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Listening to art. Playing with audio. Sounding out technology. Composing in code. Rewinding the soundscape.

Drawing Sound Media

And the (possible) return of the CD

With the news that sales of CDs have risen for the first time in years, I got to reflecting on the media on which we replay sound. There is a lot of talk about form and function, which makes me wonder where nostalgia comes in. Is it a feature, or just something that helps us appreciate the bugs — the fragility of tape cassettes, the crackles of vinyl? Or perhaps that is nostalgia’s feature.

When I edited the comics in Tower Records’ Pulse! magazine from 1992 through 2002, it was a challenge to veer from vinyl as a romantic signifier. Once in a while I managed to encourage an illustrator to use a CD or CD player in place of an LP player, and it generally worked. Hand-drawn, the object had its own resonance. However, when a comic pictured a device for mural playback, it was almost always an LP player.

Last week I flipped through a stack of old Pulse! strips just to see what examples were on hand. The following details and individual panels are all from old Pulse! comics:

Detail of turntable by John Porcellino (1994):

LPs as drawn by Keith Knight (1994):

Technically not a turntable in the sense of an LP player, but instead a recording device by Tony Mostrom (1995):

A mention of a Walkman in a panel from a comic by Dylan Horrocks about Arvo Pärt (1994):

One by J.E. Fullerton, intentionally run in Swedish (1995):

Of course, our instinct for nostalgia went prior to LPs, like this detail from a piece on ragtime composer Joseph Lamb by Chris Ware (1994):

One by Matt Madden (1995):

This flip through memory lane was inspired by an article by my friend Rob Sheffield in Rolling Stone (“Jewel-Box Heroes: Why the CD Revival Is Finally Here”) and a tweet by Bruce Levenstein. This originally ran, in slightly different form, as a thread.

By Marc Weidenbaum

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