The sacred vinyl process…

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I’ve seen many different types of audio media come and go, just in my lifetime: Tape cassettes, CDs, Mini-discs, and most recently- MP3s. And all forms are great, they all bring music to the ear. The also all have distinctive traits, effecting our experience of sound. Cassette tapes were liberating, so easy to record on. CDs were futuristic, the dazzle of lasers. Mini-discs were, well, a bit of a flop. And MP3s, for a start, were very confusing. But it’s natural for anything music related to be subject to nostalgia. So some of the old methods too have remained popular throughout these changes.

It seems the process involved in choosing and listening to music has been steadily speeding up; delightful sounds are just a click away. But there is something to be said about anticipation. Like waiting on a meal at a restaurant: the smells wafting in from the kitchen, increasing excitement for the dish; your mouth watering, producing enzymes so that when the food finally arrives you can digest every part of it’s nutrition.

There’s also the artwork, that’s perhaps something that modern methods don’t quite display so well. It’s still there, but feeling it in your hand, fiddling with it, picking it up, looking at it from all angles, that too produces different perspectives from the mind.

I’m talking about vinyls, which to me seem to encourage the perfect and most inspiring kind of audio experience. Most of the most impressionable music that I have encountered was on vinyl, whether it be as a kid, or later on meeting passionate people with vast collections. First there’s the browsing, perusing the shelves. It’s usually accompanied by recommendations of recent rediscoveries. Then pulling it out carefully and setting it on your lap. Indulging in the artwork: the colours, the shapes, the enigmatic photographs; the text, the lyrics, the song titles. All the information, it draws you in, creating intrigue. Then slipping it out of its sleeve, the soft whipping sound of air friction as it leaves its closet. Holding it carefully by the edges. Setting it down. Lifting the arm. Getting it in place, meticulously. And then, the most magical bit of all, when rotation begins and the record crackles and pops into play. Then, right then, you are so eager for what is about to come next; wired to the phonograph, waiting intently for the wonderful music.

I guess this is a common thought with not only music, but modern life in general. It’s not like we can change progression, but, perhaps things are a little too fast? And if we could slow down a little, take a little more time to enjoy things more thoroughly, then perhaps we’d have more enriching experiences…

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