With the decade drawing to a close, it’s only fitting that we take a second to remember a media that all but died this year. The CD single was dealt it’s cruel death blow by the unstoppable juggernaut of digital downloads in the early part of 2007, when a multitude of retailers and supermarkets announced that the floundering musical medium was to be scrapped in the wake of what was essentially the triumph of iTunes over the physical music industry. The CD album thankfully still survives, and though there will always be someone predicting their demise, there is still hope for other dying formats. It may have died an age ago, but vinyl has been making a resurgence on a number of levels in the past years, with sales increasing by 89% in 2008 and set to have increased further still by the end of 2009. But what’s the appeal?
Some audiophiles have taken to the once-common format as a reaction to the varying sound qualities offered by mp3 – incomparable to the warmth of vinyl at anything but highest quality. Albums like Radiohead’s In Rainbows have bolstered vinyl sales – despite being released as a free download. There is an undeniable romanticism to vinyl records, possibly why, like the recently resurrected Polaroid camera, it has recently become an item prized by hipsters and trendsetters with a penchant for all things vintage. Perhaps it’s the incomparable satisfaction of music having a physical presence; artwork, a solid record – much unlike the mp3 format. Or perhaps, just perhaps, people like just doing stupid things with the sleeves.
Sleeveface celebrates vinyl in an entertaining, if slightly bizarre way. Another slightly bizarre internet sensation, Sleeveface is a trend where people photograph “one or more persons obscuring or augmenting any part of their body or bodies with record sleeve(s) causing an illusion”. The sleeves cover a slew of genres, ranging from Dr. Dre to Barry Mannilow to Iggy Pop and pretty much everything in between. Now also available in the form of a 200 page book, hopefully Sleeveface can bolster the rising popularity of such a historic musical presence. Despite taking up only 1% of the album market, vinyl is doubtlessly a niche medium that is back, and here to stay.
For more from Sleeveface visit their website here.