Current Listens: Needle Drop

Recent heavy rotation plus occasional deep cuts

Tomorrow begins a new section on this website. It’s to be called Current Listens, and that’s what it’s about. To a degree, it’s an answer to a frequent question I receive: “What have you been listening to lately?” It may prove to be an experiment, and it may prove to last long-term. It’s going to be a weekly collection of recommended listening. The list may be long some weeks, and short other weeks. The descriptions will be concise, or as concise as I can be. I don’t, personally, enjoy posting without context. That’s just me. Below is some background on the idea:

I try to write about a track each weekday on That’s what the site’s Downstream section is about (though lately it’s been, entirely uncharacteristically, full of modified recordings, in the form of my own Buddha Machine Variations). There’s far more music, however, that I’m interested in than I can write about in that focused context. I receive hundreds of email requests most weekdays (from musicians, record labels, publicists) to listen, and I “discover” lots in my own listening and exploring.

This next point is worth its own paragraph for emphasis: Most of what I write about is music I come upon, not music that is sent to me. That isn’t because I necessarily trust my explorations more than my inbox. It’s just that exploring the internet is more interesting than exploring my inbox. (Also more interesting than email: visiting record stores, going to concerts, having conversations.)

It’s been suggested to me on several occasions that I address this perceived burden (an embarrassment of riches, to be clear) by just re-posting to lots of the inbound music, and to let readers sort it out. I feel, though, that would merely shift the burden. The point of publishing, which I started back in 1996, is for it to be mine, to have an editorial point of view, to present things from my perspective. (Even as I’ve experimented with having guest contributors, that remains the case.) More importantly, the “embarrassment of riches” (of being surrounded by vast amounts of music) mentioned above is no longer solely the experience of the music critic. Thanks to streaming services, everyone has too much to listen to; even if their email inboxes don’t overflow with requests, their more broadly defined inboxes do.

It’s also been suggested to me I get back to putting together playlists on streaming services. I’ve given this a go on SoundCloud, Spotify, and Google Play Music in the past. I enjoyed it to a degree, but the absence of context, of producing liner notes, made it less interesting than it could be (again, for me). I did two episodes of a podcast, which was a lot of fun, but also a sizable amount of work. I may get back to it, but blogging is where all this Disquiet activity began. It’s worked, and it still works.

Which is where this new Current Listens section comes in. Current Listens is a listening diary, of a sorts. It’ll collect recent-favorite music I haven’t (or at least haven’t yet) done a longer weekday entry on. Much of this music is available on a variety of formats and platforms, not just whichever one I happen to utilize for embedding purposes. Current Listens will kick off with three categories:

New: Recent(ish) arrivals and pre-releases

Repeat: Favorites mentioned previously

Archival: Old(er(ish)) records on my mind

Check it out tomorrow. Thanks. And in the interest of conversation, if there’s something you’re enjoying lately, mention it in the comments below. Just please don’t use the comments to promote your own work. This isn’t the right venue.

4 thoughts on “Current Listens: Needle Drop

    1. This is beautiful, indeed. Thanks so much for having shared it. I’ve had Jon Hassell on my mind, given news of his health this week, and this has a touch of his presence to it, while being entirely its own thing. I’ll be listening to more of Yazz Ahmed for sure.

  1. Like many, I struggle with the torrent of inbound music. Some kind of personalized response to this sounds promising. I look forward to your posts.

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