Thursday, October 11, 2007

IMG_1194I've been... I'm not sure naughty is quite right. Essentially, basically and briefly, cutting to the chase with brevity, I've just gained the new Radiohead album.

It's really strange listening to something one has never heard at all before. I've no idea if any of it has been on the radio, because I've largely stopped listening, mostly because my radio sits unplugged due to the resident poltergeist, who thinks sending clattering Morse from the MD [yes, it's that old; it would have got away with it too if it weren't for those pesky internet routers] drive and who also thinks it's jolly amusing to blast Xfm/BBC World Service filling Radio 4* out at any old AM.

* You might think Xfm doesn't sound remotely like Radio 4 or the World Service, which is predominantly true except at 2.39 AM while on the cusp of conciousness from about three foot above the bed.

Being me, once unplugged forever shall it stay until I want to see if the fuse works for scavenging purposes. So the radio in the kitchen sits permanently on Radio 4 and that's about as far as listening to anything gets (I could listen online, but that's silly when I've got a perfectly good, albeit fearsomely temperamental, radio nearby); unless the music gets used in the News Quiz, I haven't a hope of hearing it (and my token yoof seems to have given blogging).

Anyway, because the BBC and the Guardian and the New York Times and - actually, no, I haven't seen anything on Flickr covering this - Co. were obsessing about it, and also because it would appear I have all the preceding albums (seventh, what do they mean seventh? I already have seven. See, there's... oh no, that one's Portishead. But the name's the same length in that font, sits right above Radiohead and even is roughly the same shape) I decided I may as well investigate.

Click BBC link. Click download. Click buttons to find out what they do. Um and er over a price. Pick one. Lower it to take into account the transaction fee. Lower it yet further for being 160 kbps MP3 format (I know I routinely listen to stuff recorded at 128, but I have the option of reverting to CDs should I feel I'm missing something). Click buy. Discover I must register. Discover this requires name, address, mobile phone number as well as email address. Fail to find the T&C or privacy statement. Realise it wouldn't be sensible to use my normal spambaiting answers if I'm actually buying something, but the address listed in the bar shows no mention of Radiohead, so handing over more details than I would in a shop, to persons unknown, who fail to indicate what they will do with them? Well, my answer was somewhat akin to that of a veteran actress rebuffing rumours of yet another impending marriage [via GfB].

Realising it's only MP3s which are bound to have already turned up elsewhere, I go back, stick a couple zeroes in the requisite holes, feel faintly guilty as I plug in spurious details (apologies to the residents of 29, Acacia Avenue, HE99 9LP (if I'd been thinking I'd have used CRx xOW) and say 'hi' to Ericis when you see him. I only used that because I'm sure a certain Devonish halls of residence must be sick of getting my junkmail, assuming it hasn't been demolished as promised annually yet) except for the blog email, click through to a page which tells me I'm in a queue, my custom is valued and has a slowing filling bar across it. A browse of BBC News later and there's a red link, which starts downloading file (and an email to do the same).

And that's it. Unzip and start listening. Forty-two-minutes and thirty-four-seconds later, having heard it once, it's Radiohead, not immediately grabbing, but much of the rest of their work has had a similar initial impact. OK Computer nonplussed (ok, scared) me, Kid A bewildered then under guidance beguiled. Oddly the first thing I think of is track 8, Idioteque which is more of an Amnesiac track anyway. And the latter album has always run aground with Pulk/Pull. Can you tell I'm flipping through them now and discovering they're not nearly as, er, specialised as I'd remembered. It appears only the difficult pieces sink in.

So how guilty do I feel for not paying anything? Faintly. But then I haven't bought full-price CDs since pre-Amazon. I tend to wait till something turns up in a sale, much reduced before I'll consider it, although places like Fopp only encouraged me not to buy, on the grounds that if DVDs get sold for £3 why is the starting price of cheap CDs apparently £5? And if I forget about the music between it coming out and it becoming cheap then I probably didn't want it anyway.

But had I paid any price, let alone new album price, I think I'd be disappointed by now. It's 42-minutes. That's the length of an hour-long American program minus the adverts. It takes longer to cook pasta (this assumes the normal complications of finding/cleaning a saucepan, waiting for the water to boil, getting distracted and putting the pasta in late, getting further distracted so pasta ends up overcooked, draining, leaving to vent awhile while finishing off whatever's going with it, and serving it). It's non-grabby. It doesn't come with scratchable packaging one can fret over and blurb one can never get out, or back in, pristinely intact. It's the refined product, and as such rather anticlimactic. I haven't yet recognised it as good music, thus it's value to me is low. Hopefully this'll change and I'll find a much on-offer copy a few years hence through which I can negate the by then mounting guilt. Hopefully.

So no true guilt yet.

Music playing while I wrote this: Radiohead - Hail to the Thief.


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