Needles And Spins: The Returning Popularity Of Vinyl

where music is revered as the vital cultural force of New York City. The architecture and design are tailored to create the ideal ambiance for its appreciation. A repertoire of  DJ’s  performing at the Roxy tote with them stacks of records, to grace the turntables with the analog pleasures of exclusively vinyl sets. Each hotel suite is additionally furnished with its own turntable accompanied by a curated selection of LP’s for guests who opt to take part in the formality of record-playing in their private moments of leisure. And a Vinyl Delivery Service is even available should you crave a selection outside of your stash.

The ritual stages fundamental to the vinyl record – the visual impressions of the album art, the delicate static felt on the sleeve, the ambient sound of needle on groove – gratify the senses and set the tone for an appreciation of recorded music that persists despite all the high-tech developments of audio. These feelings sparked a resurgent interest in vinyl that has advanced steadily since the inception of Record Store Day in 2007, and it peaked in 2016 for the first time since the compact disc asserted its dominance in 1991. Where in the early 2000’s, vinyl collections seemed like a niche practice reserved for hipsters and audiophiles, they eventually reached a full-scale comeback in popular culture.

Music seems to demand a rich sensory landscape to inhabit. Even when records were at their prime, artists and labels went to great pains and expenses to make the experience of their music more interactive. The intricacy of the Beatles’ Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band included a chart to identify the host of personalities to which the band paid tribute on portrait collage.  The Rolling Stones competed with their psychedelic Her Satanic Majesty’s Request adorned with a shifting hologram attaché featuring the band clad in wizards’ cloaks. They also collaborated with Andy Warhol to endow Mick Jagger’s jeans with a real functioning zipper on every copy of Sticky Fingers.

The recent upward swing in vinyl sales was marked dramatically upon the recent passing of David Bowie, an artist who ever transcended the experiential territory of the rock star. Each record conveyed not merely a stroke of musical mutation, but also a new persona replete with an entire visual universe: extraterrestrial, anthropomorphic, meta-gendered, supernatural. He merged art, photography, fashion, and performance into a gestalt designed to be absorbed through the album’s visuals, philosophy, narrative, and fantasy for fans to cherish and contemplate.

The quality of sound itself is an essential element to thriving fondness for vinyl. Fidelity declined considerably with the digitization of music. The process of digital compression introduced with the compact disc required that the highs sacrifice variation in treble, and that the lows gave up the complexity in the bass. The analog tones of the vinyl record possess a palpable warmth and depth with which the ersatz codes of digitized media could never compete.

David Sax, author of The Revenge of Analog, theorizes that the passion for records persists simply because vinyl offers a superior and more complete experience of music than any of it’s seemingly more advanced successors. Newer does not always mean better, and convenience is not always king. “Silicon Valley may never look back,” he explains,” but for the generation who has grown up with omnipresent digital technology, nostalgia isn’t just some foolish whim. It is a life raft, and the one sure means of grounding ourselves in a world that promises constant change.”

Words by M.Pellerano

Image credit – Decoded Magazine