Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Persistence of Memory

My son needed a pencil for his homework. This was a little ridiculous, since only a few months ago, we bought one of those 5-gazillion pencil packs. ...I know they all end up hiding under his bed or behind his bureau. Maybe he's collecting them to build a makeshift catapult. Or even a trebuchet... (He's a bright one.)

Anyway, I was looking around for said pack of pencils, and found an old box full of odds and ends. Clearly one of those boxes into which one crams nick-knacks when cleaning the house for an impending visit from in-laws. Tucked in the bottom of this notably dust-bunny-laden box was a pale tan CD. For whatever reason, I was compelled to glance at the minimalist cover.

Freefloater. By Higher Intelligence Agency.

Whoa! This wasn't a CD I had seen in nearly a decade! I had it buried along with Kitaro, Banco de Gaia and other embarrassing mistakes of my early electronic music-listening career.

But as I pointed out in an earlier post: my tastes have changed.

I vaguely recall some kernel of brilliance in HIA music. Curious, I pop it into the drive and rip it into iTunes, giggling at the notion that WinAmp was the height of computer-music-collecting back in those days. The evening passes. I listen to a few tracks here, a few in the car picking up pizza. I continue to listen now as I sit down to answer email.

[Now Playing: Skank]

While I find a couple of these tracks are silly and obnoxious... this track is brilliant, as are a few others. Minimal but engaging. Unapologetically electronic: just the way I like music, these days. Lots of squelchy 303. Personality. Lacking, perhaps, in a more overt "message", it is nevertheless quite enjoyable.

I wonder, briefly, what other abandoned music I may be missing out on now. You see, I go through regular binges and purges of music. (More purges than binges.) ...My collection is dizzyingly small, for an musician: I tote one of the earliest-generation iPods, of which I use perhaps 30 Gig... and over half of that is foreign language training (trivia: I was a linguist in college: a good one). My music library is a greyhound: thin, sleek, and built for a single purpose. It runs fast and then sleeps for the rest of the day. It farts a lot if you don't feed it yogurt.

Okay, so the greyhound analogy isn't perfect.

Counter-intuitively, experiences like this--where I "rediscover" good music that I long ago deleted--evoke a sense not of regret but of appreciation. If these tracks had stayed in my library, I would take them for granted. Only because I have some much distance from them now, I can appreciate them anew. It's like a little gift I'd hidden for myself. You don't know what you're missing until it's gone. That kind of thing.

I highly recommend deleting the music that's gotten a little tired for you. In a decade, give or take, you may stumble over it and fall back in love. Fleeting or not, it's still a worthwhile experience.

No comments: