33 RPM

What’s old is new again.

There’s something to be said about a recording medium that if you look close enough you can actually see the music. Little pits and valleys etched in the grooves of a 12-inch vinyl disc.

Sensitive to dust, dirt, vibrations and mishandling, LP records were inherently imperfect. They skipped, popped and hissed. They were inconvenient, big and bulky, prone to warping in the heat, shattering in the cold and they could hold no more than 26 minutes of music per side. The supposedly indestructible (nope!) CD, relatively tiny and portable, practically made LPs extinct by 1992. No “sides” to flip, up to 80 minutes of music, no hiss, no pops and “studio quality” sound… what more could you ask for?

But CDs didn’t have glorious 12-inch square paper and cardboard album covers, liner notes, fold-outs and all the other things that could make LPs magical. Sure, some CDs had plastic “jewel boxes” with little booklets of liner notes, mini photo albums and all that, but they were small. only 5¼ inches square.

27½ square inches vs 144 square inches. No contest. For album art, it was like looking at a photo album on an iPhone vs a 4K monitor.

Today in the era of Internet music streaming, CDs have faded into obscurity too. The appeal of an endless stream of any music at any time, no limits, no flipping sides just outweighs the tactile and visual pleasure of album art and soaking in music as a multimedia experience. Artists have websites for that now, right?

Young people are embracing vinyl again. I wonder if they won’t mind getting up every 20 minutes or so to flip the album.

All images shot with the Fujifilm X-T2 and XF35MM f1.4 lens.

Acros JPG with a little Capture One pixie dust.