Friday, December 01, 2006

The last fifteen months have seen me write an awful lot of material, the vast majority for Stylus, about the nature of consumption of music, starting with an article called Soulseeking about excessive downloading, and then following on about six months later with Imperfect Sound Forever, a long piece about modern mainstream mixing and mastering techniques and how they severely compromise sound quality. Imperfect Sound Forever has become one of the most read and linked articles we’ve ever run at Stylus, of which I am very proud. I’ve received an awful lot of positive feedback from people – music writers, producers, engineers, people who run independent record companies, and just plain old music fans like myself – about Imperfect Sound Forever, and the article has been written about and (I am lead to believe) inspired similar pieces in a number of online and print publications. Even Bob Dylan got in on the action with his near-infamous “modern records are dreadful, there’s sound all over them” outburst just before the release of his new album. I’ve even been asked by more than one person if I’d cast my ear over working mixes and masters of their music and give my “considered opinion”, which is most flattering.

After the initial article, Soulseeking become a (semi)regular column in its own right, written largely by myself and other Stylus writers, but also with occasional contributions from other writers such as Marcello Carlin. I’ve written twenty editions of Soulseeking myself in the past year or so, and probably less record reviews. I have little time for record reviews these days, and little inclination to take major part in the big, whole-staff-written articles we run at Stylus every so often. I have, as ever, little interest in music writing per se – I write about music because I love music and I love writing, not because I love music writing.

Although actually I’m not sure I love writing, I just kind of have to do it.

Soulseeking is part of the reason why I haven’t really run a regular blog for the last year and a half, despite having had this new one set-up for most of 2006 (with a fantastic bespoke template by Mr Colin Ramsay), as well as general messageboard participation in various locations, work commitments, and various other things. Soulseeking is probably also a big part of the reason why I was approached by The Guardian to contribute to their Brief Encounters column in Friday’s Film & Music section. It’s nice having something that my mum and my gran can read published in a national newspaper. The editor has also been very helpful.

I’m not sure where this is going, which I guess is the nature of blogging. Uergh. It’s so 2003, darling. I think I had intended to link up all the pertinent pieces from Stylus over the last year or so that link together, to place them in order and try and form some kind of narrative. So that’s what I’ll do…

Perfect One
Perfect Two
No Music

I’m not sure where I go next.


Friday, December 01, 2006

Two Hundred

A friend of mine, who is an arsehole, occasionally makes cheeky public demands of me, knowing full well that I will have to cede to his wishes and carry out the demands, because that’s the type of person I am. The last one was a request for my top 100 albums ever. He knows I hate lists. You know I hate lists. Like I say, he’s an arsehole.

What’s the methodology for choosing your favourite hundred albums ever? My approach was simple, crude, and honest. I went along my shelves and nudged out any albums I decided I “loved” so they stood apart from the gathering hordes of musical mediocrity. Then I went back and counted them.

I nudged about 190.

So I thought, fuck it, and nudged another ten or so, to make two hundred. Then I typed them out.

The list is currently only in existence on a messageboard, and is probably about to fall off the end of the database, so I thought I’d conserve it for posterity here. It’s unranked, just alphabetical, so you’ll have to guess if you want to know my favourite record ever. The one I always say, whenever anyone asks me, is just a stock response, designed to either end or stimulate further debate depending on who asked me.

So… here it is…

Aaliyah - Aaliyah
Aphex Twin - Selected Ambient Works 85-92
Aphex Twin - Selected Ambient Works Vol. 2
Aphex Twin - Richard D. James Album
A.R. Kane - “i”
Asian Dub Foundation - Community Music
Associates - Sulk
At The Drive-In - Vaya
Augie March - Strange Bird
Badly Drawn Boy - The Hour Of Bewilderbeast
Bark Psychosis - Hex
Bark Psychosis - //Codename:Dustsucker
Beach Boys - Pet Sounds
Beastie Boys - Paul’s Boutique
Beastie Boys - Check Your Head
Beatles - Revolver
Beatles - White Album
Beatles - Abbey Road
Belle & Sebastian - If You’re Feeling Sinister
Beta Band - The 3 EPs
Big Star - Third / Sister Lovers
Bjork - Debut
Black Grape - It’s Great When You’re Straight… Yeah!
Blue Nile - Hats
Blur - Parklife
Boo Radleys - Giant Steps
Boredoms - Vision Creation Newsun
Bowie, David - Ziggy Stardust
Bowie, David - “Heroes”
Bowie, David - Low
British Sea Power - Open Season
Broken Social Scene - You Forgot It In People
Brubeck Quartet, The Dave - Time Out
Buckey, Jeff - Grace
Bush, Kate - The Hounds Of Love
Byrds - Younger Than Yesterday
Can - Ege Bamyasi
Can - Future Days
Cave, Nick - The Boatman’s Call
Chemical Brothers - Dig Your Own Hole
Clash - London Calling
Clientele - The Violet Hour
Cocteau Twins - Treasure
Cocteau Twins - Heaven Or Las Vegas
Congos - The Heart Of The Congos
Cure - Disintegration
D’Angelo - Voodoo
Davis, Miles - Kind Of Blue
Davis, Miles - In A Silent Way
Davis, Miles - Bitches Brew
De La Soul - 3ft High & Rising
Delgados - Hate
Disco Inferno - D.I. Go Pop
Dismemberment Plan - Emergency & I
DJ Shadow - ...Endtroducing
Dodgy - Homegrown
Drake, Nick - Five Leaves Left
Echo & The Bunnymen - Ocean Rain
Elbow - Asleep In The Back
Elliott, Missy - Miss E… So Addictive
Elliott, Missy - Under Construction
Embrace - Drawn From Memory
Eminem - The Marshall Mathers LP
Eno, Brian - Another Green World
Eno, Brian - Music For Airports
Eno, Brian and Byrne, David - My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts
Fela Kuti - Expensive Shit / He Miss Road
Fennesz - Endless Summer
Flaming Lips - The Soft Bulletin
Four Tet - Pause
Fugazi - Repeater + 3 Songs
Fugazi - The Argument
Funkadelic - Maggot Brain
Funkadelic - Standing In The Verge Of Getting It On
Funkadelic - One Nation Under A Groove
Gang Of Four - Entertainment
Gang Starr - Step In The Arena
Gaye, Marvin - What’s Going On
Genis/GZA - Liquid Swords
Gibbons & Rustin Man, Beth - Out Of Season
Godspeed You Black Emperor - F# A# (Infinity)
Grizzly Bear - Yellow House
Guillemots - Through The Windowpane
Guns N’ Roses - Appetite For Destruction
Hancock, Herbie - Headhunters
Harvey, PJ - Rid Of Me
Hayes, Isaac - Hot Buttered Soul
Head & The Strands, Michael - The Magical World Of The Strands
Hendrix Experience, The Jimi - Are You Experienced?
Hendrix Experience, The Jimi - Axis: Bold As Love
Hendrix Experience, The Jimi - Electric Ladyland
Hubbard - Freddie - Red Clay
Idlewild - 100 Broken Windows
Jackson, Michael - Thriller
Jaga Jazzist - A Livingroom Headrush
Jane’s Addiction - Ritual De Lo Habitual
Jay-Z - The Blueprint
King, Carole - Tapestry
Kyuss - Welcome To Sky Valley
Lambchop - Nixon
Lambchop - Is A Woman
Led Zeppelin - I
Led Zeppelin - II
Lo-Fidelity Allstars - How To Operate With A Blown Mind
Love - Forever Changes
Mahavishnu Orchestra - The Inner Mounting Flame
MAKE-UP - Save Yourself
Manitoba - Up In Flames
Marley & The Wailers, Bob - Exodus
Massive Attack - Blue Lines
Massive Attack - Mezzanine
Mayfield, Curtis - Curtis
Mayfield, Curtis - Superfly
MC5 - Kick Out The Jams
MC5 - High Time
Mercury Rev - See You On The Other Side
Midlake - The Trials Of Van Occupanther
Mingus, Charles - The Black Saint & The Sinner Lady
Mitchell, Joni - Blue
Mogwai - Rock Action
Morgan, Lee - The Sidewinder
Morphine - Cure For Pain
Mos Def - Black On Both Sides
Mountain Goats - Tallahassee
Mouse On Mars - Iaora Tahiti
My Bloody Valentine - Loveless
Nas - Illmatic
Necks - Drive-By
‘O’Rang - Herd Of Instinct
Orbital - Orbital (Brown)
Orbital - Snivilisation
Orbital - In Sides
O’Rourke, Jim - Eureeka
O’Rourke, Jim - Insignificance
Outkast - Aquemini
Outkast - Stankonia
Pablo, Augustus - King Tubby Meets Rockers Uptown
Pavement - Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain
Pixies - Surfer Rosa / Come On Pilgrim
Plaid - Rest Proof Clockwork
Polar Bear - Held On The Tips Of Fingers
Portishead - Dummy
Primal Scream - Screamadelica
Primal Scream - XTRMNTR
Prince - Sign O’ The Times
Prodigy - Music For The Jilted Generation
Public Enemy - It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back
Public Enemy - Fear Of A Black Planet
Pulp - Different Class
Queens Of The Stone Age - Rated R
Radiohead - OK Computer
REM - Automatic For The People
REM - New Adventures In Hi-Fi
Ride - Nowhere
Rolling Stones - Let It Bleed
Roots Manuva - Awfully Deep
Royal Trux - Accelerator
Ruts DC - Rhythm Collision Dub
Screaming Trees - Dust
Simon & Garfunkel - Bridge Over Troubled Water
Six.By Seven - 04
Sly & The Family Stone - Stand
Smashing Pumpkins - Siamese Dream
Sonic Youth - Sonic Nurse
Specials - Specials
Spiritualized - Laser Guided Melodies
Spiritualized - Ladies & Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space
Springfield, Dusty - Dusty In Memphis
Stone Roses - The Stone Roses
Streets - Original Pirate Material
Sugababes - Angels With Dirty Faces
Super Furry Animals - Radiator
Super Furry Animals - Guerilla
Talking Heads - Fear Of Music
Talking Heads - Remain In Light
Talk Talk - The Colour Of Spring
Talk Talk - Spirit Of Eden
Talk Talk - Laughing Stock
Teenage Fanclub - Grand Prix
The The - Mind Bomb
Tortoise - Standards
Tribe Called Quest - The Low-End Theory
Tricky - Maxinequaye
Underworld - Second Toughest In The Infants
Verve - A Storm In Heaven
Verve - A Northern Soul
Waits, Tom - Rain Dogs
Waits, Tom - Mule Variations
Walker, Scott - Tilt
Welch, Gillian - Time (The Revelator)
Wilco - Being There
Wilco - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
Wire - Chairs Missing
Witness - Before The Calm
Wolf, Patrick - Wind In The Wires
Wonder, Stevie - Songs In The Key Of Life
Wu-Tang Clan - Enter The 36 Chambers
Yo La Tengo - I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One
Yo La Tengo - And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside-Out
Young, Neil - After The Goldrush


Friday, December 01, 2006

Recent Articles / Reviews



Nothing Here Is True
Unless You Want It To Be

Nick Southall was born in southwest England at the tail end of the 70s, and is the youngest of three brothers. He has a degree in popular culture and philosophy and has written about music for Stylus Magazine, The Guardian and Drowned In Sound, amongst others. He likes red wine, expensive headphones, spicy food, and the Hungarian national football team of the 1950s. His favourite record is the last one he listened to. You can contact him by email via sickmouthy @ gmail dot com should you so wish.

All material copyright Nick Southall 2006/2007/2008

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