The Voyager Golden Record on NBC Nightly News

Last night, NBC Nightly News aired the wonderful video below about the Voyager Golden Record vinyl box set I produced with my friends Tim Daly and Lawrence Azerrad! Forty years ago this month, NASA launched two spacecraft, Voyager 1 and 2, on a grand tour of the solar system and beyond, into the mysteries of interstellar space. Mounted to each spacecraft is a golden phonograph record, a message to introduce our civilization to extraterrestrials, perhaps billions of years from now. The Voyager Golden Record tells a story of our planet expressed in sounds, images, and science. As Lawrence said in the video, "it's a lovely reminder of what it means to be a human." Thank you to NBC Nightly News!

(GIF via Electric Space Kool-Aid)

Read the rest

Adam Savage learns how records are made with Jack White

Our pal Adam Savage visited Jack White's Third Man Records vinyl pressing plant in Detroit and records his Brain Candy song! Then Jack and Adam talk about cutting records and the creative process. (Tested)

Read the rest

After 28 years, Sony resumes vinyl record production

Sony last pressed a vinyl record in 1989. And it'll be pressing them again by March 2018, reports The BBC, proof of the mainstream return of the ancient format—once again a billion-dollar business.

Folks always argue about quality (will mainstream product mean mainstream mastering?) but the reasons for vinyl's resurgence are complex. It's a nice thing to own, it's a pleasing retail experience, it's nostalgic, it's a better gift, it's big enough to hang on a wall, you can fend off zombies with it, and so on.

There are seriously lame aspects to vinyl, though: quality deteriorates with use; easily damaged even when stored; no metadata; no controls; fiddly hardware. So whenever I read a "vinyl returns" article I dream of a new HD physical media format that's backward compatible with it. An LP-sized optical disk with the grooves on a clear laminate layer, perhaps. Or maybe a vinyl with a hidden flash storage layer within and exposed metal rings to read it with near the spindle. Or some kind of bad-ass sharpened metal disk played the old-fashioned way but at nyquist-busting RPM. Read the rest

Lovely tour of Jack White's Detroit vinyl record plant

Kevin Dupzyk got a behind-the-scenes tour of Third Man Records' new vinyl pressing plant in Detroit, where the art and craftsmanship of vinyl recordmaking is making a major resurgence. [via Popular Mechanics] Read the rest

Radiohead: lavish 20th anniversary reissue of "OK Computer"

It's been 20 years since Radiohead released their masterpiece OK Computer and they've just announced a lavish new remastered* edition with three unreleased tracks, eight b-sides, assorted bonus tracks, and, in the boxed edition, a hardcover book. The band aims to please with the deluxe box set by including vinyl, a cassette, and digital downloads in various formats.

Inside a black box emblazoned with a dark image of a burned copy of OK COMPUTER are three heavyweight 180 gram black 12" vinyl records and a hardcover book containing more than 30 artworks, many of which have never been seen before except by us, and full lyrics to all the tracks except the ones that haven't really got any lyrics.

Under this weighty tome are yet more surprises: a notebook containing 104 pages from Thom Yorke's library of scrawled notes of the time, a sketchbook containing 48 pages of Donwood and Tchock's 'preparatory work' and a C90 cassette mix tape compiled by us, taken from OK COMPUTER session archives and demo tapes.

* But why? The original analogue tapes are the highest definition version of the record, and nothing will ever beat them. However in the 20 years since the original release mastering technology has improved a lot, and with new equipment and techniques we can make a digital version that's an improvement of the original transfer.

Radiohead OK Computer 1997 2017

Read the rest

Vinyl reissue of David Bowie and Trevor Jones's Labyrinth soundtrack

David Bowie and Trevor Jones's soundtrack to Jim Henson's fantastical film Labyrinth, starring Bowie as Jareth the Goblin King, will be reissued on vinyl next month for the first time since its release in 1986. (These days an original pressing goes for around $75-$100.) To complement Trevor Jones's synthesizer/orchestra score, Bowie wrote five original songs for Labyrinth, including Underground, As The World Falls Down, and the classic Magic Dance.

With Magic Dance, "the song for Jareth and the baby, sung by them and the goblins in the castle throne room - I had problems,” Bowie said at the time. “The baby I used in the recording studios couldn’t, or wouldn’t, put more than two gurgles together, so I ended up doing the baby-gurgle chorus myself! It’s an up-tempo song, and visually exciting.”

Labyrinth LP (Amazon)

Read the rest

Your cremated loved one's ashes can be pressed into a vinyl record

That's not dust on the stylus, that's Uncle Fred!

Andvinyly presses cremated remains into a vinyl record.

Read the rest

Devo "Energy Dome" 45 rpm adapter

The good people at Oakland's excellent Contact Records record shop are selling these delightful Devo "Energy Dome" adapters to play your New Wave 45s in style. Locally 3D-printed by Jeremy Solterbeck, they're just a few bucks each and big fun for vinyl geeks.

ENERGY DOME 45 ADAPTERS IN OUR SHOP NOW!!! #devo #whipit #contactrecords #vinyligclub #energydome #45adapters #goldenenergy

A video posted by Contact Record Shop (@contact_records) on Nov 16, 2016 at 1:19pm PST

Read the rest

Dig these fantastically eclectic online DJ mixes by Zach Cowie

Zach Cowie is a cratedigger of the highest order. Following gigs at Rhino and Sub Pop, Zach turned his insatiable record collecting into a job: He's a music supervisor for TV and movies with credits like Master of None and The Little Hours and curated musical selections for the fashion label Rodarte. As a DJ, Zach (aka Turquoise Wisdom) frequently makes the scene in LA and elsewhere, sometimes spinning with pals like Elijah Wood and Andy Cabic (Vetiver). It seems that his destined role in life is to turn us on to the best music we've never heard of. And he's got a Voyager Golden Record tattoo, so that makes me like him even more. Here's an interview with him from Dust & Grooves.

Zach is now recording a monthly set for NTS called "Play It As It Lathes" that mixes ambient, psych, spiritual jazz, prog, cosmic country, dream pop, folk, and every other far-out genre you can imagine into stunning two-hour sets.

"It's the best place to hear what i’ve been listening to at home lately," Zach says.

Turn on and tune in below.

(Thanks, Jess Rotter!)

Image at top by Eilon Paz/Dust & Grooves Read the rest

Killer Morricone noir-jazz/avant-garde soundtrack reissued on vinyl

Directed by Michele Lupo, "Un Uomo Da Rispettare" (A Man to Respect) is a 1972 Italian/German crime flick starring Kirk Douglas and Florinda Bolkan. Released as The Master Touch in some countries, this story of a safe cracker and a circus gymnast is considered to be a mediocre movie at best. However, the soundtrack by legendary composer Ennio Morricone is absolutely fantastic. This isn't a typical Morricone spaghetti western score but rather veers into the avant-garde, noir-jazz soundtrack vein. But even during the music's most abstract moments, it still maintains the cinematic groove of which Morricone is the master. I'm delighted that our friends at the Superior Viaduct record label are reissuing Un Uomo Da Rispettare on vinyl for just $20! The first 500 copies are on translucent green wax and only available directly from the label.

Check out a track below and, if you're so inclined, watch the actual film.

Da Rispettare OST LP (Superior Viaduct)

Read the rest

Space age stereo systems from last century

Over at the Vinyl Factory, Anton Spice shares a wonderful collection of 1960s and 1970s stereo systems designed for Space Age bachelor pads. Above, the classic Electrohome Apollo 711 (1970); below are a few more of my favorites. See more at: "The 15 most incredible Space Age record players" (VF)

Mega 3300 (1963):

Rosita Stereo Commander (1975):

Panasonic Audio Egg (1974):

Read the rest

Vinyl Divas: vintage opera diva album art is weird and wonderful

Vinyl Divas is a comprehensive collection of vintage classical music divas, and it ranges from the sublime to the ridiculous to the sublimely ridiculous. Includes lists by artist name, collection based on themes, and even vanity albums by self-published divas. The fashion, the makeup, the styles, the taste both good and bad... prepare to go down a rabbit hole of 20th century nostalgia. Read the rest

Vintage snapshots of people with their record albums

Esteemed vernacular photography collector Robert Jackson shares his favorite snapshots of people with their record albums. According to Mashable, "These faded prints and Polaroids recall a time when a new record was a physical work of art to be admired and cherished." I got news for you: That time is still now.

Read the rest

Britain's new plastic money so hi-tech it can play vinyl records

In this video, a man plays Abba's 1976 classic Money Money Money using one of the new £5 notes issued in the UK. They're made of plastic.

The new polymer five pound notes have a rather curious ability of being just about able to play vinyl records (with the aid of a contact microphone and small amplifier not shown on screen). As the corners on these new banknotes are more durable and sharper than its paper counterpart it acts like a very crude record needle.

Like a lady barbarian's armor in a computer game, the new fiver doesn't crumple easily or get wet or tear, but still folds, and has a see-through window. "I do quite like them," says a Briton on the street.

Read the rest

How an L.A. printer kept the art of the album cover alive

For half a century Los Angeles's Stoughton Printing Company has been considered one of the highest-quality printers of vinyl record packaging in the world, manufacturing album art for the likes of The Doors, Led Zeppelin, Neil Young, Jack White, Blue Note, and countless other artists and labels who value exquisite quality. Indeed, that's where my partners and I intend to produce the lavish packaging for our “Voyager Golden Record: 40th Anniversary Edition” vinyl box set! Our pal Ben Marks writes about the artisans at Stoughton for Collectors Weekly:

If there’s a secret sauce to Stoughton, one of the ingredients is certainly its people, many of whom have been with the company for a long time, which means the institutional memory at Stoughton runs deep. “Some of our employees have been with us for decades,” Jack (Stoughton) Jr. says. “They’ve seen it all.” Just as important is the fact that for every Led Zeppelin or Jack White, there have been countless other musicians of lesser acclaim who have turned to Stoughton to print their album art and design the packaging encasing their vinyl.

“When we started out,” Jack Jr. says, “we appealed to independent labels and artists. That was our niche. We had one customer, way back when, who sold his car to help pay for his record pressing. We had printed his jackets, so he came out here on the bus from Hollywood to City of Industry, which was about 25 miles eastbound. He probably made five or six bus transfers to get here.

Read the rest

Alabama Shakes' Brittany Howard shows how they make clear vinyl albums

This delightful tour of how the United Record Pressing plant in Nashville makes clear vinyl albums is narrated by Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes. Read the rest

Clean old records with wood glue

Ghettofunk13 demonstrates the old vinyl-lover's trick of deep-cleaning your wax pancakes by spreading the grooves with Titebond II wood glue, waiting for it to dry, and then peeling off the glue-skin and taking all the gunk with it (presumably there is some way of actually playing the music from the intact glue-skin, given sufficiently advanced apparatus). Read the rest

More posts