The images are amazing and diverse, ranging from the Italian man who owns the world’s largest collection of colored vinyl records to an owner who collects only Beatles’ White Album records.
Says Paz in an interview with Slate Magazine on capturing the vinyl enthusiasts:
It’s just me and the camera and that’s it. It’s like two friends hanging out listening to records and then I shoot some photos. It builds a very intimate moment between me and my subjects. When they talk about music they lose all their inhibitions. They just really enjoy it.
Vinyl has been having a resurgence the last few years as a reaction to the digitization of everything. As the most famous rock DJ John Peel promptly noted: “Somebody was trying to tell me that CDs are better than vinyl because they don’t have any surface noise. I said, ‘Listen, mate, life has surface noise.”
The tangible items feel like they have more cash value than the invisible digital bits. The sheer abundance of internet items not only shrink their value, they curb our attention. Whether it’s a feed of Instagram images, tweets, or new music playlists, there is simply too many things to pay attention to and not enough time to consume them.
Even though vinyl today is mass produced to meet the growing demands of nostalgic record collectors and millenial hipsters, the magic of vinyl is in its transactional and physical experience. You paid for it and now you have to store it somewhere.
The great thing about record sleeves is that they can also serve as wall art. They’re like real-life square Instagram hanging in your hallway or in your bedroom that also demonstrates your taste.
But the awe of tangibility is not restricted just to records. It’s all formats. CDs still create the same return on a relationship with its consumer, at least in Japan. The reason Japan’s CD industry is still thriving is that Japanese fans love to show direct support of their artists; they want to ensure their money talks.
Yet even something as ubiquitous as a coke can create a visceral experience. Access is egalitarian. Said Andy Warhol in his 1975 book, [easyazon_link identifier=”0156717204″ locale=”US” tag=”wells01-20″]The Philosophy of Andy Warhol[/easyazon_link].
What’s great about this country is that America started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest. You can be watching TV and see Coca-Cola, and you know that the President drinks Coke, Liz Taylor drinks Coke, and just think, you can drink Coke, too. A Coke is a Coke and no amount of money can get you a better Coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking. All the Cokes are the same and all the Cokes are good. Liz Taylor knows it, the President knows it, the bum knows it, and you know it.
It is still possible to tame abundancy and simulate ownership in a virtual environment. Shopping on the music store Bandcamp recreates a record-store experience. Writes music editor Ben Ratliff for the New York Times:
the online music site known for its equitable treatment of artists, and one of the greatest underground-culture bazaars of our time. From it, you can stream music to the extent each artist allows, or buy songs at a price set by the artist — which is sometimes “pay what you wish” — or order physical products from the site. The artist gets 85 percent. Always, the artist gets to know who’s buying, without a third party in the way.
Bandcamp is a mashup of both virtual and physical worlds. Buying and selling Bitcoin feels the same way. What gives a bitcoin value is an assumed relationship between buyer and seller, not to mention the scarcity layered on top of it. There are only 21 million Bitcoins that can be mined. Bitcoin and the emerging interest in blockchain exemplify the shift toward the value on bits and bytes and not just hard goods.
Record sleeves persist because we give physical objects extra value. But the virtual sleeves on an all-access catalog to Spotify library can feel similar. It’s amazing how real things feel when you pay for them 😉
If you’re interested in more reads about vinyl, check out the below:
The newest technologies erode their physical counterparts, but they also revitalize interest in the old stuff.
The sensory, tactile experience of analog items as those listed above literally feel more special. They are stimulants: the subtle noise of a telltale “tick-tock,” the fresh smell of an unopened book, or the surface noise of vinyl, not to mention the album art that doubles as real-life Instagrams to make fancy wall art
People want reality. They want to disconnect from the internet’s dizzying pace and reconnect to those micro moments.
Nature nurtures and refocuses our sense of being. We are more than just robots seeking the temporary therapy of distraction.
CO/R is a collaboration between techno heads Herron and Joy Orbison. The duo just released Gudrun, a vinyl 12″ from the Trilogy Tapes Store.
The lead single ‘Bells, Walking’ is a continuation of Joy Orbison’s 2009 post-dubstep hit ‘Hyph Mngo‘ laced in with Herron’s mastery of house and UK garage. Learn more about Joy Orbison in the Sole Selectors video below.
“I still have a lot of time for putting out 12 inches.” – Joy Orbison
Our online identities have become our real-life identities, one where the rapidity of instant communication breaks down the slow pace of life. Tech makes us impulsive and drains our patience–we demand things with a click of a button and expect a drone to deliver them the same day.
So it’s no surprise that some people want to feel what it’s like to slow down again. The record store may be dead–selling CDs at least–but the bookstores continue to fight against the frenzied activity. Amazon just opened its second bookstore on the West Coast. The Shakespeare and Company bookstore in Paris is thriving, offering “an antidote to commercialism.” Some readers prefer personal recommendations over algorithmic ones.
For some, there will always be an allergic reaction to the rapidity, convergence, and intangibility of digital life, and a nostalgic desire to visit places that encourage us to think, browse, and chat. We will not salvage or recreate everything pre-digital, but we will prop up those spaces that give us an escape from the velocity of ourselves.
Vinyl artwork looks like framed Instagrams. No wonder the kids use them to decorate their dorm rooms. Vinyl covers are like the new posters.
“I have vinyls in my room but it’s more for decor, I don’t actually play them”
Note: She said ‘vinyls,’ the equivalent of saying something like ‘The Facebook.’
While records are meant to be played, vinyl enthusiast Liz Buckley also points out that at least these so-called hipsters are supporting music even if they never spin a record.
Music is an elastic medium — each format birthed its stigma. The iPod obviated the mini-disc, but MP3 files clogged the hard drive. Streams made music abundant but fungible. Tapes were an interim format, albeit they are still big in Japan. Meanwhile, CDs turned song names into unforgettable track numbers.
“It’s a sadness to me that the invention of the CD means I know far too many tracks by their number, not their name. “OK Computer‘s your favourite Radiohead album? Me too, me too. Bloody love track five.”
However, vinyl is the two-sided original. Its imperfections mirror the real and raw aesthetic of Instagram Stories and Snapchat that teens love today. Like an unopened vinyl, many of those social media posts go unopened — signal exceeds the noise.
Impossible is nothing. Jack White’s record label Third Man Records successfully launched the first played record in space, 94 feet above the Earth before it burst. White originally discussed the idea with Neil De Grasse Tyson in 2012.
For the entire hour and twenty minutes of ascension, the Icarus turntable faithfully played Carl Sagan’s “A Glorious Dawn” (from “Cosmos” by Symphony of Science composer John Boswell) on repeat, using an impressively sturdy phono cartridge and stylus as well as an onboard flight computer programmed with a few different actions to keep the record playing while it was safe to do so.
Well done Jack and team. You even beat Daft Punk to space. Next on the list: DJing all the way to Mars.
The devices were cheap, mass-produced players that were made, not only by electronics companies, but also toy companies and even industrial companies. Looking back on all the unique designs that came out, each was more groovier than the next.
Not surprisingly, the Japanese followed up with the world’s subsequent music players: the Walkman and Mini Disc until the iPod and the smartphones became the dominant playback device.
In related news, Japanese companies announced that they will officially stop making VCRs this month.
As for the CD format, I can’t imagine listening to, say, Green Day’s Dookie any other way. Dookie is to CDs what Creedence is to vinyl. It is a record resting eternally in the collective memories of aging music fans, a lost piece of data tucked inside scarcely used multidisc changers and laundry baskets full of shit leftover from collegiate apartments. The Beastie Boys’ Check Your Head is like that, too. So are Odelay, Siamese Dream, and Exile in Guyville. You can’t hear those records without anticipating the parts where the disc is scratched to hell and won’t stop skipping.
Vinyl I get but CDs are the industry’s attempt to monopolize users into an overpriced bundle when all there may be is a couple good tracks. Plus, that shrink wrap always infuriated me.
My CD rack is old and dusty and while I’ll never use any of the CDs in it again the collection is nostalgic; it represents the days I collected music religiously. Music was so much harder to find pre-Internet but it also made discovery more fun. Nothing beats the pleasure of finding a great album that no one’s ever heard of.
The convenience of pushing a button on a handheld device that streams wirelessly to a speaker is always going to trump hunting down a CD with marginally better sound and plopping it into a player.
Always hated CDs, opening them with barricaded shrink wrap, avoiding scratches, and the fact that they took up so much space. The only thing cool about CDs was the album art, which was a miniature version of what came in a Vinyl record.
Steve Jobs killed CDs by disaggregating the format into downloadable singles. He gave the music industry a life-line. I still wonder if Apple would’ve bought Beats of Kobs was alive though. I think he would’ve used his power to renegotiate with the big heads and put Spotify out of business.