Dead Wax Messages: Try THIS with MP3s

If you look at a vinyl record, there’s a gap between where the grooves end and the label begins. That no man’s land is called “dead wax” and serves as a place for the tonearm to linger until you take if off. But this region has other uses, too.

Plenty of artists use this as a palette for etching messages, Easter eggs for those who take the time to look.  The Vinyl Factory has this fun history of etchings from run-out grooves.

Could James Murphy be losing his edge? Not one to miss an opportunity for a sardonic aside, the LCD Soundsystem mastermind had the words “SEE U IN 5 YEARS” cut into the D-side of new album American Dream. Sure it’s annoyingly oblique, but in the grand tradition of scratching secret missives, anti-establishment incitements or surreal aphorisms into the run-out grooves of records, it’s positively vanilla.

It’s also not the first time LCD Soundsystem have gone there, with editions of 2010’s This Is Happening etched with pithy phrases like “amateur dance music,” “beauty is a rare thing,” “get weird,” and the heartfelt “in loving memory of jerry fuchs” – a tribute to the band’s live drummer who died a year earlier. On The Long Goodbye, the band’s 5xLP swan song recorded live at Madison Square Gardens, the messages scrawled piecemeal across the combined 10 sides reads, “NEW YORK I LOVE YOU BUT YOU’RE BRINGING ME DOWN.”

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Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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