It's virtually impossible to talk about obscure albums without things descending into a tedious bore-off. "Pah! You think your early 80s, proto-techno record that sold 17 copies is obscure? Really? You need to hear this Ukrainian hip-hop collective I'm into who haven't even been FORMED yet." And so on and so on. Music fans have long enjoyed attaining a degree of oneupmanship based on the obscurity of their favourite artists, yet over the past decade, when even your uncle Ian's progressive flute side project has an iTunes profile, the stakes have been raised to the extent where nothing is really hidden any more.
This was the crux of the debate in the Guardian office when we first discussed running a series of our music writers' most treasured obscure albums. Could we claim anything to be an undiscovered listen without prompting furious readers to write in and mock us? How do you even measure obscurity? Visit Obscurometer.com and you can enter an artist's name and retrieve their obscurity score (The Beatles are 11.7% whereas Skip Spence delivers a decent 90.2%) but I'm not sure you can claim this is a watertight scientific process (Take That, for instance, end up being twice as obscure as Bloc Party).