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A Cynic Writes...

Einsturzende Neuplatten

Never mind all this talk of DCC vs. DAT vs. CD vs. cassette vs. CDI. Vinyl was king for one reason and one reason only: cardboard. Album sleeves had a quality of world-shattering simplicity - you could take the record out and put it back in again as many times as you liked WITHOUT THE SODDING PACKAGING FALLING APART IN YOUR HANDS! God knows why, but it only takes a pressure of 0.0006mg per square inch to reduce any cassette or CD's plastic container to its constituent parts, plus a few more which, despite being invisible without an electron microscope and consequently gone forever in the deep recesses of the shag pile, are absolutely critical in the reconstruction of anything like a useable box.

My collection of cassettes is divided into three categories: Naked - meaning I've long since given up the laughable pretence that the item has a case at all; Virgin - meaning I haven't dared open it yet, and with some albums that can be a tad frustrating; and Modular - meaning the box divides easily into two handy components, either of which can be conveniently dropped to the floor and trodden into splinters. The CDs are no better. Exactly the same stringent guidelines have been applied to the design and manufacture of CD cases as to cassettes, with great emphasis placed on two main patented principles: a) The 'Locktite' Plastic Clip, an invention which actually secretes Superglue from tiny pores immediately on contact with its corresponding flange; and b) The Disappearing Hinge principle, by which opening the hinge more than 15 degrees releases the joint entirely making closure not only impossible but redundant.

I think that we can safely assume that; in the ensuing battle between formats for the mass consumption of recorded music, these principles will not be forgotten, as were those which governed the LP sleeve. Self-destruction is built into so many products these days, in a desperate attempt to ensure continued turnover in the consumer markets, and recorded music has far too long a shelf-life as it is. It won't be long before they're selling us dissolving plastic on the grounds that it's ecologically desirable. And when they do, you can bet your early Camel albums that the first stuff off the production line will be little, hinged boxes for DCCs that start to smoke after three months...

(Brian Aspirin is terminal)

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Music Technology - Copyright: Music Maker Publications (UK), Future Publishing.


Music Technology - May 1993

Opinion by Ken Bath

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