Friday, June 4, 2010

Underwood : Stories on Vinyl

Via Don't Panic

The idea to start Underwood came to its founder, Nathan Dunne, in Thailand: "About a year ago I was stranded in Bangkok airport on a flight-delay and I saw a man carrying a portable gramophone. He had a bag full of old 78"s and would dust each one off meticulously before playing it. His headphones were also wired to the gramophone in some sort of DIY electrics. On seeing this I was reminded of what we've lost in the digital age - a love for the object. Rather than something that you hold in your hands, packaging has been reduced to just another image. There's nothing physical left. I've always loved short stories and avidly listen to writers reading their work on podcasts. But somehow podcasts always leave me cold... So I had the idea of writers reading short stories onto records as a way of preserving them, as a way of creating a different way to experience stories and remember them. Records are all about the experience: you've got to lay them down on the turntable, drop the needle and then change the side when it’s done. This attention to detail is what I'd love to see happen to the short story. Sitting around in a group and listening to the perfect crisp-crackle of a record simply doesn't compare to a CD or mp3."

Releasing the collections as limited editions every May and November, Underwood aim to preserve the precious uniquity of the short story by forcing listeners to move away from computers and mp3 players, allowing them to pay better attention to what they are listening to and creating a sense of intimacy between the author/reader and the listener. "The advantage of vinyl is that a unique object is created that functions to preserve the short story." Dunne explains, "It creates a sense of occasion when listening rather than a story simply popping up amid the shuffle on your iPod. A vinyl record is a combination of unique sound and beautiful packaging. The point is that it makes you slow down, sit back and pay attention to the words. Writers deserve that and the short story as a form deserves that."
Read the entire article here. Visit the Underwood website.

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