Pushing the Vinyl Envelope

Most vinyl records differ only in the art on the sticker at the center of the album. They have the same shape, color, ridges, consistency and so forth. There have been exceptions to the rule, however, and although these records don’t require custom-shaped record washers, they do challenge the way music lovers think about their beloved vinyl. Here are four examples that really shook things up.

A Zoetrope on Vinyl


Most vinyl records are the same color: black. There have been numerous exceptions over the years ranging from pastel to translucent, but few of them have made a lasting impression the way the zoetropes have. A zoetrope is an animation device that creates the illusion of motion, and the technology pre-dates cinema. As the record spins, a scene plays out. Perhaps the most famous example of this technique is the Plastic Infinite single by Sculpture.

Batman the Animated Series


The vinyl record that Warner Brothers released with the music of Batman: The Animated Series is notable for being shaped like the Bat symbol. The industry has seen multi-hole lathe cut records before, but this form is truly unique. While most fans hung them on walls and kept them unopened in their collection, this record actually does play without issue in record players.

Blood-Filled Heady Fwends


The Flaming Lips released their Heady Fwends in a truly special edition that was limited to just 10 copies. These albums were actually clear containers, as well as actual albums, and they were partially filled with the blood of famous musicians. As the record spins, the blood ebbs and flows, which creates a truly intriguing and memorable visual effect.

Laser Etching


Laser etching for vinyl is usually limited to the non-music side, but it’s possible to laser etch the groove side. Due to the costs and challenges involved, the technique is only used for special cases. Perhaps the most coveted example of this technique is the original Superman II soundtrack by Ken Thorne.

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