Records


Image; "One final revolution!" ,detail, 1 of 45 prints, c. David Selden 2003



I have been thinking about records. Shiny black vinyl, brittle shellac, the fetishised spiral groove of this distinctly analogue
technology. I always loved music but always felt ambivalent about records.

I shed mine periodically, like the plates of a weary Brontasaurus – I opted for C.Ds (lighter, more portable) and then, ultimately, mp3’s – intangible.

What is left is lighter, though less, than the pop crackle and squeaks I remember from my (scratched to fuck) copy of Never Mind The Bollocks. The mp3 is its ghost, a revenant.

As free as it is from signs of wear, of personal use, the mp3 world is also mired in endless nostalgia. Dutch Beat Combos outnumber living musicians by ten to one, in nerd heaven. The past is mined and mined again. Artists so obscure that for years they were only available as rumours, are now yours – at the click of a mouse.

The glut of music threatened and delivered by the internet fulfils Romero’s prophecy of the dead walking the earth.

Records, as un-biodegradable and recherché as they are, at least bear some physical correlation to music Рthough perhaps the data-stream of Autechre might be better represented as a file. They are harder to delete, to unburden yourself of.

Black plastic discs remain a weird currency I thought, as the other night at Konrad Tonz I watched the DJ replace records of obscure 6o's garage groups lovingly into their sleeves. Perhaps the only form of life lower than a music journalist is a record collector, that fetishisation of the gatefold cover, the plastic sheath.

I once had a bunch of old 78's, Xavier Cugat dancing with his rythm kings. Once, further back still, in the murk of adolescence, I read lyric sheets and liner notes but I always treated the discs themselves with a certain contempt, arguing that the scratches they aquired were the story of their use.

Naturaly they are now, for most part, unplayable and in any case, stored in a South East London Cellar.