For some reason, “Mad Went the Barber” by Mabuses popped into my head the other day (maybe it was a promo for the Sweeney Todd movie…). Anyway, I realized that my copy of that song was a quaint little reminder of a forgotten moment in the music industry, because it came my way on a promotional CD put out by a long-gone service called unwrapped.com…whose idea was that, wow, they’d burn your very own mix CDs for you, and then mail you the CD! This was in 1998, before Napster – I suppose it seemed like a good idea at the time. Then home CD burners became cheap, and the quality of mp3s rose (more accurately, typical bandwidth and speed increased so that higher-quality, larger mp3s were feasible to use) – and the point of such a business model was utterly lost. I still recall an issue of Musician magazine, from the early ’90s, peering into a crystal ball in which, rather than buying manufactured CDs at record stores, you would go to the record store…and a machine could burn the CD for you right there! Again: unanticipated changes in technology rendered that scenario absurd.
I suppose there’s a cautionary note there for those who confidently forecast the complete disappearance of CDs: things never quite evolve as you’d expect. And while I think it’s likely that a Web 3.0, where applications and storage migrate from the desktop to the web, will come about in some form (who wants to pay a couple hundred bucks for a pointlessly bloated version of Word, complete with obnoxious and unusable new file format, if you could just access a word-processing site online that allows you save documents in any format you want, and either store them online or locally?), there’s no predicting what will actually happen.
Anyway, there were a couple of other interesting tracks on that unwrapped.com sampler – some Simon Joyner, some Modest Mouse before most people had heard of them – but I’m posting a long psych track from the first release by the Asteroid #4, entitled “The Admiral’s Address.” The Mabuses’ track has a slightly psych edge too, along with a sort of classic British pop sound that more or less contemporary (yet unjustly obscure) acts like Statuesque were exploring at the time. (Statuesque is still active – see the myspace link – and the Mabuses have just released a new CD as well.)