HI-FI DECONSTRUCTED

Australian HIFI - - CONTENTS -

Rod Eas­down’s late night mu­si­cal in­tro­spec­tives are be­ing hi-jacked… and he blames The Wig­gles.

It’s late and I’m try­ing to get­ting my head around Hil­dur Gud­nadot­tir, an Ice­landic cel­list and com­poser, on Spo­tify. The first I heard of her was the mu­sic in the se­cond Si­cario movie, where she has re­placed Jo­hann Jo­hanns­son, a fel­low Ice­lander who did the mu­sic for the first Si­cario movie (and a heap of oth­ers) and then died at just 48. Like his stuff, Hil­dur’s mu­sic is dark, brood­ing and very good for in­tro­spec­tive lis­ten­ing late at night.

Then some­thing strange hap­pens. Rock mu­sic, hard, driv­ing rock, comes in over the top of Hil­dur’s brood­ing and in­creases in vol­ume un­til it’s shak­ing the walls. This can’t be right. I try to turn it down. Noth­ing hap­pens. Then I no­tice that the Bose SoundTouch is lit up. The rock mu­sic is com­ing from it, not the stereo it sits be­side which is still loyal to Hil­dur. I look for the Bose re­mote among the 412 re­motes on the side ta­ble with­out suc­cess, so I walk over and turn it off. What the hell?

Twice more the Bose comes to life and shakes the place silly. Twice more I turn it off. My mind is rac­ing. Have I been hacked? Has some­one bro­ken into the house and is right now up­stairs bug­ger­ing around with my com­puter? Is some­one stand­ing at the back win­dow with my Bose re­mote laugh­ing like hell? (I think this last thought be­cause it is some­thing I once did many years ago while un­der the in­flu­ence of suf­fi­cient al­co­hol that it seemed ter­ri­bly funny at the time.)

The next day I am Skyp­ing with my step-daugh­ter Jess in Sin­ga­pore and an idea oc­curs to me. I tell her about the in­ci­dent and ask if she was us­ing the Bose when last stay­ing with us back home. She sounds sheep­ish. ‘That may have been me,’ she says. ‘I kept try­ing to play some mu­sic on Spo­tify and it kept di­rect­ing me to ‘Bose’. I don’t even have a Bose, so I turned the vol­ume up think­ing my speaker must have been muted.’ Then she pauses. ‘But I’m in Sin­ga­pore. The Bose is in Aus­tralia. Is that even pos­si­ble?’

Alas, I hap­pen to know it is. Last time my wife, Jess’s mum, was in Sin­ga­pore my Spo­tify ses­sions kept be­ing over­rid­den by the Wig­gles. The first time this hap­pened I be­came fu­ri­ous. Spo­tify had ob­vi­ously ac­cepted a heap of money from the Wig­gles to break into peo­ples’ lis­ten­ing at ran­dom and ex­pose them to songs like Miss Polly had a Dolly. But af­ter three hi­jack­ings I thought a bit more deeply and Whats Apped my wife up there. I asked if she was lis­ten­ing to the Wig­gles on Spo­tify. ‘Yes. My grand­daugh­ters and I are danc­ing,’ she said. ‘How did you know?’

Ah, the con­nected age is won­der­ful, true. There was a time when see­ing a movie, any movie, re­quired go­ing to a cin­ema. I can re­call when lis­ten­ing to mu­sic re­quired find­ing the right record and putting it on, then hav­ing to turn it over half-way through in or­der to lis­ten right to the end. Some­times the thought of this was enough to make me watch the footy in­stead, but at least we were do­ing bet­ter than, say, Louis XIV, who when he felt like lis­ten­ing to mu­sic had to as­sem­ble an or­ches­tra. And those who were not Louis XIV just had to hum.

Yes, we have some truly won­der­ful tech­nol­ogy these days but it has in­tro­duced all sorts of dif­fi­cul­ties and chal­lenges that 20 years ago we couldn’t even en­vis­age. We have movies on­line. And buffer­ing. We have shop­ping from home. And par­cel thieves. We have text mes­sages. And auto-cor­rect. We have the in­ter­net. And the NBN. We have tweets. And Trump. We have cookies, mal­ware, ran­somware, spam, and on-line book­ing fees. We have elec­tions and Rus­sians. We have sat­nav routes that take the long way home. We have to prove we are not ro­bots. We can only re­call with plea­sure when the cam­era didn’t lie. As Charles Dick­ens would have ob­served had he been born two cen­turies later; it is the best of times, it is the worst of times.

I’d be happy to pay for SBS on De­mand Pre­mium if only they had SBS on De­mand Pre­mium stream­ing with­out ads. Their ad place­ment within pro­gram­ming demon­strates all the sen­si­tiv­ity of Bashar al-As­sad run­ning a child-mind­ing cen­tre. But that’s not the worst bit. The worst bit is that it’s fre­quently the same bloody ad through­out the en­tire show. Mazda is hav­ing a sale. OK, I get that. Can we move on now?

It’s the same with their pro­mos, but this reached a new level of the scream­ingly in­ept when we tuned into a ter­rific Nordic Noir from Den­mark called Grey­zone. Through­out the early episodes the pro­mos were for, yep, Grey­zone.

I am look­ing for­ward to the next big idea. And dread­ing the next set of prob­lems that comes with it. And by the way Charles, while it took 118 years fol­low­ing the pub­li­ca­tion of A Tale of Two Cities for the French to cease death by guil­lo­tine, we still have lots of child ex­ploita­tion. It’s just that these days it’s all elec­tronic. Rod Eas­down

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