“The why and how are simple and a pain all the same,” says Romanus Records head honcho Chris Banta. “The why? I’m just always looking to innovate with vinyl, and hopefully come up with something new or unique that I’d want to buy myself and be blown away.”
Looks like Banta has succeeded. Again. Last time we checked in which the Indianapolis-based label, he introduced us to some of his custom vinyl pressings: records filled with sand, or feathers, or razor blades. Now he’s releasing the world’s first remote-controlled, LED-filled record. And it’s awesome.
“I’ve made so many different types of custom units for bands on Romanus Records this year,” says Banta, “but often when it comes to really getting out there, being weird, and being ready to ruin some perfectly good vinyl for testing, I tend to go with my own band, Brother O’ Brother. Our newest record is called Neon Native, so it was a natural fit to try to make this work.”
The LEDs have been embedded in just 45 copies of Neon Native, which will go on sale at the Romanus Shop (opens in new tab) at 1pm today EST (that’s 6pm GMT). And the remote control will allow proud owners to sync the lights to the album: in the video below, you’ll see them accompanying the track 16 Flowers, a relentless, greased-up wedge of righteous blues rock.
“I’d been thinking about the LED record project on and off for about eight months.” says Banta, “but couldn’t figure out how to get power to the LEDs without implanting a battery — which would eventually die — or a giant standard AC power pack. Plus, I could only figure out how to get power to one side.
“I had nearly given up, and while being on the road with Brother O’ Brother I finally came to the conclusion that I had to cut a hole in the record. This felt downright sinful, but a sacrifice had to be made. As soon as we got home from tour I started hacking away. The first couple looked like a trench was made in these things, but eventually I got better tools and cleaned the record up and found the proper power.”
“I mount a 45 adapter to an Ion Power Pack vertically,” he adds, “which keeps the cables from resting or being in the way of the tone arm. Honestly, the vertical power pack was a happy accident that happened to work out the first time. Ordering these in bulk makes me look like I’m building something sketchy!
“Both sides play as they should as long as I don’t screw up, and I’m really proud of this almost utility-esque record. This is the first custom where I’ve had to include instructions on how to assemble a part of the record to get the full experience!
“It comes with a remote that has four different functions for patterns and lighting options, along with individual colour choices. To date it’s probably the proudest I have ever been in regards to a custom vinyl creation I’ve made. The LED Record is insanely labour intensive, but the end result — after tons of a testing — has been worth all the trouble!”
Neon Native goes on sale (opens in new tab) at 1pm EST today, and is limited to just 45 copies. Brother O’ Brother’s next album, Monster Truck, will be released in 2018.
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