Monday, December 15, 2008

Needle Drop

Vinyl is different.

It’s hot, frenzied, often wobbly and complicated. It passes over you like a wave, washing across your consciousness. You can’t hide from it. You can’t decide which parts you want. But you can become one with it.

Digital is slick. It’s discrete and ordered. You can slice it into units, decode it into ones and zeroes and move them around. Turn them upside down. It’s like watching the world from behind thick glass.

You can watch it. You can sometimes appreciate its beauty. But you never quite become one with it. It’s always a little bit distant and a little bit cold. And, because it’s cold, it’s easy to turn away from it.

When you put a needle down on a record, there’s space. Space to climb into so you can wrap the sound around yourself. And there’s an infinite range of values beyond the simple choice of zero and one.

Yes, records are imperfect. They’re flawed and approachable. And even the noises have personality. The scratches and skips. The clicks and pops. They sear their way into your mind until they merge into the song and become part of the listening experience. A record welcomes you in, gives you a place that’s all your own. And if you let them, the clicks and the pops will embrace you, prop you up, support you.

The silence between tracks on a CD is cold and dead. There’s nothing there. The “silence” between tracks on a record is alive, buzzing with possibilities, humming with hints of the future and distant echoes of the past.

Crouching between the wow and flutter, nestled between the clicks and pops… is a magical place created anew just for you every time the needles drops. There’s noise in the “silence,” a warmth of ambience before the music begins. Sound jumps out at you and redlines when needle hits vinyl. And just for a moment that sound joins your past and your future, transporting you to a more perfect present as you literally become part of the music.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ain't it the truth! Loved this piece. You really transported to me to that warm and enveloping place where a turntable and great speakers were all I needed. I think it's still true, I just have more stuff surrounding it all now.