Sunday, April 02, 2006

sound flavor memory

Listening to Flack's Blue Beats For Longing mix on the plane.. One of the parts that brings up a smile and a sort of cozy feeling is when the pops of the record show up in the audio - I can hear a scratch on the record. Later, I notice the wavering of a piano sample on a warped slab of vinyl.

It's a lovely feeling, taking me to my folks' house and the Monk records I used to put on as a youngun, not knowing what jazz was. The scratches were integral to that experience, and caught at my ears in a pleasing way, like a comforting woolly sweater.

Some of that is purely sonic affect, but the associations are just as powerful. I guess those sounds won't have the same significance to people who grow up in postvinyl households.

For anyone who still deals with vinyl (the crate diggers out there), it may still bring up feelings: treasure, age, and secret - those amazing tracks you pull out, dusty and fingerprinted, from the moldy crates in some junk shop.

In a way the music is the hidden gem, but the scratches and pops are signals of the work you had to go through to get it, they signal hard use and love, like a patina of scratches on steel or signal its distance from the everyday, like the blackening of silver, or the depth of darkness in an etching.

1 comment:

  1. it's funny - i can totally empathize with you in terms of your response to hearing the telltale sounds of vinyl. and yet, i've never really been a create-digger (in the strict sense) or owned a lot of records. i suppose i inherit the love for the sound of vinyl from all the hip-hop producers who foreground the vinyl-ness of their sources in their beats. and, in turn, i like to add these sounds to my own music, sometimes by inserting a digitized vinyl track into a mix and sometimes by simply sampling the snaps, crackles, and pops for some textural-timbral grit (unorthodox or unethical as that may seem to some).

    so, i'm not really sure that having direct personal experience with vinyl is a necessary precondition of loving the sounds of vinyl-based music. it's become such a central sonic artifact of our times that one can have the same - or a similar - sense of nostalgia, commitment, enjoyment, etc., without having grown up in a "vinyl household" (though, yeah, mom and dad had records around, and i've always had a few).