Dancing About Architecture

At long (and fat) last, after years of promising I’d write it, here’s the explanation.

You may have noticed that I have a large number of CDs.

Maaaaaannnny years ago when CDs first appeared on the market I panned them, specifically deriding their inability to sufficiently reproduce serious bass resonance as well as vinyl could. I still feel that way, although the comparative availability of the CD format has forced me to make it the bulk of my music collection. I parted ways with much of my vinyl collection a few years ago, but if I haven’t found an album on CD anywhere I have kept my vinyl copy. Also I have a few albums only on cassette—usually these are tape dubs of friends’ vinyl albums I’ve never found on vinyl or CD for myself.

So why so many albums, whatever the format? Two reasons.

1. I love music. Music is one of the most massively passionate aspects of my life—I love to sing, to play piano, to dance to everything from tacky ’70s disco to Handel’s “Messiah,” to learn to play various musical instruments (I have a flute, a hammered dulcimer, and a harp, and in the past I’ve played French horn and trombone)…. Above all, however, I revel in the appreciation of music in its many forms, whether I’m getting off on following the trumpet lines in the score of Stravinsky’s Le Sacre du Printemps at the “Le sage—Danse de la terre” section, lying on the floor in a dark room listening to Kate Bush’s “Watching You Without Me” (on endless repeat) on headphones, thrashing around a dance floor to Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop ’til You Get Enough,” laughing through a Pussy Tourette CD, going half-blind with wonderment over Loituma’s kantele patterning, or whatever.

2. About the excessive number of albums from certain groups: a part of me functions on a “collect the whole set” mentality. Personally I blame my numismatist father for this aspect, but to be fair I should add that when I hear excellent music I often want to hear everything else ever produced by any musician involved in that performance. Sometimes this is worthwhile, and sometimes it isn’t; I rectify the situation by winnowing my CD collection from time to time and letting go of the ones which no longer interest me…and friends who have visited for dinner can testify that these CDs are up for grabs. None of these are available for sale, but sometimes I do change my mind, so if you see one you want, email me (citoyen à markelliswalker.net) about it; if it’s one I’m ready to let go, I’ll send it to you, and if it’s not I’ll try to track down a copy for you. If you have something to offer in trade for one of my CDs, great; if not, great.

The Internet has made a huge difference in my approach to music’s role in my life, both by speeding up the spread of information about available discs and by making it possible to get a taste of less-heard music (sometimes directly from the source). The growth of “e-commerce” has infinitely expanded this trend: now I can find and order a rare disc from a small shop in Finland or Japan just as easily as I can get a major new release from Amazon or the local Tower Records. And (for all the social historians out there) I still visit shops in person nearly as often as I do online…but online I’m usually looking for a specific disc, whereas in person I’m more inclined to browse and impulse-buy.

When I decided to recreate my website and I revisited my Music page (dating from, what, 1996?) I realized it was time to transcend the list format and convey something about the intrinsically religious role of music in my life. A surprising number of these CDs are albums I can describe sincerely as Music I Wish I Was Making…and in fact working as a recording studio engineer is something I would truly love, especially in London and Paris where an incredible amount of vital music has been produced for decades (and, in the absolute Fantasy World version, I’d be assisting Dave Stewart in a studio producing ANYONE, the man’s got some serious production mojo). Until I find the way into that world, I must content myself with being an enthusiast…an appreciator and a promoter, broadcasting the names of artists and works that make life so fantastic when it’s good and worth surviving when it’s not. There’s so much wonderful music in the world that it doesn’t seem fair to not rave about it when it comes to my attention…so here’s my raving. Click on any hyperlinked album name to load something about it into this pane, although only a third or so have more information than tracklists and release data. As time permits I’ll be adding commentary on most of the linked albums.

It’s very telling that when I went through my CD collection to choose the discs I felt were most important to highlight I selected more than half of them.

Thanks for reading this. I hope you enjoy browsing my collection; drop me a line (citoyen à markelliswalker.net) if you want to tell me how much you love a certain artist or album…I’m not interested in criticisms (either of the works cited here or of the site itself), but I love to hear that music and its makers are appreciated.

—Mark
updated 23 July 2006