Popular Noise – an independent oddity

by Steve Watson in November 2009
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Popular Noise

Whether it’s Free Style with its magazine in a frisbee  or POSTR‘s magazine as a poster, an unusual format can stretch the definition of what a magazine is. There are loads of examples of inventive independents experimenting with their own shape and form – take a look at Jeremy Leslie’s What is a Magazine? post and Andrew’s Wall Street Journal article for a few examples.

But in terms of inventiveness and beauty you’d be hard pushed to find anything that beats The Journal of Popular Noise, a magazine presented as three vinyl records contained within a letterpress sleeve that folds out into a poster. It’s wonderfully contrary – a deliberately niche rebel that appeals to the obsessive collector in all of us.

And it seems like something of a master stroke to present a magazine, that most endangered of popular media, on vinyl records. If magazines are endangered vinyl is positively dead to the mainstream (I confess I had to have mp3s sent to me to hear the music because I couldn’t find anyone with a record player) and yet there are legions of vinyl fans who love its sound quality and analogue charm.

As mainstream magazines continue to be squeezed on the newsstand, I hope we’ll see more high quality oddities like this popping up.  High quality, personal and collectible, it’s exactly the sort of thing I want to have on my shelves.

The Winter issue is out soon, and there’s a long list of back issues available on the site. Go have a look, and if you know of any other odd and inventive magazines that deserve a mention feel free to stick a link in the comments below.

UPDATE: There’s an interview with its founder and designer, Byron Kalet, over on Mediabistro.

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