Monday, January 12, 2009

dusting off the turntable

Vinyl sales are rising. According to an article written in Wired last spring, vinyl sales rose 30 some odd percent in 2007, and, evidently (I'll get to it), are continuing to rise.
I say "evidently" after reading on MTV's blog that Animal Collective's new album, released last Tuesday (Jan. 6th) exclusively on vinyl, may very well break into album charts come next week, a remarkable feat for a format that many had forever written off as the pleasure of a small clan of fetishistic audiophiles.

Surprising? Yes. But after some thought, perhaps it's really not too difficult to rationalize. When compact discs were first introduced in the 1980's, it was the issue of portability that had music lovers substituting out of vinyl records in favor of their smaller, shinier brethren. With MP3's now upstaging the compact disc in the categories of portability and convenience (and many record labels bundling their vinyl offerings with free digital versions), it's no wonder that those who value owning something tangible are switching back to vinyl: the album art is larger, the sound warmer and more organic, and the whole process--the large rotating disc, the crackling hiss of the needle dropping onto the record, the inability to jump frivolously from song to song--more intimate. Measured against the MP3, it is just as cumbersome and immobile as the compact disc. In the home, when it comes to the question of whether to throw on your iPod or break open a CD, it seems the iPod reigns king. But when it comes to the question of whether to throw on your iPod or spin a record, the answer is becoming less clear cut.

My CD player at school is gathering dust, but I consider myself among the ranks of those who value the physical object. I'll admit, in the past few months I have actually purchased a handful of CD's for lack of owning a satisfactory turntable...methinks it high time to take the plunge.

Or maybe Merriweather Post Pavilion is just that good.

Animal Collective- "Bluish"

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