Cropped image of Kylie Minogue album cover Into the Blue

21st century vinyl

 Nick Henderson

Australian-produced vinyl records are back in the news, with the recent announcement of the establishment of Roundabout Records in the Adelaide Hills. This new local vinyl pressing plant joins Melbourne-based Zenith Records, and highlights the ongoing increase in vinyl sales over the last decade, with local bands and labels diversifying their offerings to include both digital and analogue.

The NFSA established a relationship with Zenith Records some years ago. Zenith’s small-scale pressing plant produces a diverse range of local records, with recent titles ranging from Kylie Minogue’s blue 7” ‘Into the Blue’ (2014) through to The Best of The Wiggles (2016). The NFSA receives copies of each record pressed by Zenith.

Additional recent titles donated by Zenith include Urthboy’s The Past Beats Inside Me Like a Second Heartbeat (2016). The album (which began life at the NFSA) is available on vinyl 2LP + MP3 (black or clear vinyl) and CD+MP3, and features the single ‘Long Loud Hours’, voted #33 in triple j’s Hottest 100 for 2015.

Television and film soundtracks also feature strongly in Zenith Records’ output, including the ABC’s hugely successful Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries (2012-present), which was composed by singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Greg J Walker, who performs as Machine Translations. Greg’s screen composing CV extends from drama (Stranded, 2007; The Wedding Party, 2010) to documentaries (Girl in a Mirror, 2005; Bombora: The Story of Australian Surfing, 2009).

Zenith Records have been steadily pressing the output of Votary Records, which is a reissue label representing the back catalogue of Australian film composer Sven Libaek. Norwegian-born Sven has had a long career scoring film and TV soundtracks in Australia and the USA, with a long list of credits including Nature Walkabout (1967), Big Country (1968-1991), Boney (1973), Inner Space (1974), The Settlement (1984), Joe Wilson (1988) and The World Around Us (1993-2006). His compositions also featured in Wes Anderson’s The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004).

On a recent visit to Zenith, Director Paul Rigby took me on a tour around the pressing plant, which included the Neumann record-cutting lathe, and a chance to see plating of the record masters as well as the production of mothers and stampers.

Read an interview with Paul Rigby of Zenith Records about the past, present and future of vinyl in Australia in Part 2 of this blog.