Apart from musical content, the laws of physics cause two emotional moments during vinyl replay: when the needle is cued on the so called “outer groove” – producing a sound that’s akin to lighting a cigarette (hence the vinyl addiction), and when it reaches the end of the inner groove, when it locks upon itself to form a circle. At this point the music has usually ended, but on some records, sound continues, or re-appears, in an endless “lock groove”, like at the end of The Beatles 1967 Sgt. Pepper‘s LP. The lock groove’s musical potential has been explored by avantgarde artists, but also taken up by techno DJs who use it in their mixes.
♫ The 101 Lock Grooves LP, from Australian electronic label Clan Analogue, collects lock grooves from the label’s artists. Though the latter usually operate in beat-oriented productions, they obviously decided to have fun with the project and to use their allowance of 4 lock grooves (on average) as a playground for experimentation with repetition, loops, samples and plunderphonics. The music thus created often sounds like regular minimal techno raised from a trusty old TB 303, while some other tracks appear like breaks lifted from dance music records. Other contributors use loops from film dialogues, vocal cut-ups, ambient synth (Kazumichi Grime), pseudo-symphonic loops (The Loop Orchestra), etc.
Each listener has to find his own path into this beast of a record, but I found playing the tracks on shuffle mode with a 3 sec. cross-fading to be the best option for me. The 96 tracks thus play like an unpredictable radio mix, revealing the lock grooves’ incredible potential. Yes, 96 tracks: I must have skipped some lock grooves in the recording process. Apologies to whom it may concern.
(almost) 101 Lock Grooves
96 tracks, each 45sec. long
Total time 61:50
LP released by Clan Analogue, Sidney, Australia, 2001
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16 Lock groove essentials:
1966 John Cale “Loop” flexidisc with Aspen Magazine >
1967 The Beatles “Sgt. Pepper” LP (UK Parlophone mono version) >
1975 Lou Reed “Metal Machine Music” 2xLP (end of side 4)
1978 Non (Boyd Rice) “Pagan Muzak”, 7” >
1986 Sonic Youth “Evol” LP (end of ‘Expressway to yr skull’)
1987 Lee Ranaldo “From Here to Infinity” LP, SST
1988 The Hafler Trio “In Out Of”, KK Records (end of side 1)
1993 RRR-100, 7”
1993 Stereolab ‘Lock Groove Lullaby’ from “Transient Random Noise Bursts With Announcements” LP, Duophonic, UK
1994 Vertonen “Lock Up! 1-15/Seizure”, 7”, Crippled Intellect Productions
1998 RRR-500, LP
1999 Stock, Hausen & Walkman “Buy Me/Sue Me” 7”, Hot Air
1999 Crawling With Tarts “In Their Sleep They Are Free”, 7”, Povertech Explorer Series (various hand-cut and incomplete grooves)
2007 Lee Ranaldo “All The Stars in the Sky” (lock groove/etched record)
2009 RRR-1000, LP
2009 Warp20 Infinite 2xLP (locked-groove loops from Warp tracks)
. . . . . . . . .
I realize I’ve been listening to a lot of extremely short tracks as of late, the most radical example in the digital domain being the Into Infinity project that collects 276 eight-seconds loops, which proved immensely listenable and even, to some extent, addictive for this listener. Free release here.