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A Magazine for Sheffield

Music Snobbery - An Apology (of Sorts)

I would like to offer an apology, not just from myself but from all of the music snobs in the world. Yes, I am confessing – I am a musical snob. In fact, some of you may have been aware of this for some time. It’s not that we have to go to school, or have some secret club complete with street-wise Masonic handshakes. Or maybe we have and it’s just that you’re not cool enough to be in it. It’s not like saying I am an alcoholic either. I don’t want you to applaud my candidness. And it’s not like admitting I am a connoisseur of fine wines, as we can usually spot them by their red cheeks and self congratulating matching blazer and slacks. No, we are a hidden pack who usually hunt alone, only coming into group formations when a fellow snob invites you “round to listen to some tunes”. Apart from that we enjoy music alone, as that is how we really enjoy it, and on a higher state of consciousness than you all. Clubs, gigs, bars and record shops are our rituals and shrines, our rites of passage and many packs are formed there, but for the masses it is something to do with their evenings. It is the time alone, usually with only a handful of records propped up on our laminate floors, that we feel most in touch with our Gods. What is it that makes us snobs when most of us can’t classically play an instrument or dance in time? Is it our ability to hear the music a different way from the rest of you, that we need little or no alcohol or drugs to understand what the musician was trying to get across with the music? That we understand the fundamentals of music, or that we've actually watched that Stockhausen documentary on BBC4 and read a book about the Moog? Is it that we started buying music at an early age whilst our peers bought cheap cider and played knock-knock run? That we read everything written about music in magazine and fanzines, and that we can plot the evolution of music in the modern age in line with recent drug trends? That we spend considerably more time on Discogs than Ebay, because that’s where the bargains are to be found? That we know the true value of a record when we see it at a car boot? A King Tubby original in Chesterfield, not likely. Through this confession, I’d like to apologies on behalf of all music snobs, whether they are driven by rare 7-inch soul records at £1,000 a pop or by obscure German ambient CDs that cost more money than your average German car. We are arses by nature and usually men, because no woman would ever have the stupidity to behave like we do on so many occasions. We are arses and secretly proud, the Larry Davids of acid house. We argue passionately about music we don’t really understand, and work on the premise that there are two types of music - good and bad. Only we know which is which. Everyone else is spoon fed what they are told to like, or at least we tell them that is the way. We talk extensively about genres when in fact we usually own just one copy of a record from it, usually a re-issue. If an obscure record we own charts or is re-released, we shun it like a family member who has brought shame on the home. We want you to know that we heard it first, that it was much better in mono, before the remix, on vinyl, in the original native version of Swahili. We have a bond with music and our bigger headphones are a testament to that. Like small feet on geisha girls, we like to have big cans that show the rest of society that we are special. We have extensive collections of vinyl. CDs sound too overproduced. There sound too tinny and everyone knows that analogue is a warmer sound. Our collections are hard to count, painful to move, they slip and slide and fall over repeatedly, but we can read the sleeve notes and are happy to write our own for white labels. We are the kind of folks you wouldn't want to get into an argument with, especially when driven by comments like ‘techno has no soul’, ‘it’s machine driven’, and ‘it all sounds the same’. We realise that the masses are wrong, in the same way the majority of society watch Eastenders and accept such visual diarrhoea as entertainment. We know that there is more to reggae than Bob Marley and Shaggy, that a little time invested in musical history is well spent, and that yes, the vast majority of country and western is shit, bar Lee Hazelwood and Johnny Cash, of course. We can tell the difference between techno and ‘techno’, that Robert Miles has obviously never heard a good record in his life whilst Carl Craig has. We understand what makes a good mixtape. In fact, leave that bit with us, because we know exactly how much irony such compilations require, so much so that we know what is so shit it’s actually quite good. All in all, we know best and despite these admissions we won’t go away. We have no qualifications, only time-served apprenticeships. Luckily you have nothing to do in this relationship but be told what is good and find out what you missed. By the time we tell you it will be shit or dated, but don’t worry as we’ll do you a mix CD, or vinyl if we have a cutting machine, and on it will be 12 tracks of pure delight, plus one by William Shatner at the end because we understand irony better than you. In truth we love music more than you do - been to more gigs, danced all night, often without narcotic influence, and spent eight-hour shifts on our knees in basements buying vinyl whilst inhaling copious amounts of mould spores. For that alone, we apologise, and if we could make things right we would. We would make a mix CD, or vinyl if we have a cutting machine, and on it would be silence. Not just any old silence, but quality silence, mainly from Berlin, or some of the more modern silence from Norway and Finland, only available on 10-inch acetate. What, you’ve not heard it? Where have you been? )

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