The History Of Pop Music…in less time than it takes to have a bath.
The life of a music fan is (hopefully, if you’re doing it right) one of tiny epiphanies: realisations that you have suddenly been opened up to genres/albums/bands which you had no previous knowledge, or maybe even actively shunned. These minute Damascene moments are what keeps us interested and passionate about music-they are what keep us fans. Each particular revelation is personal to each listener, and is irrelevant of taste, knowledge, and fashionability – it just works at that particular time and place, and opens up brand new areas to be explored (often at great financial cost, hours of searching through specialist shops and sites, and then more time spent as a listener). I remember vividly walking into a record store and hearing Rockbox by Run DMC at ASBO-level volume and feeling that I had just heard the future. The first Big Audio Dynamite album was equally inspirational-the first time I’d heard samples of film dialogue pasted throughout songs, enhancing the mood and atmosphere and creating a potent mix of music and cinematic images.
For those of you who don’t have the time or inclination to spend hours in second-hand shops but would like a swift guide to what Pop Music was like when it used to matter, I give you INTRO INSPECTION by OSYMYSO.
There are 102 fragments of (mainly) 70s and 80s pop songs here, sliced from their original context and then welded together in a seamless flow, so that, just as you pick out one song its gone and replaced by another. The whole piece works as a montage of pop history (or more accurately, British pop history from roughly 1965-95 which, lets face it, is The Golden Age Of Pop) from a period when your life was measured out in Number One singles. It also serves as a ‘Feck You’ to the Luddites who still believe that sampling is solely the preserve of electronic music and requires no talent whatsoever-the majority of the songs utilised are, as Vim Fuego would have it, part of rock’s rich tapestry and most will be familiar to anyone aged between 20 and 60 who has only a casual listeners interest in music. They are taken out of context, cut up and spliced together to create a patchwork of riffs, choruses, beats and melodies which is stunning in its scope and vision.
I don’t want to spoil the surprise if you’ve never heard this before, but some of the juxtapositions are sensational; to have the ability to realise that ‘This’ goes so very well with ‘That’ and to put those pieces together side-by-side, on top of one another, or weaving in and out, is joyful. Play this to your friends after a couple of drinks and your front room turns into a raucous Pop Quiz with everybody shouting out the songs, then immediately quiet in case they miss the next sliver.
Its entirely possible that this was meant to be a comment on the disposability of Pop Music-one after another after another until the cows come home, with the only response from the listener being a Pavlovian grin with each riff or recognised vocal, and no time for any other emotional engagement before the next one comes along. Its possible, but this is obviously the construction of a Pop fan; the love and attention-to-detail put into the selection and shaping of the fragments, and the fun in hearing two (or more) records which would never be filed together in anyones collection using each other as reference points is a pure joy from start to finish.
My favourite bits of this record change every time I play it, so have a glass of wine, put the headphones on, and try to keep a straight face as ‘…the hits just keep on coming’. First time I heard it I managed to spot 75 – see how many YOU get…..
(Written to: ‘Intro Inspection’ 101 – OSYMYSO, ‘Damaged’ – BLACK FLAG, ‘Caress Of Steel’ – RUSH)