“What The Hell Did I Just Buy?” : Adventures In Vinyl

As a vinyl guy, it’s my duty to make things hard on myself. I am quite aware that there are these things called “digital downloads”, where you can receive music right through your computer and put those albums onto a digital listening device. This allows the listener to have hundreds or thousands of albums inside of a device you can fit into your pocket. From what I’ve gathered it’s “the future”. Of course I’m the type of guy that if you tell me to go left you can be goddamned sure I’m going to go right. Just because it’s the trendy thing to do sure as shit doesn’t mean that I’m going to do it. In fact, I’ll probably avoid it.

Yes, I’m aware that listening to vinyl is considered a trendy thing, but that’s not why I buy them. I buy vinyl for the same reason that I don’t read books on a Kindle: I want something I can hold. I like that tactile experience you get from opening a book, just like opening a gatefold sleeve LP and looking at the glorious artwork. I love slipping that disc from its sleeve and laying it carefully on the platter. I love the drop of the needle and those first little pops before the first track kicks in. If the world truly comes to an end and the power grid goes down and we’re all living underground traveling through tunnels dug by worker children and simple adults all those thousands of digital downloads and downloaded books aren’t going to amount to squat. At least if we can find an old crank Victrola I can still listen to my collection of horror soundtracks and Steely Dan. Plus, I’ll never get bored reading tattered Stephen King and Kurt Vonnegut novels by candlelight.

Sorry, that’s a lot to take in.

The point I’m getting at is that sometimes I buy records and shortly afterwards I wonder why in the hell did I just spend that chunk of cash on this? The Variety Lights LP at the My Bloody Valentine show back in 2013 is one of those times(though in my defense I was caught up in all the hoopla…turns out I should’ve just bought a goddamn MBV t-shirt instead.) And did I really need all those King’s X reissues? Well of course I did, you idiot! And let’s not even start with my ever growing collection of horror soundtracks(you just try and tell me I’m wasting my money…I’ll take you out!)

Today was one of those days where after leaving my local record shop I had a quick moment of “WTF?!?”, but once I got home and put the vinyl on the platter I felt completely justified in spending that $70.

Ever since I first heard Disasterpeace’s It Follows soundtrack I was hooked on the guy. I really like the cut of his jib. He composes and creates in a very simplistic manner, yet his work is so full, dense, and engaging that you’d never know he’s a full-on PC composer. Musically he works within that 8-bit vibe. Chiptunes is what I believe they call it. His sound harkens back to the early days of home game systems. The music you’d hear on your Commodore 64 or NES systems. There’s something very light and nostalgic about a Disasterpeace soundtrack, yet he never comes across as too childish.

How ironic is it that I’m enthralled by his work, yet I’ve never played any of the games he’s scored? I’m not a video game player, but I totally connect to the sonic world he creates. His Fez score still blows me away every time I hear it. It’s both light-hearted and heavy-hearted. It’s like the musical equivalent of contentment in loneliness. Now, I’ve been stuffing my head with the 4-LP box set of his Hyper Light Drifter soundtrack. This thing is immensely dense, dystopian and vast in scope, and really just one of the major game-scoring achievements in years as far as I’m concerned.

The incidental work on this massive set has the same feeling of walking through a gallery and soaking up beautifully aged paintings that hang on the walls. “Vignette: Panacea” opens the album with a beautiful acoustic piano. It puts me in mind of Debussy’s “Clair de Lune”. It’s a beautiful piece of music, and one that seems beyond just a video game(though I know video games offer a whole other level of art I just haven’t been able to explore just yet.) “Wisdom’s Tragedy” almost has this neo-futuristic feel. It would fit nicely amongst the Blade Runner or Ex Machina scores, really. “Seeds of the Crown”, if you’re familiar with Disasterpeace’s work, will sound very familiar. It’s a piece that sonically goes from project to project for him. It carries traits that go easily from one project to the next. Like Jimmy Page’s guitar tone or Phil Collins’ drum sound, this song is the proto-sonic vibe of the Disasterpeace discography. It’s brilliant stuff.

Rich Vreeland, aka Disasterpeace, works from a very familiar place. Yet, his sound is also very alien. There’s a uniqueness in his work that’s totally just him, but he’s obviously influenced by the world around him. We can’t help but allow our environment to influence us, good or bad. Disasterpeace’s work, in-particular his work on Hyper Light Drifter, falls into its very own category. There’s dreamy incidental music, then there’s more electronic-based music. Stuff with rhythms and early electro vibes like “Gaol In The Deep”. Then you’re thrown into more Gothic pieces like “Stasis Awakening” and “The Last General”. Honestly, this soundtrack runs the gamut. It pretty much has everything I love. Not just in Disasterpeace’s world, but in scoring in general. It’s a dense, magical musical world that I’ve loved getting lost in.

So yeah, occasionally I’ll have a few moments of buyer’s remorse. I’ll look at the massive chunk of round plastic I just purchased and wonder what in the hell I was thinking. But once I put vinyl to platter and drop the needle things become much clearer as to why I spent my hard-earned cash. Sometimes I need that musical escape hatch in order to deal with the outside world. For a couple hours, escaping this reality for another is the best course of action when ones mental wires are frayed. Hyper Light Drifter is a much welcomed escape. It’s a lovely place to clear those mental cobwebs.

Now lets light that candle and read another chapter of Cat’s Cradle, shall we?


11 thoughts on ““What The Hell Did I Just Buy?” : Adventures In Vinyl

  1. “I love slipping that disc from its sleeve and laying it carefully on the platter. I love the drop of the needle and those first little pops before the first track kicks in”. Yup.

    I need to hear that pop… the slight crackle… just before that first track. There’s just something magical in that moment. Amen, JH.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. My mindset has changed in regards to physical versus digital media. I grew up with gaming as my primary hobby, and then music and books followed. Limited editions, collectors editions and the insurance of having the ‘thing’ in case my hard drive went bad (or some such disaster) was very attractive. In the last year, I’ve made a point to move almost exclusively to digital because of the clutter and storage considerations. There were items that I had a great time with – games, music and books – and cherish the experience, but I hadn’t played, listened or read the physical item for years in some cases. For me, my Kindle and music on my phone has been a blessing as it’s encouraged me to read and listen more. That said, if one finds value in the physical item, that is paramount. I certainly have a small collection of physical books and games that mean a lot to me.

    I’ve been a fan of Disasterpeace since playing and enjoying Fez, that’s got to be about five years since it was released. I think he epitomises the best of what we call chiptune – it can evoke the harsh, digital tones that we associate with games of old without devolving into an abrasive torrent of beeps (which has been common since chiptune has become a big thing). You often forget that this is ‘chiptune’ music, it has a certain subtlety to it.

    I was speaking to a friend about this film and we both had the double-take reaction of ‘Disasterpeace has scored a film? Cool!’ I also purchased Hyper Light Drifter and the soundtrack on a Black Friday Sale, and it’s a beautiful work. Have you seen the introduction sequence to the game that plays Vignette: Panacea and Vignette: Visions? It’s very impactful with audio and visual combined. Have to say that the LP set looks amazing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can appreciate letting the physical aspect go. The simplicity of an entire collection in your back pocket or contained in an external hard drive. The amount of space saved in your home? That would be a plus, too. And the worry gone of any physical harm coming to that collection due to fire or water damage would be a huge weight lifted as well.

      For me, though, practicality doesn’t really play into it. It’s always been about aesthetic and “the ritual”. Everything about the physical aspect that is a burden is exactly why I love it so much. The library of books and vinyl is sort of a sacred thing to me. While I happily enjoy the digital realm on a daily basis I can’t count it as anything of value. Part of collecting is holding something in your hands. Smelling it, touching it, and looking at it. Liner notes, lyrics, forwards…you don’t get that with a music file.

      I’m sure it’s freeing, but I’ll gladly stay in the cell of my own making(made of piles of graphic novels and triple gatefold sleeves I’m sure.😉)

      I am glad you’ve found a good balance between physical and digital. And I have indeed seen the video of that introduction sequence. It’s stunning. Disasterpeace is an amazing artist and composer. Fez is an all time favorite of mine, and It Follows is great, too.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Totally understand that: if I had the same connection that you have with the physical item, I would have kept a lot more. I think it’s all about understanding what holds value for you as an individual.

        For me, it was definitely freeing. But it’s if the ‘cell’ is made up of things that you cherish and value, I think of it more as the palace 😁

        Did you listen to the remix albums, FZ Side F and FZ Side Z? Has some great takes from a number of really talented composers in the video game space.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I think if I wasn’t so settled into where I am in life I’d see the collecting differently, too. If I was more of a traveler or nomad I’d much prefer to have music and books in a much more compact package. I’m in for the long haul here, so I guess I’m building a mausoleum of the things I love.

        Remix albums? I’ve not heard them but need to now. I don’t play video games much at all anymore, but I love the music to them.

        Liked by 1 person

What do you think? Let me know

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.