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On the interesting properties of becoming the kind of person who buys vinyl records.
Sgt Pepper. Trad.

Audiophile is not my usual brand of geekery, but over the start of the year I got a record player. I’ve no illusions of my ability to distinguish sound quality, warmth, digital compression, etc, but it does push my units of music towards the Album rather than the Track, which works for me as both a continuation of mood thing and a time measurement thing.

That is, I use systems like pomodoro to keep myself focused on tasks if my brain is being too buzzy, and while the traditional mechanical timers work well for me (better than phone or computer-based timers), I find the side of an album to be a good time chunk, and one that has a driving reminder that I’m in a focus session that isn’t the infernal ticking of a clockwork tomato. Or fox, right now.

A small fox in timer form

That was the original purpose, anyway. Different music helps focus on different things – I’ve been using Einaudi as a writing/code-focus background for over a decade now, but with the albums the physical act of doing something to coincide with starting the task, the occasional need to flip the disk means I stand up occasionally without having to do anything distracting from my task.

The other thing that’s been great about it has been the reminder of vinyl records as physical objects.

One of the things I missed a lot from the CD era of my music history was liner notes, and the physical options of CDs. From things like the steel tin of my Space album to the special edition blister-pack edition of Spiritualized’s “Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space” that my friend & housemate Charles either owned or talked about.

Vinyl records have that artistic physical object thing. Sleeve art, Gatefold art, prints inside, interesting colours of the vinyl itself, the act of engaging with the music requires engaging with the visual presentation before the musical far more than a 128px square album cover in the bottom left of my Spotify window or phone screen.

It’s neither the cheapest or least faffy of musical delivery – coming in more than CDs and less than Concerts. I’m predisposed to buying things I already know – my first actual purpose was a Divine Comedy album – but I’ve also signed on to Vinylbox, a monthly delivery of themed albums that are great for expansion of my collection and discovery of new things.

In the end, it’s a form of music that goes round and around in circles without getting anywhere, trying its best to create beauty on its way. And this decade, what more can we ask for?

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