Vinyl: Locked Groove
updated about 1 month ago
All vinyl records (at least as far as I know) end in a locked groove - this is done to protect the stylus from drifting onto the label, etc. A locked groove simply never advances; the groove changes from the spiral it was on the way in to a closed circle. Many of us have experienced the heartbreak of a home-made locked groove, a.k.a. a "broken record," that repeats a phrase ad infinitum until one gets off the couch and picks up the tone arm and manually advances the needle.
Along the way, someone figured out that the "runout groove" was arable land waiting to be seized.
Why, then, would anyone do this on purpose? One finds albums of locked grooves in the Library Music world; discs of sound effects were manufactured for the purpose of providing the sound of a continually dripping faucet, say, for a radio drama, etc. DJs building dance tracks live, on the fly, in clubs or while recording, found that infinitely looping snippets were useful and worth stockpiling. There are examples of "blank" locked grooves used within albums to separate tracks solely for the purpose of forcing the listener to advance the tone arm. Others were more playful.
I think that the recorded locked groove came, at some point, to represent the medium itself, a synechdoche for the phenomenon of vinyl recordings; one need only hear the reference to this experience on the Monty Python track which ends with the loop, "Sorry Squire, I scratched the record. Sorry Squire, I scratched the record. Sorry Squire, I scratched the record..."
I would like to break this list into (at least) two lists, one for workaday locked grooves, such as dj breaks and sound effects, and another for "easter egg" locked grooves, i.e., those meant to be found by chance, and those meant to extend the lead-in track into infinity. Someday.
See also these lists:
Infinity by hardwax-berlin
Locked Grooves by borge_jensen
Locked Groove by esfreeman
Locked in Groove from ofsi
Notable Locked Grooves records from Madang
Continuo blog post
My list of various treatments of vinyl:
Please contribute your finds (message me.) Thanks.
Special thanks to all contributors, including: