Another local record store may be closing…

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I AM of the “try before you buy” ethos and stand by it. Another thing that spurred my music mania along was the short-but-sweet existence of CD rental stores. There was one at Indooroopilly that I first joined … then I went to the one at Red Hill. Of course everything I rented … listened to and liked … I copied … to cassette. And if it was something I copied to cassette that I liked … you can bet I eventually bought a CD copy. While they existed, they were awesome in my eyes but they didn’t last long. Maybe a few years? I love the online world but only in comparison to this idea that music is to be shared: like the Motorhead and Iron Maiden albums that my school friends traded. It ends with the need to contribute to that sharing … by owning SOMETHING. Even the torrent sites usually work on the ethos that if you don’t share stuff as well you will be banned. But in this case I don’t just mean sharing intellectual property … but a thing that is yours, that speaks to you in a certain way, that you can define and disseminate as you share, that maybe even helps define you to some extent. That is why I own all those Coil CDs … many of which probably don’t even play anymore due to disc rot.

To be frank, I started making Diaspora music with Joe because I was sick of waiting the three months it took for a particular Coil album to arrive from World Serpent in the UK (Constant Shallowness Leads To Evil). I figured it would be quicker to just make what I imagined the music would sound like. Our CDs are for sale at Rockinghorse. You can probably get Let’s Hear It For The Vague Blur for around $5. Pretty good value for an independently released CD/DVD trippy art package. But I digress [lots].

Does my presence on the cloud define me? To some degree it did when I was hooked on the p2p networks like Soulseek. Meeting fellow experimental music nerds online who actually asked for music that I made, rather than having me force it upon them was cool. But I doubt this would happen were it not for the grounding in real … actual … music collection. Online I meet lots of people who like what I like and tune out those that don’t. So I don’t actually move very far outside my limited circle. In real life, I have to justify the pretentious nonsense I gravitate to, the inconsistencies, my knee-jerk avoidance of “classics” … all these things help define me. Google Search doesn’t because it doesn’t argue. [Bam! Absolutely spot on – Ed]

The potential closing of Rocking Horse means something very personal to me, and it isn’t just because I’ve been going there for half my life. I left my position as video sales/customer orders guy at the Record Market, one week before it went into receivership. I think I was the last person to get paid properly. I also had to stop working at Trash Video because Stumpy was trying to pay me with money the shop clearly wasn’t making. These were places that both ceased to be economically relevant. RM was an old school chain that existed for years, one of those stores that stocked pretty much anything from Classical to Jazz to Black Metal to Britney … with the emerging, overseas backed chains like Sanity and JB Hifi/Best Buy they had little hope. The remains of RM is ‘The Music Shop’ … an exercise in putting all those great CDs you find in ‘Shit for Dickheads’ stores under one roof and then marking them up.

Trash Video of course appealed to the kind of video geeks who want to know if this Philipino exploitation film is the uncut version or not. Yet sadly in the middle of trendy West End it became increasingly hard to appeal to both the local walk-in crowd who wanted the latest Tony Gatlif film and the Logan bogans who rent 12 near generic horror and action flicks on vhs every week. Both crowds stink but Trash needed them like RH currently needs the walk-ins to help justify the vinyl imports. The demise of Trash happened when the bogans got broadband internet and realised they could save petrol money downloading all their obscure films from torrent sites. The local West End crowd realised the chain video store up the road could afford to buy the latest Tony Gatlif film increasingly months before Trash could. Everybody LOSES.

Rockinghorse have held on much longer than I expected them to. I knew before the article [‘Rocking No More At Iconic Retailer’, in yesterday’s local tabloid, The Courier-Mail – Ed] that things were bad because, as I said, I know them, I talk to them, plus I also know what it is like. In some ways it definately makes sense that they would shrink into a vinyl only, hole in the wall type place. Vinyl is tactile, bulky to post and quite a bit harder to download – therefore people want it [crazy I know]. Hell I’m even thinking of buying a record player again (got rid of mine in the 90s when it was friggin impossible to replace styluses). It’s a niche Butter Beats has been filling for some time … a niche that has been sporadically filled by a variety of different places and a niche i’m not so sure Brisbane can sustain two variations thereof.

Either way I still think Matt has a point. What use is a place like Rockinghorse right now? As Brian Eno writes in Prospect Magazine,

“Recorded music is about as readily available as water, and not a whole lot more exciting.” (May 2009)

When our idea of community is our Facebook friends, can a music community be much more than the ring of blogs that post music we like on mediafire and rapidshare hosts? Just like an old man, I remember another time … I’m not sure it was a better time … but I remember when music had power, an album was a kind of magic. Part of that magic was sharing it, and another part of that magic was buying it from someone who gave you shit for it, and you not giving a fuck.

Thanks for reading,


P.S. Here’s my latest album – it probably wouldn’t exist without the formative influence of Rockinghorse and the sharing of music. Amusing yes that I’m advertising online music but hey … if Rockinghorse wasn’t about to close maybe you could buy it there.

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