the forgotten masterpiece

Digging, call it what you like whether it's in crates filled with vinyl, or something half-heard and then rediscovered online.

Kathy Iandoli's great article recreates perfectly the wonder and rush of the search (while also noting how all this fits with hip-hop as a reconstructed, a found music; 'Veteran producers of hip-hop were scientists dissecting tracks, librarians of musical culture, mathematicians of the BPM and above all musical historians').

In essence, Iandoli writes, it's 'the hunt for the DNA of a popular song you're in love with. An addiction to origins'. 

But what of the track that got away, the genius unrecognised? Coming from a country on the margins - albeit one that causes geopolitical havoc, pain and suffering in its own neighbourhood - I remember someone characterising the value of nations as the ones being the most written about, the most 'remembered' being the ones with the most power.

In this schema, entire schools of thought develop in obscure parts of the world on US-related subjects (the fetishisation of Native Americans in the former Soviet Bloc comes to mind); similarly, the glory of the French lifestyle and how the French discipline their children, or how they all wear scarves a certain way (fill entire books written in English by foreigners).

In all of this, myths are rewritten again and again to the point that they start to feel real.

Something similar happens in music;  Curtis Mayfield is held close by millions the world over, but not David Ruffin (okay, this point refers to majority opinion, there will always be obsessives with a sense of history and mission).

Certain songs that could have been champions fade - destined to being viewed by dozens, rather than thousands, or even millions, on YouTube.

Personally I don't care about any of this and see it as part of the landscape, thinking too that the beauty of some art lies in the fact that it is looking on in - slightly apart from the main game. 

Ripe, 'Something Fierce' from the album, 'The Plastic Hassle' (1994)  

Waratah Place: Melbourne, early 1990s, with my then boyfriend and a friend I lived in a disused office building above a sex shop and a 24-hour Chinese take-out with blood-red ducks hanging upside-down from hooks. 

That aforementioned friend who used to wear leather pants/no make-up and get away with it ended up marrying, I think, said ex-boyfriend, a Mexican-French guy from New York who endlessly studied chess, read Nietzsche and sometimes smoked a pipe; a guy who had dreadlocks down his back when I first met him and then shaved them off when he overheard someone say, 'so that's the grunge look, eh?' at Coney Island, I think it was, when he was going for an afternoon walk dressed in his khaki shirt and pants, always the same every day (a beautiful man in every sense, someone I loved a lot, even though he didn't talk much and was very young, maybe he was around 18/19 then). Anyway, this friend listened to this CD by Ripe on repeat.

Now, what I notice is the kick of the drum-beat, the way it interacts with the bassline. It is the sweetest, most perfect pop-song; an impression only further enhanced by the distortion overlay. Now what I notice - and I don't quite have the words for it - is the way the various tracks are split and layered, or maybe they are not, in fact, maybe it was recorded live in one take, after the sleepy beginning before the vocals come in. 

Someone, writing below this track on YouTube - 16,867 views - writes this: 'Just came here from SMH (Sydney Morning Herald), "..  this is still the most perfect song ever written and deserves a renaissance. This Melbourne band should have been the next Sonic Youth, dammit. There's no justice in the world."

One person liked that comment, ps, it was someone other than me.