For quite some time now, I’ve considered starting a blog about my record collection. I’ve been collecting vinyl records for about a decade or so now, and before that CDs. I have been known to not buy new clothing or even kitchen-ware for years on end, but spend money I don’t have on a rare Japanese pressing of this or that record. Yes, it is a passion, a passion of chaos. Indeed, one of my favorite aesthetes, Walter Benjamin has a lively piece on book-collecting, the spirit of which animates how I see my record collecting. “Every passion borders on the chaotic,” writes Walt, “but the collector’s passion borders on the chaos of memories” – hence the name of the blog.
Aesthetic objects – books, pieces of music and so forth hold a two-fold value, as Benjamin points out. There is the pure use value, the delivery of creative labour through the means of the page or the disc. But then there is what Benjamin calls “profound enchantment”, implying something quite different from the mystification of most commodities, A record’s embodied labour, its engineering/pressing as well as the craft of the music itself is right on the surface, discernible without effort, like those classic Blue Note jazz records with an essay by Nat Hentoff or Studs Terkel on the craft of the musician, the emotion behind the vicissitudes of using a trombone instead of a cornet. “For a true collector, the whole background of an item adds up to a magic encyclopedia.”
Lest I come off as too high-theoretical, this blog is not a space in which I will be theorizing my record collection. What I plan on doing is, as often as time permits, taking a record out and explaining why it’s important to me. I may go off on a theoretical tangent, or I may simply give some historical context, on a macro-level, or even on a purely technical level. As someone whose hobby means a great deal to me, I see this as in many ways a process of clarification, of why I like what I like, put simply. I also may post essays or articles I’ve written over the years. And I hope I can illuminate all of that for other music lovers out there on the interwebz. Watch this space for a post on one record or another I’ve been listening to as of late. These days I’ve been moving between an obsessive rediscovery of Leonard Cohen (plus I can’t stop listening to Jenffier Warnes’ record of Cohen songs); free jazz and the transition from post-bop to free jazz (laughing at how I worked in a “transition” theory), smatterings of Zappa for the first time in a long time; roots and Americana and so forth. And then there are records to which I keep going back….So you never know. But I promise you you will learn something obscure and useless, but perhaps profound.