Death by Digital: RIP High Fidelity

Vinyl records

My big brown eyes even grow bigger and wider every time there’s a new technology comes out. It saddened me at the same time when a piece of technology that we used to and grow old with has to be put to rest (in peace) and then marked obsolete. And I won’t deny the fact that I’m a kinda guy who holds on to those things — may it be already obsolete or to its near obsolete stage — with some serious sentimental values.

2010. Remy’s Thrift Shop, Cubao X. Our last stop to our three-day coverage about every woman’s costly leisure activity — shopping. It is also in this very shop that I was able to get hold of one of the earliest known analog sound recording medium that dominates the world for almost two centuries — vinyl records.

Saw some abundant and endangered stacks of 7” and 12” species of vinyl records stashed in huge brown boxes underneath a table by the window display. Some are in mint condition and mostly comes still with their original cover sleeves. Whilst most of them are there just collecting dust — waiting haplessly to be seen by a potential collector.

While photographer Dane was busy shooting the store, I was blissfully preoccupied in scanning those vinyl records. Flipping it one by one, hoping for a good find — not that I have a turntable at home to play with it — a vinyl record with a good cover design. A classic one. I remember back in my college years, we have been told by our professor to recreate a 12” vinyl record cover design — from scratch — as our project. Mine was Joe Satriani’s Surfing with the Alien and had a decent passing mark then.

Anyway, one of the 7” record I pulled off had some deep and long scratches brought by the careless use of the previous owners. Some due to the final passing on by the defunct record shops of Raon, Recto and Quiapo in the early 80s to thrift shops of Cubao X for disposal.

Looking on those vinyl records took me for a quick ride further down memory lane when I was a kid. I remember digging my father’s mementos stashed in an old rusty tin can box of moon cake. I found three 7” records — one of them are of Olivia Newton John’s single in her 70s heyday — neatly preserved and tucked in their respective paper sleeves. Those records were mixed with some old Japanese currency during the WWII with a handful of decades-old Philippine coins and; nostalgic photos of my dad in his early teens with his parents in the 60s. That was the first time I got hold of that shiny black circle disc and it is still crystal clear in my mind how it was felt.

I may not be born in the time when vinyl records were the king of the tango or boogie-woogie dance floors of Old Manila. Nor have danced to the infectious groove with Annie Batumbakal and with the other distinguished members of the Burgis community in the disco fever era during the Martial Law. But I have shown a great appreciation for the medium that had brought the old and the young turntable collectors to a closed circle; notable aficionados sharing their expertise in collecting and preserving the vinyl records; and of course, to all music lovers, that includes my parents.

The fate of the vinyl record has been sealed decades ago by a new recording medium or format (which I’ll be tackling in the near future). Only a few — both maker and recording artist — who chose to record and manufacture the dying recording medium today. Even the popular 90s grunge band Pearl Jam wrote a song about the vinyl — “Spin the Black Circle” to pay homage to the format. It’s a great regret, on my part, that I haven’t experience completely the pure and raw quality of what a vinyl record has hidden under its grooves.

This is the first post of a series on how I witness music physically transcends from my dad’s time unto my time.

So, plug in and enjoy.

I would like to thank Dane Soriano for lending me his DSLR to capture the image above.


About battlefield_man

Jocas A. See. Visual communication designer. And a casual tourist

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