Nathan Brown finds yet an­other ex­cuse to write about mu­sic

In­dus­try is­sues given the widescreen treat­ment

EDGE - - SECTIONS - NATHAN BROWN Nathan Brown is Edge’s deputy edi­tor. Eleven cat-re­lated GIFs were con­sumed dur­ing the pro­duc­tion of this page

De­lighted as I was to learn that Blood­borne had sold a mil­lion copies within a cou­ple of weeks of re­lease, I was also a lit­tle wor­ried. It felt a bit weird see­ing such a big mar­ket­ing cam­paign around a game which, to put it mildly, isn’t ex­actly for ev­ery­one. Blood­borne is no triple-A block­buster, no scripted, press-X-to-mur­der roller­coaster. That’s pre­cisely what makes it so spe­cial, of course, but it is a game that has to be learnt be­fore it can be loved and, th­ese days, there’s not so much of an ap­petite for that sort of thing. I worry that Blood­borne may turn from one of PS4’s fastest-sell­ing games into its most quickly traded in.

It got me think­ing, like most things do, about mu­sic. In a few pages’ time you’ll read about Gui­tar Hero Live, which will ar­rive with a 24-hour rolling mu­sic video chan­nel that you can leave run­ning in the back­ground like MTV (is MTV still a thing?), or sit down in front of and play along to. It’s been built specif­i­cally to mir­ror the way we lis­ten to mu­sic th­ese days. It is tem­po­rary and tran­sient and snack­ish, re­quir­ing noth­ing but your oc­ca­sional at­ten­tion: you dis­cover, you con­sume, and you move on to the next thing, per­haps click­ing a ‘like’ but­ton or adding some­thing to a playlist if you’re feel­ing par­tic­u­larly frisky.

Pull any record out of my col­lec­tion and I can tell you where I bought it and when, what it sounds like, and which track on which side you ought to play. (Se­ri­ously, please do that – it’s my favourite thing.) Mean­while, my Spo­tify playlists con­tain hun­dreds of songs I couldn’t even name. We just don’t en­gage with me­dia in the way we used to.

Sched­uled TV, the cinema, the al­bum mar­ket, dare I say it, the printed mag­a­zine; the stomp­ing ground of dinosaurs, too old and too slow to keep up with the break­neck pace of mod­ern life, where noth­ing is per­ma­nent and ev­ery new thing is only of use un­til the next thing comes along. Reach the end of a story on a web­site and you’ll be pre­sented with a dozen other things to read next. Fin­ish a film on Net­flix – most of which you prob­a­bly missed be­cause you were look­ing at cat GIFs on your phone – and the rec­om­men­da­tion en­gine kicks in the sec­ond the cred­its start to roll, sug­gest­ing what to watch next. On no ac­count must you stop, take a breath and think about what you’ve just read, heard or seen.

Or, in­deed, played. We play and we delete or trade in, mov­ing on to the next big Fri­day re­lease, App Store favourite or Steam sale pur­chase (only kid­ding: as if we ever get round to play­ing those). This gets right to the heart of what makes Blood­borne, and the

Souls games be­fore it, so spe­cial. It is all in or noth­ing. Many will bounce off it, but re­gard­less of how many of the mil­lion-plus peo­ple who ponied up their £50 for a game one week­end then traded it in the next, its suc­cess still gives me hope. It may prove to game pub­lish­ers that play­ers aren’t com­plete cretins who will fail to progress be­yond the ti­tle screen un­less you hold their hands ev­ery step of the way. It might help re­tail­ers re­alise that there’s rev­enue po­ten­tial be­yond the ob­vi­ous an­nual block­buster. Above all, I hope it will show a new au­di­ence the mer­its of fall­ing deeply into some­thing bril­liant to the ex­clu­sion of ev­ery­thing else. If what’s in front of you is amaz­ing, why worry about what’s com­ing next?

We are all ea­ger to re­vere the relics of the past. A copy of the NME landed on my desk the other day. Kurt Cobain and Court­ney Love stared out from the cover and I was briefly, vividly re­minded of one of the last NMEs I bought, back when it was still a news­pa­per, the cover a close, black-and­white crop of Cobain’s face, mark­ing his pass­ing. The other day marked 30 years since the launch of Zzap!64; I never read it be­cause I had a ZX Spec­trum and peo­ple with C64s were the worst, but it sure got me think­ing about my Your Sin­clair sub­scrip­tion. Public En­emy’s Fear Of A Black Planet is 25 years old, too (the Bath branch of Our Price – now a Tie Rack – on launch day; side two, track four, Can’t Do Nut­tin’ For Ya Man).

I hope we all learn to – or re­mem­ber how to – slow down and connect with things. Look­ing around, I see heart­en­ing signs of a de­sire to make the tem­po­rary a lit­tle more per­ma­nent. Vinyl sales are up. Web­sites are mak­ing print mag­a­zines. And Blood­borne has sold a mil­lion copies. I hope this is the be­gin­ning of a trend, but if not, no mat­ter. I’ll be here, with my records, my mags and my mem­o­ries. Sat with the rest of the dinosaurs, wait­ing hap­pily for the me­teor to hit.

On no ac­count must you stop, take a breath and think about what you’ve just read, heard or seen. Or, in­deed, played

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