A cartoon has been going around the Internet for a while and is even attached to the top of one of my favourite vinyl forums. It shows two men having a discussion in front of a fancy turntable setup with the caption: “The two things that really drew me to vinyl were the expense and the inconvenience”.
Joking aside, it does say something about the hobby, calling into question why anyone would bother listening to vinyl records in this day and age, particularly when it’s cheaper and easier to subscribe to a music subscription service to access a hundred lifetimes’ worth of tunes that you can listen to from the device in your pocket.
There are a number of reasons why people get into vinyl.
I enjoy it for the physicality and the ritual… and for the music of course. I love having the ability to hold an album in my hands while admiring the detail of the sleeve artwork. I love the extras—the lyrics, liner notes, posters and novelty items.
And most important of all: the patience that the format demands of the listener. When I put on a record I intend to listen to the full album in one sitting. It demands my attention because the music will stop at the end of a side—it begs action.
Listening to a record is more than just pressing play to me. It is a ritual consisting of many steps: powering on the entire setup; opening the dust cover on my turntable; taking out the record and gently placing it down on the spindle. Pressing the play button making the platter spin. Gently brushing the spinning record for dust and dirt before finally placing the stylus in the grooves.
It’s not rocket science but it demands care and attention, every single time. It sounds cumbersome—inconvenient, even—but it is part of why I love it.
After the ritual, I feel like I’ve earned the sweet tunes coming out of my speakers. Because of the ritual, I feel obliged to pay attention to the music because I went to the trouble in the first place. There’s a strange, almost zen-like satisfaction to listening whilst watching the record spin around.
For me, it didn’t start out with video game music or even vinyl.
It started with CDs (super old-fashioned, right?). In my early teens, my dad let me borrow loads of his CDs and eventually I started using my hard-earned cash from a weekend job to buy them for myself.
In high school, I started listening to upcoming local artists online and made a point of buying their albums.
At some point I came across artists that would only sell their music digitally—or on vinyl. As a fan of physical music, there was only one choice: grab the vinyl (an album called On A Monday by electronica artist Good Luck Casper).
Post-high school, I got a job in a music store that sold CDs and DVDs. Over a two-year period I ended up buying roughly 1,500 CDs (partly thanks to a generous employee discount) as well as a few vinyl records as the store allowed employees to order these for ourselves.
Whenever a new album I was interested in was released, I would look for the vinyl version instead of the CD and so my record collection rapidly began to grow. After a while the allure of The Ritual took over. It’s an addiction that slowly took hold over me and in the nine or so years since I bought my first record, my collection has grown to over 1,000 vinyl records.
Writing about video game music on vinyl has become my latest obsession (among many others!)—you can catch my scribblings at Blipblop.net. When more labels started to release video game vinyl, my record-buying habit got even worse! At this rate, pretty soon 10 % of my (1,000+) record collection will be video game-related releases. I’m loving this trend, and really look forward to all such future releases.
Frederik Lauridsen writes about VGM on wax at blipblop.net