Vinyl: Locked Groove

By soulchap soulchap
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

And these:
Continuo blog post
Wikipedia article

My list of various treatments of vinyl:
Vinyl Variations

Please contribute your finds (message me.) Thanks.

Special thanks to all contributors, including:

  1. The Beatles - Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band

    66 For Sale from $13.70

    One of the best-known (and possibly the first) examples of this technique was The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967). Many UK copies featured a multi-layered collage of randomized chatter in their run-off loops. However, two variations were made: the original British pressing (black label with gold logo) has the "inner groove" play through the entire locked groove and does not include the laughter at the beginning of the piece. The re-issue of the British pressing (black label with silver logo) starts playing the "inner groove" long before the needle reaches the locked groove, includes the laughter and, once the needle hits the locked groove, the listener only hears the last two seconds of the piece played over and over again."
    Wikipedia page

  2. Alva Noto - Transrapid

    5 For Sale from $23.53

    Both sides end with a locked groove.

  3. Various - BPitch Control Volume 003

    13 For Sale from $3.06

    "Springshock" (B1) ends up in an untitled locked groove.
    A second and a third untitled locked groove are located between "Springshock" and "Stalker" (B4) on the B-side.

  4. Kindness (2) - Cyan

    12 For Sale from $3.99

    3 locked grooves on B-side.

  5. Various - Tape Projects (Locked Groove)

    1 For Sale from $10.07

    62 x 10 second tracks all end with a locked groove.

  6. Genesis P-Orridge - Painful 7 Inches

    13 For Sale from $15.00

    23 locked grooves on B-side.

  7. Ricci Rucker - The Utility Phonograph Record 2

    7 For Sale from $20.00

    Last track on both sides are locked grooves.

  8. Ricci Rucker - The Utility Phonograph Record 1

    12 For Sale from $9.41

    Last track on Side B is locked groove.

  9. Jana Winderen - Surface Runoff

    A side @ 45 RPM, ends in a locked groove.

  10. John Dark / Stupid Girl - Stupid Girl 2

    7 For Sale from $4.11

    Side B ends in a locked groove.

  11. Pansy Division With Jello Biafra - Average Men

    7 For Sale from $5.87

    Side B is a non-album track which ends in a locked groove.

  12. Peverelist - Clunk Click Every Trip / Gather

    3 For Sale from $5.88

    A-Side ends in a locked groove.

  13. Melvins - Foaming

    14 For Sale from $13.04

    "White Punks On Dope" (B2) is not listed on the sleeve. The track ends in a locked groove.

  14. Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip - Thou Shalt Always Kill

    2 For Sale from $20.55

    Side A has a locked groove.

  15. Nathan Fake - The Sky Was Pink

    B2 ends in a locked groove.

  16. Monolake - Linear Atomium Reminiscence

    11 For Sale from $5.99

    Reminiscence (Side B) ends in a locked groove.

  17. Boards Of Canada - Geogaddi

    3 For Sale from $13.04

    A2 includes a locked groove.

  18. Monolake - Polaroid

    24 For Sale from $2.94

    The b-side finishes in a locked groove.

  19. Beach House - Bloom

    67 For Sale from $15.00

    On the vinyl version, the last titled track 'Irene' (D2) ends in a locked groove before the bonus track.

  20. Trans Am (2) - Trans Am

    Track A6 is a locked groove.

  21. Micachu - Golden Phone

    5 For Sale from $6.85

    Side B ends with a locked groove.

  22. People Like Us / The Fuckest Uppest - Blundersonix / Special Mix

    Side A contains a locked groove with a few seconds of harsh noise at the end.