The Joys of Vinyl.

While I work on my comics and other illustration work, I like to have something playing. Usually movies or bingeable TV of some kind. Always something I've seen a million times before that doesn't require my full focus and can just be there. However, if I really need to focus and get my head down, I tend to go with music rather than visual media. Now as I start to write this I realise I'm working towards an irony and a potential contradiction in the point of what I'm saying. As I'm implying that while I work I want to go with something that can just be background noise, something I can ignore.
Whilst I guess that is true, it's also what has prompted me to write about this.

Usually, I'll simply fire up Spotify and start my one playlist of 100s of my favourite tracks on shuffle, and just let it go.
These past few days however, I remembered my hi-fi equipment, sitting in its corner looking at me wondering why I have forsaken it. Okay, I joke, I actually use my seperates system quite regularly, albeit not as much as I once did.
Last weekend, I received my copy of Mark E. Moon's new album "Resist." (Good friends of mine who I've been in bands with myself in my days in the Isle of Man music scene). I of course picked it up on vinyl, and after the first couple of listens (it's great by the way, you should get it) I've now been spending the last couple of days working my way through my record collection, and I can honestly say, I believe vinyl is the best format for listening to music.

Mark E. Moon's Resist - What a colour!

Now setting aside all the arguments that have been had about the sound quality, etc. That's not what I'm debating here. I'm talking about the experience.

The physical experience.

For me, and I believe it's the same for many people, music isn't just an audible product. It's tactile and it's visual, among many other things. Music will always require a physical element for me. How an album is presented is an artform itself, from the cover art, to the actual packaging itself. CDs are still great, and a standard jewel case still houses a booklet of lyrics and artwork. But beyond that there a digipacks and gatefold sleeves and all manner of other creative ways to present and showcase a new disc of music. Enhancing the listening experience. But what you get with a CD is magnified with vinyl. A twelve inch record lets you really appreciate the cover art, and interior art. Something I appreciate even more since becoming a comic artist and illustrator. Then there's the options to go for alternative colours of vinyl.

But in truth, that is only a small part of why vinyl is the best music format.

Being present.

I feel music, and many other forms of art have become almost a disposable medium. The digital age of Spotify and Apple, have made music so accessible that it can be digested without really acknowledging it. It's easy.
Vinyl requires you to be truly present, and the listening is a experience. I'm not saying it's difficult or requiring a great effort, but it requires you to be involved. Unpacking the record from its sleeve, placing it on the turntable, noting the required speed: 33 or 45. Brushing the excess dust from the surface as it spins. Being aware so you can flip to side two when ready. Some may see this as far too much, too much effort. For me it's what makes listening to vinyl special.
And then there's the best part - that little pop and slight crackle as the needle first makes contact with the vinyl.

Yes, listening to vinyl may not have the convenience of streaming or even CDs, but what it does have is the full experience that listening to music should be.