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Performing Score 378: SELECT AN ALBUM

Over the next 6 weeks I will perform Score 378: SELECT AN ALBUM by Bill Drummond.

When Bill asked me to do this a few weeks back, my first thought was that it would be a question of ranking the "most important" albums from each decade I have lived, in a sort of “best music of my life” album list, and then re-listen through them all.

I found this task rather difficult, maybe because music has always meant something on a very personal level to me, and that merely ranking pieces of my own emotional history in this way would be a very superficial way of treating such an important element of my life.

My second thought was that I would surely have to follow the score in a very rigid manner, and therefore find the time to spend 6 consecutive days listening to and thinking about these albums, something that would also be difficult to pull off in these busy times.

I don't know if it's the red and black all-caps letters of the scores that make me take this rather unfamiliar and obedient position. But in some way it feels like The17 scores are command lines, prompting me not to step on Bill's intellectual lawn or something. Maybe it's just the way they resemble computer code.

After all, you don't discuss with code, you just run the program.

At least if you're a machine.

But after giving it some time, I slowly realized that this was only the weak part of my imagination speaking, and that I could of course interpret the score as I wanted to.

I've finally decided to focus on one album from each decennium of my life thus far that somehow has had a special impact on my personal and - later - artistic development.

It might be an interesting exercise, at least to myself.

I will start with the first album tomorrow, and then post the results over the next 6 Mondays here on my blog (http://myblurrywindow.blogspot.com).

All the texts will then be collected and posted on the THE REST OF THE WORLD page at http://www.the17.org

Decade #1 - The 1960's

The Royal Guardsmen - "Snoopy versus the Red Baron"

I can remember the green Philips portable turntable on the floor in front of me.

I can remember the worn-out paper sleeve of my mother's copy of the 7-inch vinyl single, and the wood and rubbered string record rack that I picked it out from whenever I wanted to play it.

I can remember trying to fit the record on the deck without fiddling too much with hitting the hole in the middle, which was hard.

I can remember the clicking sound when pulling back the tone arm in order to start the turntable motor, and the repeated failure of carefully putting the stylus down at the beginning of the record, due to the underdeveloped motion control of the small child that I was at the time.

I cannot remember any other details of my surroundings.

I was three years old, and this was my favourite record.

Other favourites were "Sugar Baby Love" by The Rubettes and "Barbara Ann" by The Beach Boys, but "Snoopy versus the Red Baron" was on top of the list, and it is only in retrospect that I can begin to understand why.

You might think it had something to do with the fact that fun tales of Snoopy the cartoon dog appealed more to a three-year old than the hymns of sexual celebration that my other two favourite tunes were.

But it wasn't.

It was about the fact that, in addition to the music and vocals, there were sounds of airplanes, guns and crashes in there - real sound effects to spark my imagination.

This bubblegum pop record actually contained samples - in 1966! - noises that helped me create pictures inside my head and made some kind of story unfold inside me.

In addition, the music and the song were fine, too - as a soundtrack to my inner experience.

The production resembled the sound that Joe Meek created for the Tornados, only with less backward noises and delay feedback, which couldn’t be a bad thing either

The funniest thing is that the rhythm of the track has had an immense impact on my later life as a music maker myself.

The drum beat of “Snoopy…” with its four to the floor kick drum and marching style snare work is something that I would subconsciously apply on my first ever self-produced solo record "Drum", released under my "new beat" pseudonym Syamese in 1990.

To illustrate this more clearly, you can check out the links to the originals and to a short mash-up of the two tracks below.

Another thing that strikes me as important, is that it was all about this one song.

The album format was totally irrelevant to me back then. I couldn't care less about tracking down any LP with the band, and to this day never have heard another tune by The Royal Guardsmen.

Decade #2 - The 1970's

Kraftwerk - "Man Machine"

In 1978 I was given a cassette copy of "Man Machine" by my friend Geir Jenssen, who would later rise to electronic ambient fame under the name Biosphere.

Geir had presented the album to me on his portable cassette player during a weekend trip to a cabin in the mountains near our hometown Tromsø a few weeks before, and had left me with a copy when we returned to civilization.

Of course Ralf & Florian would never see a penny in royalties for this copy, although I later bought the record on vinyl and thereby proved a point in early filesharing politics.

I was 12 years old at the time, and heavily into hobby electronics.

My grand Kraftwerk moment came as I was sitting at my desk in my room, soldering the components of my first simple FM radio kit onto a readymade PCB.

I had just put on the tape Geir gave me, and returned to my work. Seconds later, a power failure hit our neighborhood, and straight after the intro of "We are the robots" - just as the first beat set in - the lights in my room started flickering wildly to the analogue synth beat emanating from my small battery-powered tape-deck.

This, combined with the toxic fumes rising from my soldering iron, made me realize that I'd hit on something BIG - something very important.

It was a sign.

It was as if I, in this very instant, instinctively knew that this was the future. My future. Not only in music, but all across society in the world that I would grow up into.

My mate down the road picked up "Never mind the bollocks" by the Sex Pistols around the same time.

He tried to convince me that punk was the future.

I thought that was rather silly and a contradiction in terms, as I associated the slogan "No future" with punk.

Now, as Kraftwerk's visions of their beloved Computerworld have mostly become reality, and even punk bands record their three chord eruptions onto computers, I realize that without the punk attitude my generation inherited, and the DIY ethics that rose from the ashes, the Computerworld would have been a very dull and scary world to live in.

And I guess so do Ralf, Florian, Karl and Wolfgang, too.

Decade #3 - The 1980's

Joy Division - "Epitaph"

I can still remember my exact whereabouts when I read the first review of Joy Division's 4th album "Epitaph".

Back then, the reviews hit us weeks before the actual music did - being situated as far from the rest of Europe as we were here in the Arctic in the pre-internet era.

I can still remember the sounds and smells of my surroundings as I flicked trough the pages of my fresh copy of the NME.

I was standing in the snow outside my local newsagent wearing my black coat.

The coat matched my desperate desire to emulate early eighties Northern English post punk chic far more than the polar surroundings I lived in.

I guess if I had moved away from the heat leaking from the sporadic opening of the automatic door behind me as other customers came or left, I'd probably frozen to death there and then.

It was 1984.

I was 18.

The NME was the only channel of information in the field of music that I was immersed in at the time, and this album was the most anticipated release that I could ever remember.

All the drama that had unfolded within and around the band since the release of "Closer" four years earlier didn't exactly make the wait any less tense.

After the split of the original line-up, and Factory Records' intermediate cash-in compilation "Still", Ian Curtis - being the only remaining founding member of the band - had been on a long and winding journey towards the album I was about to read the review of.

It all started after Joy Division's triumphant but disastrous breakthrough tour of America in the summer of 1980.

The tension that built up within the band grew so severe that it had led to a series of incidents resulting in actual bloodshed followed by expensive visits to US dentists less than halfway into the extensive 8-month tour.

I, and many other fans, had actually feared it was already the end of the whole band when bass player Peter Hook left the tour without no other notice than his own droppings on the bed of Curtis' hotel room in September, something that led to the immediate cancellations of a handful shows.

It might as well have been the end, hadn't it been for the pressure laid upon the rest of the group and their manager by their US record company EMI, who Tony Wilson had signed them off to for a record sum in July of the same year, and who would have nothing of their investment turning to dust due to any "internal differences".

Hook was swiftly replaced by LA studio musician Lou Guber, who got the job in spite of his long blonde hair, tanned face and bleached teeth, due to his ability to memorize a vast number of songs without rehearsal.

Hook then went on a lengthy binge in New York City, where he eventually settled, and in the year after formed disco outfit FUCK! together with a set of unemployed musicians from the pre Cominsky Park glory days of disco, insisting - quite contrary to just about anyone else on the planet at the time - that this form of music still had a place in the world.

The UK music media accused him of making this move with the sole intention of pissing off his former pale gloom-rock bandmates, but they would be proven quite wrong less than a decade later, when Hook returned to the UK, reunited with two of his former bandmates and set up the now historical Hacienda club and helped spark off the return of dance music.

As the Guber lineup of JD continued their conquest of America, the emotional climate between members Curtis, Sumner and Morris worsened even more.

This was partly due to the fact that one coke-fuelled A&R's at EMI suddenly had the rather "brilliant" idea that Curtis and his new wife, Belgian journalist Annik Honoré - who was also travelling with the band on the tour - were to take over the public image of JD and be promoted as "the John & Yoko for a new generation", now that the traditional image of the four-piece band of gloomy young men with guitars had cracked.

Matters didn't exactly improve when in December the original Lennon - the one for the old generation - was shot in NYC.

Now they didn't only have a relationship between the members of the band that was beyond repair, but also a rather embarrassing public face that made many fans turn against them.

On the return to the UK, it was inevitable that Morris and Sumner had had enough, and in February 1981 it was announced that they also left with the intention of starting "own projects".

Their new band, New Order, saw them reunite with their former bandmate-turned-disco-mogul Peter Hook in New York, and the threesome - together with keyboardess Gillian Gilbert - went on to produce one of the biggest synthesized dance classics ever to be released: "Blue Monday".

This is a track that would eventually have such an impact on my own musical career that it is almost beyond description.

Meanwhile Curtis, as the only one left in his own band, returned to Europe where he settled in Brussels and immediately started planning his next move.

This move was soon to be announced in an interview Curtis did with NME's Paul Morley, who now had almost become the main channel of Curtis' public communications due to his passionate involvement with JD.

The new JD constellation was rooted in Curtis' newfound friendship with Throbbing Gristle's Genesis P. Orridge, who had been a Joy Division fan from the very start and who'd contacted Curtis straight after he returned from the scandalous US tour.

After recording a set of demos at Daylight Studios in Brussels involving guest appearances by members of exiled San Francisco art band Tuxedomoon, Curtis and P. Orridge communicated to the press (Morley) that they were "extremely excited" about the results, and looked forward to complete the production of the new material.

One can only wonder what would have come out of this dream collaboration, had it been followed through, and not been promptly rejected by EMI straight after the demos reached the ears of their US A&R department.

Devastated by the whole situation, Curtis turmoiled into a lengthy period of self-destructiveness, alcohol- and pill-abuse. Being based in Belgium, with its extremely liberal politics on prescription drugs, wasn't helping the situation either.

It wasn't until his old bandmate Peter Hook played at Brussel's Ancienne Belgique in the spring of 1992 with his seventh lineup of FUCK!, who had now - due to a growing popularity and desire to get played on the radio - changed their name to FOOK!, that Curtis seemed to wake up from his self-induced pharmaceutical hibernation.

The day after seeing his former bass player on stage, he got on the phone to EMI, and shortly after that he was on a plane destined for LA to lay down a new masterplan.

Based on their need to "monitor the process" it was decided that Curtis should develop and record the new material in LA, with a handpicked set of studio musicians all led by former JD touring bassplayer Lou Guber.

Curtis agreed to this on the condition that he could bring in a UK producer, and Martin Hannett was once again called for, and the new Joy Division set out to work in the summer of 1992.

Unfortunately it would soon be evident that the chemistry between Hannett and the musicians was going to prove a tricky one, and only 3 weeks into the sessions, after launching a string of death-threats, Hannett went AWOL and was never to be seen near the studio again.

As Curtis was now so immersed in his work and his re-gained creative vitality, he didn't object when his A&R's suggested to bring another - albeit quite different - UK producer into the project.

This new producer answered to the name of Trevor Horn, and had just gained industry fame for his productions of UK hit acts such as Dollar and ABC after having his own chart success with The Buggles some years before.

As the sessions progressed throughout the autumn, the unavoidable pressure from EMI for "strong" singles started to appear, and for "safety reasons" it was decided that a more radio-friendly cover version of JD's strongest moment to date, "Love will tear us apart", was to be recorded and re-launched into the US market as part of the new album.

For this job, EMI called for help in what they believed was some of the "strongest cards" within their network at the time, and thus members of Bruce Springsteen's E-Street Band, Steven Van Zandt and Clarence Clemons - who were both working with Springsteen in NYC's The Power Station studios on what would eventually become "Born in the USA" - flew out to LA to lay down some power riffs and a saxophone solo respectively.

In parallel, Horn was working on the production of prog-rockers Yes' new material, and from the Yes camp he brought in keyboardist Tony Kaye for some bright brass synth stabs to enhance the main riff of the song to complete the US West Coast feel of the production.

(It's worth mentioning that Throbbing Gristle's Peter Christopherson later directed the video for Yes' hit single "Owner of a lonely heart" - and thereby vaguely re-established some kind of underlying TG connection with JD)

The rest of the album took 18 more months to complete, and had one of the largest recording budgets ever to be spent on a US-signed English band.

And here I was, standing in the chilly draft of the Arctic air, flicking through the pages for the final verdict.

Morley's review was brief, but fiercely clear in its judgement:

"With their debut album five years ago, Joy Division came along as 'the next step' - a band who was supposed to show us the way forward from the last decade and into the future. More mysterious and less domestic than a banal punk band, their rage was always aimed at time, history and the gods, aimed at the self, and fate. They were meant to show us the darkness leading into the tunnel, and leave us hoping to find a glimpse of light at the end."

Then he wrote:

"This - is nothing of the sort, and I don't want to waste any more words explaining why. If you really must, you can go through the heartbreaking and unbearable experience of listening to this album for yourself."

I folded up my newspaper and just stood there, staring blankly into the cold air for minutes, until an old man walked past and shouted "No thanks! I've got enough toilet paper at home", believing me to be handing out some sort of political propaganda due to the out-of-place clothing and the paper I now seemed to be offering to bypassers.

The following suicide of Paul Morley sent shockwaves throughout the world of music, both across the industry and in the public.

He mailed a letter with the entire lyrics for "New Dawn Fades" as a suicide note to his own desk at the NME.

In retrospect I now realize how all of the above have been instrumental in me building up my own fear of "the mainstream", a fear that has lead me to insist on releasing my music mostly on small labels over the last two decades or so, always dodging every possibility of "getting it right" in a commercial way - bar the odd remix of other artists work getting on million-selling compilations and a couple of major label licenses.

I didn't actually bother to hear "Epitaph" until years later.

Words spoke for themselves.

Words. And suicides.

Decade #4 - The 1990's

Description: 2012:Users:pmartinsen:Desktop:The17:illumination.jpg

Illumination - "This is Illumination"

Acid House and Detroit Techno entered my life a couple of years before I myself entered the nineties, but I still feel that the 1990's are the true decade of dance music.

These are the years when post-disco electronic club music grew up and became both a mainstream and global phenomenon, and thereby made a difference in the world.

In 1990 I released my debut EP under the name Mental Overdrive on the now legendary (and recently re-launched) Belgian label R&S Records.

My EP consisted of 5 tracks, of which 2 of them were variations on the same tune, and my sound at the time was quite hard and noisy.

Everything went very fast back then. As we were sitting in the car approaching the cutting room; myself, label boss Renaat Vandepapeliere and stable-mates Joey Beltram and Ceejay Bolland, I was being pressed for an artist name for the record I was about to cut by Renaat, who had the sleeve designer on his oversized mobile phone while driving at more than 200 km/h.

All I could think of was "Mental Overdrive".

And so it has stuck with me as one of my most frequently used monikers, whenever I put on my dancing shoes and attempt to make some music to move a crowd.

An introduction to Mental Overdrive by loveod

But the very idea of me making dance music wasn't as inevitable as it might seem.

There was an "incident" when I was younger, you see.

I was about eleven, and had made my way down to the local youth club.

I danced, like any other kid, and as I was grooving along nicely to some dire chart disco that I can't remember the name of, I suddenly felt a bit too "free" on the floor, and started to get quite animated, and thereby in demand for more physical space.

This led to a sudden spastic swing of my left arm, which resulted in me knocking a bottle of coke out of the hand of the no.1 school bully, making his recently aquired refreshment relocate to floor level with a crash.

Time froze.

As if by magic, I managed to talk myself out of the situation.

As I swiftly left the club before anything more catastrophic happened, I decided that disco and dancing, separate or in combination, was a total waste of time and energy.

It would take years and years to heal this wound on my boogie muscle, and more than an adolescence - including a large music collection of bands like Einstürzende Neubauten - later, I was eventually cured by Acid House in the late eighties, and would finally dance once again.

And so - in the nineties - I found myself in the middle of the dancefloor recurrently, and had even ended up devoting my musical career mostly to create music for clubs.

The album I've selected, "This is Illumination", by the production duo of Nicholas Sillitoe and myself, seem to be a sum-up of this long journey back to the dancefloor.

The club scene in the city of Oslo, where I lived throughout the nineties, was peaking around 1998/99, with clubs like Skansen and Jazid being the places to spin, hang out and try out our new productions and remixes on the crowd.

Other producers and Dj's, like the greatly missed Erot, Those Norwegians, Bjørn Torske, Strangefruit and DJ Abstract, as well as up-and-coming kids like Prins Thomas and Hans-Peter Lindstrøm were all part in contributing to this vibrant scene.

Nick and I had a great time making this album, and as I look back at it now I can understand why dance music now has become part of our system, and will stay part of it, even as I move forward.

Much like I once learned to ride a bicycle, I seem to have let dance music into my DNA structure permanently by opening up to it in the first place.

Of course I can never re-experience the joy and thrill of getting the balance right the first time. But I still ride my bike regularly, and enjoy it a lot.

Decade #5 - The 2000's

Frost - "Love! Revolution!"

We could never have imagined the impact this album would eventually have at the time of writing and producing it.

I had already lost much of my faith in pop music as a "carrier of grand ideas", and even though I admired the more politically charged chart music like Heaven 17's album "Penthouse and pavement" in my younger days, I'd stopped hoping for the perfect mix between Billy Bragg and Madonna to come along.

So, at the turn of the new millennium, I didn't have any expectations left that pop music could function as a vehicle for spreading "The Message" - whatever the message was.

Music was the message, my conclusion read at this point.

Simple as that.

But that was before the Istanbul incident:

I'd been to Istanbul a couple of times before, both DJing and with bands.

This time, I would only play one DJ gig, and then have a few days off in this lovely city with my wife and a couple of friends.

We'd just received the finished promo copies of our new Frost album "Love! Revolution!" before we left, so we brought a few copies with us to give to friends and people we met on the journey.

I've always been carrying both vinyl and CD promos with me in the most ridiculous of situations over the years. It's like giving away music brings me such joy that I always want to be prepared for it at any time.

We'd been hanging out for a couple of days after my gig, eating fantastic food and drinking delicious wine, when we decided to go shopping at the Kapali Carsi AKA The Grand Bazaar.

I love this place. It's all about commerce, but in the "right" way - if there ever was one. The stallkeepers simply want to sell you stuff, and it's not disguised as something else. It's an honest thing that they want to part you of as much of your cash as possible.

I had been looking at some colourful carpets outside one of the stalls after taking some photos of a beautiful display of lamps across the isle, when the carpet-seller approached me to hit me with his pitch.

I calmly declined his special offer, explaining that I didn't need a carpet, and as I was travelling with 20 kilos of vinyl with me on the plane, and so I wouldn't be able to bring a carpet back with me - unless I could fly home on it.

He nearly convinced me that this would be no problem, and I understood that this guy was good.

I decided to try and hit him back with something, and reached for my bag, swiftly picked up a promo CD of "Love! Revolution!" and handed it to him.

He stopped talking, looked at the CD in his hand and then back up at me, visibly surprised.

I said, "You're welcome. It's free." and then left him in a genie-like manner.

This is where we leave Istanbul.

We returned to Oslo and back to working on the release of our new album, and a few other projects that needed following up.

A few months later, a message turned up in the inbox of Frost's MySpace page (remember MySpace? "The world's largest backstage area"...)

"Dear Frost. We thank you so much for the support you provide with your music. It makes us strong, and we know we will prevail!"

The message was signed "Cara".

Now, we got quite a few messages on our MySpace page at the time, but somehow I felt that this one was special.

I would eventually be proven right.

Another few weeks passed, and then we got the following email from the promoter who had booked my DJ gig in Istanbul:

"Dear Per. Hope you're well. Just wanted to tell you that you seem to be doing really well on the bootleg market here with you and Aggie's new Frost album. I see it everywhere I go. Hope you are making some real sales in addition :-)"

Over the next few weeks we had more messages sent to us - sometimes with short quotes from the lyrics from the songs on the album, like:

"THINGS ARE BOUND TO CHANGE."

"IT'S TIME TO OPEN UP YOUR EYES"

"BLINDFOLDED IN BRIGHT DAYLIGHT"

As we didn't really get the time to follow up "Love! Revolution!" with a proper press campaign and tour (the release was digital-only on our own little label with sparse funding), the album became a very underground release indeed, but well received amongst fans and on various online channels.

Over time, the little messages kept ticking in, and we somehow got used to them and didn't read much more into them than little reminders that someone out there appreciated what we did.

In 2009 we relocated from Oslo to the North, and took a break from working with Frost for a couple of years.

The surprise was therefore breathtaking when in January of 2011 we got the following email:

"Dear Frost. Thank you so much for your music. I am a student in Tunisia and we are now carrying out demonstrations to bring change to our corrupted country. Today we were marching in the streets while singing our Arabic translation of your song "Free your heart". We feel very strong and know in our hearts that we will make change happen, as this is the right time."

The email was signed:

"Love! Revolution! Kareem"

As you might understand, this felt totally unreal to us, sitting far into the Arctic Circle, immersed in projects totally different from our four-year old release of a pop record.

And it went on.

And on.

Since the first message in January, we've had constant reports of the further spreading of our music in the region, and have been told that quotes from the lyrics and even people actually singing translated versions of the songs in the streets of Cairo, Gaza, Tripoli and Damascus.

The most bizarre highlight up until now was when we watched the news the other night, and spotted a guy carrying an old eighties ghetto-blaster on his shoulder on the street behind the reporter.

The guy had a Frost teeshirt on, and barely audible, behind the voice of the news anchor we could hear the muted sound of the chorus of our song "Free your heart".

Decade #6 - The 2010's

Eric Lunde - "Audio Selections for the Long Range Acoustical Device"

A couple of months ago I picked up Eric Lunde's new album "Audio Selections for the Long Range Acoustical Device" at the excellent Second Layer Records in Highgate, London.

I also picked up his book "Music is Meat".

I bought the album and the book on the recommendation of Pete, who runs the store. Pete told me how good the new album is, and I had the feeling he could be trusted 100%, even though I'd only met him that once for a few minutes in his shop.

People like Pete should run record stores.

He also told me that The Wire is probably going to run a feature on Lunde soon. I left the shop happily knowing that I'd picked up a pre-Wire featured artist, and then immediately arrested myself in such foolish trainspotter narcissism.

And anyway, The Wire is such an anal and pretentious magazine.

Maybe they just think too much.

Come to think of it I actually played a DJ gig once with their current editor at a rave in her home town in Norway a couple of decades ago. She seemed nice enough, and she played way cooler music than I did at the time. She played IDM, and I still played a variation of house and Detroit techno tunes.

And I also once sat in a panel discussion with their former editor, at the Numusic Festival some 10 years later. He also seemed like a nice guy, and passionate enough about his music - although I can recall that he was a little sceptical when I started bringing the issue of dreaming into the discussion.

Oh, and a few years later, at the same festival, another woman from The Wire stood next to me at an Altern8 reunion gig closing the festival of that year. She went totally bonkers, and kept offering me pure vodka out of a dirty plastic bottle while jumping up and down and shouting "I'm re-living my youth, I'm re-living my youth.

I guess the people at The Wire are allright, and that I'm the anal and pretentious one.

I think too much.

And there's all the noise.

Back to Lunde.

In his book, he presents some excellent observations on the phenomenon of noise, not only as sound, but also in the context of our entire culture and society as a whole. Noise in information, noise in sound, noise in structure.

I quite like the idea of noise, especially when put in this way.

I kind of like the sound of it, too.

I once had Norwegian maestro Lasse Marhaug remix one of my old rave tracks with great results, and I've also brought Russell Haswell to DJ at an afterparty at the local Hells Angels' prospect biker club here in Tromsø.

It was way cool, but I was the one who had to handle all the bikers' death threats towards Russell and his selection of music.

But there's different noise.

Like the "noise of abundance".

A different kind of noise.

I lament the fact that there's no "ambient" music anymore. All music has become part of the architecture that surrounds us in every aspect of the human experience.

And because of the mass of recorded music available today it has reached a point where not only does all kinds of music have the potential of functioning as ambient music, but all forms of music now also have the ability to function as noise.

Another pop song, another jazz jam, techno tune, rock eruption will only add to this noise, but interestingly enough the sound of pure, white noise will often come through loud and clear on top of the ongoing cacophony, like a sharp, clear sine wave that cuts through the murmur of a crowded room.

All this makes me think of my own "anti-noise" release from 1996, the Mental Overdrive album "Unplugged".

"Unplugged" was meant to be the antidote to my release of the techno album "Plugged" from the year before, and once purchased, the basic idea was that you could use it to replace any CD responsible of polluting your environment with unwanted music, and thereby silence a potential source of bad music.

If Bill had done it, the score would have read something like this:

SCORE 384. UNPLUGGED

PURCHASE MENTAL OVERDRIVE'S "UNPLUGGED" ALBUM
WHENEVER YOUR EARS ARE BEING EXPOSED TO UNWANTED
MUSIC
LOCATE THE SOURCE OF THE SOUND
IF IT IS A CD PLAYER
EJECT THE CD RESPONSIBLE FOR THE NOISE
REPLACE IT WITH YOUR COPY OF "UNPLUGGED"
ENJOY THE SILENCE

I now realize that this might not work today, 15 years later, as CD's are disappearing as a format.

And I realize that with the disappearance of the CD, the idea of the "album" has no place in this vast sea of noise. There are no natural boundaries for storing sound anymore, no limited container for an artist to fill.

And without a set format like the vinyl LP or CD album used to be, there lays no challenge in limitations for the artist to solve, adding his or her personal touch.

It has become a book without sleeves, the Net working like a gigantic sieve, spreading anything you throw at it out into a cloud of musical dust getting carried by the wind all across the universe.

This noise.

It makes me think too much.

Maybe we will need a new focus point, something to help us capture a fraction of this eternity of sound, so we can observe it in peace?

We might have to go back to focus on the “piece of music" again, whether you call it a song, a track, a tune or a symphony.

This reminds me of my own project from 2001, "It's more fun to consume", later to be re-baptized "Commercial Music - A Barcode Symphony".

The idea was to use barcodes from the supermarket as a source of data for triggering sound, with each individual item in the store identifying a unique pitch, timbre and level of playback.

This way, I wanted to make people's own shopping habits the direct cause of music creation, maybe linking the most popular items to short samples of tracks that topped the charts at the time of the performance.

My plan was to set up a show with a group of skilled classical musicians, give them each a shopping trolley full of goods and a printed score to perform.

This would create the ultimate commercial music, I figured at the time.

But now I realize that this, too, would only add to the noise.

But anyway, Bill has already written a book on this whole subject of the abundance of recorded music, and I know he will be happy to go into the details with you.

I pause for a moment.

Listen to the noise.

And think again.

As I write this, sitting at a table in my living room, I've got the laptop I'm writing on in front of me. My iPad is in the bag on the floor, and my iPhone lies on another table at the other end of the room. My digital camera is also in my bag on the floor next to me.

I realize that all these devices are capable of playing music.

The radio in the kitchen is on, emitting some low, trance-like mumbling.

My 15-year-old daughter sits across the table with her homework. She has her headphones on, spilling thin, loud Japanese electro into the room.

There's a "ding" on my own laptop signaling a mention on Twitter. Moments later my iPad signals new mail, which I know will be repeated by my phone in a second, as both devices are connected to the same account.

My youngest daughter calls me and wants to play. My wife tells me we need to call a friend we forgot to give notice about a dinner-party this weekend, and turns on the TV, which informs me of another death toll in Northern Africa.

The wind outside makes the roof creek.

There's the noise.

And I stop thinking.

And swim in sound.

And life is beautiful.

Still, I know I will one day have to set off further north, to search for the ultimate silence.

To a place where not even The17 can be heard.

Description: 2012:Users:pmartinsen:Desktop:The17:musikkerteit500x500.jpg

Conclusion

OK, so I never actually listened to any of these albums. I only imagined what they'd sound like now, years later, and then sat down to write.

I've heard them all before, so they're part of my system anyway.

Well, all except Eric Lunde's new album. I never broke the shrinkwrapping on that one.

But I will!

And I've got his previous album "Inspirationals", and that's great.

And the book is excellent!

Or, I've only zapped through it so far, and all the pages I came across were excellent, so I imagine the rest of the book to be the same.

And Pete at Second Layer told me so, and he can be trusted.

I will read it.

Eventually.

Oh, and of course Joy Division never released any 4th album, as you will probably know. That would be some disaster. Who would all the rock magazines put on their front pages today if that had actually happened? A new band?

And well, we’re still waiting for Frost's music to enlighten the whole world and start revolutions.

But it will happen soon, I'm sure.

Reality sometimes has to be tweaked a little to prove points.

But the rest of it is all true.

The drawing above was done by my 15-year-old daughter who kept asking me what I was writing on these last 6 Mondays. She has often been sitting across the table from me doing her homework while I've been writing the SELECT AN ALBUM performance.

I tried to explain the whole concept to her at an early stage, and one of these last nights she handed me this drawing of how I looked from her perspective.

The text translates "Music Sucks".

Tromsø, 10/05 2011

Per Martinsen

www.myblurrywindow.com

www.twitter.com/tiedrevolverman