The compact disc! Remember that? For those who were teenaged in the nineties, the advent of the compact disc seemed to herald the arrival of the future world. It was part miniaturised record, and part laser-light baco-foil data-crystal, somehow holding within it’s atomic spiralling folds the celestial sound of Altern-8 or 2 Unlimited or whatever.
Yes. The record was reborn in sci-fi form. And yet it was housed in the nasty retrograde confines of a cassette tape box. It may have been a different shape, but it was just as brittle. You would carefully deposit your shiny futuristic wheel of hope and clarity in it’s repository, and it would be showered in horrible plastic teeth snapping from their central spokes. This rather marred the miracle of it’s design. It was like Apple releasing a shiny new iPod with a shell made of bacolite and mud.
Luckily, the CD could suffer such abuse as it was virtually indestructible. Tomorrow’s World proved this by subjecting it to the “breakfast test” – coating it in coffee and honey. The test was a hundred percent successful and the CD, it transpired, was delicious.
But despite being able to survive boiling hot magma, the CD did tend to develop a digital stutter if you so much as looked at it funny. Which partly explains the rise of bands such as Altern-8 and 2 Unlimited who sounded like that already.
The CD did actually mark the availability of a much wider range of music for me. It may seem weird to think of this nowadays, but there was a time when it wasn’t possible to obtain music by wishing it out of the ether. The CD meant that instead of scouring second hand record shops for a copy of Headhunters by Herbie Hancock or In A Silent Way by Miles Davis, they were suddenly all available in the local HMV. And for that, my cooler younger self would like to say “thank you.”