(7 Sep 2017) LEADIN
Old fashioned vinyl records are back in fashion in Russia.
In a digital world the retro discs are proving popular with both collectors and even the younger generation.
Working in limited lighting, sound engineer Stas Semenov is hard at work. He's making modern Russian vinyl records at this small studio on the outskirts of Moscow. It all starts by putting a pre-made empty vinyl disc on the recording machine.
The plates themselves are cut at a factory outside Moscow. They are then brought here to this little room, where Semenov does his magic, turning black pieces of plastic into "musical records with a soul".
According to Semenov, the process of vinyl recording isn't difficult. The main problem is the age of the equipment:
"This equipment is really old," he says. "For example the lathe cutting lacquer disc is more than 40 years old. So naturally this equipment is very special, capricious, one has to know how to handle it. Sometimes it can be in a bad mood and you need to learn how to adjust to it."
The quality of the record is checked by looking through a microscope or by pointing a camera at it and checking the images on a computer screen. White spots mean defects that need to be fixed.
The idea to revive vinyl production in Russia came to Semenov's sound recording label Ultra Production 5 years ago. It took them 3 years of attempts to reach a certain level of quality to be able to start fulfilling commercial orders.
One of the biggest challenges was to find people who would know how to work with the equipment. Semenov was trained by a man who learned vinyl production in London.
Vinyl used to be made at Russia's Aprelevsky factory. Once a huge factory producing millions of vinyl records a year, Aprelevka now lies in ruins and is slowly becoming a loft residential district.
Numerous attempts to give vinyl record production a second chance at the factory failed, but some of its old lathes are in use again at Ultra Production.
Head of the label, Andrey Belonogov, says they found these lathes in Budapest where they had been sold after the Soviet Union collapse and closure of the factory.
Despite the success of vinyl at Ultra Production some musical experts are sceptical about its future in Russia.
Ilya Voronin, Editor-in-chief of online music magazine "Mixmag Russia" describes the process of keeping and cleaning them as an "esoteric art" which wouldn't suit everybody.
He also claims Russian vinyl has never been great quality and will struggle to keep up with that made in the west since production stopped completely after the collapse of the USSR in 1991.
But collectors would appear to disagree. Famous photographer Igor Vereshchagin is one of those. Not only does he collect vinyl discs but he's also working on a photo project about vinyl as well.
Vereshchagin started taking photos of his friends and famous people with their favourite vinyl records in 2000. He is planning on releasing his project, organising an exhibition and possibly publish a book by the end of this year.
Vereshchagin says vinyl encourages people to listen to music more attentively.
"You have to go and find a disc, clean it, put it on a player, turn it to the other side after the first part. This motivates to listen to the music in a more attentive and logical manner," he says.
For numerous Russian artists, producing vinyl records in their home country makes a good financial sense. The high demand at Ultra Production is proof of that:
"This, by the way, says that the vinyl market in Russia is developing."
However buying new vinyl records in Russia don't come cheap: the average price is around 1500-2000 rubles ($USDollars 25-35).
One enthusiastic shopper is Yana, who didn't give her last name
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