is more than just entropy. My attention is, if anything, exponentially more focused on music discovery than ever before. This process used to be logistically constrained by the low bandwidth of pre-internet research and pre-streaming shopping, and the slow pace of album-sized listening, and the constant arbitrary discipline of annotating individual albums with over-explicated life-checkpoints. Now there's Spotify. And since I work there, too, I not only have the Spotify you see, but also a hundred strange extensions and elaborations and experiments that haven't evolved into public features yet. We all have an ocean of sort-of all the world's music to swim in, now, but I also have erratic prototypes of god-robots that can, sometimes, make the currents reflow to bring every yearning message-bottle straight to my private personal beach.  

And partly as a result, but also partly as cause, over the last few years I've more or less inverted my musical attachment-model. I do still listen to whole albums sometimes, and sometimes fall in love intensely with individual artists. But I used to draw the boundary of "my" musical life there, and "exploration" was a pre-listening thing I did on the other side of that line. Only the music I wrote about was really mine; I accepted no responsibility for the rest of it.  

That now seems to me like useless, inexplicable, atavistic and basically intolerable isolationism. I accept responsibility for nothing and everything. There's no line. Exploration is listening, not a way of preparing for listening. I can now spend a happy afternoon immersed in auto-collated Norwegian Hip Hop, and at the end I can't necessarily tell you a single name. But I'm not trying to become a Norwegian Hip Hop specialist, I'm trying to listen. It's all listening. More listening is better. More variety is better. More languages, more instruments, more surprise. More everything. I spend whole days awash in noises I haven't even made up names for yet. Stopping to write a 3000-word essay about every single record seems literally counter-productive and emotionally excruciating, a sacrifice of so much other possible listening that you might as well be summoning death.  

And yet, I still believe that thing about the unexamined life, and hearing without taking some kind of note isn't quite listening. You can't make tools for music discovery without thinking about the process. Without self-awareness and referentiality, you don't have discovery, you have wandering.  

New music still has a market periodicity, too, and my life has obvious weekly cycles, so I've found myself over the last year making weekly playlists of some of the things I come across. And instead of elaborate essays in which the music is used as an excuse for introspection, I've been annotating each track with the shortest possible explanation I can come up with for what I thought it was when I thought it was worth remembering.  

I originally started posting these annotated lists on a discussion board, just as part of an ongoing conversation. But as the conversation underwent its natural dissipation, I keep making the lists, and they settled into a format. And I finally got around to making an actual home for them, because I found myself wanting a better way to keep track. So although I've been making them for almost exactly a year, this is also kind of the beginning.  

Here, then, I introduce to you:  
 

New Particles  
 

It's a weekly annotated-playlist series. Some weeks there's a lot of music, some weeks there's less. In theory some weeks there could be nothing, but that doesn't seem to happen in practice. The annotations are brief and not guaranteed to make sense. The music is not likely to seem coherent to anybody but me, and the odds seem good that, no matter what your tastes, I will regularly include some kind of thing you can't stand.  

Why you should care what music seems interesting to me, or why, I don't exactly know. Some people cared about my old column, but this is kind of the formal opposite of that. Maybe this is only for me.  

But I tried to not do it, and failed. So now it exists.  

Welcome!
Site contents published by glenn mcdonald under a Creative Commons BY/NC/ND License except where otherwise noted.