September 1, 2010 | 3:21pm
According to Wired, a British company is planning to press cremated human remains into LP records. And yes, the platters will play music. Jason Leach, who founded the company And Vinyly explained there were a number of reasons behind his decision to embark on this peculiar business venture: thoughts of his own mortality, an unpleasant experience spreading the ashes of a loved one on a windy day, and the fact that his own mother found employment in a funeral home.
Leach certainly is an enterprising capitalist--and in the end, he may not be half as bizarre as the consumers prepared to shell out 2,000 pounds (roughly US$3,000) to be flattened into a disc and grooved on by grieving loved ones.
It really says something about today's music fan and their obsession with outmoded technology. According to the Recording Industry Association of America, new vinyl shipments for the year 2009 reached their highest level since 1990. Remarkable, considering the state of the embattled compact disc--a far more efficient platform.
And used vinyl sales? Forget about it. Having recently quit a job at Lovell's Records and Tapes in Uptown Whittier, 20 miles out of Los Angeles, I can speak first hand to the volume of unusual used record sales which occur throughout the course of a shift. It might seem odd to some to think of a 15-year-old girl buying Yes' Topographic Oceans, or the Carpenters' Greatest Hits on vinyl, but it happens with surprising frequency while those same titles could languish for weeks in the used CD racks.
Meanwhile, cumbersome, temperamental records from the '70s fly off the wall. Two reasons vinyl lovers give for the spike in new and used LP sales are the superior warmth of the tone, as well as the increased size of the cover art afforded by records.
It's an interesting point, but what music lover really needs to spend hours looking at cover art? (Never mind, I know which kind.) As for the difference in tone, I agree, but I play my vinyl through a Macintosh 1500 tube stereo--even a recording of my grandfather breaking wind through a megaphone would sound good.
One other argument offered up through the ethers for vinylphilia is that certain rare titles are only available on 33s. While this may explain the drive behind the hardcore music aficionado's search through the flea market's basement, it doesn't speak to the 15-year-old Carpenters' fan.
So what is it that inspires a vinyl lover's desire to have their bones pulverized into a disc capable of playing Dust in the Wind? I'm sure people out there will have plenty of loud answers. But whatever the reason, there's no denying analog music is rising from the ashes.