Analog Moves / by Akira Ohiso

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Since giving up Instagram a few weeks ago, I am finding much more time to explore other interests.

The initial detox took about two weeks. I noticed increased anxiety, melancholy and boredom. When I was out and about, I often had the phantom urge to take Instagram-worthy photos. When the urge passed life went on. I didn’t have the stress and worry of posting or the obligation to keep checking my likes count. The feeling turned to relief.

I have more time to be in my head. Things slow down when you opt out of the daily digital cycle. Dormant brain activity begins to process again, the thaw of thoughts.

I recently purchased a starter record player. I used to spend hours playing records on my father’s Pioneer SX-780. He used to sit on the couch listening to classical music, occasionally The Beatles. During Christmas, the Johnny Mathis Christmas album was in heavy rotation. Chestnuts roasting on an open fire

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I purchased the Victrola VTA-65, an all-in-one model with FM radio and Bluetooth. The speakers are limited, but I hooked up a sound bar to add some EQ and volume.

There are two record stores up the street from me; Bop Street Records and Sonic Boom. Bop Street has more used and rare finds, while Sonic Boom focuses on independent contemporary music.

It is my first record excursion since the mid-eighties when, I think, the last LP I purchased was The Unforgettable Fire by U2. Back then I shopped at Record World and Tower Records, the former closing in 1992, the latter holding out until 2006.

Cassettes became the better choice because I could play them in a car or on my double cassette box radio. The mobility of your own music had great appeal. You no longer had to sit next to a turntable to share your collection. You could cruise down Main Street or lounge on the beach. Kids roamed schoolyards with boom boxes they got for Christmas. I distinctly remember an older kid walking through the junior high cafeteria blasting “Always Something There to Remind Me” by Naked Eyes.

As cassettes became more popular, the vinyl sections of record stores began to shrink. The soft flipping of LPs was replaced by the plastic clack of cassettes in security cases to prevent shoplifting.

Progress destroyed the obsessive appeal of album cover art and liner notes. Some of the cassettes included lyrics, but they were on thin folded paper that often crumpled over time. The puffy refolding did not fit back easily into the cassette case.

Still, I miss the inconvenience, the need to get up and flip the album to hear more music. Streaming music is endlessly limited. With too many choices, I am encouraged to skip around never listening to an album in full. There is always a better recommendation to explore.

I miss the deep cuts I endured to get to the hits, but eventually liked then loved. Song orders were conceptual and deliberate. A full-album experience was an experience.

Without further ado, my first vinyl purchases since 1984: