Vinyl-y: how the revived medium is being remixed by artists

The sale of vinyl records in the UK has risen remarkably over the past decade, from a low of 205,000 copies in 2007 to 4.2 million last year, according to the Official Charts Company. Gennaro Castaldo, a spokesman for the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), puts this down to events such as Record Store Day, a new audience among younger, engaged fans, as well as cover art and sleeve notes, “which contribute to the appeal of vinyl as collectible artefact”.

There is, of course, a long tradition of artist-designed album covers—perhaps most famously, Andy Warhols groundbreaking designs for records by the Velvet Underground and the Rolling Stones. But artists are increasingly responsible for the content on the records as well as the packaging. At the forefront of this is the Vinyl Factory—a vinyl pressing company, record label, publisher and, more recently, collaborator on major exhibitions at the Store X space in London. Although the company was founded in the early 2000s, the record label began in 2008 and “the vision was always to work closely with musicians and artists, to give them the tools to be as creative and close to the process as possible,” says the Vinyl Factorys project manager Vickie Amiralis. “The first fine artists we worked with were those who had bands, or for whom music and sound was an integral part of their work, such as Martin Creed, Jeremy Deller and Christian Marclay.”

Arthur Jaffa, A Series of Utterly Improbable Yet Extraordinary Renditions © The Vinyl Factory

The Vinyl Factory owns and runs the biggest pressing plant in the UK. Curious artists have visited the plant, Amiralis says. “Christian Marclay was perhaps the most enthusiastic—he spent a few days there, experimenting with lacquers, cutting them up and collaging them back together.” This collaboration with Marclay led to the creation of the Vinyl Factory Press, a mobile vinyl factory housed in a shipping container, used during Marclays White Cube show in 2015. It was used to record and press 15 records, each in an edition of 500, featuring collaborations with musicians such as Mica Levi and Thurston Moore.

The Vinyl Factorys direct-to-disc mobile unit, the VF Lathe, made its debut at the 2015 Venice Biennale, recording works by Jeremy Deller and Isaac Julien, among others. In 2017 Arthur Jafa used it creatively during his Serpentine Sackler Gallery show, to record jazz musicians in different London locations. As Amiralis recalls, their respective parts, played to a guide track without hearing one another, were streamed live, “so you only heard the whole composition if you were in the gallery”.

Hrafnhildur Arnardóttir, aka Shoplifters Chromo Sapiens LP Courtesy of karlssonwilker inc

With the advent of more convenient means of recording and disseminating sound, what is it that makes artists increasingly want to use this seemingly outdated medium? “Because its physical,” says the US artist Taryn Simon, who in September released a double album of songs of grief and mourning from her powerful performance, An Occupation of Loss (2016). “The laments have been etched into something circular and cyclical that requires intention and interaction from the listener,” she says.

Similarly, the UK artist Jeremy Deller says the appeal of vinyl is that “its a nice object, a good shape”. Deller has created several records with the Vinyl Factory, including last years Freetail Dub, a dub mix of bat recordings replete with a glow-in-the-dark cover. However, Deller sees these records as “just a decent piece of documentation” rather than works of art.

Aziz Tamoyan and Kalash Tossouni Boudoyan Taryn Simon, An Occupation of Loss, London, 2018 Photograph by Hugo Glendinning. Courtesy Artangel Read More – Source