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September 23, 2013 | by  | in Arts Music |
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Fantastic Albums and Where to Find Them

Us music-devotees have it pretty good in our day and age. Flashback two decades, and you’d be forgiven for believing the most outrageous theories spouted by those garbed in tin-foil hats; that the music industry, via record companies, had a stranglehold on what music you could and couldn’t consume. If you wanted a Miles Davis album that wasn’t Kind of Blue, for example, it would have to specially imported from Japan at the cost of 40 bucks plus. People who wanted to branch out musically had two options—either go to exceedingly pricey specialist stores, or join communities in which members would mail burnt CDs to one another (although some, such as The Dead C’s Bruce Russell, portray these days in a particularly halcyon light). Adorno would have wept.

Now? Thanks to the internet and the ubiquity and ease of file-sharing, any obscure musique concrète or krautrock release is just a click away (assuming you know where to find them). The quantity of the albums you can download, too, is unfettered, and with the aid of YouTube, Spotify and the odd illicit download you can expose yourself to basically anything you care to—from professional recordings of opera to home-made recordings of Japanese people using the bathroom (it exists). But, you might be asking, where do you come across these albums? For your benefit, I’ve compiled the following handy guide to finding any album you care to. That said, it comes with a couple of conditions and caveats attached—I expect you to delete the album from your computer within 48 hours (I’d prefer 24 but I’m feeling lenient) and support the artist in the form of $$$ if you are able (if an album is out of print, then, in my moral code, it’s free game). Musicians don’t make music for your personal gratification. NARCISSIST!

Beginners/N00BS

First things first: your entry into the seedy underbelly of file-downloading has been complicated enormously by FilesTube and MediaFire (moar liek mediafuhrer amiright) cracking down on material held on their servers. Gone are the days when you could type ‘[album name] mediafire’ into Google and expect that to suffice. That said, it is possible to circumvent this impediment. Simply type in ‘[album name] blogspot’ and tap the wealth of file-sharing blogs at your disposal, or go to the /mu/ archive (rbt.asia/mu/) and type in [album name] and then your file host of choice—though you might get lucky with MediaFire, you’re more likely to get optimum results of you choose ‘mega’ or ‘zippyshare’. If none of these work, try shortening the album name in your Google search. For example, ‘Steve Reich Music for Eighteen Musicians’ becomes ‘SR – Mf18m mediafire’, or ‘Unwound Leaves Turn Inside You’ becomes ‘U-LTIY mediafire’.

Intermediate/N0RM13S

Okay, so you know the ropes and you’re looking to find some pieces that might be a little bit more obscure or arcane. Here’s what you can do: join an online music community (Rate Your Music, Sputnik, ihatemusic, specific blogs) and ingratiate yourself with the well-listened. Pester these users to upload the album for you until they acquiesce out of sheer annoyance. $$$$. Alternately, you could make use of a YouTube–MP3 website for albums that are available on YouTube but nowhere else; finally, there is ru.tracker or The Pirate Bay. These torrent sites are not as simple to negotiate as direct-downloads, but if you familiarise yourself with torrents, it should be a cinch—just click, seed and leech. Ru.tracker especially has a vast collection, and you can get around the language barrier by accessing it on Google Chrome (it translates the Russian for you! The wonders of modern technology eh).

Experts/TR00 L33TS

So you consider yourself pretty net-savvy, but try as you might, you just cannot find that album you want for the life of you—you’ve tried every avenue, left no stone unturned, only to find links that present a ‘404: File not Found’ (or perhaps Error No. 320: File has been deleted) message when clicked. Or, most galling of all, it links you to the defunct Megaupload. Torrents, meanwhile, have either disappeared or have no seeders. Things are bleak. Don’t despair though! There is help in the form of private torrent trackers (what.cd, waffles.fm). The chances of getting an invite are slim-to-none, so you might have to interview (go on the websites for more info). You will subject to an aptitude test, and then boom! You’re in. Once there, you have to make sure to keep a upload/download seed/leech ratio otherwise the penalties are severe, even draconian, but the number of albums at your disposal will increase diabolically. Alternately, there’s Soulseek (like the private trackers but peer-to-peer, which means people can share their entire collections) and, if that fails you, try the Deep Web as a last resort. And if you STILL can’t find the album you’re looking for? My condolences, but bite the bullet and buy it. Think of it as your good deed for the day. Also worth noting is that once you get to this stage of the game, you’ll likely be the one providing links, whether directly or indirectly, to the newbies. The circle of life continues, and it’s a beautiful thing :’).

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