Drop the needle


I couldn’t wait for the CD so I purchased the new Biosphere album Dropsonde in vinyl, my first record purchase in four years or so. Coming on the heels of my recent Boards of Canada fake-track debacle (only possible in these digital music-obsessed days) it was a completely enjoyable, material experience. I was instantly in grade school again, fetishizing the platter and poring over the cover art as if I held a Rembrandt in my hands. Of course I immediately digitized it and have embarked on the daunting — though so pleasingly nostalgic — task of doing the same for all the 33’s and 45’s that I do not own digitally. On some of the records I actually remember every scratch and hiss as if they were part of the original recording.

Ways in which vinyl is better than bits:

– Imperfections in the vinyl, especially those caused by the owner (needle dropped too hard, flattening of the grooves from overplay, etc.) make that album more personal, indelibly stamping it as unique and yours-alone. Call it analog watermarking.

– At a glance you can instantly see the relative durations of all the songs on a side. Sorta like the advantage of an analog watch. You only need spatial awareness to see that you have a quarter of a circle’s worth of time before your meeting.

– Perfectly hitting the blank grooves between songs with the stylus is damn satisfying.

Cover art, cover art, cover art. Bigger, badder, bolder.

And the album Dropsonde? It is as good as they say. Geir appears to be infatuated with jazz percussion. The minimalism of Autour de la Lune is gone and occasionally a higher-range line (“melody” would be imprecise) takes over in a way reminiscent of his older work. Highly recommended.