Christian Marclay’s Ambient Masterpiece ‘Groove’ Available Again on Limited Vinyl
1982 recording by Swiss-American creator of "The Clock" is a mesmerizing example of experimental turntablism
Long before The Clock turned him into the world’s best loved video remixer — the 24-hour video installation is essentially the supercut to end all supercuts — Christian Marclay was best known as a sound artist. Much of his work treated “sound” only glancingly: For his Body Mix series, he created uncanny, sexually charged collages out of classic album covers; The Beatles is a pillow woven from magnetic tape containing the Fab Four’s entire discography. One constant, however, has been his interest in the material culture of recorded media. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Marclay began as a DJ — or a kind of DJ, anyway, carving locked grooves into thrift-store vinyl and bringing turntablism into the world of free improv. Now, one of Marclay’s earliest sound pieces has been given its first-ever standalone vinyl pressing, giving cash-deficient collectors a rare chance to own a piece of his work.
“Groove,” recorded in 1982 and originally released on the 1985 cassette compilation Tellus #8 (later reissued on the 2001 double LP Tellus Tools), offers a mesmerizing snapshot of Marclay’s sound work at its most visceral. Using a single 7-inch record, he created locked grooves by placing stickers in different positions on the record’s surface and then used an eight-track recorder to layer them into ominous, shuddering drones. The results are suggestive of the kind of dense, uneasy-listening loop music that Philip Jeck would take up a decade and a half later, while the record’s migraine-in-a-beehive vibes anticipate Demdike Stare’s recent forays into Fourth World death folk.
On the B-side, passages from the composition have been broken out into six actual locked grooves, giving adventurous turntablists something to play with when the loop function breaks on their Serato. Groove was pressed up by London’s Vinyl Factory in an edition of 300 copies; it’s available now for £25 (approximately $38) from their website.