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April 7, 2010 4:15 PM   Subscribe


 
Unsurprised that there's some Joe Walsh involvement here. His buddy Keith Olsen usually stuck a message ("<3 POGOLOGO" or some such) in the matrix groove, too. I love this nonsense. Cool post.
posted by mintcake! at 4:25 PM on April 7, 2010


the chicken won't stop
posted by Artw at 4:31 PM on April 7, 2010


I totally did not know that part of the album was called the "matrix." That appelation makes absolutely no sense at all, on any definition of the word "matrix" known to me. (On the other hand I thought the same thing about the W bros use of the same word to describe the post-Singularity God computer in their movie series, and now I'm wondering if this is what gave them that idea.)

I've seen some of these messages, and would never have thought of making an exhaustive listing of them 20+ years after the total obsolescence of the format. I clearly have not won an internet yet.
posted by localroger at 4:32 PM on April 7, 2010


My self-titled Godflesh record (on clear vinyl, bought at and printed by Swordfish Records in Birmingham) has 'Music from the death factory "88"' on side A and 'Low Life Motherfuckers' on side B (as well as 'Flesh LP1'). I have e-mailed the fella at the website.
posted by Dysk at 4:33 PM on April 7, 2010


I've seen some of these messages, and would never have thought of making an exhaustive listing of them 20+ years after the total obsolescence of the format.

Some of the albums on the list are only a few years old. Also, The McKenzie Brothers called them black holes. Not sure if that truly fits either.
posted by sleepy pete at 4:35 PM on April 7, 2010


the chicken stops here
posted by Artw at 4:36 PM on April 7, 2010


Huh, the only one I knew about was the Aleister Crowley thing on Led Zep III.

Kind of comforting to know that bands have just as many many inside jokes and silly references as any high school yearbook or D&D group.
posted by drjimmy11 at 4:47 PM on April 7, 2010


(Also, I've heard it referred to as the "run-off groove," I think.)
posted by drjimmy11 at 4:47 PM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


(If I made an album I think I would put "Number One: The Larch" on there.)
posted by drjimmy11 at 4:48 PM on April 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


sleepy pete, I realize albums are making a bit of a comeback as curiosities and these are probably more likely to have little stylistic flairs like matrix messages than regular ole mainstream albums from the day when albums were the primary method of popular music distribution rather than a curiosity for audio- and nostalgiphiles. And the list is rather cool. It's just that it seems like making a list of messages found printed on the leaders of reel to reel tapes.
posted by localroger at 4:48 PM on April 7, 2010


No problem, localroger, just pointing it out.
posted by sleepy pete at 4:51 PM on April 7, 2010


Ah, I see that they've included the messages on The Hard-Ons' "Love Is A Battlefield Of Wounded Hearts" LP. Sure they're very childish, but they always make me giggle.

Nice list, nice post.

And I still buy a few new vinyl records every now and then, this was my latest find. So I take offense to the "total obsolescence" slur above. I mean, you can get Lady Gaga's "The Fame Monster" on LP if you'd like. ;)
posted by soundofsuburbia at 4:53 PM on April 7, 2010


Ah, I see, never mind. Sorry.
posted by soundofsuburbia at 4:54 PM on April 7, 2010


Those crazy musicians and/or mastering engineers!

The coolest thing ever, though, was the audio runoff groove that appeared on Sgt. Pepper's. An endless loop! Why didn't more bands do that, I wonder?

Speaking of which, anybody know of any other bands that did that?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:59 PM on April 7, 2010


f@m, here's a small list of locked groove records, although they totally leave off my fave, Heavenly Sounds in Hi Fi by Ferrante & Teicher.

OK, done posting, sorry.
posted by sleepy pete at 5:04 PM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Speaking of which, anybody know of any other bands that did that?

The best compilation ever: RRR-1000 Lock Groove LP.
posted by soundofsuburbia at 5:05 PM on April 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


Ach, too slow. The "RRR-1000" is mentioned on the Wikipedia page sleepy pete linked to. I just wasn't made for this thread. Goodnight.
posted by soundofsuburbia at 5:07 PM on April 7, 2010


Also, Madness' One Step Beyond:

A matrix: "THAT NUTTY SOUND..."
B matrix: "DIRECT FROM CAMDEN TOWN."

There were some matrix messages in early They Might Be Giants vinyl on Bar/None, but as my collection has been in storage for years, I can't recall...
posted by mykescipark at 5:17 PM on April 7, 2010


Camper Van Beethoven III:

Soviet Spies Swim Upstream
Disguised as Trout
posted by Joey Michaels at 5:18 PM on April 7, 2010


his phenomena, which can sometimes be very hard to see without a bright light, is specific to records and something lost to the development of CDs, much less MP3s.

Well there is that one little text area on CDs. And you can sneak stuff in the ID3 tags of an MP3.
posted by delmoi at 5:23 PM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


f@m, here's a small list of locked groove records

thanks, sleepy pete!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:29 PM on April 7, 2010


        THER
     N         E
    O            I
    O            S
      P         N
         S  O
posted by Horace Rumpole at 5:32 PM on April 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


Well there is that one little text area on CDs.

Agh, remember when seeing "MASTERED BY NIMBUS" in that space pretty much meant that you were in for a decent-sounding CD? Even if the CD was "More Beer" by Fear?

Also: inverted groove records!

I love love love that vinyl is somewhat cool again. The day my band's last EP showed up from the plant was one of the happiest of my life, seriously.
posted by mintcake! at 5:34 PM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


I totally did not know that part of the album was called the "matrix." That appelation makes absolutely no sense at all, on any definition of the word "matrix" known to me. (On the other hand I thought the same thing about the W bros use of the same word to describe the post-Singularity God computer in their movie series, and now I'm wondering if this is what gave them that idea.)

"Matrix" can mean any situating scheme or substance that something else is contained, organized, or developed in. So in this context, the term probably comes from the idea that the un-grooved substance of the record itself is the matrix which holds the record grooves, and then came to refer to the raw/unpressed portion of the record.
posted by weston at 5:37 PM on April 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


drjimmy11: "(If I made an album I think I would put "Number One: The Larch" on there.)"

Monty Python did release their Matching Tie and Handkerchief as a three sided album.
posted by octothorpe at 5:51 PM on April 7, 2010


That lock-groove list has surprisingly little information about DJ skratch/battle records.
posted by box at 6:44 PM on April 7, 2010


No From Here to Infinity, either.
posted by box at 6:46 PM on April 7, 2010


Previously - Ron Murphy - who wrote on a fair amount of records in his time.
posted by loquacious at 6:48 PM on April 7, 2010


Side 2 of Pyromania had a crappy synthodrum loop thing in the lock groove.
posted by Rat Spatula at 6:52 PM on April 7, 2010


I love these little messages. I used to check every record I bought for little words of wit and wisdom.
Dammit, now I'm going to dig out my records & go through all of them to add to the list. There goes my weekend.
posted by goshling at 6:52 PM on April 7, 2010


A couple other lock-groove records from folks I like: Nomo, Tussle.
posted by box at 6:56 PM on April 7, 2010


Lock-grooves are cool. However, the best use of the medium, in my experience, was Monty Python's 3-sided album. My friends and I had no clue why the damn thing was titled that until, one day, during our umpteenth listening of the thing, someone accidentally bumped the turntable, the needle skipped, and we started hearing a completely new Python skit. In retrospect, we had all wondered why that side of the record always seemed to be really short. About half as long as usual, in fact.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:11 PM on April 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


!!! I considered starting a blog on this (though I called them runout grooves) about four years ago. I guess I should have jumped on that. I love the Hüsker Dü messages - but where are the Smiths? ROMANTIC AND SQUARE IS HIP AND AWARE.
posted by punchdrunkhistory at 7:38 PM on April 7, 2010


The Replacements' Pleased To Meet Me (I think?) said "WE'RE SORRY PORTLAND" in its matrix, a source of great merriment at my college radio station. A great many of us had seen their last Portland show (last before PTMM, that is), and thought it was awful. We were delighted to know that The Replacements thought so, too.
posted by That's Numberwang! at 8:31 PM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


I have a 12" single for M's "Pop Muzik" that has two songs in parallel grooves on the B-side. It freaked me out for awhile. "That's not the song I remember from the last time I played this easily forgettable synth-pop filler track six months ago."

I used to have an LP of radio spots, funky US Military recruitment ads featuring Edd Kalehoff at the Moog, with each ending with a locked groove of silence.
posted by hydrophonic at 8:54 PM on April 7, 2010


Just to reiterate and reinforce what weston said -- the "matrix" referred to isn't the empty runout area, it's the lacquer substrate that the groove is cut into during mastering. Once the cutting is completed, an identification code (the "matrix code") is etched or stamped into the empty area towards the center. It's used to keep track of what's contained on a set of metal masters. They usually add additional data to ID the stampers, so it's possible in many cases to determine how far into a release's pressing run a particular copy of a record was manufactured. In most cases earlier is better from a collecting standpoint. And as cutting a record is a hands-on process requiring a certain level of skill, mastering engineers will often put their "mark" on the masters they create even if they don't write little messages there.

There's not as much room for creativity on CDs, as the matrix codes are usually burned onto the glass master at the same time as the audio data -- though a lot of early Japanese releases had hand-stamped matrix codes, and I do have one early Capitol promo whose matrix info is completely hand-written. They're still useful anyway; you'd be surprised how many CD releases have "secret" variations that can only be distinguished by checking the matrix codes. (The labels rarely made a point of updating the packaging with big stickers saying "hey everybody, here's the version of Rumours where we didn't screw up the intro to "Gold Dust Woman!")
posted by Lazlo at 10:07 PM on April 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


I am dismayed to find that Adam & The Ants' "HAVE YOU FOUND..." "THE LOST HAWAIIANS?" was not included in the list.
posted by queensissy at 10:37 PM on April 7, 2010


For more fun with the hidden stuff, search around Discogs for run-out etchings. Many of those results are rather drab matrix codes, but dig some more and you'll find some fun stuff. There was a discussion thread to help people ID the record mastering people behind the cryptic messages, but I can't find it at the moment.

I was surprised the list didn't include versions of the albums (US/UK, label, year, etc.) because as Lazlo pointed out, the etchings or stamps are pressing-specific.

I do have one early Capitol promo whose matrix info is completely hand-written.

As a music minutiae geek, that's awesome.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:05 AM on April 8, 2010


f@m, here's a small list of locked groove records, ....

Peter Gabriel's second album (also known as Scratch)

Last song, side one. It's called White Shadow and the infinite groove is a bit of keyboard texture c/o Larry Fast. I remember once hearing a good half-hour of campus radio dedicated to it. The DJ played the song, let it settle into the END GROOVE, a stuck record repeating-repeating-repeating, and then he slowly started mixing in other stuff. Sound FX, disembodied voices, various rumbles and hums. So much so that it eventually became it's own weird piece and I entirely forgot where that initial sound came from ...

Until the DJ cut everything else out, roughly lifted the needle, re-cued the song and played it again. I don't know if the guy had it all planned, or whether it was just an elaborate cover-up for a mistake. Either way, it's better part of 25 years later and I still remember it (helps, of course, that I had it on cassette for a while).

vinyl is dead. long live vinyl. maybe the best thing mankind ever did with plastics.
posted by philip-random at 8:59 AM on April 8, 2010


I can't seem to locate an image of it online, but the entirety of side 4 of Thurston Moore - Psychic ♡♡♡'s was a drawing etched directly into the vinyl. This etching is not present in the reissued vinyl, however.
posted by namewithoutwords at 9:17 AM on April 8, 2010


I had a record, it might have been the Yes album (the one with the Roger Dean cover) and in the runoff grooves there was an inscription: "Y? Because we like U!"
posted by bz at 12:50 PM on April 8, 2010


I'm both happy and sad to see this, as putting together a blog of run-out groove messages was my one decent idea for a website. Of course I've had the idea for a year and not done anything with it, so it's little loss.
posted by OmieWise at 1:45 PM on April 8, 2010


I have found a few of these hidden messages. One he doesn't mention that I have is a Monty Python 45 called Python On Song with "The Lumberjack Song" on the A, which has scratched into it "Gents! This record was designed specially to fit into your handbag."
The B side is "Spam Song" which says "SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM."
posted by bitslayer at 2:48 PM on April 8, 2010


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