Posts Tagged ‘Fionn Regan’

8th June
written by ReedenWright

Nathan Dunne is either a very brave or a very stupid young man. At a time when a) the MP3 has supplanted the CD as the most popular format on which to listen to recorded sounds; b) literature as a physical artefact is coming under attack from the rise of iPads, Kindles and other digital reading devices; and c) the short story is as tricky to sell to publishing houses as it has ever been, Dunne has set up a new imprint called Underwood, whose remit is to produce 33rpm vinyl records featuring writers reading 20-minute short stories aloud. “Candidly, it’s an experiment,” he admits.

The first release from Underwood, which takes its name from a Fionn Regan song that alludes to another largely obsolete piece of technology, the typewriter (“I’m changing the ribbon in this old Underwood”), is a lavish affair. Designed by American comic-book artist Jordan Crane, whose stylised bucolic cover picks up on themes on the disc’s two stories – Clare Wigfall’s Along Birdcage Walk and Toby Litt’s The Hare – it’s presented in a four-panel gatefold sleeve so beautiful that it’s easy to regard the artefact as visual art as much as a record.

“When I was growing up there were labels like Argos and Caedmon that brought out records of writers speaking,” Dunne recalls. “When James Joyce was reading aloud from Finnegans Wake it was like reggae to me; I didn’t understand half of what he was saying, but it had a lyrical and a melodic quality that absolutely made sense.”

For Dunne, the current emphasis on the portability and ease of circulation of recorded sound rather than its sonic properties corrodes the intimacy of the listening experience. The MP3 has an alien digital gloss. It’s streamlined, corporate, like a mainline train station. Listening to a short story on vinyl is the purest antidote to that. It’s more immersive. It heightens engagement.”

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