Sifting in 2012: Why it’s vital to remember and discover

So summer is done, with September’s potentially dull and overcast face now approaching imminently. The cold weather will be with us soon, meaning there will be plenty of time for that to-do list, as the elements ensure we spend more evenings inside.

Of course it’s pretty tempting to investigate new releases during these fleeting free moments. God knows there are enough of them, with more sealed stock landing on our doormat than ever before. Reassuringly 2012 has been a thoroughly strong year for house and techno related product too, with an abundance of material unveiled that really does deserve some attention. But it’s important not to get too carried away.

Until the digitisation of music and journalism artists, acts and tracks were discovered in a very different way. Apart from anything else, there was less emphasis on what’s current, with purveyors taking a more holistic approach to selling records. Not that we can complain about the way stores work in the 21st Century- online shopping is far easier, yet it doesn’t really promote the age-old art of sifting, and stumbling across the weird and wonderful.

From our perspective that’s a big shame, though admittedly a logical one- fresh releases should be what we come to first, but searching in cyberspace requires prior knowledge of what we’re looking for. Cue an abundance of recommendation services looking to aid our navigation through the latest crop of LPs and singles, functionality equally useful when rooting through the archives.

There’s still a limit though, as the choices we’re given depend on our streaming histories, and the opinions of our friends (be they real world of internet-only). The result means it’s still painfully difficult to discover something truly new that bears no relation to what’s already on our shelves. To an extent this has always been quite hard, yet we were far more likely to come across the unexpected when blindly dipping into racks as oppose to trying to evade increasingly intelligent algorithms and web programming. However, part of the problem is also that there’s so much less patience when it comes to browsing the internet.

From early Essential Mixes (still available from illicit sources if you scour the internet hard enough) to 15-year-old inaugural albums then, surely now everyone has got used to the novelty of instant access it’s time to put it to use more comprehensively. There’s very little we can’t take a listen to online, and as per the age-old cliché, to know where we’re going we must understand where we’ve been. Like any overused phrase it’s popular because there’s more than a morsel of truth behind it, and certainly in our current climate- as the scene continues to bloat and edge ever closer to overall commercialism, it’s never been more important to fully appreciate how the hell it got to this point.