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Talking stamps: Tiny vinyl record postage stamps that were playable, 1972
08.15.2014
10:50 am

Topics:
Art
Music

Tags:
records
vinyl
vinyl stamps
talking stamps


 
Known as the “first talking stamps” in 1972, these tiny vinyl postage stamps from Bhutan were totally playable and when the needle was put on the record stamp you heard Bhutan’s national anthem and a capsule history of the nation. Talking stamps were thin plastic embossed records with removable back to expose the adhesive.

A pretty interesting concept, right? I’ve never seen one in the flesh, but from what I’m seeing on eBay, they’re highly collectable (an entire set is around $495.00) and even still legal for mailing use.

WFMU has a few samples of what these tiny vinyl stamps sound like. You can listen to them here.


 

 

 

 
via WFMU and Bhutan Today

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
‘Bone music’: Soviet-era bootleg records of banned rock and jazz pressed on X-ray plates

X-ray records
 
What do you do if you’re living in the USSR in, say, 1957, and you’d like to press an illegal record of some banned rock and roll or jazz? Consumer tape recorders don’t exist, and in the USSR, vinyl is difficult to come by. How do you proceed?

One thing you might do is press your contraband beats into discarded X-rays. A police state does wonders for the sheer inventiveness of its citizens, does it not? Clever Russians eager to hear some liberating rock and roll would salvage exposed X-rays from hospital waste bins and archives and use them to make records.

In the 1946-1961 era, some ingenious Russians began recording banned bootlegged jazz, boogie woogie and rock ‘n’ roll on exposed X-ray film. The thick radiographs would be cut into discs of 23 to 25 centimeters in diameter; sometimes the records weren’t circular. But the exact shape didn’t matter so much, as long as the thing played.

“Usually it was the Western music they wanted to copy,” says Sergei Khrushchev, the son of Nikita Khrushchev. “Before the tape recorders they used the X-ray film of bones and recorded music on the bones, bone music.” As author Anya von Bremzen elaborates: “They would cut the X-ray into a crude circle with manicure scissors and use a cigarette to burn a hole. ... You’d have Elvis on the lungs, Duke Ellington on Aunt Masha’s brain scan—forbidden Western music captured on the interiors of Soviet citizens.”

I can’t wait until Record Store Day 2015, when limited edition X-ray releases will surely be some of the most sought-after purchases!
 
X-ray records
 
X-ray records
 
X-ray records
 
X-ray records
 
Previously on DM:
Vintage X-ray ‘vinyl’ from Russia

 
via Vinyl of the Day
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Exclusive interview with ‘Solaris’ and ‘Drive’ composer Cliff Martinez


 
When it comes to modern film scores, there are very few that stand out, to my mind, as being classics. The kind that stand out not just for helping to define a film’s aesthetic, often in such an integral way that you couldn’t imagine the film existing without the music, but that then take on a life of their own separate from, while still acknowledging, the film itself.

If I had to name some classic modern film scores, though, top of that list would be the music for Nicolas Winding Refn’s noir thriller Drive, and Steven Soderbergh’s 2003 remake of Solaris. I managed to see both these films when they were first on theatrical release, and both soundtracks had the incredible effect of standing out from the usual homogenized Hollywood fare, creating their own highly unique sound worlds, so much that they actually helped shape the aesthetic of the film, and, in turn, made the cinema-going experience even more immersive.

That’s quite a feat, but most impressive of all, these two wildly different soundtracks came from the mind of just one composer, Cliff Martinez. A well-respected music industry veteran, Martinez started out drumming for the Red Hot Chili Peppers in the early 1980s, but tired of the live-band lifestyle and decided to apply his love of making music to other media, namely films. With the British label Invada having recently re-released the Solaris score on deluxe 180 gm vinyl picture disc (which our readers have a chance of winning, at the bottom of this interview) I took the chance to speak to Martinez about his work on both these films, their respective directors, and his past life as a drumming Chili Pepper:

Dangerous Minds: Before you started scoring films you were drummer for the Red Hot Chili Peppers. How did you make the move into full-time soundtrack work?

Cliff Martinez: Well, I had a fascination with music tech in the mid/late 80s. I had one of the first samplers, the Prophet 2000, and the very first hardware sequencer, the MSQ200 by Roland. These new tools allowed you to think about music in different ways, plus, being primarily a drummer and percussionist, the technology allowed people who didn’t have composition training to write and create music.

So I wrote a lot of strange musical sound-effect collages, and I was looking for an outlet. The band I was in wasn’t really appropriate for experimental electronic music. One day I stumbled across Pee Wee’s Playhouse on TV. On paper this was a children’s show, but it was actually a very subversive adult comedy, too. They had a lot of innovative composers involved, like The Residents, Danny Elfman and Mark Mothersbaugh. I happened to know the director at the time so I gave him a cassette of my sound collage stuff, I got hired to do one episode, and I just fell in love with the process of putting music to picture. I also felt that soundtracks allowed for a more experimental approach to composing, as opposed to straightforward songwriting. After that I had a credit to my name, and through a mutual friend I was introduced to Steven Soderbergh and scored his first film. And of course, that was very successful.

DM: Indeed it was! Did anyone involved in the making of Sex Lies & Videotape have an inkling of how successful it would be?

Cliff Martinez: I don’t think anyone involved could have guessed the success of that film. We all knew it was a quality picture, but I guess we just didn’t know what to expect. It was very different, it was very independent minded film, and indie films were not that popular at the time. I was at Sundance for the second screening, and there was already a big buzz about it after the first screening. It was a bit like driving a rocket ship, I mean it took me by surprise! I knew it was a good film but I thought the sexual content made it uncommercial. Also, there wasn’t a precedent for independent films becoming hits back then. We all knew Steven was very talented and would go on to make great films, but I didn’t realize the commercial potential of these very personal films.

DM: I remember seeing Solaris in the cinema when it was released and thinking I had never heard a film score quite like it. It chimed very much with that kind of “chill-out” music popular at the time. What were the influences for that particular score, and what is your process in general when working on a film?

Cliff Martinez: As with most films the director has a big impact. They cut the film before I ever see it, and in most cases they put in temporary music that can have a big impact. Especially Steven, who makes some very interesting choices. Steven has always liked to make ambient music whenever appropriate, and he wanted something like that for Solaris, but has also wanted the sound of the orchestra, which is unusual because he generally prefers an electronic sound. So I had to approach it as an ambient score, but not ambient electronic, an ambient, minimalist, orchestral score. My philosophy is that if you model yourself on another composer too closely, it becomes plagiarism, but if you take from two different composers and combine them that can make for something original. At the time I was fascinated with the baritone steel drums I had bought and put in my living room, so I was adamant about using them in the film. At the same time Steven was cutting to a lot of different types of music, he was really jumping around. And the two things I really fell in love with that he had used were the work of Giorgi Ligeti and the music of Tangerine Dream, which was very rhythmic. Those two things were the biggest influences, so I would throw them together and add the baritone steel drums and some other bell-type percussion instruments. It ended up coming together really well, Solaris is one of my favourite scores.
 

 
DM: Was Tangerine Dream a big influence on the 80s/analog-electronic score for Drive?

Cliff Martinez: Oddly enough not really, the film I did right before Drive was Soderbergh’s Contagion. Steven went through different phases of influences for the score; the first one was All The President’s Men, The French Connection, these 70’s scores, sort of conspiracy films, but then he threw that out and used some Tangerine Dream. It was the second time he’d used this kind of rhythmic synth stuff as an influence, and then he also scrapped that too, and started using more contemporary rhythmic, electronic music.

So for Drive, it was really a combination of all of those influences; the retro 70s stuff, a retro 80s synth pop thing, and tried to make it contemporary sounding and rhythmic. Tangerine Dream was an influence on Contagion but I wouldn’t say so much with Drive, although there was an 80s synth pop aesthetic. That was set up by the songs being used, and I felt obligated to incorporate that into the score as well.

DM: And as with Sex, Lies & Videotape, did you have any inkling of what a success Drive would become?

Cliff Martinez: Again, I knew it was an indie film made for not a lot of money, so I didn’t think it would be marketed aggressively with commercials or a big campaign. But I knew it was good. But I underestimated that one too. For some reason I thought it was a very male movie, I underestimated the star power of Ryan Gosling. So I thought it would be an underground movie for men, ha ha!  And the success of the soundtrack shocked me too, because while I knew the sales were driven by the songs, the songs had all been previously released and hadn’t been big hits. And certainly dramatic underscore is rarely a popular hit. So the fact that it did so well as a soundtrack would shock anybody! Usually you don’t hear the word “hit” and the word “soundtrack” in the same sentence. Ever.

DM: So, surely the songs Refn had already chosen to use in the film had an influence on your score? Do you usually take into account a film’s incidental music when composing its soundtrack?

Cliff Martinez: Usually for me the song and the score go their separate ways. That’s usually because the selection of songs is not as focused as it was on Drive, it’s more eclectic, so it’s hard to define what the style of a score is. With The Lincoln Lawyer, for example, I don’t know what you would call it, it’s kind of a mixture of urban contemporary and hip-hop, I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it was but I knew that I couldn’t work out a way to accompany that style so I didn’t try. But with Drive it was five songs, and four of them sounded like they could have been composed by the same artist. So it was a very narrow style which was an homage to the 80s. So I thought “Ok.” At the time all the rage in software was vintage synth sounds, so it was a very easy style to incorporate. But usually I don’t [take influence form a film’s songs], though it depends to a degree on the importance of the songs. Sometime, like Contagion only had one song, a U2 song at the end. and I don’t feel much of an obligation to accommodate that in the score. But in the case of Drive with that pink fog at the opening, and that song over the titles, it felt like the songs played a very important role in defining the style of the film. So in that case I decided to try and go in that direction, which turned out to be a good idea. It was the synergy of all the different elements that made Drive work: the music, the cinematography, the locations, the performances of course. And the sound design! That was the only thing that got an Oscar nomination and it was important as well. All those things seemed to work really well together, the sum of the parts is greater than the whole in the end. You know I wish I knew what the recipe for a successful film and score is because I would love to repeat the experience!

DM: What is your own favorite score you have written? If you had to choose one of your own works to place in a time capsule, which one would it be?

Cliff Martinez: Solaris, that’s always been my favorite and it still is. I wish I could roll out of bed every day and write something like that. Sometimes the force is with you, and I think in part it was also the film, it had some interesting themes like existence and love and some far out existential concepts. I also had the backing of a big film studio, which I normally don’t have, I don’t have the financial wherewithal to hire a 90 piece orchestra, so that made a huge difference. The music wasn’t initially intended to be emotional, so this kind of cold and austere music had a life to it that I didn’t really expect. It wasn’t until I heard it on the Fox studio stage that I realized the music had been transformed by this orchestra. For some reason, it’s the one score I can still stand to listen to! Usually I know every molecule of a score and I’m sick and tired of it when I am finished, but Solaris seems to have a life of its own, which for me is rare. I can’t pinpoint what makes it time capsule-worthy, but if I had to stick one in that would be it.

DM: OK, last question. You started out as drummer, if there was any one band you could drum for, who would it be?

Cliff Martinez: I wouldn’t wanna drum for anyone at all, ha ha! You know I gave it up because I started to have hearing loss issues. I didn’t like the touring lifestyle and I didn’t like the idea of repeating the same material night after night. If I sound like a sourpuss, I guess I am. Being a drummer is great in your 20s, but I much prefer being a composer and writing music than drumming live, though I guess in my heyday, if I had the ability to be a really great jazz drummer, I would have loved to have played with Miles Davis in the 70s.

DM: Thanks Cliff!

As mentioned above, Invada records are giving one lucky Dangerous Minds reader a chance to win each of the Solaris vinyl pressings; black vinyl, white vinyl and picture disc. For a chance of winning simply send your name and address to info@invada.co.uk. The winner will be notified by email.
 

 

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
Holy Moly! The BIGGEST pile of vinyl records you’re ever going to see
09.10.2013
10:45 am

Topics:
Music
Pop Culture

Tags:
Records
vinyl


 
What you’re looking at isn’t a hoarder’s home, but a neglected record warehouse photographed by Frédéric Thiphagne back in 2009.

Thiphagne was sworn to secrecy as to the warehouse’s location in order to take these jaw-dropping shots. Unfortunately, the warehouse and its contents were destroyed two weeks after the photos were taken. Bummer.

Thiphagne writes on his blog:

“Those pictures, which are the only one existing from that place, should be seen as the illustration of that dream, of the biggest fantasy of every record digger.”

Indeed. Why were all of these beautiful pop culture artifacts just destroyed?
 

 

 

 
See more amazing photographs at Thisphagne’s blog Les Mains Noires.

Previously on Dangerous Minds:

‘Hoarder House’: What a small home with over 250,000 records in it looks like

h/t WFMU

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Planet Rock: Want to rifle through Afrika Bambaataa‘s MASSIVE record collection?
08.06.2013
12:57 pm

Topics:
Hip-hop
Music

Tags:
vinyl
Afrika Bambaataa

Kraftwerk
 
Afrika Bambaataa‘s record collection, in storage until recently, is being cataloged by two dedicated employees and the odd volunteer at a gallery in Manhattan. But until this vast amount of vinyl goodness gets shipped off to the Cornell University archives, the public is invited to actually come to the gallery and put their grubby little fingers on actual pieces of hip-hip history. The collection is some 40,000 strong, and ranges from The Jackson 5 to Pink Floyd to Queen to (of course) Kraftwerk. The best part? As per tradition/etiquette, Bambaataa signed every single one of his records—a necessity when the physical music was both rare and easy to snatch.

With this many records, when he was searching for the perfect beat, how the hell did he find it?

If you can’t make it out to gallery Gavin Brown’s Enterprise before the 9th (when it will be relegated to academics in cow-town New York—Bambaataa’s been given a three-year appointment as a visiting scholar at Cornell), check out some some of his collection below. It’s an amazing contrast to the puritanical vinyl collectors, lovingly slipping their pristine records in sleeves. Bambaataa’s collection was the very vehicle he used to create music, and the worn (sometimes tattered) condition of some of his records belie their historical significance. 
 
record
 
record
 
record
 
record
 
record
 
record
 
gallery
 

 
Via egotripland

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
First record release ever on Fisher Price record player
06.24.2013
08:32 am

Topics:
Art
Music

Tags:
vinyl
toys

Fisher Price record player
If your first record player didn’t have a picture of Big Bird on it, you ain’t punk

Vinyl will never die—that’s obvious. The sound is rich and warm and the size is perfect for cover art—a 12-inch jacket is basically a poster and EPs make lovely little accents when displayed.

My last band sold cassettes at our EP release show, even though (except for a bonus song), it was available online for free. Due to the cost-effectiveness of the medium, cassettes never really left the punk scene, and with labels like Burger Records blowing up, it wasn’t much of a novelty (not that there’s anything wrong with novelty). Our drummer (an artist), even drew the inserts, so there was an added bonus of hand-drawn art to the purchase.

And I’ve seen more experimental formats for music, like a pencil and a cassette with all of the tape unwound sold in a mason jar. The idea was to use the pencil to roll the tape back up into the casing, as part of the experience. At least three bands I know have (half-jokingly, half-serious) declared their intentions to either release 8-tracks or mini-cassettes, so I’m familiar with the use of esoteric mediums for music, even the guy who made an Edison wax cylinder out of his own ear wax. Eeww!

Ottawa band, Hilotrons, however, have outdone us all, releasing nuggets of music on plastic records that only work for an all-but forgotten children’s toy. The Fisher Price record player is actually a simple wind-up music box, and each indestructible little plastic record is a spool that triggers different notes. What you get is the creepy, tinkling tones featured in the video below.

I want to be disdainful of this (if only because that’s my habit), but like I said, there’s nothing wrong with a little novelty, and the band seems to be approaching the project like a sort of self-effacing performance art—they only made five and sold them as a special package. It’s clever, really. In a time when the purchase of a physical medium has become all but a niche hobby for vinyl enthusiasts, this sort of takes the piss out of the last dying gasp of “tangible” music and its increasingly anachronistic hardware.

Anyway, I’d rather buy one of these than a CD!
 

 
Via Noisey

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
60s and 70s Asian album covers


 
David Greenfield has amassed a collection of records from Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Hong Kong and Japan which are all available for purchase online. I liked going through his collections from the 60s and 70s. It’s a great resource for loopy graphic design inspiration!
 

 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
The Flaming Lips meet Lightning Bolt (in space)


 
This is one for the noise cognoscenti out there. Two of the best modern rock bands in America come together for a collaboration (full title: The Flaming Lips With Lightning Bolt EP) and the results are pretty unusual - though not necessarily more than you’d expect. ‘Cos let’s face it, it’s highly unlikely that the genesis of this project was a desire to push either of these acts further up the charts. I’d like to think it had more to do with a shared love of acid-burnt neon psychedelia.

The clue may be in the song titles. “I’m Working At Nasa On Acid” and “I Want To Get High But I Don’t Want Brain Damage” are the first two tracks and the Flaming Lips’ main contributions, being the kind of bass driven psych-garage we’ve come to expect, but now with a whole extra layer of fuzzy noise on top. The remaining two tracks are reworks of the first two by Lightning Bolt, which feature even more noise and, of course, the furious drum chops of Brain Chippendale. These reworkings are called “NASA’s Final Acid Bath” and “I Want To Get Damaged But I Won’t Say Hi”.

The EP has been released on 12” mixed-color vinyl (some copies feature translucent vinyl mixed with black) but because of its limited nature was only shipped to some shops a few weeks ago. It’s likely to have completely sold out. If you really want one, I say get in touch with your local decent independent record store and ask if they can get it - failing that it has already turned up for sale on eBay. In the meantime though, here is the lead video introduced by Wayne Coyne, and the other 3 tracks:
 
The Flaming Lips and Lightning Bolt - “I Want To get High But I Don’t Want Brain Damage”
 

 
The Flaming Lips and Lightning Bolt - “I’m Working At NASA On Acid”
 

 
Lightning Bolt and The Flaming Lips - “NASA’s Final Acid Bath”
 

 
Lightning Bolt and The Flaming Lips - “I Want To Get Damaged But I Won’t Say Hi”
 

 

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
Vintage X-Ray ‘Vinyl’ from Russia
08.11.2011
01:09 pm

Topics:
History
Music

Tags:
Russia
vinyl
x-rays


W.C. Hardy’s “St. Louis Blues”
 
Between the years of 1946 - 1961 one of the only ways to listen to American blues, jazz and rock’n’roll in Russia was to obtain smuggled records, some made on old x-rays. There’s a long article and back story about these interesting x-ray records on Spiegle.de, but it’s all in German and a little bit difficult to make sense of using Google Translate. 

If you got caught with American popular music back then, you could find yourself in a world of hurt. Apparently it could get you thrown out of school or even arrested in extreme cases, but still the population wanted to hear the music. These x-ray records are physical artifacts from that era of Soviet censorship.
 

Percy Faith’s “Delicado”
 

Fred Astaire’s “Cheek to Cheek”
 

Elvis Presley’s “Heartbreak Hotel”
 
(via Nerdcore)

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Hey vinyl lovers: ‘Living Stereo’ introduced by RCA, 1958


 
RCA Victor introduces “a miracle,” their Orthophonic, high-fidelity, home stereo sound system.

Bob Banks, one-time RCA Victor marketing manager of radio sales and their Victrola division, narrates this short film introducing the RCA’s new “living stereo” records and stereophonic hi-fi gear. The year was 1958, ground zero for the birth of the “space age bachelor pad” as my pal Byron Werner so famously dubbed it.

The demonstration utilizes left and right-hand sections of orchestra married together to create the fullness of “living stereo” and gives you a stereo stylus’s POV as it travels across a record groove (“a canyon of sound!”). If you are a vinyl fan, it’s pretty fun and informative.
 

 
Via Douglas Hovey

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
GIF: Vinyl Makes Them Nervous
11.02.2010
10:10 am

Topics:
Amusing
Music

Tags:
records
vinyl

image
 
Oh noes! I’m scared!
 
(via Das Kraftfuttermischwerk)

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Have your ashes pressed into your favorite vinyl record when you die
08.27.2010
12:57 pm

Topics:
Amusing
Music
R.I.P.

Tags:
records
vinyl

image
 
I’m going to have mine pressed into Eddie Murphy’s “Party All The Time.” From Wired UK:

Music lovers can now be immortalised when they die by having their ashes baked into vinyl records to leave behind for loved ones.

A UK company called And Vinyly is offering people the chance to press their ashes in a vinyl recording of their own voice, their favourite tunes or their last will and testament. Minimalist audiophiles might want to go for the simple option of having no tunes or voiceover, and simply pressing the ashes into the vinyl to result in pops and crackles.

Company presses your ashes into vinyl when you die

(via Nerdcore)

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
I Need That Record: The Life And Death Of Indie Record Stores

 
I Need That Record
, Brendan Toller’s documentary on the life and death of indie record stores, has finally hit the streets. Initially released to record stores only on May 17,  the DVD as of today is available everywhere.

Seeing the shot of Vinyl Mania shuttered in the first few seconds of the trailer breaks my heart. I spent many hours shopping for obscure vinyl in that place, mecca for vinyl junkies.

Greedy record labels, media consolidation, homogenized radio, big box stores, Ecommerce, shoddy “stars” pushed by big money, and the digital revolution all pose threats on the very well being of our favorite record stores and the music industry at large. Will these stores die? Will they survive

You can buy I Need That Record at Amazon.

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment