singles by choice
(albums when it's necessary)
18 March 2022
listening with headphonesAvid Acutus
Benz Micro LP-S
Linn Klimax DS (Renew)
TEAD Mastergroove Mk 2
TEAD Vibe Phoenix / Pulse 2
Luxman P-1u
Sennheiser HD800
double album

6th October 1996. I had a couple of Broadcast singles. I had them because they were on Duophonic and Wurlitzer Jukebox, two labels I collected. Most likely I picked them up in Warp. Stuff would sit in the racks there for months; why wouldn’t it? Vinyl was on its death bed, and there was no secondary market. Jack’s, up the road, would give you a quid for a record you didn’t like, and sell it for three. The Beatles album on the wall was £30 but who wanted that old shit anyway? We had our own music, and it was old but new and weird but familiar and it was Broadcast. They were created complete, focused, and immaculate. “For fans of Stereolab”, but better. I was on the dole, but records were cheap, and lack of alternative distractions meant I built lifelong connections to the music in my modest collection.

1st March 1997. No sign of an album, and I’d played those singles almost through to the other side. Broadcast did a session for Jo Whiley and Steve Lurpak, but though I was back on the dole, often staying in and listening to the radio because I couldn’t afford much else, I didn’t hear it. I rarely found “my” music on the radio, preferring to get my musical education from friends, record shops, and the photocopied enthusiasm of fanzines. We took music at face value; we didn’t dissect, or apply critical theory; we made mixtapes but we left “curation” to museums. Cool bands played in upstairs rooms of pubs, and I always knew someone who could get me in for free if I was skint.

9th February 2000. There were no 26 Albums We’re Looking Forward to in 2000 listicles, and “pre-order” was still a non-sequitur. I hadn’t heard this teaser session, so I was surprised and excited when The Noise Made by People appeared. It disappointed me at first. Too long and too samey. Except, of course, it wasn’t. Not one idea flogged to death: a single vision fully explored, but it took time to understand that. They toured, and my friend and I went to see them whenever we could. They were more like an art installation than a band. We took it for granted because they were, after all, just another group, our age, who liked the some of the same films and some of the same records.

19th August 2003. Pendulum came out earlier in the year, and Ha Ha Sound more recently. They were great records, but their release was no big deal. They were easy to find, and not so expensive. You could pretty much walk straight in to any live show, and people would be paying attention, into the music. It was good. Warp was long gone, and I was buying most of my records from websites, but the Internet still felt like a thing you had as well as everything else.

18th March 2022. Broadcast melted away years ago; just Trish and James; musique concrete, film soundtracks, always more experimental. Vinyl became some weird signifier of supposed taste or status, and the Beatles album on the wall is five hundred quid, even though they re-issue it every year. Trish died; Broadcast were elevated to status of big-effing-deal. Everything’s a big-effing-deal; you’ve got to give your world meaning somehow, I suppose. Go and write another PhD on Rubber Soul if you think it’ll make Earth a better place. I have thousands of records now, and they feel like a burden. Warp reissued both the Microtronics on vinyl alongside this, but I didn’t buy them. I’ve only just sold my CD copies; and my Mother is the Milky Way. Gradually all the CDs are going. I’m gearing up to shift the records, but there are just so many, and there’s so much of my life wrapped up in them. Don’t want to keep them, don’t want to get rid of them. Broadcast are frozen in time and I’m frozen with them; listening to music a quarter-of-a-century old because modern music doesn’t speak to me; it comes from a place I don’t understand. Or maybe the choice today is too much, too overwhelming. Or I don’t have the energy, or the time. Or perhaps Mark Fisher was right and it’s all just warmed-up leftovers. But he rated Joy Division, so what did he know about music?