8 Feb 2017

The non-death of the album

From Nine To Noon, 11:08 am on 8 February 2017
Shayne P. Carter: Offsider

Shayne P. Carter: Offsider Photo: Greta Anderson/Shayne P. Carter

Graeme Downes, founding member of the Verlaines, songwriter, musicologist, senior lecturer in the Department of Music at the University of Otago argues the album is NOT dead. He illustrates this by featuring Shayne P Carter's album The Offsider.

“It was an email from my daughter” says Graeme Downes of his interest in the flourishing art of the album, despite the prediction that it would die. “The free streaming service she was using would only play songs from the Shayne P Carter album in shuffle mode. So she bit the bullet and went out and bought the record.”

He says that the journey for the listener, from seeing the album cover, to immersion into the musician’s world for 40 minutes, is still an important interaction. Long-form organised listening has been popular for hundreds of years in Western music – since the birth of the Symphony.  

Downes reflects on his own history making albums as The Verlaines. “The opening track sets an agenda. With vinyl, the last song on side one is a set closer, and the opening song on side two is a new beginning. So there’s all sorts of structural aspects that have survived the digital and CD age. I think people think about where the journey is going to go, and where it’s going to end up.”

Downes dissects Shayne P Carter’s record The Offsider with Lynn Freeman.