A psychological diagnosis of the ‘sickness’ known more commonly as record collecting.
Everyone who collects records does so for different reasons – some for no reason at all. It’s a fiendishly difficult compulsion to explain – one that can turn rational, straight-thinking individuals into excitable and obsessive hoarders; voracious completists with Vitamin D deficiencies and a penchant for alphabetisation. At least, that’s how the stereotype goes.
Approaching record collecting from a sociological, even anthropological perspective in his new book Contemporary Collecting: Objects, Practices and the Fate of Things, American professor and lifelong record collector Kevin M. Moist comes to a slightly different conclusion. You could call it a defence. You could call it preaching to the converted, or perhaps more pertinently, a collective denial of the damned; like a psychiatrist telling his patient, “it’s not you, it’s everyone else”. Importantly, regardless of the conclusions, Moist’s analysis goes deeper than the ubiquitous protestations that “vinyl just sounds better”.
Taken from the chapter “Record Collecting as Cultural Anthropology”, the extract published below asks the fundamental question of why we collect records, drawing on the wisdom of music critic Simon Reynolds (a portion of whose updated rave history Energy Flash we published last month) as well as a range of sociologists, to attempt to disseminate the strange allure of collecting records.