Tuesday, May 16, 2017

A Vinyl Record Made for Mars

What will vinyl sound like in Mars' thin atmosphere?

As a small boy I was taught by my dad how to play an album on the record player. First you carefully remove the record from the sleeve, then you  put it on the player, then you put the needle on the edge of the record and then you press the play button. Wait for the warm crackle and then voila music plays out of the speaker.

I made the cover of my first release look
like a vinyl album. (it was really a CD.)

Really though, vinyl records were annoying because they were delicate. They could be snapped or broken into pieces, they could get scratched and then skip forevermore, they could get dusty, they could get warped in the sun, they could skip if you jumped around to much while they were playing. And 12 inch records were hard to cart around to a friends house because they were big and unruly. They didn't fit in any backpack or duffel bag properly. You couldn't walk around and listen to a record, you couldn't play a record in your car because it was just too bouncy, the needle would skip, the music listening experience ruined.

Huh. Actually they did make a record player for the car...

When 8 track tapes, and then cassette tapes, and then compact discs and then MP3's came out then transportation of music became easier, music in the car was a no brainer, walking around with music was a no brainer. These days there are so many ways to consume music and media it's a constant question how should one consume music? It seems like streaming is leading the way with endless amounts of artists and songs and the entire back catalogue of recorded music available on the internet and through free or low cost streaming services.

I'm personally loving the music streaming. Access to every genre, every artist, the history of every piece of recorded sound. Well, not access to everything exactly, but definitely access to an amount of recordings that would have taken several lifetimes to physically collect.

And yet it seems some people are buying the most bulky, physical form of recorded music still: the vinyl album.


Well, when I was in a record shop asking that exact question I found myself going through the Dire Straights albums they had and found a recording I always wished I had owned "Love Over Gold". I had to have it. I bought it. I needed to own the physical manifestation of the music.

A well loved copy of Dire Straights "Love Over Gold"

When I really connect with a band or artist's music I feel like I need to have a physical piece of their vision. To hold the music, the creativity in my hands, to feel it, to see it, to smell it.

Ephemeral digital music is great. I love it, I make it. However you can loose the music in a digital update, or moving to a new laptop, or lost in a shuffle, or lost due to a dying hard drive, or lost to an old digital format, or lost to an old computer interface.

When you have vinyl records and a record player you can clean off the dust, you can hold the music, you can see the vision of the artist in the cover art, the album notes, the color of the vinyl, the labels on the record, the smell of the packaging.

As I get older and make more music and more songs and use more computers and more digital instruments I wonder how best to share this music? Yes, I release it to the wild internet and the streaming and the downloads and expect nothing in return but a few listens and some thumbs up. Which is totally fine and good, but what about the listener who like me has to have it, to hold in their hands?

Digital music is great, but you can't hold it in your hands. 

I ask myself, how do I want to see my music in physical form when I'm all old and hunched over? "Oh shoot kids if only you could hear a snippet of grandpa's digital music but you can't because I lost the connector to my old hard drive, or my cloud streaming service shut down 20 years ago, but I do have this old record player. Guess I should have pressed some vinyl... "

And that is the exact thinking that has lead me to order a handful of vinyl records of my 2016 album "The Longest Moment is Now". (They will be ready in about 4 weeks. I'll make a post about it.)

When I say I'm making a handful, I mean 5.

The 2016 GT3000 album cover without custom drawing.

The GT3000 cover with 1 of the 5 custom drawings. 

Exactly 5 copies have been ordered. They will be 33 minutes: 16 and a half minutes per side. They will be cut using a diamond stylus onto clear, see through vinyl. Each cover will be a unique, intricate hand drawn image using gold and black permanent markers. One copy will never leave my shelf, one copy will go to the president of Bush Party Records, and 3 will be available to the rest of the world.

NASA thought the technique to make records was so robust that they sent solid gold albums to outer space on the backs of the Voyager space craft. Those records reached the edge of our solar system last year and are now travelling interstellar space. Gold records between the stars.

When I go to the planet Mars in 2040 or so, among my sparse possessions, will be a few vinyl records and some of those records will be of my own music.

Imagine this: I'm standing outside of the Martian habitat, in my pressurized martian space suit. I've set up an amplifier, a record player and some speakers. I turn the volume to 8, I place the album on the record player, I carefully brush off the red dust, I place the needle on the spinning disc, the crackle plays through the speakers, the sound struggles to be heard through the thin atmosphere... What song is playing?

What record are you going to play on Mars?


  1. Good for you buddy. Totally agree, would hate to know the cost per record, but if you can afford it, do it. Jealous now, again, and forever.

  2. Yo Scott!

    Firstly, thanks. Secondly...
    It's a doable expense for the short run vinyl!
    Here's the link to vinylizer - http://www.vinylizer.com/

    I know you have a bunch of yer own music. get it cut forever onto vinyl! :)

  3. Industrial Disease, turn it up! My thoughts exactly on vinyl. Just picked more today.