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In the early '80s, the South Bronx DJ Afrika Bambaataa created "Planet Rock" for Soul Sonic Force, a staple track for breakdancers everywhere and a foundation for all hip-hop thereafter. Bambaataa was a seasoned sound system DJ, community activist, and founder of the Universal Zulu Nation. While he's known for harnessing the rhythmic power of electronic beats and drum machines, his record crates were deeper than the Kraftwerk he referenced on those early electro funk jams. Now, we have a chance to dig those crates, too, which are by any measure American cultural artifacts.

This month and until August 10, Johan Kugelberg and Gavin Brown's Enterprise are hosting an open archiving project in which the public gets to visit and hear gems from this important collection before it moves to Cornell University's Hip Hop Collection in the fall. In 2012 Afrika Bambaataa was appointed visiting scholar at Cornell, home to the largest collection on hip hop culture in the world. During the day at the gallery, archivisits will be sorting, organizing, and spinning selections from the hundreds of crates for the public. Visiting DJs will be announced via Facebook and mailing list. Visit Gavin Brown online for more info.

Perhaps you're a big fan of Dennis the Fox? No. Maybe more of a Frederick Michael St. Jude enthusiast, hmm?

You might not know these music acts from days gone by but that doesn't mean their records don't exist. They were the ambitious dreamers and wannabes who, record label be damned, pressed up their own albums in the '60s and '70s. Their records are what collectors call private press, they were released by the musicians themselves in very limited quantites rather than by a functioning long-term record label. Recently, we told you about Enjoy the Experience, Homemade Records 1958-1992, a new coffee table book about private press records covering the amazing homespun and often hilarious artwork for such oddball albums.

This month, if you're swinging through NYC, you can see them for yourself. Co-editor of the book and collector Johan Kugelberg is showing years selections from his collection, many of them featured in the book Enjoy the Experience, at Milk Gallery through July 24. You'd be a fool not to stop in to see an original Kaplan Brothers, wouldn't you? 

Curious to hear the tunes from this rare vinyl collection? You can listen to some samples online.

 

Pitchfork has a longer form interview with Kugelberg in Paper Trail.

 

 

 

In 2012, Amanda Ghassaei used 3D printing to make her own, playable records from mp3 files. For 2013, she's dug into laser etching technology and used it to create functioning audio recordings (of Joy Division and Velvet Underground) in wood, acrylic, and even paper with a "theoretical precision of 1200dpi." Okay, so they don't sound so great—which perhaps says something for the technology used in making audiophile quality, conventional vinyl records—but she has shown etching "Femme Fatale" on maple can be done and perhaps refined.

You can read more about it on her Inscrutables page for the project which has instructions and code for making your own records.

For more on Amanda Ghassaei and to see additional videos of her laser cutting projects visit her online.

Back in March, the National revealed the cover art for its new LP, Trouble Will Find Me, a black and white image showing the top of a woman's head inside some kind of mirror system. That image is actually a scene from an installation staged at RISD in 2003 by the artist Bohyun Yoon. The installation, called Fragmentationfeatured a man and woman lying nude with four mirror panels spread evenly from their ankles to head. By presenting "depersonalized" human bodies Yoon intended to draw a parallel between modern science and the consequences of plastic surgery on the human form. 

The National's sixth album, Trouble Will Find Me, will be released by 4AD on May 20, and is currently streaming on iTunes




We crudely divide Record Store Day releases into half-a-dozen camps—carefully preserved reissues which celebrate original album art on the 12" format (Cold Fact by Rodriguez), 7" packages that opt for the throwback graphic treatment (loads of them), wholely unique packages for any of the above (Malkmus and Friend's Can cover album, Dan Deacon's Konono No 1 cover, numerous picture discs or the Lemonheads/Misfits "Skulls" record) and lastly, the over-the-top box set treatment (Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Bonobo 10" box set for the North Borders and the Flaming Lips' Zaireeka). Those four categories pop up in our survey of visually exciting RSD offerings for 2013. A fifth category might be just flat-out great non-official RSD offerings from folks like the Numero Group (Hüsker Dü, Codeine, etc.) who pull out their big (graphic) guns for the occasion. And a sixth might be for non-record visuals such as Jack White's recording booth or the Ryan Duggan tote bag that Chicago's Saki is stocking for the first lucky RSDers. We're not taking any chances—we're hitting the ATM and setting the alarm tonight.

Record Store Day is April 20, 2013.

Numero Group Record has a pop-up shop in Chicago's Logan Square for RSD. 

Photo by: Dust and Grooves | We Buy White Albums at Recess

Artist Rutherford Chang has amassed quite a record collection. Sure, hardcore vinyl junkies might sniff at the size, 693, but they would have to be as impressed as we are by the obsessive lack of variety. Chang's collection consists of 693 copies of the first pressings of The White Album by the Beatles—some picked up for just a buck. Many of the album covers (originally designed by Richard Hamilton as either a blank canvas or a stark take on modern minimalism) are worn and naturally distressed, or customized (sometimes beautifully) by their owners past. 

Dust & Grooves has a fantastic photo gallery and complete interview with Chang on the piece.

"We Buy White Albums" is showing at Recess (41 Grand St) in New York's SoHo through March 9. Chang is digitally recording every album he plays (and scanning the cover and gatefold covers) during the show and pressing a new double album of the layered version once the show concludes.

Visit dustandgrooves.com for more info.