Sunday, June 8, 2014

the illogic of vinyl

Two takes on the irrationality of fetishising vinyl:

Rob Horning on vinyl re-enchantment

My buddy Oliver Wang on the deteriorating quality of new vinyl vs persistence of desire to collect music in that format

(to which Makrotonal appends some further knowledge(via Marathonpacks)

This bit in Horning = moi aussi :

"If I wanted to shop in a market that I knew in advance would have what I want, I would go on to Amazon, or to Spotify. But I started to buy vinyl again not for the records so much as for the intermittent rewards. Going to a used record store not knowing what I will find allows me to go in not knowing for sure even what I want — and this expands my capacity for desiring things. It re-enchants consumption for me, for better or worse. I have a list in my head of records I hope to come across some day, but since I can download all this music to actually listen to it, I am more invested in the quest itself than its completion. It keeps me flipping through crates, looking for a lottery-like payout."

This resonated also:

"I find that I yearn for pleasure in pure ownership because I don’t have time for use value.  I don’t have any time to play the records I already own. In fact, I resumed buying vinyl a few years ago, before I even had a working turntable. I started to assemble a collection for the sake of the act of collecting, because I was overwhelmed by music online but still wanted to maintain a strong affective bond to it. Keeping buying and enjoying linked in my mind was the only way I could think to do it."

Except for the not owning a turntable part. I never stopped having one or using it. But the amount of use the machine gets is way out of wack with the accrual of "new" (newly acquired but nearly always old records*) which just keep piling up and lying there, these reproachfully wide stacks of untouched vinyl.

In practice the bulk of my listening is at this computer (evaluative, keeping-up,
genrescape-monitoring, or specific piece-of-writing related). Or it's CDs played on the big system or the kitchen boombox, purely for relaxation and pleasure.

 * new vinyl, meaning new music on vinyl, has almost-zero fetish appeal to me. Not sure why. Much rather have it on CD, unless the packaging is spectacular. Same goes for new reissues of super-rare/never-before-released etc. But that's from hearing the same dirty secret of the reissue industry that Oliver references in his post, and from the same person, Andy Zax, i.e. most vinyl reissues are sourced in non-analogue, quite often from an earlier CD release - the master tapes having gone missing, or it being cost-ineffective with such small-runs to go to the bother of tracking them down, fixing them up, etc.

1 comment:

  1. Hello
    I enjoyed reading Retromania so much that after bringing it back to the library, I bought a copy for myself, and more copies to give some of for my friends. I'd read your previous books as well, but I feel this is your best work.
    And I am very happy to discover today that, through this blog, Retromania is in fact a work-in-progress.
    I am looking forward to more thought-provoking reading.