Apple Music – Cloudy Strains for a Clear Conscience?


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Picture this dramatic scene.  One steely dawn in the dead of winter, you are rudely roused by a snarling West wind as it pounds at your pains, pillages your pear tree, plucks potatoes from their loamy pillows, rips roses from the sanctuary of guardian gnomes, re-arranges last night’s refuse into next year’s Turner prize and roars through your rattled front door in a frenzy fit to douse dragon fire, hell bent on turning your bones brittle with a single icy bear-hug.

With a smile broader than spring sunshine, you writhe beneath a rustic tartan heirloom, rub soles against soothing cotton and sneer in contented seclusion from the swollen cheeks and chilling  claws of mother Nature’s menacing horseman, knowing full well that the towering clouds traversing the heavens from whence he came are not  the ones to fear.

Come now.  Whoever heard of a wind disposed to harvest root vegetables or develop a novel knack for modern art and to win further favour with science, your garden wall, chimney stack and paddling pool would all present far more plausible targets than your front door, back door, or cat flap .  As for gnomes guarding roses, a childish and ridiculous notion, it’s always been hydrangeas, roses are far too proud to rely on any but each other.

So please, let our plot unfold as their petals unfurl.  In languid satisfaction, You sling off the covers, slip on a gown of contrasting tartan and shuffle over to a section of room reserved for reflection and recreation, a luxury no human should be denied.

Buried below a junk ridden jungle or perched above paperless perfection, resides your personal repository of melodic motivation.

Depending on the ears in need of pampering, this phenomenon will assume numerous forms.

Say hello to Chloe, the chaotic creative, a stash of CDs strewn across her desk sharing priceless real estate with plectrums, cables and papery echoes of lyrical inspiration.

Many jewel cases lie bare, their teeth broken, their occupants either relegated to coffee coasters, or one of two hundred honoured residents revolving in a resplendent Wurlitzer jukebox, acquired with the aid of busking bonuses, a student loan and several months of a Mother’s pension, donated in return for exclusive royalties from her daughter’s debut album and a starring role in more songs than any of her future lovers.

All most endearing to be sure, but utterly alien to Frank, our fanatical audiophile, whose colossal collection is blessed with pride of place upon rich hand-carved rosewood, personally sourced, sculpted and secured beyond the realm of clumsy curiosity, that is, ever since his nine year old nephew used an exceptionally rare cycle of Beethoven Symphonies to play Frisbee with Oscar, Frank’s pet Siberian Husky.

A regrettable mishap, but the perfect excuse to spend three otherwise empty Sundays cultivating and re-cataloguing till not a band left was left to chance, nor a booklet out of place, and every page mint with a sweet smell of marzipan.

Five thousand silver surfaces patiently craving a premium laser’s caress.  Their sonic secrets to be revealed in flawless fidelity by his sublime Super-Audio primed Marantz 14S1.  One agonizing  exception was a cherished boxed set set of Carnegie Hall Recitals performed by his idol, Simon Barere,  a shamefully unsung emperor of the ivories.  The discs had assumed a curious bronze shade due to a dodgy ingredient employed by one guilty pressing plant, ironically to protect the recorded audio, but instead leaving it vulnerable to the elements with results far worse the vinyl’s most voluminous pop and crackle.

Lastly, there’s Linus the ripper ,the diskless die hard.  A fervent file hoarder since Napster’s inception, whose eternally evolving library of flacs, wavs , and mp somethings spans a duo of digital custodians.

A mollifying mixture of soft rock, traditional jazz, electric instrumentals and country blues on his Colourfily C4.  Acoustic purity preserved in palm sized nostalgia, its chassis forged from deep grained walnut with a facia of brushed champagne gold and chunky, yet stylish controls seemingly imported from the 70s.  Premium grade op-amps and 24bit playback at four fold the sample rate of a CD.

“Not that I need it,” says Linus. “16 bit at 44 is fine, but flacs are a must, as is drag and drop access and an interface that fulfils without fiddling.  Name me a device preceded by an “I” that meets both those prerequisitres.

This beaut takes SD cards, up to 32 gigs a piece, potentially limitless storage.  If I’m running short I just buy another, but one is more than enough for on the go.  When the time comes to top up or refresh, I pull the card from the Colorfly, stick it in my tower, copy or move whatever I want to wherever I wish, slide the card back in the Colourfly and savour music with the aid of actual buttons.  Remember those?  Simplicity itself.

Navigation is old school, but when you press, you hear.  Your playlists under your fingers, at a pace entirely your own.  No downloading, buffering, stuttering, authorising, validating or authenticating.  Comforting proof that it’s still possible to slip into a melodic trance and not be forced to sign into one.

As for the rest, I have a NAS which resides under my desk with a database of over 20000 tracks, all tagged and indexed.  I use DB Power amp to extract and Media Monkey to organize which, unlike other apps or real primates, is actually designed to do as its told.”

So, there you have it, three connoisseurs of contrasting tonality, their tastes as individual as their methods of indulgence, yet all equally passionate and on this grudgingly gloomy morning, determined to drown a stormy symphony with cascades of cloudless melodies.

Which one of them is you?


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