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I'm a fairly big addict of Digitally Imported's Internet radio service. The bulk of my time is spent in the Chillout channel, as I find the selection there (for the most part) to be an incomparable backdrop for late-night hacking sessions.

The mixed blessing and curse of a service like DI is that it's crammed with extremely rare tracks. I know of one or two cases where the track played by DI is the only existing copy of the song in the world. On the one hand, the nominal (and voluntary) subscription fee is a bargain considering the ease of access one has to such works. On the other hand, it can be incredibly hard to listen to a particularly masterful track and know that you'll never be able to go down to the store and buy the CD. Some of this stuff is literally so rare that you can't even find it via certain... shall we say, less than reputable Internet sources.

I keep a list of tracks that I've heard that I want to try and find someday. Several I've been able to buy, and some can only be had by resorting to more extreme methods. In every case I'd more than gladly give a tidy portion of my income to the original author for the priviledge of listening to their music on demand.

I could turn this into a lengthy rant of ire about how modern music distribution encourages crap to be churned out and jostle for position on some self-important "Top X" listing-du-jour. I could vent my considerable frustration about how I'm expected to pay ridiculous sums of money and submit to idiotic terms-of-use just to listen to garbage, while in the meantime the labels refuse to sign genuine talent and brilliant artists like Marco Torrance. I could say a lot of very unhappy things about trying to enjoy music in this day and age - things which shouldn't have to be said, given the unprecedented and truly remarkable ability our modern civilization has to distribute media like this.

I'm really not in the mood to rant, though. I'm mostly just sad, and the usual rip of nostalgia is making its routine surge. I've said it before, and likely will have occasion to do so again several times, but I'm far too sentimental for my own sanity [smile]

I sort of feel vaguely dirty and foolish bringing it up, but it captures my mood so well, and has come to mind repeatedly this evening. I'd love to be able to say that I drew this little slice of my soul from some great writer like Shakespeare... or... some other great writer. But, frankly, I don't really know that many great writers, and I haven't read that much of the "great literature." So with a mixture of shame and geekish pride, I have to reveal that one of the most powerful pieces I ever read on this subject was a Star Wars short story.

I don't recall many details, and those I do remember are likely butchered. The vast majority of the other short stories in the book were total crap, as is par for the Star Wars course (Timothy Zahn excepted). This one stuck with me not at all because of the franchise branding, but because of the subject material itself.

As I remember it (which again is not particularly reliable), there was some legendary mass-murdering psychopath alien who had comitted horrendous acts of genocide during his military service. There was some explanation of this, but I don't recall what it was. The interesting thing was that he had escaped justice for decades, and had hidden himself away on some obscure planet or whatever, living in an underground hovel.

The pride of his life was a literally priceless collection of music. In his subterranean lair, he had collected thousands of recordings - literally the last music surviving in most of the universe. (Apparently the Emperor was not fond of tunes, or whatever. I don't remember that, either.) In the end, something dramatic happens, and he dies listening to the only existing copy of some famous song in the entire galaxy.

Or maybe he didn't die, or something. Heck, I don't remember at all. Just that there was a lot of rare music involved, and he was the only one with access to it. I suppose it loses all of its dramatic punch when recounted without any of the actual details of the story.

But believe me, it was deeply moving. Especially when one gets done hearing Lluvia del Verano and knowing that, chances are, it'll never get signed onto a label, despite the fact that Torrance is a borderline-genius artist.

DI offers an amazing chance to enjoy some of that artwork; it's a chance that, even 15 years ago, would have been totally impossible. The hardest part is knowing that that short glimpse is all I may ever get to have.

But really, isn't that just part of what makes it so special?
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Chillout rocks. You should probably pick up the stacks of Chillout Session CDs that have been released for more mainstream-accessible chillout stuff that's still pretty good; it's not all electronica which helps to break up the monotony after awhile.

You should also try the Secret Agent channel on SomaFM if you'd like some non-electronic chillout style stuff.

If you're really mourning about not getting to hear the songs again you can always bolt Streamripper to the stream.

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