…Y SUS TESOROS

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Quantic & co. list up their 20 favorite Colombian records for FACT magazine.

There’s a long, evolving conversation we need to have, about record collectors, libraries (public access vs. collector hoarding), archives, and all that stuff. Sonido Martines & I talk about these things, but its a huge world, and complicated. Money, cultural heritage, a DJ’s weaponry, value’s slow dance with scarcity. Scorpions.

One way to begin this conversation is to compare the storied, historical micro-universe of the vinyl hunter-collector with the poorly-xeroxed digital multiverse of our current CD-r/MP3 economy. What do the diggers do with ill cumbia and salsa dura LPs when they find them? How to they fill them with value? And what about the diggers of champeta or Colombian rap CD-rs?

Is the lifespan/usefulness of the latter based primarily on (dwindling) newness (novedad so close to ‘novelty’), while the lifespan/economic importance of the former increases over time? Or, how deeply is meaning tied to medium — new Colombian music won’t attract hardcore collectors because its CD-rs and V-CDs and ZIP files simply aren’t durable (not too mention less than hi-fi sound quality for the audiophile crowd)? Or it is less material: does all pop date itself faster than before?

I’m quite interested in the stories record diggers tell about finding their records; the FACT piece contains a few:

“I have this image of sitting in a hotel room with Will listening to the records we found, our jaws hitting the floor as the notes leapt out of the portable turntable, just shaking our heads in disbelief, wondering how on earth these musicians got to be so funky.”

These stories fix or add meaning to music, by mapping out the Xs where one found gold. Finding is the first triumph. It’s a pre-Google pleasure. So what about the CD-r world, where the hunt is stripped of any myths (or realities) of rareness, uniqueness, and rescue? “I have this image of sitting in front of my laptop listening to the champeta I downloaded from some crappy site filled with ads, just like 14,734 kids before me…”

Enough questions for now, I’ll leave you with some of the article’s images, the lite n sleazy kitsch of classic Discos Fuentes album artwork:

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25 thoughts on “…Y SUS TESOROS”

  1. I feel you, I download MP3 like a maniac but there’s nothing compared to that feeling I used to get every time I made a great find digging the dirty crates. I think that back then with the vinyls, I forced myself to pay attention to the hole record, listen to all the tracks, look for samples, breaks, now I download the one song that I want to play in my set, I listen to the first 20 seconds and move on to the next one. I still love my olv dusty vinyls though…

  2. I think an important part of the conversation is the preservation vs. fetishization debate. DJs and collectors play an important role in ensuring the preservation of cultural legacy. At the same time, there there is a power dynamic between first-world Djs and collectors and the cultures of the developing world. If a first-world DJ uses the cultural language of a society s/he is not in an active dialogue with, I would posit that this is fetishization.

    I’m not sure how this plays out in the vinyl v digital debate. On the one hand, there is a permanence to vinyl. This would contribute to the preservation of culture in the face of globalization. But then how and for whom are the “texts” being preserved? On the other hand, digital allows for entirely new methods of broadcast. Could we imagine Mujava or Esau Mwamwaya being indie superstars ten years ago? At the same time, how many first world “tastemakers” are making big names for themselves riding on the coat-tails of Baile Funk or Kuduro?

  3. El Disco es Cultura

    entonces, que es del MP3?

    Mp3 es anti cultura?
    no creo.

    Mejor dicho,
    El MP3 es Escultura

    la escultura de nuestra cultura, poco a poco vamos multiplicando la experiencia.

  4. Aside from the more intellectual/hi vs. lo culture discussion –

    For me there is an emotional impact stemming from the breadth of access and abundance of music available. Almost every time I read music blogs and download mp3s, which is daily, I feel this heaviness that I’m missing out on everything else I’m not accessing at the moment. Its an unhealthy relationship to music, but I think for many non-djs the cdr/mp3 development has had this effect.

  5. its best not to bring in hi/lo splits. i’m more interested in talking about the material difference: LP vinyl vs MP3, or the $$ differences in selling ‘vintage’ vinyl , will there be anything analogous in the mp3 realm?

    Hi vs lo culture isnt so useful here b/c both terms are constantly being redefined and applied alternately to the same material (this is assuming that they mean anything..).

  6. This is the phantom itch of the amputated limb. It’s easy to wax romantic about the emotional attachment of vinyl when all your important early musical memories came packaged that way. The kids busy losing their virginity to a mp3 off of myspace or…

  7. not emotional – i think i’m wondering about things like storage time.. i mean, is everybody else as bad at keeping track of mp3s as i am? either I’m too lazy to back up important data, or i back it up but label it poorly: the results are the same.

    I wondering if people will ever covet/collect generations of mp3 players and mp3s and make lots of money by selling them to each other over the internet — is someone somewhere doing that already?

  8. It seems like technological compatibility would become the biggest problem as people try to maintain collections of music and photos over time. Is someone going to come across granddad’s forgotten hard drive, and will there be any way for them access it with existing technology? Maybe its a good time to invest….

    @ Matt – A friend recently rejected the claim that “no one remembers their first download” as opposed to vinyl. I definitely remember what the song was, the program I used to download it, and the media player it played on (Red Hot Chili Peppers – Around the World / Napster / Winamp).

  9. I have no idea what my first mp3 download was. Then again, I can’t remember by first record or cassette either…

  10. Analog tape gets the nostalgia treatment quite often in the hip hop collector circles. So the vessel that originally carries the music is linked to the listening experience. The technology is generational. I collect a lot of records that just sit around just like MP3’s. They’re all taking up space in my life. CD’s Tapes Everywhere! Sometimes I listen to a song on vinyl that I originally only heard on tape. 80’s African pop. I almost feel richer for having the vinyl now.

    The coveted ipod or laptop or hard drive is definitely happening right now. I’ve been at house parties where people are envious of other’s ipod, or fight over whose can best rock the party: “No one’s dancing to YOUR ipod!”

  11. A friend of mine has an ipod with the perfect mix of Brazilian music for going to the dentist and is afraid to ever plug it into his computer fearing it’s deletion. I’ve seen copies spooled off recently of a well known dj’s serato drive from 2006, a ghostly analog of a creature that has doubtlessly grown up and acquired a taste for debauchery in the few years since. How long can it be before Heath Ledger’s ipod shows up on ebay or at Christie’s?

  12. some food for though,

    What will our nostalgia look like when our materials are impervious to the natural elements?

    no more cracks on those photos of grandmama.
    no more pops on my Diablos LP

    are we approaching an infinite now?

  13. I gotta admit,
    I get kinda bummed when I see ipod dj’s,

    not a diss because I love you New York mofos but I happened to see a lot of those in NYC.
    I’m sure LA’s got a lot too, just don’t frequent those locales.

    I like big CD players with the big scroll knobs though!

    DJ CULTURE VULTURE
    hahahaha
    that’d be a cool name

    by the way I just got back from Texas and man was it gangster, someone just sent me this clip and I tripped out
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wzNJZQm6Q1Q

    read the comments, hilarious.

    You know the “little Joy” bar here in Echo Park used to be a “gay”ngster bar.

    por eso little joy

    paz y dinero y tiempo para gustarlo!!!!
    Amparame! Obama!

  14. Damn, Jace

    getting freaky on the Cannibal DJ thing!!!!

    I like that…

    Sonido Cannibal!!!!

    Sonido Necrosis!!!!!

    Sonido Come Muertos!!!!

    OK I’m out…..

  15. @Connor and @Lengua,

    I think content gets transferred in technology like similar ways oral history does through families.

    If it’s important enough to you your going to keep it alive. You got some pictures, your favorite ones you frame them. You try to preserve as much as possible, but your not going to save every one, only the most important to you.

    I’ve been trippin on this thing where my family history appeared on Wikipedia and gets edited by some distant relative I’ve never heard about adding pieces of the story, which sometimes conflict. Oral history solidified through the Internet, but still always changing.

    Quick example. I went to visit my parents recently and my mother had a letter from a distant relative we’d never heard of and had no connection to. With it were pictures and the birth dates and locations of my Great Great Great grandparents all secured through immigration papers. Someone took the time to photocopy by preserving. I then took a picture on of those on my phone. I added it to my contacts and with the press of a button on my phone I can get the picture, birthdate, and a place with driving directions relative to my current location of people I’ve never heard of, and have no real emotional connection to, but who without their existence, I would not exist.

    I guess I mean sometimes things don’t change so much.

  16. I have issues with colonizer residue.

    I have issues with collecting/rarifying.

    I have issues with disposible culture that creates crappy CD’s that feel like plastic chips.

    I have issues with being broke and not being able to travel to Colombia.

    I don’t have issues with Los Shapis.

    I have more issues.

  17. Been thinking about the whole deal of downloading vinyl rips, its always seemed strange to me. You get blogs proudly advertizing their purest methods of ripping the vinyl (scratches from record have not been edited out ect) as if this somehow preserves the precious link between the “original” source and the “copy”. So, you got this paradoxical situation going on, where on the one hand the mp3, by maintaining its link to the vinyl allows the listener to immerse themselves in the sounds (supposedly unmediated by the transfer process) and yet, by noticing the signifiers of the vinyl (pops, cracks, scratches) you are also foregrounding the medium, emphasizing its mediation (and remediation).

    Please own up if you ever downloaded an album, that you already own on vinly, just so you put it into your media player.

  18. ive downloaded albums that i already own on *CD*, just b/c thats usually faster than me finding the CD…

  19. I download stuff that I own on vinyl all time. I’d be surprised if everyone doesn’t do this. Ripping LPs/12″s yourself is a pain in the ass.

  20. Collecting something/anything only has “value” if there are finite number of them around. It really has little to do with audiophile character of an lp or any of that. It’s just a baseball cards mentality.

    An mp3 that’s uploaded and shared in a public space just doesn’t work like that. It can’t. The only way it can become collectible, maybe, is if there’s barriers to that sharing. CDRs and tapes still require effort to reproduce so they are still collectible.

    Francois K wrote an interesting thread on his deepspace website about value of music and how it’s changed in the sharing world.
    http://www.deepspacenyc.com/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=8116

  21. @mike:
    Intellectual name drop of the day:
    http://design.wishiewashie.com/HT5/WalterBenjaminTheWorkofArt.pdf
    Of course, Benjamin thought the mere ability to record would destroy that aura, that value that gets added to a specific work merely because there is no way to copy it; it must be singular (or, alternatively, rare) in order for there to be any reason to enjoy a particular copy. Of course, that didn’t happen, as vinyls are as avidly collected and traded as artwork of the early 20th century (yeah, not a clean comparison, but close enough). Because the mp3 is infinitely replicable, it seems to finally satisfy Benjamin’s requirements, but what he’s described doesn’t seem to be happening (granted, what he described as the results of the “destruction of the aura” seem batshit insane in retrospect)… so where exactly are we now?

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