Phonograph records first appeared in the 1880s, when they competed with the existing phonograph cylinder.
Both represented audio with a modulated groove, recorded and played using a needle.
Groovy [groo-vee], adjective. Slang, highly stimulating or
attractive: this music is groovy.
In 1912 records superseded the phonographic cylinder. Records were originally made of shellac, until the 1940s when vinyl took over as the most common medium. In its lifetime the record has survived in the face of many other competitive media, such as the cassette tape, the compact disc and the MP3. Even though vinyl records left the mainstream in the early 1990s, they continue to survive, even in the era of digital streaming.
Vinyl records were a continuous feature of Laurence’s childhood and teenage years – his taste spanned Ian Dury, Diana Ross, Genesis, Lou Reed, Devo. Laurence began learning piano from the age of 12 and saxophone from 14. He subsequently became interested in synthesizers and played in several teenage bands, thereafter becoming a music programmer, remixing pop and club tracks. His main interest since – musically speaking – has been music composition and recording.
The inspiration for Laurence’s first vinyl sculpture was a digital waveform, created on his laptop whilst recording the vocal for one of his compositions:
‘The days roll by and so the years,
While we’re busy making plans…’
Vocal recording, 2014.
The Write-Record-Press-Destroy series utilises analogue records to represent digital waveforms.
Write-Record-Press-Destroy I, 2015.
Much of Laurence's oeuvre explores nostalgia. With the vinyl sculptures, he wanted to challenge the timeframe of nostalgia: how recent could an event be and still evoke a sense of nostalgia? Or, if not enough time had elapsed, would it simply evoke regret? What if one were to expend considerable time and energy on a project, only to immediately destroy it upon its completion?
In 2016, having determined to make a version of Write-Record-Press-Destroy in red vinyl, Laurence encountered what may be described as that ‘difficult second album’: since a single sculpture consists of hundreds of records, how does one come by several hundred records in one specific colour? Laurence searched for old LP album stock, on auction sites, at vintage vinyl specialists and at major trade distributors - to no avail. Eventually he came to a daunting realisation: to get the vinyl colour he wanted, in the numbers he needed, he would have to commission its production directly from a pressing plant.
The easy option at this point would have been to send a straightforward white noise soundtrack for pressing, but Laurence decided that to be truly authentic he should write, perform, produce, record, engineer and master his own album. He spent two years doing just that, creating his album ‘Beautiful Crazy’.
Having commissioned the pressing of 300 vinyl records in a specific translucent red, Laurence then destroyed the newly-pressed records, cutting them into hundreds of pieces, in readiness for final assembly of ‘Write-Record-Press-Destroy (Red)’, 2019.
Search ‘Laurence Poole Bandcamp’ online to listen to the album composed and recorded for the sculpture.
Inspiration: John Cage, 4’33”, 1958
4’33” was conceived circa 1947-8 and ‘composed’ as a three-movement composition in 1952. Rather than silence, the composition consists of the sound of the environment in which a piece would be played. Cage’s concept was that any sounds could be considered as music, much like Duchamp’s concept that anything one considers to be art, is art. 4’33” was not Cage’s title – it was a title given by others after its first performance was timed at that length of time.
Inspired by Cage, Laurence’s track ‘I Seen the Light’ - side 1 track 4 of Beautiful Crazy - is exactly 4 minutes 33 seconds long. The album features 8 tracks of music: in the course of cutting the records into pieces Laurence has created a fitting notion on which to overlay the soundtrack of the environment in which ‘Write-Record-Press-Destroy (Red)’ finds itself.