vinyl heaven - dec 1st, 2012
A space opened at home on one wall of a spare bedroom, so I took it as a sign. I put in some bookcases and pulled my vinyl record albums out of their crates and boxes from the various spots where I had them stashed. With much joy and anticipation, I moved my Thorens turntable nearby. Finally, all my LP’s are there, together, within reach. I can get at them, organize them, look at them, listen to them!
Warm and alive, my LP’s are products of a previous technological explosion that developed 50 or so years ago. It was a fertile, creative, chance-taking industry that was optimized and fine-tuned by innovative visionaries with names like Phil Spector, Sam Phillips, Brian Wilson, Ahmet Ertegun, George Martin, Joe Meek, Glynn Johns, Barry Gordy, Stevie Wonder, the list goes on and on . . .
Their approach to capturing sound delivered an experience that was exciting, involving, and organically satisfying. These were not sounds fashioned from perfectly symmetrical bands of digital numbers. They are models of real acoustic, uncompressed, analog sounds stamped into vinyl, mixed and massaged to emphasize and enhance dynamics, spatial perception, and overall impact.
Digital music is convenient, but so impersonal. It doesn’t require anything from the listener but to start it going. Once you do, it will repeat effortlessly until the batteries run out. It’s easy to take it for granted, let it slip into the background of your consciousness, and forget it’s even playing.
When it comes to vinyl, you have to pay attention to the music or it will end and leave you with nothing but silence.
Listening to analog music requires all of the listener’s senses. There’s an organic smell to vinyl, especially 180 gram virgin vinyl, clean and unique, much like a new book. Then there’s the physical act of carefully taking the pressing from its jacket, centering it on the turntable, cleaning the dust off of the grooves with a carbon fiber brush, and finally – placing the stylus on the disc
As the first track plays, you can pick up the 12 x 12 jacket and see who the players were, who wrote the songs, and when and where it was recorded. It’s right there – you don’t even have to Google it.
And the resulting sound . . . to this day it sends a flood of memories and intoxicating fervor thru the speakers, straight thru to my pleasure center.
So lately I’ve been reacquainting myself with the joys of incorporating my total self into a listening experience, taking these focused journeys, climbing into sound capsules, and wandering thru rich fields of associated memories.
I love it all – soul, rock, folk, jazz, blues – these are my people, my tribe.
It’s been scientifically proven that music makes you feel happy by encouraging the brain to release dopamine, a chemical that enhances well being. I suppose that’s why I spend so much time letting creative music wash over me
In these strange and getting stranger times, it is more than likely that you’ll find me hiding out with my record collection.