In congruence with Records Store Day, which occurred nationwide this past Saturday, I will being doing a week long tribute to Vinyl.
There is a recent surge in the vinyl industry that has been taken place within the past few years. Many people attribute the rise in records to the "trend" factor that has also been attached to antique toys and vintage clothes, but there is a specific rationale behind this social instinct.
FIRST of all, there is a beauty in the technology of record players themselves.
Invented in 1877 by Thomas Edison, its earliest form of the recorded audio technology consisted of cylinder shaped tinfoil sheets that had audio recordings engraved on the outside surface and were then read and played by a mechanical "phonograph". This later developed into what we now recognize and still produce as vinyl records.
Most of us who own records find ourselves mesmerized by the way that a small wire (needle) can run its way along the canals and ridges of a record and produce the crisp and clear sounds of the musicians that we love.
Most importantly there is an intentionality behind the creation of a record, the purchasing of a record, and the listening experience.
The term "concept album" is one that is now often thrown around in the music industry, but at one point in time concept albums were all that existed. Artists created albums as full hour or so long listening experience. The only times that songs would be isolated were for publicity purposes (giving the audience a small taste of the whole). Today this is lost in our MTV driven culture of hit singles and sound bites. Often people do not even take the time to listen to a single song all the way through, let alone an entire album.
The creation of a vinyl record forces the listener to have that all encompassing experience of the music. You put the beautiful black disc on the turntable and watch it spin.
These are bulky, heavy, and weather sensitive objects that cost a bit to create and own; so people who purchase them do so for very specific reasons.
Whether it is an artist that you have loved for years or one which you compulsively decide to invest in, there is always a memory and sentiment that comes with the purchasing of a record. Like Rob does in the film High Fidelity, people can often think of the storyline of their lives by the records that they own.
When you put on a record it's an entire experience that you are investing time into. There is a location aspect--it can't happen while you're walking down the street or in class when you're distracting yourself from the lecture happening. When you decide to listen to a record it's because you want to really listen to the music. It is active and genuine.
In this next week I will be expanding on the topic of vinyl records by going into my own record collection and pulling out ones that I feel the experience of the music is drastically and genuinely heightened by the medium. I will be focusing in on the flow of the music within albums and also the art that is incorporated even more strongly in the contemporary production of records.