The Explosion and a Persistent Challenge of Discovery and Appreciation.

I listened to Black Tape on CD until it was so scratched up and marred that my player wouldn’t bother reading it. Fortunately, by then, the iPod was all over the place and while the CD wouldn’t play, I could still manage to rip it to my hard drive and keep the music going.

Artists tend to not stop making things, even if the thing you remember them making isn’t around anymore.

Today you can listen to The Explosion just about anywhere music exists. When I came across the album on my player recently (Plex, from my hard drive, attempting to do everything I can to move away from the streamers) and I wondered what happened to the band. I knew The Explsion had broken up sometime in 2012, but artists tend to not stop making things – so what became of it?

This is one of those things where subscribing directly to an artist is a great idea – because they want you to know what they’re up to, their livelihood depends on it. For some of us, that’s asking to subscribe to a great deal of email lists. Algorithms aren’t doing any favors on keeping us on top of things we already like and would rather distract with what’s popular, instead of good, and you can’t always count on the press to keep you informed. I’ve found most culture press is either caught up in covering what is already popular in an attempt to chase down views to support their advertising or are deliriously independent side projects that struggle to keep up with damn near anything.

Of course, everything above is focused on the new stuff – which is unfortunate. We’re alive in a time when the measure of how “great” something is depends on how many records it might be breaking within the first days of its release. Nothing is digested, little is reconsidered, and the reviews on new work are the quickly-processed thoughts of someone who needed to submit their work to the conversation first. On top of that, everyone needs to focus on the immediate results because something else is dropping tomorrow that is going to draw away whatever attention you gained today.

Approximately 8 million albums were released between when I last gave Black Tape a listen and today. It still holds. And for all the ills of spotify, I will give them credit for the collections of associated acts that are tied to a band. Without it, I wouldn’t have uncovered Space Cadet which was solid enough to pick up from their bandcamp page.

Of course, I could have covered all of this through Google and quickly found out what people knew. Lately, I’ve found a more interesting approach is to search through Wikipedia and see what people don’t know. Impassioned editors are great at getting most of the information down even if the sources it is drawn from are iffy. And as our publications continue to split further between monoculture and independent, we’re likely going to be lacking any of these “sources” to pull from.