I’m partial to buying what some what call junk from Aliexpress, so recently I had a need for some cheap coasters and figured I’d have a look there for something suitable. There’s little point in my buying those in Switzerland, they’ll be 10 times the price.
There’s the danger of buying something from Aliexpress that turns out to be a photo or a poster of the item if I’m not careful, especially it seems in the area of toolsets, but that’s part of the thrill I guess. And I realise I’m probably subjecting myself to the whims of big Algorithm feeding into big data for the Chinese Government, but it’s a risk I’m willing to take. And I really needed a Do Not Disturb sign for my office door.
Anyway, I found some vinyl coasters that were a couple of bucks and that’s kind of my thing, so I bought a pack and it’s arrived today.
I was surprised they were in a box, and not loose in a plastic bag. They weren’t smashed, and on closer inspection they look to have unique grooves, so it got me wondering if they are actual singles recut to coaster size. So let’s find out!
Randomly picked Sandra Dee – Rockin’ Love on Lightning Records (dust provided by author). Discogs doesn’t list anything with that label, artist & title, and C.B. Records doesn’t seem to produce anything relevant either. I’m assuming A. Chambers & R. Bath are the label designers. And a cursory search on the Internet brings up nothing useful, although I was amused to be linked to Wu-Tang Clan Vinyl coasters, but that’s a coincidence due to their album subtitle, the 36 Chambers. And not anything spookier. And Chambers & Bath are quite common words so search is pretty fruitless. So, what’s on the disc?
Well, I’m not going to find out easily, the hole in the middle is way smaller than a standard record.
Neither does it fit on the weird replica not actually a record player thing from Fisher Price that I bought in the past wondering if I could 3D print a working record for it not realising it was a completely different mechanism from the 70s version. Foone breaks down why this cursed object is made of fibs over here (Backup archive.is link because twitter might disappear at any time, and also fuck twitter with a big hammer).
(FWIW, I wrote most of this on Wednesday, 8th February 2023, just a few hours before Elon turned off the Twitter API and broke everything for everyone).
As an aside it reminds me of Jeff Mills’ The Occurence Hybrid Vinyl/CD from a few years ago, a project undertaken by Yuri Suzuki, who also designed the teenage engineering PO-80, which you can see below. And no, the disc doesn’t fit onto that platform either.
Well, if I want to find out if there’s something other than dust on the record, I’m going to need a drill. And not a picture of a drill on a wall plaque either. And I really do need to drill a hole in the wall for something anyway, so let’s get rotating.
Let’s get our safety on, I’m not too sure what these are made from as it doesn’t really seem like traditional vinyl but I don’t want to shatter the faux disc so I’ve loosely locked the disc onto my workspace.
So, after a few attempts with ever increasing drillbits, I’ve got a hole big enough to allow the disc to sit on the turntable.
But it’s slightly oversized, so I need to find the record weight thingy.
The weight is too big, but for the puposes of determining if the disc has anything on it, it will do as the needle will be able to read the first few grooves.
So before we do anything, I play the test record just to make sure the cables are stable and able (and basically check if I’ve unplugged anything important recently). I work out of a place where the boxes are full of cables, and every altoid tin has a computer in it.
Good to go, or so I thought. The size of the disc means that the turntable I was using auto-stops because the needle is close to the centre, which isn’t helpful. And it shuts off audio so I couldn’t freewheel the disc just to check if there was organised sound. What now?
The teenage engineering Sound Factory personal record player and cutter is designed for smaller discs, so it’s the ideal candidate to test this now. Getting closer!
Alas, the grooves on the disc don’t contain any discernible audio, but I couldn’t not try when it looked as if there were.
Anyway, if you’ve read this far, here’s a bewildering picture of a toilet in it’s wedding night lingerie from the aforementioned tat emporium.
I assume the throne is bethrothed to this guy.