Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Old Time Revival 

One of the first things I noticed about Jimmy Fallon's Tonight Show was when introducing or promoting musical guests he always held a 12" vinyl "LP" cardboard sleeve. I knew that many new bands did limited vinyl pressings as promotional items or as limited editions, but I assumed many of those sleeves Mr. Fallon held were props created, wisely, for the television audience. Far more visible and evocative, the 12" sleeve has an undeniable presence. What I didn't realize was just how big vinyl was. I'm sure the Times were keenly aware when curating their video feed to include a nostalgic 90s Festival followed immediately with a video piece about the revival of vinyl as a media. I've never actually owned a turntable and only have a couple of dozen albums that I keep as penance or something. I only ever used my parents' Dual turntable. As an adult, I have only ever had a cassette or CD player before having no player at all. It's funny how cloaked in religion the talk of vinyl records is: "you have to believe in it", it's a "revival", records "restore your faith". I've always questioned the quality of vinyl records. Certainly digital recordings have their flaws but the only times I've been "fooled" into wondering if the music or sound I was hearing was live or not was much more about the audio system that delivered the sound as opposed to the platform source of the information and was probably digital (think of films or video games connected to a quality sound system). Using more data-like terminology seems to remove the nuance of the language around audio recordings describing them as warm or tinny etc. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a digital only kind of fellow. I really prefer 70mm film projection over the absurdly cheap looking high frame rate video Peter Jackson prefers. And I don't think it's an age thing - “I like it because I'm use to it” argument. I firmly believe it's a brain thing. I don't like brussels sprouts because they taste like a mouthful of nickels. That is a genetic thing. It is how I perceive many green vegetables - they have an unlikable metallic taste. Similarly, I find high frame rate digital video looks like old video camera footage. The warmth that vinyl lovers profess sounds an awful lot like dirt and fuzziness to me. All that being said, I'm glad vinyl is getting a bounce whatever the reason because it means a return to those big ol' cardboard sleeves.

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