Back when I was a teenager listening to records in my bedroom, my parents had a couple of stock phrases that they would yell from the hallway. The first was, “Turn it down!” It would sometimes be followed up with, “Why do you listen to that trash?” especially when the Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil” was blasting from my stereo, which happened a lot. Times change, and now trash recordings are a thing, thanks to craft brewery Sharp’s in Cornwall, UK. It has partnered with musician Nick Mulvey to produce the first playable record made from recycled ocean plastic found on the Cornish coast in southwest England.
The limited edition record contains a single track, “In the Anthropocene,” which can also be streamed on Spotify, Apple Music and other digital platforms. Proceeds will go to Surfers Against Sewage, an organization that helps protect British coastlines from pollution, plastic or otherwise. It's safe to say that the limited pressing won’t make much of a dent in recycling the waste that has washed up on Cornish beaches, but it’s hoped that it will raise public awareness as well as hold the music industry accountable for its non-sustainable practices. “We’re really turning the tables on the music industry by releasing ‘In the Anthropocene’ with Nick Mulvey by upcycling single-use plastic found on our beaches and turning it into playable ‘ocean vinyl,’” said Sharp’s Marketing Controller James Nicholls.
The brewery has teamed up with advertising agency Havas London and sister company Universal Music Group to market the record. I can’t vouch for the audio quality of the ocean vinyl, but that’s probably beside the point. As for the song itself, it’s a bit twee to my ears, but Mulvey has been compared to the great Nick Drake and was on the shortlist for the prestigious Mercury Prize in 2014, so you might want to check it out for yourself. The Mercury Prize is awarded annually to the best album released in the United Kingdom by a British or Irish act. Past recipients have included U2, the XX and Arctic Monkeys, a track record that couldn’t be more solid. Although Mulvey didn’t win in 2014, simply making the list is noteworthy.
The ocean vinyl album can be purchased through driftrecords.com.
Image courtesy Havas London