VARIOUS ARTISTS – “RRR-500: 500 LOCK GROOVES BY 500 ARTISTS” (1998)
I used to collect LPs. Lots of them. They threatened to overrun my bedroom, health my hallway, bronchitis my life. And they almost did, until I made the decision to go from LP to MP3 about seven years back, in 2001.
One of the very few titles I heavily regretted giving up, thinking I’d never find it on CD (to then later convert to MP3) was “RRR-500″, a 12″ disc with 250 amazing lock grooves on each side. To my knowledge, this record only had one pressing, and has been highly sought-after soon after its initial small release. Lock groove participants include Zoviet France, Bruce Gilbert (of Wire), 7000 Dying Rats, Karen Finley, The Doodooettes, Tom Recchion, His Name Is Alive, Deerhoof, Bastard Noise, Derek Bailey, Red Krayola, Free Kitten, AMK, Lee Ranaldo, MSBR, Thurston Moore and Cock ESP, to name just a tiny handful. Some might ask: What is a lock groove? Wikipedia sez:
“Nearly all records have a lock-groove: it is the silent loop at the end of the record that keeps the needle and tonearm from drifting into the label area. However, it is possible to record sound in this groove, and many artists have included looping audio in the locked groove. Probably the first track to utilize this technique was The Beatles’ ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ (1967), featuring a multi-layered collage of randomized chatter in its run-off loop. The Who responded by putting a mock advertisement for their label, Track Records, in their ‘The Who Sell Out’ LP. Another good example of locked groove record is Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s debut album F#A#âˆž (pronounced F-sharp, A-sharp, Infinity). At the end of the song “Bleak, Uncertain, Beautiful…” there is a string phrase recorded on the locked groove. The title’s “infinity” refers to this phrase. This concept has been extended to the production of records consisting entirely of circular “locked grooves” to provide collections of infinite loop sound samples of duration limited to one revolution of the disc. Notable examples of this are the releases from RRRecords of the 7″ RRR-100 (with 100 locked grooves) and the 12″ RRR-500 (with 500 locked grooves).”
I found this vinyl rip of “RRR-500″ on Soulseek, and it must be fan-generated, because there’s no commercial CD release of the thing. The recording here consists of someone trying their best to record every lock groove on the disc for a few seconds each, but sometimes, because of the difficulty one would inevitably have of advancing their stylus only one groove at a time every time, you can hear the needle skipping over a few tracks here and there. Oh-well. Listening to the whole thing in one half-hour sitting as intended by this ZIP file is probably the best way to digest it — but if you really wanted to, you could drop the MP3 files into an audio editing program to create your own approximated versions of each lock groove.