The Analogue Music-Lover’s Ultimate Fetish: Vinyl
April 5, 2013 | by Faber Social
‘April is the cruellest month’, a one-time Faber poet and publisher said in the distant past. So on an unseasonably cold and unforgiving evening, with Spring yet to awaken, we gathered at Faber Social again for an evening of readings, conversation and music, celebrating the analogue music-lover’s ultimate fetish, Vinyl.
It was a game of three halves, opening with a trilogy of readings by Travis Elborough, James Fearnley, and Simon Reynolds. In 45 minutes we traveled through the pop century from Son House to Skrillex, shellac to Spotify. Travis, with a smorgsabord of vinyl visual aids to hand, explained the origins of vinyl and the early battles for format supremacy. 64 years on from the launch of the first 7 inch single, his knowledge and passion for the form proved to be the perfect overture for the evening.
James Fearnley, whose memoir of life spent in The Pogues (‘It’s just how I’d imagine I’d remember it’, said Shane McGowan), was a celebrated addition to the Faber list, invited us into the world of a legendary rock n roll band on tour in the ’80s. Fearnley’s elegant musings of life on the road with a gang of hard-living musicians were followed by Simon Reynolds, who propelled us into the 21st century with a reading from the upcoming new edition of his classic book on rave, Energy Flash. America, in the form of EDM (the inelegant acronym for Electronic Dance Music), has finally caught the raver bug twenty-something years after it dominated British youth culture. Simon’s reportage from a mega-rave and his observations of new dj-ing techniques and the passing of vinyl 12 inch culture (‘The decks in most clubs are now only used to host laptops’), brought a narrative which had opened a century before with stories of vinyl’s golden age to a sobering conclusion.
Vinyl’s re-emergence over the past few years was then celebrated and discussed by Spencer Hickman of Death Waltz Recording Company and Rough Trade (the man behind the phenomenally successful Record Store Day venture), and Jude Rogers, led by Pete Paphides, who earlier in the evening had DJ-ed a set in exclusively 7 inch form. Vinyl sales have experienced 5 straight years of growth, and Record Store Day has become so influential a moment in the calendar it is in danger of becoming a victim of its own success. For a generation of music-lovers now in their 20s, vinyl is now the preferred form; its sound quality fetishised; the art and tactility of the physical object itself preferred to the crude functionality of the MP3.
At 10pm, Workin Man Noise Unit took the stage. It was one of those gigs, an author told me afterwards, that twenty years on everyone would claim to have been at. Those who remained and submitted themselves to a proto-metal assault at tinitus-inducing volume, were treated to six epic feedback and distortion drenched classics by a young band who are a genuinely thrilling force on the subterranean rock n roll landscape. For bringing Workin Man Noise Unit into the Faber Social orbit, we extend gratitude and thanks to the Lord of the Underworld himself, Julian Cope. If you could hear the next day, you clearly weren’t there. And for those who missed it, here’s a taster.
Workin Hard, as they say, is Hard Work. Hail Hail Rock ‘n’ Roll.