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Baker's Dozen

13 Reasons Why I Can't Pick My 13 Favourite Records, By Drew Daniel
The Quietus , September 25th, 2014 06:41

When we asked Drew Daniel of Matmos and The Soft Pink Truth for his Baker's Dozen, he refused - and with good reasons. Thirteen of them, to be precise. Here Daniel presents them in an essay titled A Rant Against The Quantification Of Aesthetics. All photographs courtesy of Drew Daniel


Reason Twelve: It Falsely Implies That Personal Investment In Music Is Transferable.
Though it seems on the surface to be about individuality and the allure of Bourdieu-style personal distinction ("Hey! Check out my particularly good taste!"), the orgy of online list-making seems to be driven by a contrary imperative: everything that can be shared must be shared, forever and ever, amen. But if references and recommendations can be shared, the experiences that underlie them and give them resonance and meaning and force are less easily transferable. Art doesn't stand still, and we aren't standing still as we encounter it. If my experience of George Michael's 'Careless Whisper' has been colonised by the Sexy Sax Man's viral video rendition of the same, but you haven't yet had that dubious pleasure, then are we still experiencing the "same" song when we each hear that saxophone riff? Doesn't the overlay of my subjective stance towards the art object colour it for me in ways that really aren't transferable to others? I can recommend all day long, but isn't there something irreducibly personal here? What if my memory of Womack & Womack's 'Teardrops' is tied to a frustrating love affair you really don't wanna know about that unraveled as I listened repeatedly to that song, while yours is bound up with an indie-R&B cover of the song that you heard before the original, which you think is killer but which I find wan and repugnant? Why should my preference matter to you? The positions towards the songs in question could be endlessly reshuffled, just as the songs themselves could be. Songs aren't simple, and neither are the complex pathways that they travel as they get used, repurposed, covered, remixed, shared, stepped on, passed around, revived, transposed, ignored, adored. But the mandate "this is MY favourite, now you MUST listen to it" presumes that you're going to get out of it what I get out of it. Which is false.