Classic Album Sundays - Communal and audiophile listening experience comes to Glasgow
Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon is album for Scottish event
What’s the difference been hearing and listening? One answer might be that the former is passive and the latter is active. Like the difference between turning up at work and actually working. With music, one byproduct of broadband and streaming technologies – where everything is available, on demand, forever – is how passively we listen to music now. Even when it’s not competing with the noise of the kitchen, workplace or car engine, it’s always something we can abandon and come back to later. Combine this with an audio quality limited by the spec of mass-produced hardware, YouTube’s streaming rate and the ubiquity of headphone listening everywhere and you can begin to understand why Classic Album Sundays has quickly grown from its London roots into a worldwide programme of events.
Seeking to encourage active listening through ‘a communal and audiophile listening experience’, the first Edinburgh event visited the Fringe last Sunday and hits Glasgow in September. The album? Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon.
So what’s it like? Well, the afternoon session taking place as part of a weekend of events at Edinburgh hi-fi temple Loud and Clear began with a passionate introduction by American Colleen ‘Cosmo’ Murphy, who set up Classic Album Sundays, she says, ‘out of necessity’, to encourage the act of listening to music back towards being ‘an immersive experience’.
OK, much like hiring a yacht, part of it is experiencing a music system you may never own, but it’s the social aspect of the event that’s central – browsing the racks of 180mg vinyl brought in by Newport’s Diverse Music, listening to related music beforehand and talking about it with other music lovers over some impressively high-end drinks and snacks.
‘This is absolutely not about a £90,000 hi-fi system’, says Loud and Clear’s John Carroll. ‘Music being freely available everywhere has resulted in it being devalued as an artform – something that you listen to in the background whilst you read email or do something else – we’re trying to counteract that.’
And yes, it sounds great. Most notably, drums sound like drums, and I certainly heard things in there I’d never heard before – even after stretches of heavy listening to this particular album (on tape, of course) that only a teenager is capable of. Primarily though, it’s the enforced absence of other activity that defines the experience. Much like the difference between watching a film on TV and in the cinema, Classic Album Sundays seeks to create an group environment for listening to music that goes some way to acknowledge the effort that went into making it.
Berkeley Suite, Glasgow, Sun 30 Sep, 5pm–8.30pm, £6.