Tuesday, 19 April 2011
April Albums: The Bloodening
So, welcome to the halfway mark of April Albums, the listening experience that sees a 20-something with far too much time on his hands take his life off shuffle and tries to spend the month listening to nothing but full albums. At least 100 of them in fact.
How are we* (*I) doing then? Well, 14 days have passed, and we're 50 albums down (51 is playing in the background as I type this). If that's not sticking to schedule, then I don't know what is. My listening patterns have varied from 3-4 a day when I've been working, and up to 7 or so when not. The morning shift at work means I have a clear block of listening time from lunchtime onwards, which has worked out really nicely. The afternoon shift less so. The 2pm starts have meant getting up early, and getting 2-3 done before work, and having just enough time when I get in for one more between dinner and bed. In a way it's quite weird how such a whimsical project has altered my daily schedules.
Believe it or not, there are even a set of rules to go with the project. They are as follows:
One album per artist (this is proving something of a headache when I have two albums I've not heard in ages that I want to put on and have to choose between them)
No E.P.s (there was an attempt at making some kind of formula to equate a number of E.P.s to a full album depending on time/number of tracks. But it became laughably laborious pretty damn fast so I gave up)
No compilations either of the various artists variety nor the single artist best ofs/collections kind.
If an album is an expanded format, I will only listen to the original album (this originally started off as an exercise in hearing an album as it was originally intended, but has since become more a matter of time management. Don't say I'm anything but honest)
50 albums in 14 days makes it sound like all is going swimmingly. That's not strictly true. For one, one of my prime listening opportunities – a train journey to Manchester and back – saw my mp3 player lunch itself. The ensuing fallout, purchase of a new one, and filling it all back up (an ongoing process) put me back a fair amount. Only a late listening charge on Tuesday saved it. Some dodgy work shifts (8pm finish one night, then 5am start the next morning anyone?), and breaking off to listen to/write up review albums all contributed to some days where it all looked a bit iffy to say the least. But hey, we're here so all is well.
The main thing I'm experiencing at the moment is guilt. It's rare for me to listen to an album while not doing something else at the same time. While it's sad, it's also impractical to expect anything else. If that were to happen the whole of April would see me achieve nothing else except go to work and listen to albums. It'd be great if I could afford such luxuries but life admin and the like sadly have to have a space made for them. That said, while I'm not necessarily 'connecting' with albums in the purest sense of the concept, I'm at least actually listening to many for the first time in years, and forming opinions and judgements about them. I'm still experiencing them, just not perhaps in the puritanical lights off, eyes closed, everything turned off manner that the newly-fashionable record clubs have banged on about.
The more I think about it, the more I probably should've made greater headway in the last couple of weeks. At somepoint in the next couple of weeks the house is being reglazed (not sure when, just waiting for the army of workmen descending on the place at any given moment) so that could (and probably will) jeopardise proceedings a bit. But I'm not here to make excuses. One way or another each obstacle will be overcome, even if it means me going on walks with a discman or something equally demeaning.
What's actually surprising, having gone through the vaults* (*plastic crates) is how many of my favourite artists I've not yet played a record by. There's not been any Clash, Hefner, or David Bowie in the mix so far to name but three. This is pleasing as it means I haven't gone and played all the good stuff at the start and been left with the insufferable shit at the end which in turn harms my motivation. There's still a lot of great stuff still to explore. Happy days.
If you'll excuse me, I'm off to go and make some more headway. Before you ask, no I don't know what I'm going to play to send off the whole experience. Or if I'm going to stop at album 100 if I arrive there before the end of the month or just keep going until the 30th.
Update: In the space of time it's taken me to write this I'm now almost up to album 70. I'm not sure if this says more about my album listening work ethic the past couple of days or my insanely good procrastination skills.