If variety be the spice of life, many an audiophile would prefer it if you just held back on the cayenne. Difference is often met with bemusement. The Zu Audio guys nearly always cop a handful of quizzical looks each time they unleash a Nick Lowe or Four Tet record.
Last year I detailed how Sydney Audio Club gives over the second half of its monthly meets to member music choices, selected randomly by host Tom Waters. These Australians prove time and again that it’s eminently possible to tolerate difference without the need for a snarky remark to distract from onlookers from consternation. I’ve no doubt that a handful of members positively despised Nicolas Jaar’s “Space Is Only Noise” but they had the presence of mind to keep a lid on it.
With others, distaste is more palpable: one Stateside distributor openly rubbished selections that comprised last year’s Electronica for Audiophiles playlist. He called it “Klingon battle music” with nary a sign of a nod or a wink.
That’d be fine if it were a scarce event but this kind of attitude tends to permeate the audiophile world – musical difference is frequently met with displeasure. And nowhere is this more apparent than at audio shows, especially with two-channel demos where each attendee must enjoy/endure whatever’s being played. Break from the norm and you run the risk of losing your audience. However, is a break from the norm, and the ensuing evolution of musical programming, not a pre-requisite for a show’s ongoing appeal? No-one lives forever.
For this second installment of 6moonbeams, I didn’t want to bang the drum yet again about the preponderance of aural beige. Instead, I opted to compile a playlist in the spirit of Zu Audio – vive la difference! Sean Casey and his crew consistently spin music from artists covered by the mainstream music press: The Quietus, FactMag and Consequence of Sound. In the audiophile press, think TONEAudio.
Alas, the majority of exhibitors choose to keep the spicier choices to a minimum. When they do turn up it’s often not until after hours. Beer caps snap as the daytime’s more polite musical programme is parked and the good stuff comes out.
Zu Audio are the same day and night. The Casey family’s afterhours parties spin psychedelic rock and dubstep no matter what the time of day. They just play it LOUDER.
Remember that? Getting your heart rate above 115pm is good for your health but it ain’t gonna happen with a diet of more polite fare. And there’s nothing wrong with polite – far be it from me to tell you what to listen to at home – my beef is with the face-pulling and smart-ass wisecracks that follow someone’s attempt to bring something different to the table. The audio show world is in dire need of more exhibitors like Zu Audio, not fewer.
If kick-ass rock n roll and intense electronica is how you get your rocks off, head on over to 6moons for April 2015’s playlist.
Keeping it more downbeat, here is a song that I’d initially wanted to include in the playlist before I discovered that it wasn’t on Tidal or Spotify: John Cale’s devastating cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”.
Further information: 6moonbeams #2