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Your flexible friend?

our universe3

You can't have failed to to be one of the over 10,000 funky people who noticed Philippe's so easy to enter competition to win an original Joy Division Komakino Flexi discs. But what are these things and why should you care?If you go on Discogs you'll see that there are around 8,000 or so known specimens of this odd throw away type of record. As Discogs focuses on known things rather than just oddities this is less than 100th of the reality.They used to be known also as phonosheets, soundsheets or just shite. A little crude square of vinyl at worst or square at best, lighter and less lovingly created than the worst pre oil crisis cash trapped fan rape LPs you can name. It's not a record, its thinner than the paper of a fucking bank statement and has the structural integrity of wet, used cling film. I'd not be comfortable putting these bits of trash on my proper suspended turntable. They sound worse and wear out faster than a guitar made of spit.But maybe that's the point.Flexi discs were what MP3 and digital SHOULD HAVE FUCKING BEEN. Disposable. Fun. Easy, Fast. A taster, a snack, a tease - not a meal in themselves.We know that history did not work out that way. Trivial, lofi and worthless is the norm, and it's cats like me that are weird.That said, there is a whole another level of magic from the great era of music that only exists in these half remembered cheap moments.Tom is wise. Flexi discs are not all bad and are worthy of debate.I asked about Flexi stuffs and he reminded me that Jagger introduced excerpts from Exile on Main Street via this scatty medium. I looked it up and it was delicious. The last vital informal moments of Tax Exiled and over air conditioned geniuses in route to a Stadium Rock future crackle and pop out of a flimsy bit of plastic nothing. Allegedly Jagger realised that if they were still Live'r Than You'll Ever Be the record they put out would have been The Flamin' Groovies "Teenage Head".My first flexi was included in a mind expanding "children's book" from the more ambitious date of 1980 called "Our Universe" from The National Geographic Society. It included gorgeous late Modernist paintings and graphics of the planets, galaxies and stars - as well as all the mythology surrounding them. Pictures of the wheel shaped space stations and moon bases to come were in there too - a vicious lie as even though these things were possible with early 70s tech, the post hippie oil crisis future is cancelled world we now live in had trashed these dreams long before the book was conceived. It came with a plastic sky map thing and most interestingly a flexi called "Space Sounds". It had the magnetic signatures of the main celestial bodies in warm Eno synth tones, Ken Nordine style voice over and even excerpts from ancient chants and songs about the Sun and the solar system. I played it until the thin grooves were torn into mush, usually in the dark or half light, to wish impossible things. Listening to it now gives me a tragicomic sense of distance and loss. Our Fab Frenchman had another perspective. He hates them. Usually.The French mind is dangerously Real and that means any Flexi has to earn its damned place to a new degree. The one that gets his reluctant love is a "my bloody valentine one-given that flexi always seem to float on felt slipmats, it makes their songs even more tremolo-y."Hipsters have brought them back, badly but if you see and feel an original don't miss the chance to take a look or even bring it back to life under the sacred needle. It's the disposable bits of human history that we most miss, and often are the most interesting.

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