The soft crackle of vinyl is a sound beloved of many, not least shown by the dramatic rise in sales of the medium in the last year. It might not be the resuscitation of the industry, but it’s a surefire indication that the physical product is a viable market, at least for now. The thing is, while I agree with that, I’ve always bought CDs myself. That might simply be down to simply when I was born, or that I’m lazy, or that, until very recently, vinyl hasn’t been in any way useful towards making digital copies of the music I buy. Whatever the reason, that pleasantly warm sound of obsoletion has never truly touched me in the way that it has so many others.
Which is why I was so surprised at how much it colours my love of a song I just discovered I had downloaded without realising this week: ‘Willow Pattern’ by Momus and John Henriksson. There’s a lot to love as it is. Henriksson’s light touch in arranging vintage samples under Momus’ sung-spoken lyrics of a doomed romance (with a particularly incredible line in the form of “They’ll put me to the sword / You will also die“) makes for compelling listening. This is shadowy, beautiful work, placed just the right side of creepy, but close enough to the centre of that scale to seem like it could tip quite easily.
But, like I said, it’s that crackle that completes the picture. Not quite instrumental, but certainly musical, the noise subsumes every other sound – an audio snowfall, at once hinderance and delight. It artificially dates the track, lending weight to Momus’ folk tale lyrical style, making the samples seem more genuinely utilised and does all of this so naturally that it’s only in the final seconds of the track, when it suddenly disappears, that you notice it was having an effect at all. It’s quite, quite wonderful.
Frankly, if a crackle is all I need to get this excited about a track, I’ll have to furnish myself with some records sharpish.