Vinyl Mine | John Abram

Vinyl Mine is a piece made of all the play-off grooves of my record collection as it was in June 1996.

The play-off groove is the circle in the middle of a record which you hear repeated forever unless you (or your turntable) lift off the tone-arm.

My collection was at that time approximately 1100 discs, organised by category, composer/artist and date.

I recorded several passes of the play-off groove of each side of every record and then edited together one pass of each side, forming a 68 minute piece. Some of the time it appears as if you are hearing more than one repetition of the same play-off groove, but this merely points to the fact that records on the same label and/or pressed at the same plant have similar audible characteristics. In fact there is an enormous variety of sounds in these by-products of the vinyl medium, and while it may be true that discs made on the same machine may begin life being audibly indistinguishable, the accumulation over time of dust and dirt makes each one unique.

I found certain consistent features with all the play-off grooves:

1. There is a sound produced when the inward spiral of the "programme" area
of the disc hits the circle of the play-off groove.

2. A sound is produced at that point on the circle where the cutting stylus was removed.

Occasionally these two sounds occur at the same time.

The project began during a period of writers block as a distraction; I was originally thinking of it as a sort of obsessive catalogue, but as the project progressed I began to see it more as a political piece.


vinyl Plastic made by polymerizing a compound containing the vinyl group CH2CH1; (esp.) polyvinyl chloride [f. L. vinum, wine + -yl]

-yl suf. (CHEM.) forming ns. denoting a radical (emyl, ethyl, phenyl) [f. F -yle f. Gk. hule, wood, substance]

radical (CHEM.) element or atom, or group of these, normally forming part of compound and remaining unaltered during compound's ordinary chemical changes.

polymer (CHEM.) Compound whose molecule is formed from a large number of repeated units of one or compounds of low molecular weight (monomers); hence polymeric a., polymerism n. polymerize v.i. &t. [G f. Gk polumeros having many parts (as poly-, meros share)] 

© John Abram 2017