Vinyl records keep playing in lots of Mexico City’s more progressive retro-haunts. Here are five of the most important.
“In the era of music portability, vinyl offers a comfortable throwback to simpler times. Fans… have embraced purchasing LPs as an alternative to buying clothing, posters, etc.,” said Jim Olsen, cofounder of the Americana-focused Signature Sounds Recordings.
Though digital audio technology has improved over the years, some audiophiles still prefer what they perceive as the warmer and more detailed sound of vinyl to the sound of CDs. Some listeners were also disappointed by what they considered to be unfaithful re-mastering of analog recordings. The advent of higher-quality digital formats, notably SACD, offers the tantalizing possibility of combining the high-quality sound of the best analog recordings with the convenience and durability of the CD.
Many artists still release recordings, in limited pressings, on vinyl. For DJs, mostly in the electronic dance music or hip hop genres, vinyl has another advantage over the CD: the direct manipulation of the medium. While with CDs or cassettes one normally has only indirect manipulation options (the play/stop/pause etc. buttons), with a record one can put the needle a few tracks farther in or outwards and accelerate/decelerate the spinning or even reverse the direction if the needle and record player is built to withstand it). However some professional CD players now have this capability.
For some music-lovers, the mp3 sound is like feeding their ears with fast food, to them it’s a uniform sound of poor taste and no texture. Others, still worship the vinyl as it brings back memories of yesteryear when the Long Play, or 33-1/3 vinyl rpm microgroove record made young and old generations happy. Regardless of the hipsters who believe to have found the philosopher’s stone, the truth is LPs never disappeared, and despite the fact the vinyl music industry has faced tough times, there’s always been a group of music-lover rescuers who have managed to preserve the Long Play format, and keep it from banishing to the kingdom of oblivion. So, it’s either time to dust off grandpa’s old turntable, or buy a new one and enjoy listening to your favorite albums. Here are a few shops in CDMX where you can spend hours browsing through classical albums, as well as the newest launchings.
Discos Mono is a record store in Mexico City, specialized in international independent music, where each album is meticulously chosen. They work with distributors like Forced Exposure, Revolver, Secretly Canadian, Mexican Summer, Light in he Attic, etc. Their motto is “handpicked vinyl for the curious soul”. It’s the best place to find the most bizarre vinyl records in the Aztec capital.
Address: Jalapa 129-B, col. Roma Norte, México, D.F.
Telephone: 01 55 6724 0261
Retroactivo Records started out as just a guy selling old records in his mum’s vintage shop, but soon enough he had enough cash to move into his own space (he even has a vinyl assembly plant!). The shop features one of the biggest second-hand vinyl collections around that span from the 60s to the 90s. It includes limited edition records, along with all the latest releases. You can negotiate exchanging records and have them buy your old vinyl albums. The owners are planning to expand the space so they can hold in-store sessions.
Address: Jalapa 125, col. Roma Norte, México, D.F.
Telephone: 55 5564 2565
Besides selling records, CDs, cassettes, international magazines, and vinyl albums from Independent Mexican Record Labels, Discoteca also provides workshops where they address many of the issues that shape the world of electronic and independent music. They’ve been in the business for years and have an online shop well worth checking out.
Address: Zacatecas 43, col. Roma Norte, México, D.F.
Telephone: 01 55 5212 0234
La Roma Records
La Roma Records is relatively new, but always on it with the latest releases. It also stocks turntables, imported books, Magazines, bands t-shirts and DJ equipment. They have an impressive section with remixes. You can also find Mexican national labels like Arts & Crafts México, Terrícolas Imbéciles and Discos Tormento, among others. They anywhere in the Mexicn Republic; you can special order something and Agustín Lagos will helps his customers sell any unwanted vinyl albums. La Roma also sells CDx, books, collectable items, and International and Mexican music magazines.
Address: Álvaro Obregón 200 Bis, col. Roma, México, D.F.
Déjalo Ser Records
Juan Celís Garcí and his mom Rosa Elia are the owners and founders of this shop in the Lagunilla barrio. Everything started when, due to a financial crisis, Juan’s father was force to sell his vinyl alum collection; he had collected them for 30 years. He thought that if his collection sells well, he would buy more and more vinyl albums to sell. He then decided to set up a stall in Matamoros street, in la Lagunilla. Twenty years later, they decided to formally open the store. Mr. Juan Celís senior was a Beatles fan, and the song “Let it Be” inspired the name of this mega complete store in the Lagunilla.
Address: Peralvillo 5, Cuauhtémoc, México, D.F.
Mobile: 044 55 1501 4898
Hidden between the alleyways of Centro Histórico is this gem of a record shop. Their specialty is high energy, but they also have an impressive selection of rock of the 60s, and more recent music. If Mr. Jesús Chowell isn’t, it’s worthwhile waiting for him. He is extremely knowledgeable and friendly.
Address: Calle de Mesones 12, Centro, col. Ejido del Centro, Mexico, D.F.
If you can’t find a vinyl album and you are up to for some treasure-hunting, consider visiting flee markets such as lBazar Cuauhtémoc, Mercado de la Ciudadela, Jardín Dr. Ignacio Chávez, Tianguis Cultural del Chopo, and old-time book shops. You’ll probably find what your are looking for and at more affordable prices.
Art and technology are two faces of human creativity, two that are also closely related, despite the differences they apparently have with each other. What art does on many occasions has been achieved thanks to a specific technical development, a technology whose existence allows the artists to enhance or limit their creative work. Yes, it conditions it, but possibly also encourages it to transcend those limitations.
In this sense, the relationship between one and another human activities could be found in virtually any era, but it is certainly in recent times when technology has a presence, so persistent, somehow so inescapable, that art has been benefited for incorporating it. Both as a resource, an instrument, as part of the examination of contemporary reality, when many of our practices and interactions almost necessarily pass through a technological device.
Thus, somehow the ideal professed by Nietzsche on the need to transform life in a work of art, but this time through art and technology. Somehow the aesthetic sensibility, the discovery of the admirable or the frankly beautiful that any of us can perceive, finds a vehicle, a means of transmission and expression in how art can be magnified through technology.
Nowadays, it is becoming more and more complex to achieve high levels of consciousness, and to create a community without being outside of technology, but ww can use it as a tool to improve our sensitive abilities. To the same extent that we depend on technology to survive, it has become part of our lives, even in its most spiritual and even transcendental recesses. Art, now more than ever, demands to be a vehicle to explore different states that bring us closer to the dimensions of the infinite
Ilumina is an installation created by the artist Pablo Gonzalez Vargas, who through a deep exploration with the power of interconnectivity, proposes a method to improve the energy field of the planet. Pablo Gonzalez created a majestic interactive sculpture of light and sound that is activated by the emotional states of people, generating a beautiful light show and a sound landscape where the participants enter a state of coherence and deep harmony with themselves and with each other.
Ilumina is a metallic art monument, completed with aluminum and LED lights that together form an architectural piece full of harmony. The piece of art combines technology with a design of ancient wisdom. Ilumina has a program that responds to external stimuli, being able to shine more while more “coherent” is the group that hosts, generating a unique shared experience.
Ilumina is a chilling visual experience, and the volunteers who participate in the exercise of meditative immersion that lasts three minutes, are transported to a state of coherence and deep harmony with themselves, with their fellow participants and with the cosmos through a patented fusion of modern technology and transpersonal art.
The biometric sensors are connected to the ear lobes of each participant, which measures their unique state of coherence and averages them together. This is how lighting design and moving soundscapes respond to a unique algorithm, a product of HeartMath that uses biometric sensors for personal self-training in the regulation of emotional states where the sculpture becomes brighter to the extent that the users experiment with their emotions.
The team that created Ilumina included about 20 people from different disciplines and contributions. There was a large industrial design team that shaped the exact model that was taken to manufacturing. Marco Kalach worked with an expert manufacturing workshop, because as it is a public use facility in particular events, it had to comply with all the rules, structural regulations and with protection codes. The executive producer of the project was Gaby Vargas, who was responsible for the expertise at HeartMath, and joined by mexican musicians and audio engineers to make the experience of 360 degrees of immersive sound, led by Billy Mendez. The lighting team, directed by Paolo Montiel, coordinated all the programming and lighting design that makes symbiosis with the audio.
It was at Burning Man 2012, where Pablo Gonzalez Vargas created an art car called Mayan Warrior: a luminescence project and a spectacular audio show featuring pieces by the artist Alex Gray and musical performances by elite artists from Mexico and around the world.
In the penultimate edition of Burning Man, Pablo Gonzalez and his team decided to go a step beyond the great proposal that is Mayan Warrior, by presenting Ilumina, this piece of sacred geometry that radiates not only light but an algorithmic sacrality, it’s as mystical and hypnotic as an art piece can get. The tower of almost 12 meters high illuminated the Nevada desert at the Burning Man Festival 2017, and users managed to enter a mental state full of concentration characterized by a complete absorption, a wonderful moment of loss of the notion of spacetime.
It is expected that later there will be replicas of these sculptures, so that they can reach new locations around the world, and we can experience this amazing spectacle of light and the soundscape that connects us with the profound mysticism that exists in ourselves and that highlights the interconnectivity of our planet with the global energy fields.
Here are some photos of this beautiful project, in which lies the probability of a coherent and luminous future that would be worth living.
If you want to know more about this beautiful project or about the creative artist and allies that integrate it, visit their social media channels:
Though the internet makes lots more information available to lots more people, Mexico City libraries have simply not been supplanted. Charged with continually re-inventing themselves, and their places in the public imagination, one can still encounter eras gone by and great historical minds in a library as in few other places.
Knowledge, after all, belongs to everyone. Opening a book, reading it at a study, or just meeting in the silence of one these Mexico City libraries enhances concentration, and provides a welcome respite from everything going on out there in the world.
Of all Mexico City libraries, the oldest were part of the church and one or another of its offshoot organizations. Among these was the Colegio de Santa Cruz de Tlatelolco, founded in the 1530s and surviving today as the Biblioteca José María Lafragua. Most of these ecclesiastical libraries were not truly open to the public, and Mexico had to wait for the National Library of Mexico, inaugurated by Benito Juárez in 1867 to enjoy the benefits of a truly public library system.
The list below is intended to let you enjoy some of that system, too.
Opened just ten years ago, in 2006, the Vasconcelos is visited by thousands for the sheer spectacle of its innovative design. Graced by the iconic whale from artist, Gabriel Orozco, it’s always a good library for art and visual spectacle. The facade retains something of a colonial appearance, but for sheer scale, and jaw-dropping space, the interior must be experienced.
We’ve written a lot about it in these pages, but the UNAM library with the Juan O’Gorman murals remains one of the most outstanding of all Mexico City libraries. As a UNESCO site with some 428,000 volumes in the collection, it’s the biggest in Mexico, but lots of folks visit just to see the facade and the surrounding grounds.
Opened by Benito Juárez in 1867, there’s still a good one million books inside, today administered by the folks from UNAM. Originally located in the San Agustín church in the city center, the current building was opened in 1979. Geometric, and massive, it’s an extraordinary place to visit.
Specializing in economic materials, this collection of some 86,350 books and 114,852 journals is administered by the Secretary of Finance and Public Credit. Founded in 1928, it’s one of the cities true public art spectacles. Inside the main nave of the old Oratory of San Felipe Neri “El Nuevo,” the baroque façade outside is just the beginning. Inside, the murals are futuristic, and not to be missed.
One of Centro’s truly outstanding historical buildings, for centuries it was the convent of the Clarisas from the 16th century. Today it’s something like a “Library of Congress” with a stunning collection of publications and artifacts, but also with a lush, deep, dark intellectual interior, that beckons from centuries past.
Address: Tacuba 29, Centro Histórico
Photographs this page: Flickr – Creative Commons