Vinyl Portraits

Late-night scenes from my record collection.

I stay awake into the small hours, measuring margins and tinkering with code while playing moody records. I remember the night I hit 20,000 words with Miles Davis on the hi-fi. Vinyl sounds better. More importantly, it cements my memories. Each record on my shelf is a snapshot, a photo album. A digital file reminds me of nothing. The value of any collection is not the record sleeve, book, or commemorative spoon, but the memories these things conjure. A certain time of life or seasonal mood. Maybe a grey afternoon. In addition to sense-memory, vinyl demands patience and care. An album ends with silence. It requires a dust-free environment. It’s an impractical format but so are most of the fine things in life.

‘Heavenly Music Corporation’ is the glorious sound of power lines humming on a Saturday night long before the age of pixels and screens. Robert Fripp suggested naming the track ‘The Transcendental Music Corporation’ but Eno worried this would “make people think they were serious.” An interesting point, that ‘transcendental’ is chained to fuzzy and oftentimes sanctimonious New Age jargon whereas there’s a wink behind ‘heavenly’, an acknowledgment of its impossibility that lends itself to irony.

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