黑膠復興 音樂新浪潮

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2017 / 6月

文‧王維玲 圖‧莊坤儒 翻譯‧Jonathan Barnard


日本文學家村上春樹曾說,如果語言是威士忌該有多好?在一個充滿音樂的世界中,又為什麼還需要語言呢?

在數位科技席捲的現下,有一群愛好者,執著於黑膠唱片的老傳統,讓人悠閒聆賞音樂之餘,也宛若找回安靜而緩慢的生命步調。


自從愛迪生發明第一台留聲機,人類記錄聲音、典藏音樂的方式便隨著科技發展而不斷創新,從留聲機、黑膠、卡帶式錄音帶、CD發展到如今最普遍的數位音樂,人們享受音樂的門檻愈來愈低,但吊詭的是,音樂在人們生活中所佔據的重要性卻似乎愈來愈低。

或許是對數位時代的反動,人們開始懷念專心聆聽音樂的悠閒時光,而儀式性極強的黑膠唱片重獲市場青睞,世界各地紛紛湧現黑膠復興浪潮,許多藝人開始同時發行CD與黑膠專輯,不少經典專輯也重新披上黑膠外衣重新銷售,而在2016年12月,英國的黑膠專輯銷售額首次超過數位專輯下載的銷售額。

黑膠復興究竟是一股稍縱即逝的短暫流行,還是能夠長期持續的新音樂浪潮?或許我們現在還未有定論,但有一群人早就深受黑膠的魅力吸引,多年來沉浸在黑膠的世界中,樂於與更多人分享黑膠的美好。對他們而言,聆聽音樂不只是閒暇之餘的娛樂,而是一種最貼近自由的生命狀態。

古殿樂藏:讓音樂成為開展美好世界觀的橋樑

「你們不趕時間吧?有事要先說,不然在這邊很容易忘了時間。」踏入位於北投民房內的「古殿樂藏」唱片藝術研究中心,外在世界的喧囂與忙碌瞬間被屏蔽,舒適的座椅全朝著前方音響擺放,這裡是台灣少見的古典音樂喫茶店,訪客來到這裡,不能大聲交談與拍照,而是將自己的時間與專注力全然交給「殿主」王信凱,享受一段沒有臉書、沒有訊息打擾的音樂時光。

古殿樂藏在黑膠音樂界是一個特別的存在,這裡不只販售以古典為主的黑膠唱片,同時也是研究聲音與保存文化的音樂交流中心。身為歷史學博士生,王信凱迷戀歷史,也迷戀音樂,過去二十多年沉浸在古典音樂的世界中,在博士班階段因緣巧合接觸到黑膠獨特的聲音魅力,自此一頭栽入黑膠的世界,至今仍樂此不疲。

對王信凱而言,音樂不只是休閒娛樂,而是前往另一個不同時空文化的橋梁,他以研究歷史的方法學看待黑膠,「聲音的保存是有生命的,隨著唱盤本身的狀態、播放的設備,以及播放能力而有所不同。」而這背後的命題其實和歷史相像,王信凱永遠在思考如何透過眼前的材料還原、重現真實,這種渴望與追求永遠沒有終點。

不同於一般黑膠唱片行去國外大量批貨,賺取差價的盈利方式,每次王信凱出國收購唱片,永遠只買入自己真心喜歡的作品,他甚至會為了趕快回國拆封、聆聽這些唱片,寧願不用海運,而讓自己寶貝的唱片跟著自己坐商務艙回國。

但是只買自己喜歡的唱片,難道不用考慮市場流行與消費者的喜好嗎?王信凱卻老神在在,「放在店裡,有人喜歡就買,如果沒人買,這就是我的收藏。」對他而言,蒐藏是一種重要的文化氛圍,唯有先打動自己,真心喜歡自己在做的事,這種熱情與喜悅才能感染別人。

這種營運方式看似違反一般商業邏輯,王信凱卻驕傲地說,「我發現自己很會勸敗,透過我的分享,更多人也喜歡上這些唱片,這是一種正能量的循環。」就如同被刻在黑膠上的聲音必須透過正確的器材與播放方法才能被釋放出來,而音樂本身的價值,透過王信凱的述說、分享,才能讓更多人被理解。每拿起一張唱片,王信凱便能滔滔不絕地講出背後的時代背景、創作者的生平經歷與特殊之處,令人忍不住想探究了解更多。

此外,王信凱每個月還會舉辦3次文化沙龍,主題從江文也、六○年代台語歌曲、民族音樂學到古典樂,都是為了讓人們不只是聽到音樂,而能夠真正走入音樂背後的時空環境與文化,與自己的生命建立更親密的連結。這也是為什麼古殿樂藏從未打過廣告,也不拿政府補助,只招待有緣人,卻能一直生存至今的重要原因。

雖然對黑膠擁有極大的熱忱,王信凱其實不是黑膠基本教義派,「這只是一個載體,有很難聽的黑膠,也有很好聽的CD。」但是他偏好屬於類比音訊的黑膠唱片,「類比世界最有趣的就是無限,也就是哲學家班雅明所說的靈光,我們應該要反思,為什麼科技本身不斷進步,但是靈光卻愈來愈薄弱?」

面對近幾年興起的黑膠復興風潮,王信凱認為真正重要的不只是降低播放設備的費用,而是讓人有機會進入黑膠文化背後代表的世界。在1982年CD出現前,世界上存在著大量無法在數位時代蒐尋下載的美好音樂,透過黑膠這個媒介,屬於披頭四、李泰祥、布拉姆斯的時代巧妙地在我們面前開展,去聆聽、理解、沉浸、著迷,人們的生命才會更加豐滿有趣。

「東風不來,三月的柳絮不飛……」王信凱為我們播放李泰祥演唱的〈錯誤〉,透過李泰祥高亢又悠婉的歌聲,聽者彷彿置身於詩人筆下的江南小城。原來聲音不只是聽覺,還能立體投射出另一個時代的樣貌。

「很多人說理想不能當飯吃,我想證明理想可以當飯吃。」王信凱自信地說,隨著潮流而新興的唱片行愈來愈多,但是也可能隨著人們的喜好變化而瞬間凋零,「但我開這間店永遠不會收,因為我做的是文化累積,創造的價值是最珍貴的。」

先行一車:有了音樂,我們可以遺忘語言

隱身在師大的巷弄之中的黑膠唱片行「先行一車」看起來就像普通住家,沒有招牌,也沒有張貼海報,唯有暗紅色鐵門上垂掛的一枚黑膠唱片透露出一絲與音樂相關的線索。

留著一頭長髮、衣著輕鬆的店主人王啟光是個有趣人物,唸過兩所大學,但是都在快畢業時因為覺得沒有興趣而毅然休學;他當過灌漿工人、在唱片行當過店員,在不同的學校與工作中來來去去,從世俗的眼光來看,他的人生軌跡缺乏清晰的指向,但是王啟光的人生哲學其實很明確,就是只做自己感興趣的事。

王啟光的興趣非常廣泛,從音樂、攝影、電子合成器到蒐集各式各樣的刀具,但唯獨音樂,不只是他始終投注熱情的對象,也是他生存在這個世界的方式。

小小的唱片行中,收藏了超過萬張的黑膠與CD,在租金高昂的師大商圈中,王啟光努力靠著網路商店、熟客的支持等各種方式,撐起先行一車的營運,還能不時在地下室舉行小型演唱會,例如前陣子剛舉行過日本知名爵士樂手梅津和時及帶領的管樂四重奏 Chibi Brass演出,而周末還有台灣與中國大陸噪音音樂創作者的演出。

只要是音樂相關的問題,王啟光也會想辦法協助每個人滿足需求,不論是幫熟客在eBay上蒐羅珍稀版本的黑膠,按照客人的預算推薦甚至代購播放設備,前陣子還有個14歲的國中生從淡水來到先行一車,央求王啟光幫他預留一張John Lennon的唱片,待他存夠錢再來買,人們在這裡不只是冰冷的唱片買賣關係,而是充滿溫度的交流與分享。

比起CD,王啟光較偏好黑膠,「因為我有戀物癖嘛,黑膠比較大張。」他半開玩笑地說,黑膠的不可複製性是迷人的,但王啟光也很坦然表示,店內CD的數量其實只比黑膠少了一點,「因為很多音樂只有CD版本呀,最重要的還是音樂本身。」

古典樂、自由爵士、即興、噪音都是王啟光偏好的音樂類型,但若要問到他的最愛,「絕對是友川Kazuki!他不屬於任何分類。」友川Kazuki是一位日本前衛民謠歌手,連在日本都不是那麼知名,但是王啟光在無意中聽見之後,瞬間就知道「就是這個聲音!」自此成為忠實歌迷,店名「先行一車」就來自友川的歌曲創作。

王啟光後來甚至和友川成為朋友,每次去日本都會一起喝酒,甚至是一起打柏青哥,2015年還邀請他來台北開了演唱會,有趣的是,王啟光其實根本不會說日文,而友川的英文也不流利,語言不通的兩人,究竟如何溝通呢?「我們就是一起喝酒、一起聽音樂,不用講話也沒關係呀。」

村上春樹曾說,如果語言是威士忌該有多好?而在一個充滿音樂的世界中,又為什麼還需要語言呢?

自2014年開業至今,先行一車不只是一間唱片行,更像是一個以音樂為核心的烏托邦,無論是什麼時間造訪,店內總是充滿了各式各樣的熟客、朋友,打過招呼之後,便自顧自地找位置坐下,逛逛是否有自己感興趣的唱片,或是單純和王啟光泡茶聊天。

在這裡,年齡、職業、性別、語言都沒那麼重要,只要有音樂,人們即使不交談,彷彿也能心意相通。                                                         

英文

Vinyl Revival: New Wave, Old School

April Wang /photos courtesy of Chuang Kung-ju /tr. by Jonathan Barnard

The Japanese author Haruki Murakami once remarked how awesome it would be if words were whiskey. And in an age full of music, one can’t help but wonder: Why do we still need language?

In this era when digital technology dominates, there is a group of people who insist upon sticking with the traditions of vinyl records, believing that those analog recordings not only bring music to people but also allow them to return to a slower, more peaceful pace of life.


Ever since Thomas Edison invented the first phonograph, the methods that people use to record and store music have constantly moved in step with technological innovation. From phonographs and records, to cassette tapes and CDs, to the various forms of digital music today, the hurdles that keep people from enjoying music are getting lower and lower. Yet oddly, music’s importance in people’s lives seems to be growing smaller and smaller.

Perhaps as a reaction against the digital age, some have begun to look wistfully back to those days when people would devote their full attention to music. Vinyl records, with their strong ritual element, are once again becoming favored on the market, with reviving interest in them seen in many places around the world.

It may be a short-lived fad. Or it might have long-term staying power in the world of music. Maybe we simply cannot define what’s going on. At any rate, a cohort of people was early on attracted to the charms of vinyl, and they have for many years ensconced themselves in its subculture and been happy to sing vinyl’s virtues to others. As far as they are concerned, listening to music should not just be something one does in one’s spare time. Rather, it should be part and parcel of a free life.

CPS: Let music be a bridge to cosmopolitanism

“Are you in a hurry? If you’re busy, say so now. Other­wise, it’s easy to lose track of time here.” As you walk into the Classical Palace Society, a bastion of vinyl celebration in Tai­pei’s Bei­tou District, in a house that was originally a private residence, the busy clamor of the outside world quickly fades away. Its comfortable chairs all face the stereo system. This is one of Taiwan’s few classical music teahouses. Customers here can’t loudly chat or take photos. Rather they must give their time and attention to the “palace master” Wang Hsin­kai, and enjoy a rare stretch of time without Facebook. No updates can disturb one’s time with the music.

Occupying a special place within the world of Taiwan’s vinyl aficionados, CPS is a center for musical exchange with an emphasis on researching sound and preserving culture. Wang, who holds a doctorate in history, is a great music lover. For more than 20 years he has immersed himself in the world of classical music. It was his fate to encounter the charms of the unique sounds of vinyl records during his doctoral studies. Once he caught the vinyl bug, he has never lost it. 

As far as Wang is concerned, music is both a source of entertainment and a bridge to different eras. He takes an historian’s approach to vinyl: “The preservation of music is a vital endeavor. The power of the music differs depending on the condition of the turntable and the audio equipment.” Furthermore, there are analogies to the study of history. Wang is always considering how to recreate reality with materials at hand. There is no end to his quest.

Unlike most vinyl album dealers who go abroad to buy in bulk at the lowest price, whenever Wang goes overseas to purchase records, he only buys albums that he truly likes. Because he’s always so anxious to take his haul back to Taiwan to listen to, he won’t ship them back by sea. Instead, he brings them back with his luggage in business class.

This operational MO seems to run counter to conventional business logic, yet Wang proudly says, “I’ve discovered that I’m pretty persuasive. By sharing, I’m able to get more people to like these recordings. It’s a happy cycle.” Just as sounds cut into vinyl can only be played back with the proper equipment, it is only through explanation and sharing that Wang can bring an understanding of the essential value of music to more people.

Although Wang is very familiar with vinyl records, he isn’t a fundamentalist or zealot about them. “They’re just a means of reproducing the music. There are terrible­-sounding vinyl records and good-sounding CDs.” But ultimately, he does prefer the analog sound of vinyl. “The most interesting thing about the analog world is that it is limitless. It’s like ‘aura’ as described by Walter Benjamin. We ought to consider why technology is constantly improving, but aura is becoming weaker and weaker.”

When it comes to the revival of interest in vinyl in recent years, Wang believes that what’s important isn’t the move backwards in terms of the quality of playback equipment. Rather it’s providing a means for people to enter the representational world behind the culture. Before CDs first appeared in 1982, there existed a huge quantity of beautiful music, much of which is not available in a digital format. Via vinyl recordings, the eras of artists or bands such as the Beatles, Li Tai-hsiang, or Johannes Brahms unfold before us, as people listen, gain understanding, and become immersed and captivated, and their lives grow richer and more interesting.

“The East Wind isn’t blowing. March’s catkins aren’t flying away….” Wang plays Li Tai-­hsiang’s song “The Mistake.” Through Li’s graceful tenor voice, listeners seemingly get carried off by a poet to a small city south of the Yang­tze River. It turns out that voices don’t just appeal to our sense of hearing. They seem almost able to conjure the look of another era in three dimensions.

Vinyl Depot: With music, words are unnecessary

Nestled in an alley near National Taiwan Normal University, in what looks like a residence, the record shop Vinyl Depot lacks any signage or posters announcing its presence. The only clue that what lies within has a musical connection is a single vinyl record hanging from its red door.

The longhaired proprietor Wang Qi­guang is an interesting guy. He attended two universities. Both times he was close to graduation before losing interest and dropping out. He has worked as a concrete pourer on construction sites and as a sales clerk in a record shop. He came and went from school to school and workplace to workplace. From a conventional perspective, he may lack any markers of elite accomplishments, but his philosophy is to do only what interests him.

Wang has broad interests, from music, photography, and electronic synthesizers to collecting all manner of knives. But only music has remained a constant source of passion, and it defines his way of life.

In his record shop, he has more than 10,000 vinyl records and CDs. In the high-rent commercial area around NTNU, Wang relies on online sales and the support of loyal regulars to keep Vinyl Depot in operation, as well as occasional small-scale concerts in the basement. For instance, not long ago the renowned Japanese jazz musician Ka­zu­toki ­Umezu and his band ­Chibi Brass performed there. And on the weekends, Taiwanese and mainland Chinese performers of “noise rock” sometimes play there.

Classical music, free jazz, improvisation of all kinds, noise rock…. These are the forms of music that Wang favors. But when asked what musician he loves the most, he answers, “It’s definitely Ka­zuki! He doesn’t fit into any category.” Ka­zuki is a cutting-edge Japanese folksinger who isn’t even particularly famous in Japan. But after Wang chanced upon his music, he knew: “This is the sound!” The Chinese name of Vinyl Depot is taken from a Ka­zuki lyric.

Wang has ended up becoming a friend of Ka­zuki’s, and whenever he goes to Japan they go out drinking and play pachinko together. In 2015 Wang even invited Ka­zuki to come to Tai­pei for a concert. Interestingly, Wang can’t speak Japanese and Ka­zuki’s English is less than fluent. So how do two men with no language in common communicate? “We drink together. Listen to music together. We don’t need to talk.”

Haruki Mu­ra­kami once remarked how awesome it would be if language were whiskey. And in a world full of music, what need is there for words? Since it opened in 2014, Vinyl Depot has always been more than just a record shop. It is more like a utopia with music at its core. No matter what time one visits, the store is full of regular customers and friends. After saying hello, they look for a seat and flip through some albums that interest them, or otherwise simply drink tea and chat with Wang.

Here neither age, nor profession, nor gender, nor language is particularly important. The truth is people don’t need to talk. So long as there is music, they can communicate.                

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