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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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”
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.
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.
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.
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