If you’re of a certain vintage, you’ll remember those thin, floppy pieces of pseudo-vinyl that came in the pages of magazines. Flexi-discs could be played maybe a dozen times before they disintegrated into staticky mush but they still became ways to efficiently and cheaply spread music. Medium remembers.
The flexi disc, in some form or other, dates back almost as far as the phonograph itself. Throughout its history, the flexi has served myriad purposes: as a short-lived retail format, a promotional device, a one-trick gimmick, and a disposable novelty. Yet if the past 100 years have taught us anything, it’s that flexis may be flimsy, but they’re far from forgettable.
Broadly speaking, a “flexi” refers to any kind of record imprinted onto a thin/flexible medium: a cereal box side, a wiggly magazine insert, a hanky box lid. On WFMU’s Internet Museum of Flexi/Cardboard/Oddity Records, curator Cumella documents the strange, wondrous potpourri of forms that flexis have taken on over the years. There’s a “California Dream Barbie” record by the Beach Boys, a “Sounds of Korea” disc that Korean War-era servicemen could mail home, and the remarkable Bhutanese record stamps that could be used as legal postage.