Since I quit the Jasper TX moniker I kind of figured it would be a bit harder to get someone to wanna release my stuff. As Jasper TX at least I had some kind of history, as Dag Rosenqvist I’m no one. I don’t exist and I never have. But I never imagined it would be quite this hard to be honest. A year ago I finished an album called Fall Into Fire. And to be honest I think it’s an amazing album full of broken melodies, huge drums, weird sounds and beautiful, albeit a bit skewed, songs. It was made with the vinyl format in mind: two distinctly separated sides, just under 40 minutes in length. And all the labels I’ve spoken to like it, but they don’t know how to categorize the album because it’s not drone, it’s not noise, it’s not modern classical, it’s not kosmische, it’s not folk… To me it’s a step in a new direction, while at the same time hinting backward to The Black Sun Transmission and the track Days Above The Tide off of An Index Of Failure. But people don’t know what to do with it, so they say “it’s a great album, but I don’t think it fits our label”. I actually have a label interested in releasing it. And it’s a lovely little label, but at the rate it’s going now, the album probably won’t see the light of day until 2016… So what am I really complaining about here?
I’m complaining because something has happened. Since virtually no one buys CDs anymore there’s no point in making or releasing them. So then we’re basically left with three options: vinyl, cassette tapes or digital or any combination of the three. Vinyl is of course the first choice for artists and labels alike. Vinyl records have amazing sound quality, big format so you can really go all out with the packaging. But vinyl records are expensive to produce and therefore the labels run a risk with every album they make. And with increasing shipping rates, it’s become harder and harder to ship vinyl records over seas. Cassette tapes on the other hand are cheap to manufacture and cheap to send. It’s a lovely format in every respect. But the sound quality just isn’t there. It’s amazing for some music, but if you want transparency and clarity, this is definitely not the way to go. And then we have digital. Digital is cheap, there are no postage costs and it’s instantly accessible everywhere. It also has no soul.
You know that vinyl album that has a scratch about a minute in on the third track? It’s really not supposed to be like that you know? But to you that is the way the album sounds, the way it’s supposed to be. So when you hear it on Spotify for the first time, something is missing. Something that was yours is missing and something is lost in translation. One might argue that digital distribution and digital streaming sites are the only way to go, that we are already there and that I’m fighting a struggle I can’t win. One might also argue that the digital format sounds way better than the other formats. And yes of course, digital is crisp, flawless and completely perfect. And that’s the big problem really. The truth is, we don’t want perfection in things. We think we do, but really, we don’t. Symmetry only works if there’s something that breaks the symmetry, something out of place, something that triggers our imagination. Perfection is never perfection, it’s your idea of perfection and your idea will differ from mine. What you perceive as beauty, I think is mundane. What you see as art, I think is amateurish. What you discard, I cherish.
When it comes to music, I’ve always loved the physical thing; the vinyl, the cd, the cassette tape. It’s something tangible. More than that, it’s something that you can actually touch, hold in your hand. And you can sit and look at the covers, at the booklets and inlays. Read about who wrote what, who mixed what and where it was recorded. You get the full artistic vision and at the same time you get the background. The who, the when and the where, the full scope. Digital is just a file on your computer or in your iPhone. You can never tell if the cover was supposed to have a glossy or uncoated surface, if it was presented in a thick cardboard box or in a thin, hand sewn paper slipcase. Gold, copper, silver embossing won’t translate to the digital domain. Neither will braille.
Digital music has no history, it will never be worn or get surface noise or pops. It will never get stained from that time you and your girlfriend got really drunk and spilled red wine all over it. It’s the modern equivalent of The Portrait of Dorian Gray. It never ages, because it doesn’t really even exist. But you do. You age, you get stained and worn but the music stays the same; crisp, bright, perfect. And the fact that it doesn’t exist makes it easier to steal without considering the consequences of your actions. Who cares, it’s not like it’s a physical thing you steal, it’s just data and it’s a victimless crime right? The only one’s who get affected are the major, blood sucking, money greedy records conglomerates right…
So, what am I getting at here? What I am getting at is the simple fact that, due to the changes in the music “industry” over the last couple of years; the decline in CD sales, the whole Spotify/digital streaming thing, if I want this album to see the light of day any time soon, I will have to swallow my pride, go against everything I believe in and release it digitally through my Bandcamp page, and it fucking sucks. On the other hand, I could just make music the labels would wanna release, but that’s a different discussion altogether… The bright and shiny future is here and I love it.
Hail and kill!