Working record made from ice

Swedish band The Shout Out Louds released a limited edition of 10 promos for their new album that consisted of latex molds that you filled with distilled water, froze, and played on a turntable:

“We talked to professors at different universities telling us it would never work out, so we had to develop the technique ourselves,” he says. After receiving a negative imprint of the song’s master cut, they started experimenting; the office became a kind of amateur chemistry lab, and the team spent hours testing different types of liquid, various drying techniques, and multiple kinds of molds.

“One of the biggest challenges was that the bubbles made the ice cloudy and messed up the tiny tracks, which made the needle jump.” Further trial and error revealed that using distilled water did the trick, giving the final product a nice clarity and even surface. Another insight? Time is not, in fact, on your side when working with a frozen substance; functionality and sound quality diminish immediately once the melting starts. A silicone cast allowed for quick and easy record removal, essential to ensuring it could be used straight out of the freezer.

It's a bit lo-fi, and the quality degrades quickly with meltage. But hey, record made of ice.

A Record Made Of Ice That Actually Plays (via IO9)


    1. We should scan a map of the rings of Saturn, press that on a platter and see what emerges.

      (Yeah yeah, I know, it’s not a spiral, but bear with me…)

        1. Of couse the best thing to do would be to send an armada of spacecraft to Saturn, so that they can re-order the grouping of particles in the rings, such that they play Joe Meek’s ‘Telstar’ when they are suitably tickled by one of the pointy-tipped (stylus) ends of Prometheus.

  1. First the 3D printer thing, and now this.  What is the obsession?  Yes, various materials can be used to move the needle on a phonograph.  We get it!  What’s next, self-assembling carbon nanobot LPs that also sound like crap and fall apart in 30 seconds?

    1. A point (pardon the pun) well made. I’m not putting this slushy dribbling claptrap on my Linn Sondek. They could have at least supplied a pack of Epotek 301-2 and a suitable release compound – that would give it a couple of plays at least, before a stylus is ruined. But forget the dissolving record metaphor (yes very clever) the destruction of the turntable itself should be metaphor enough?

      1. The article says they’ve run 50 or so over their turntable without any serious damage. The recording is single sided and only a 7inch so presuming 45rpm it shouldn’t run over 4.5 minutes, after which anyone sensible will remove the melting record. Unless your record player is sitting in a room thats over 30 degrees you’re not going to have too much melting in that time.

        Of course the needle might take some damage as it would get a little damp, but don’t stress yourself too much, not everyone is using the LP12, and there are plenty of shitty needles in the world that no one will miss.

    2.  “sound like crap and fall apart in 30 seconds?” What, are we discussing the winners of Simon Cowell programmes?

    1. If it’s just a bit below freezing, I’d imagine you’d be OK.  If you’ve got a belt drive turntable, very cold temperatures might make drive belt stiffen up somewhat.

  2. This is the most creative copy-blocking DRM I’ve ever seen.

    “Information wants to be liquid!”

    Oh hey, if Sublime releases one like this, must the buyer use dry ice?

    1. Flexplay and DVD-D were two commercial implementations of self-destructing media that didn’t even have the decency to justify their folly through some sort of artistic novelty…

      Neither have exactly set the world on fire, last I checked, and both do create a rather strong incentive to rip the DVD before it degrades, which might not be the outcome that the producers intended.

  3. Like, for being one of the chosen few, I would risk damaging my turntable with the melted water!  Stupid idea!  But now it has been shown that it can be done and that it should not be repeated.  Next stupid idea to appear on BB?

      1. They should make the latex mold so you can turn the ice upside down and place it back in the mold before playing it, if you’re worried about your turntable..

  4. Most folks who are dedicated enough to play vinyl have invested some serious money in their rigs.  Play this on a Linn turntable with a Grace pickup?  I don’t think so.  How about a Kenner Close ‘n’ Play?

    1. Citation please. Most Vinyl lovers I know collect most their records through cheap ebay sales and play their records on thrift store rigs. I spent $170 on a new shitty turntable and my friends thought I was being fancy.

      1. Oh, I’m sure the actual stone part of the needle would be fine, the metal bits what rely on electricity might, I dunno, get wet and corrode. But please, feel free to play all the ice records you’d like, on your own all diamond and Safire turntable. Stay away from mine.

        1. Then it poses no significant risk to the needle (nor, likely, the electrical components).

          But who really expects to begin playing records made of ice, anyway? It’s cool, neat, and rather nifty. I don’t see any genuine suggestion that it replace vinyl or other practical media.

  5. And the reason they sent that to “10 fans and press” is because there’s only about 10 people on the planet who still have a turntable set up.

    I’m reminded of “Crazy Harry” in the Funky Winkerbean comic strip who would play frozen pizzas on his record player. That was in the 70’s.  I don’t know how he handled the transition to CDs.

    1.  You really need to get out more.  While it’s still a niche thing, vinyl is gaining in popularity.  New vinyl records are being pressed every day, and old records can still fetch a premium if they’re in good shape.  The big HMV store, here in downtown Montréal, has been expanding its vinyl section for the past 3-4 years.  It went from a small rack to taking up a whole wall.

      I understand you were exaggerating when you wrote that “there’s only about 10 people on the planet who still have a turntable set up” but you’re not just wrong, you’re way off the mark.

    2. You do know that CDs will no longer be produced within a few years and sales of vinyl continue to rise every year, right? Vinyl will ever again be what is was, the dominant format, but it has returned in a big way (not that it ever actually disappeared — ever hear of DJs and turn tabling?).

      1. According to the film Back to the Future, CDs will become obsolete in the year…well, I forget what year they were supposed to be in. But someday I’ll watch the film again and record the date. On that day in the futurre, perhaps I’ll return here and add that date as an addendum to my reply.

  6. The other trick besides distilled water is to boil it twice. Easy way to make super clear ice cubes at home, though other things that help are a metal tray and slooowly building them up one 2mm layer at a time.

    For this, freezing the bulk of it first and then adding one more thin layer with the actual grooves should really help, because then you don’t have all the remaining bubbles in the bulk bit trying to freeze at the very top where your grooves are.

    Edit: Cool sidenote – The Brits and Canadians were looking at making warships out of ice in WW2.

  7. I guess that the Heston Blumenthal version of this would includ a bottle of Liquid Nitrogen.

    Heston? Strange first name. I wonder if he is named after Charlton “From My Cold Dead Hands” Heston? If so, quite appropriate.

  8. A brilliant  marketing move. It’s hard to get blogs to post “just a music video” these days, but add some new geeky gimmick, and this video is all over the place. People who would have never heard this band’s music will hear it, even if in scratchy ice, or at least hear their name. They only sent ten kits and get tons of coverage. Bravo!

  9. I’ve read that you shouldn’t play a wet record (e.g. immediately after washing it) because the glue that holds the diamond tip to the stylus cantilever is often water soluble. That’s where the damage would probably first occur.

  10. This isn’t very well thought out. Between destroying $100 needles and shorting out $1000 record players, I see no point in even trying this. 

  11. There’s two things that are suspicious about this video.  The needle never moves towards the center of the record, also the needle is moved in the beginning after the music has already started.  So the video is absolutely not of the record playing in real time.  That alone isn’t enough to prove for sure that the audio is not an overdubbing of an actual ice record…But it’s kind of weird that an ice record would sound so much better than the 3D-printed records you guys recently posted…

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