The Strangest Material Used To Press Vinyl Records

For those who don’t know me, I have been collecting vinyl records since the mid-90’s, and playing gigs with some regularity for radio (online and terrestrial) as well as at clubs and events since 1998. So right from the start, I was fascinated by turntables and ‘underground’ releases in general; from vocal house to the quirkiest of techno you can imagine. When the digital craze took over the scene a dozen years ago, I had already been playing vinyl records for nine or ten years. I always knew, though, that it was going to come back around, so I stuck with vinyl while holding out on any temptations to go digital. After all, vinyl is back in a very big way, with sales in the United States reaching a 25 year high, and this market is expected to grow. The global vinyl records market is forecast to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 55.15% during the period 2016-2020, according to a study by Research and Markets. Coloured, etched and shaped records have been a norm for vinyl as long as I have been a collector and I won’t get into the reason’s why vinyl records have experienced such a resurgence over the last 5 years in this article; today I’d like to share some of the strangest material used to press a record.

Weed

Yes, you read that right. Nineties stoner band Slightly Stoopid pressed a record using weed. Described as a novelty piece as opposed to a product, this record is pressed using $7,000 USD worth of hash and according to billboard has a “passable” audio fidelity. I was hoping this one could hit the high notes (yes, there’s a pun in there).

Medical X-Ray Film

One of the many things that bothers me about Socialism and Communism is the desire of a bureaucracy to control and ultimately destroy culture. Back in 1950 USSR, owning copies of Western Music was strictly prohibited. Culture, being fluid, found its way behind the iron curtain in the form of bootleg copies printed on x-ray film called ‘Roentgenizdat’, or ribs.

 The x-ray pressing of Ella Fitzgerald’s Lullaby of Birdland. Photograph: Paul Heartfield
The x-ray pressing of Ella Fitzgerald’s Lullaby of Birdland. Photograph: Paul Heartfield

Dark Chocolate

Moving forward to our current decade, French DJ Breakbot released a limited edition (120 copies) one sided edition of his single “By Your Side”. I think the challenge here would be to get at least 1 play out of it before the chocolate melts and makes your turntable all gooey.

A Tortilla

Sticking with edibles, it should not be surprising to hear that British Electronic Musician Matthew Herbert, an artist who has released an entire album made up of sounds common in a fast food chain, released a limited series called ‘edible sounds’, using a tortilla. His initiative went viral in some scenes, leading to spin-offs to see if this was even possible. Take a look at the video below.

Wood

A while ago I wrote an article about whether printing a vinyl record was possible using a 3D Printer. While possible, due to the materials used for affordable 3D printers using poly-carbonates (Plastic), the artist, Amanda Ghassaei continues pushing the boundaries of what can be accomplished with 3D printers and vinyl by printing a playable record using wood.

Ice

This one by Swedish Band “Shout Out Loud” might challenge Breakbot’s chocolate record for the most short lived. As you can see in the video below, the record is made practically out of water cast in a mold in the shape of a record and frozen.

Human Ashes

Have you ever wondered if you can live forever? You have? Well, one British Company may have an answer for you…sort of. Andvinyly is the clever arrangement of cremation, bereavement and vinyl pressing services, where for about $4200 USD, you can press the ashed of those no longer with us onto a double sided record with an audio recording of your choice (up to 12 minutes per side). According to their website, they specialize in pets.

Well, there you have it. I hope I got most of them. Did you come across a vinyl record made of something entirely outrageous or strange? Post a comment with a link to the story in the comments below.

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