Two resolutions

Hellveto: top of my list for Week 1

I don’t normally go in for New Year’s resolutions (let’s be honest – they’re a load of shite) but over the last few months I’ve grown pretty sick of the way I listen to music. Before I got hold of an mp3 player with a decent capacity a few years ago, it was a treat to stick an album on and give it my full attention – something I managed to do only once or twice a day, but made the most of when I could. Over the last year or two, however, I’ve found myself cramming my ears with music whenever I’ve got a few minutes spare. I’m a busy guy, keen to keep track of new metal, and have enough great albums as it is that I just want to listen to on repeat; and so I seize every opportunity to stick my headphones on and listen to a few tracks when I’m walking between places, buying groceries, cooking, even brushing my teeth. One way or another, this adds up to a good few hours a day spent listening to music, and I manage to get through a fairly formidable number of albums every week. But even though I’m giving the music most of my attention, the satisfaction’s not what it used to be, for two reasons.

First, I’m always trying to get through as much music as possible, without showing any one album the love it deserves. I miss the days when I’d have to wait till I could afford a new CD, and then would play the fuck out of it. Total immersion – that was great. Second, however much I love listening to music, there comes a point where you completely saturate your brain with it and begin to resent the fact that you’ve still got several tracks to sit through before the album’s over. Proper listening is exhausting. What’s even worse is that if I’m reaching saturation point every day, I never have the energy to play or write any music myself. I’m sure this is normal: reading interviews, there’s only the occasional Fenriz-figure who devours as much music as we do and still has the drive to create.

So here’s the plan. Every week I’m going to pick out seven albums and listen only to them. I’ll make sure at least one of them is a new release, and at least one is a bit of a challenge to my tastes: that is, something lots of sensible people like, but that I’d not normally check out off my own bat. That way I ‘ll avoid stagnation without saturating my brain with new stuff, but make sure I give enough time to the music I love. Otherwise, I’m free to put as many Sargeist albums on the list as I like. Secondly, I’m going to make sure that when I’m listening to music, I’m doing it properly and enjoying it too. Wading through an album out of a grudging sense of obligation is just insane. It’s time to make listening a privilege again.

Even seven albums is quite a generous weekly allowance, but it’s a lot less than usual. (How many albums do you all generally get through per week? I’d be interested to know.) I reckon I’ve got the backbone to stick with it. I’ll let you know if it makes any difference.

16 Comments

  • Reply January 1, 2012

    J Shaw

    I’m sympathetic–though not as saturated as you. The digital mode of access to music makes it so easy to move from track to track, band to band, scene to scene. Like you, I miss the intense engagement with lps (mostly hardcore back then…) I enjoyed in the 80s, when I didn’t have much money for music or as much access. Things were so much more local, which had its advantages–especially inasmuch as music informed my social world.

    But it’s also true that blogs have opened my ears to scenes and tones that I wouldn’t have encountered in analog-only days past. Especially as a relative newbie to the metal underground (been listening widely and adventurously for two years now), I’m grateful for all the info I can sift through–reviews, meditations, demos. It’s pretty amazing to have the genre’s collective history available in such a searchable, navigable archive.

    Best luck with the listening project.

  • Reply January 1, 2012

    romilar

    I agree with you Rob, let’s not get saturated by how much easy is to get music today. I try to do it and successfully, I just listen to 5 records per week, most of them are ‘classics’ I know notes by notes and still enjoy endlessly. And 1 or 2 new relases per week so that I could focus on them with good attention and passion.

  • Reply January 2, 2012

    dagrind

    Which album and band is this on the pic??Good luck with the listening experience:)

  • Reply January 2, 2012

    Rob

    J Shaw – thanks for the great comment. You’re completely right about the advantages of the internet, and I’m thinking of writing something about it soon. The nostalgia you often hear for pre-internet days is totally unfounded. However, it’s easy to get so caught up in the sheer volume of music and information available that you end up doing none of it justice. Anyway, happy adventuring in the world of metal! You’ve got a lot of fun ahead of you.

    Romilar – glad to year it works for you. Nice blog by the way – my Italian’s pretty meagre but I enjoyed what I understood. I agree, Slayer is great music for the journey to work!

    Dagrind – that’s Hellveto’s album, Od PoÅ‚udnia na Północ. It’s great orchestral pagan metal, somewhere between Summoning and Graveland. I know that sounds shit on paper, but it’s really fantastic.

  • Reply January 3, 2012

    Doomed to Repeat

    I’m into this. Might take it up myself. Not to mention I personally wouldn’t mind hearing – before each new week – what you plan on listening to that week. Could be fun to set your list against mine. It’s Tuesday and due to my work schedule, this is the first day in the week when I get the chance to sit in my room and listen to music all day. Basically this is the start of my week as “weeks” have come to be commonly compartmentalized.

    LEt’s see . . . finally got my hands on the new Falls of Rauros, so I’ll probably put that in my week’s listening playlist. Also the new Speedwolf. And that new Stielas Storhett because – like you said – it’s fun to test your tastes and I hate DSBM, but it got a good review on Metalreview by a reviewer whom I trust to have good opinions.

    . . . But just now as I was checking my library, I realized that while I survey many albums a week and give many potentially awesome albums only a cursory listen before moving on to the next one, there are many albums which I find myself returning to again and again. I’m sure this is true of you, too. So I guess those albums – like Mitochondrion’s Parasignosis, for instance – will be included in the list, . . . or no?

    Good idea regardless. My NY resolution, however, is to fly on a plane. I’m a 26 year old, college educated American who’s been in two different bands that have each sewn their malignant seed across this great divide and yet I’ve never even been in a gd airplane. That’s gotta change!

  • Reply January 3, 2012

    Richard

    “Not to mention I personally wouldn’t mind hearing – before each new week – what you plan on listening to that week. Could be fun to set your list against mine.”

    Ooh, a little listening club. I’m intrigued. What do you think, Rob?

  • Reply January 3, 2012

    Rob

    Why not, eh? What are we thinking, facebook thread or weekly post? Either way, it might be best to post lists at the end of the week, leaving the possibility for a bit of feedback/reflection on a week’s listening.

  • Reply January 4, 2012

    D2R

    I haven’t got a Facebook because that wouldn’t be very misanthropic of me, but here’s what I’ve decided on for my seven albums this week:

    Alcest – Le Voyage De L’Ame (the title is not getting me very pumped)

    Falls of Rauros – The Light that Dwells w/in Rotted Wood (heh heh “wood”)

    Norska – Norska (pretty tight weird stoner shit per Stonerobixxx)

    The Ruins of Beverast – Enchanted by Gravemould (love these guys, can’t wait)

    Speed Wolf – Ride with Death (reminds me a lot of Kentucky’s Coliseum)

    Winterwolf – Cycle of the Werewolf (per VonFrost)

    Bolt Thrower – War Master (can’t get enough, ever)

  • Reply January 4, 2012

    Billy

    Nice idea for a blog, I’m considering a variant on the idea myself, given the numerous things I buy that don’t get enough of a look in. My main objection is the rigidity – I listen to music for pleasure, based on mood, as I’m sure you do. How does one work around that?

    I think the nostalgia of pre-internet days is relevant for a couple of reasons (and these are relevant to the blog):

    Firstly, the detective work required was great fun, and challenging at times. As a result there was more mystique, less cynicism and when a hunt yielded something, more satisfaction.

    Secondly, the speed at which information can be spread worldwide now has resulted in the intense hype lifecycle of so many bands, which burn brightly, then fade away. One band is flavour of the month, then forgotten, etc.

    The second important factor in this point, is that everyone has access to recording equipment that can provide commercial quality results. Bands no longer take their time honing a sound, and because there are so many bands there are endless labels jumping over themselves to release anything. Not as much capital or effort is required to promote a release, so bands are no longer as much of an ‘investment’. Whilst that might seem like a good thing in a punk ethos of freeing music, and giving access to all, ultimately it’s mainly benefitted the lazy, and those who want to play/release music for social status.

    This leads to the next point; because we are real music fans, we’re ever searching for the next musical high, the next band we’ve never heard of that we fall in love with. The sheer volume of bands makes this an impossibly neverending task, much like that of Sisyphus. It’s hard to reconcile yourself to the idea that you can never hear everything, so therefore you should take your time and focus on the real gems.

    Now, of course, these points aren’t cast iron arguments against the internet, but they do show how much influence it has over people and how susceptible we are to having our behaviour changed by it. The challenge is to use it as the wonderful tool it is without succumbing to the socialisation which it has imprinted on so many.

  • Reply January 5, 2012

    Durbin

    Rob – It’s interesting to read your musings on changing how you listen to music as it’s something I’ve recently been considering myself, partly because I think I listen to too much music. I thought about copying your idea (with a few more records though as I get alot of time at work to listen to music), but then came to the problems Billy mentioned as what I want to listen to very much depends on my mood.

    On the idea of a listening club, this sounds like a great idea and is something I’d very much be up for! Picking maybe 1 or 2 albums each week out of the listening list for discussion could be a good idea.

  • Reply January 5, 2012

    Durbin

    The format could end up something like the RPS verdicts:
    http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2011/08/26/the-rps-verdict-deus-ex-human-revolution/

  • Reply January 6, 2012

    Aaron B

    Good luck with that. I made a very similar resolution last year and could only keep it up for a month. And here I am cramming myself with several albums a day trying to ensure I don’t miss any great 2011 albums before I make my end-of-year list, haha.

  • Reply January 6, 2012

    Rob

    Billy & Matt – the impossibility of choosing music to cover the full range of moods is a problem I’ve encountered already in my first week of this project. I think I’ve got a solution though: instead of picking all seven albums at the start of the week and sticking with them, I’m going to pick each one as and when I feel an urge to listen to it. I’ll still end up listening to only seven albums, but I won’t bind myself to a specific seven too early on. I’ve also found this week that it pays to give yourself a lot of variety. This week’s seven (which I’ll write about at the weekend) have covered a big range of moods, and so I haven’t felt the urge to break my resolution… not yet, anyway.

    Billy – of course I agree with what you say about the benefits of the pre-internet era, and actually putting some constraints on your listening does quite a good job of recreating some of those benefits. If your weekly allowance of music includes some ephemerally trendy-on-the-internet band that actually sucks, odds are you’ll have realised it by the end of the week, once you’ve made yourself listen to it a few times.

    Aaron – getting to hear all the interesting new music out there is the biggest problem for anyone who decides to put a cap on their listening. I think I’ll still allow myself to check out promo tracks (though not full album streams) and then choose anything that catches my eye enough to buy it as one of my weekly choices. That ought to work, I reckon.

  • Reply January 7, 2012

    SQ

    Been thinking about this resolution, as I sometimes also feel saturated. I came to the conclusion that I too don’t play often enough because of the amounts of music I listen (well, I don’t even watch as many movies as I’d like because of that..), and that’s a big problem. Good luck with it! I might just get on the train…

    For solving the “mood” issue, I think I’d just cap the number of new* albums (1 or 2 seems adequate) and have the total albums/per week number be more of a guideline, not a rule to follow strictly and blindly.
    By setting the guideline to, let’s say, 7, I shouldn’t feel bad if I listen to 8/9 albums in a week, nor will I be thinking in a more busy week, or in a week where I’m really into just a couple albums “oh, I still have to listen to one more album this week.”

    [*By new I mean albums one has never heard before, not necessarily 2011/2012 releases.]

  • […] list #1 by Rob on Jan 15, 2012 • 1:14 pm No Comments At the start of this year, I resolved to curb my voracious appetite for music and listen to just seven albums a week. Here are my choices […]

  • […] anyone who’s still curious, here are my listening choices for the last three weeks. This will be the last of these posts. The whole list thing is too strict […]

Leave a Reply