I first discovered Why? in the same way that all new music came to me in my teenage years, pen-pal-ship with my best friend Daniel Cohen. I’d wanted to retain my friends and life when I was stripped from England in ’99, and between annual visits, emails filled in the gaps for us. (In retrospect this comments on the history of chat technology, youngsters able to figure it out around the millennium.) An early symbol of my empathetic practice, in 2004 electro-mails I basically asked Dan questions that Pitchfork media was answering. I’m not taking credit for his current success as a reviewing journalist, but I think he relished the task and I gave him plenty of practice.
This era also marked birth of Garage Band, and I would apply for transatlantic feedback on homemade mp3 which were admittedly variable. Always graciously, he would come back with what went right – a bassline, or a beat – and what to improve on – the melody, the structure, or too much repetition. What a tireless sounding board he was. Fatefully he once sent me the track “3am by Young Jeezy prod. Timbaland.” along with a break down on the innovative percussive mouth sounds, and the room it had to breathe, the elements that made it pop with contrast. His adulation made me revere this track as a gold standard, and so Dan’s unqualified approval of my music became my aim.
You can trust his opinion because of his dedication to surveying the complete musical landscape. Dan told me about the several spellings of his name that could be used as a different mindsets to approach listening. There was “D-Co” reserved for the Brooklynesque B-boy lifestyle; “Deeko,” a UK-funky hypebeast, and “dico,” the minimal, experimental Berlin producer. (I’m probably getting these wrong, but as I will explain later, the memory faults are an intentional part of this series). This level of pan-genricism impressed me deeply. The more Dan spread his taste the more sage and trustworthy his direction was.
I hung to the album names that he would drop. There was Music Has the Right to Children, Ege Bamyasi, and Dungen. Each one felt like a special insight into the the infinite maze of all the possible music there was to listen to. There was also Alopecia which confirmed a suspicion I had about the size of the infinity that that Maze was. It was growing exponentially, and some of the corners of strange cul-de-sacs were going to contain the gems.
It’s true that I had a predisposition to like the the music that Dan introduced me to because of the intertwining of my need for friendship. But if that told the whole story, I couldn’t exceed his appreciation of the media. Mother’s can give birth to children more talented than they are in areas. The same is true for my love for Dan, and my obsession with Why?