What It Sounds Like If You Play 100 Vinyl Copies of The White Album at Once

Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog
Nov. 21 2013 4:27 PM

What It Sounds Like If You Play 100 Vinyl Copies of The White Album at Once

The 'White Album' room at the Beatlemania exhibition in Hamburg, Germany in 2009.

Photo by Krafft Angerer/Getty Images

Back in February, the New York Times reported on “We Buy White Albums,” an art installation by Rutherford Chang. Chang collected hundreds of first-edition vinyl copies of The Beatles, aka The White Album, “some in near-mint condition, others bearing former owners’ names, psychedelic renderings of ‘The Beatles,’ colorful drawings or, in many cases, patterns created by rotting cardboard.” He then made a faux-record store consisting entirely of these LPs.

Chang told Allan Kozinn, the Times writer, that “the final element of his project will be a recording on which several hundred copies of The White Album—that is, every copy he listens to during the show—are electronically overlaid.”


Now, in time for the 45th anniversary of the album’s release, which is tomorrow, you can listen to his creation, Side 1 x 100. As that title suggests, Chang has overlaid just 100 copies, instead of several hundred; even so, the unique ways in which each copy has aged, plus “variations in the pressings” and “natural fluctuations in the speed of Mr. Chang’s analog turntable” result in a bizarre composition that builds from the familiar to the cacophonous. “Back in the U.S.S.R.” sounds about how you remember at first, if a bit muddy. But the storm of variation builds quickly, and by the end of “Dear Prudence” it’s as though you’re swirling around with a record player in the middle of a tornado.

If you stay with it (or skip ahead), “Happiness Is a Warm Gun” peters out like the end of a rainstorm.

David Haglund is a senior editor at Slate. He runs Brow Beat, Slate's culture blog.


Justice Ginsburg’s Crucial Dissent in the Texas Voter ID Case

The Jarring Experience of Watching White Americans Speak Frankly About Race

How Facebook’s New Feature Could Come in Handy During a Disaster

The Most Ingenious Teaching Device Ever Invented

Sprawl, Decadence, and Environmental Ruin in Nevada

View From Chicago

You Should Be Able to Sell Your Kidney

Or at least trade it for something.

Space: The Next Generation

An All-Female Mission to Mars

As a NASA guinea pig, I verified that women would be cheaper to launch than men.

Terrorism, Immigration, and Ebola Are Combining Into a Supercluster of Anxiety

The Legal Loophole That Allows Microsoft to Seize Assets and Shut Down Companies

  News & Politics
Oct. 19 2014 1:05 PM Dawn Patrol Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s critically important 5 a.m. wake-up call on voting rights.
Business Insider
Oct. 19 2014 11:40 AM Pot-Infused Halloween Candy Is a Worry in Colorado
Oct. 17 2014 5:26 PM Judge Begrudgingly Strikes Down Wyoming’s Gay Marriage Ban
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 17 2014 4:23 PM A Former FBI Agent On Why It’s So Hard to Prosecute Gamergate Trolls
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Oct. 17 2014 1:33 PM What Happened at Slate This Week?  Senior editor David Haglund shares what intrigued him at the magazine. 
Oct. 19 2014 4:33 PM Building Family Relationships in and out of Juvenile Detention Centers
Future Tense
Oct. 17 2014 6:05 PM There Is No Better Use For Drones Than Star Wars Reenactments
  Health & Science
Space: The Next Generation
Oct. 19 2014 11:45 PM An All-Female Mission to Mars As a NASA guinea pig, I verified that women would be cheaper to launch than men.
Sports Nut
Oct. 16 2014 2:03 PM Oh What a Relief It Is How the rise of the bullpen has changed baseball.