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September 29, 2008 | by  | in Music |
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Vinyl – The beauty of

I put a record on, a vinyl record. It’s Wolf Parade’s new album At Mount Zoomer.The needle protests as it is reluctantly dragged from its cradle and dropped carelessly onto the spinning black vortex below. As the speakers begin to crackle I log onto the Sub Pop website to access a digital download of the same album; my record came with a code that enables me to download the entire album for free since I bought vinyl. Sub Pop and many other labels are finding this to be the final key in aiding potential buyers to make the conversion from CD to vinyl for good.

My album is both spinning and downloaded. Before my eyes now lie the original and the artificial, the tangible and the digital, music in its earliest form befriending its contemporary replica after twenty years of being pushed to the limits of sonic evolution. I find it curious that dinosaurs and cyborgs can live side by side in this fashion and wonder what it is that has propelled our generation to pick up the vinyl record once again and behold it.

After being restricted to the domain of dance and hiphop DJs for so long vinyl has experienced a momentous comeback over the last few years, a comeback now snowballing as the variety of music available on vinyl increases and the price of the vinyl record – on average – has dropped. The market for vinyl has switched on.

The vinyl record (I like to think) is a symbol of generational distrust and dissatisfaction with the fragmentation of albums into modular mp3 tracks, flagging the entire concept of the ‘album’ as a singular whole. So often when artists are condensed into a digital music library the individuality and uniqueness of music is blended into a mediocre pulp, reflecting only the band’s label (their name) and not their ideas, characteristics, and actual identity as a record can.

The vinyl record is nostalgia for bygone eras we never belonged to, when music was morphed and moulded by causes worth fighting for as well as experimentation with mind-expanding and self-destructing substances; when youth would come together to enjoy music and not pit against each other in search for some kind of shallow self-satisfaction that comes when Wanky O’Jackass knows 13 bands Emo McIndiepants has never heard of.

It is also for scenester kids who don’t own record players but still want to look cool, to have their own special sections of Real Groovy. Yet despite their best efforts to impress, they’ll still pick out that CSS album every time.

Vinyl is society’s #1 laziness fighter: no matter how good the new GTA is you still have to get off your ass and flip the record over to side B.

The vinyl resurgence has also helped the sales of many psuedo- 1950’s cheap replica juke-box-esque record players with sub par quality from Iko Iko and various novelty stores. Awesome.

The vinyl record abruptly stops and the needle swings moodily back to its cradle, with a manner of ‘don’t disturb me again fucker’; maybe, beyond all things mentioned, it is this character of the vinyl experience which is making it so popular. In an increasingly insensitive and impersonal world, vinyl offers music lovers a connection to their art that CDs and especially digital music struggle to present. The sheer effort it takes to maintain a vinyl record can only be done properly by those who truly care for them. The practice of putting on a vinyl LP and watching it slowly swirl in front of you offers a level of personal involvement with the music that other formats cannot: you have to put the record on the turntable, and switch between 45 and 78rpm depending on the record; you have to maintain the needle and be delicate when lowering it onto the record; you get to watch the music manifest in front of you, and for some reason, you can understand how this record works. Even when there are no speakers plugged in, you can still hear the music rise of the speakers like invisible smoke. It makes music real. The warmth offered by a vinyl sound puts to shame the thin over-polished of a ‘digitally re-mastered’ specimen’s audacious claim of superiority.

Perhaps this is why so many are now giving up the pursuit of CDs and switching to or back-to vinyl.

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Comments (9)

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  1. Bionic Master says:

    Nobody buys records that doesn’t own a player you dumbass.

  2. Mr. Magoop says:

    … Bionic Master says with ‘guilty’ slapped all over their face.

  3. Superior Mind says:

    I beg to differ Bionic Master, many people I know buy vinyls as collectors items.

  4. Jesus Toblerone says:

    SPeaking of which anyone know where I could buy a player (for vinyl). Also I’m the kind of person who prefers to buy new if possible but I understand that may not be possible for these.

  5. Christopher Gilbert says:

    I ordered mine through the Sony Shop on Willis St. Its a bit more expensive, but you could pay the same price for a shit one that is priced based on the fact it looks 40 years old. Its also good to get it from a major brand like Sony because it means you’re assured a constant supply of needles.

  6. Jesus Toblerone says:

    Ooh. Cheers didn’t realise they sell them. Will go and take a look tomorrow. Cheers.

  7. Christopher Gilbert says:

    I should also add that on top of the code to download mp3 files that comes with vinyl, you can now buy vinyl players with a usb connection to your computer to transfer the music onto PC in mp3 format.



  8. paul says:

    “vinyl player”? you mean record player, right?

    i know this thread is dead and gone, but just in case, does anyone know where i can buy records in NZ? I know about slow boat and real groovy. But is there anywhere else? Are there any decent on-line sellers?


  9. Hank Scorpio says:

    “i know this thread is dead and buried but would you mind travelling forward through time to answer my glib remark about record players that’d be cool”

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