No hardcore record collector is satisfied looking through the LPs stocked on the sales floor of their local record store. We know that even the "new arrivals" section has been picked over by dozens of buyers before us.
For serious collectors, the real trick to acquiring quality vinyl at the neighborhood record shop is talking your way into the store's back room.
All collectors know that the back room is where the hidden treasures await. That's where the newly acquired collections are stored before they're sorted and priced. And more importantly that's where the uncommon rarities and unusual oddities are kept. The sort of one-of-a-kind items the shopkeeper is hesitant to let go of, as they're not listed in any online discographies or guide books.
I'm fortunate to say that there are a few Indianapolis record store back rooms I've been lucky enough to earn my way into. I remember the legendary Howard's Hard To Find Records on Keystone Avenue, a much-beloved shop that called it quits in the '90s. And in the early 2000s there was the great Funhouse Records on 54th Street, a shop that once held a pirate's ransom of incredible vinyl rarities.
But none of these crate-digging adventures prepared me for my trip into the back room of the Joyful Noise record store on the second floor of the Murphy Building in Fountain Square. A brief walk through a thin curtain behind the Joyful Noise sale's desk reveals a trove of esoteric music relics.
RELATED: Catch up on Psychphonic symphony conductor Kipp Normand
This assemblage of oddities has been named the Museum of Psychphonics.
The central artifact in the Psychphonics collection carries significant historical weight for fans of psych rock and funk: an original, miniature version of the legendary Parliament-Funkadelic Mothership. This incredible stage prop was used by George Clinton and company in several hundred shows during the late 1970s.
Be sure to visit the Museum of Psychphonics if your RSD travels bring you to the Joyful Noise record store on April 16. JNR will surely have some amazing vinyl delicacies on tap, and you can catch live performances from Ejaaz, Sedcairn Archives, Sirius Blvck, and John Stamps.
The creative visionaries behind this mysterious new exhibition are Michael Kaufmann the philosophical architect of Psychphonics; and visual artist Kipp Normand, designer of the Psychphonics museum space. Here's a portion of a recent interview with both.
NUVO: Michael, I think it would be helpful if we started off by giving you a chance to define what Psychphonics is.
Michael Kaufmann: Where the inspiration came from was this idea of sound, or "phonics" obviously, and "psych" being of the mind or of the soul or some otherworldly quality. Psychphonics is about the sounds that disrupt or release us from our everyday life and activities and our preconceived notions of self and other in the universe.
NUVO: Kipp, much of your work as an artist involves creating environments, installations or sculptures out of historical artifacts you've collected. So it seems natural that you'd be a perfect choice for creating a museum space. Would describing you as the designer of the Museum of Psychphonics be a fair assessment of your role in this project?
Kipp Normand: Yes, I like to call myself the conductor of this symphony.
NUVO: Kipp, this concept of Psychphonics that Michael just outlined for us, did that concept speak to you as an artist?
Normand: Yes, the idea of this tiny museum that attempts to cover such broad and unknowable topics was really compelling and fascinating to me. I think the hardest part for me was trying to figure out where to stop. When Michael told me we had certain objects available to us, and that he also wanted me to fill up the rest of the museum to create a context for those objects I thought this is the most tremendous opportunity. I could go in so many directions and somehow they all work.
NUVO: The centerpiece of the museum is a miniature version of the Parliament-Funkadelic Mothership, which is a legendary stage prop in pop culture history. How was this object acquired for the museum?
Kaufmann: Tom Battista, who some folks probably know in Indianapolis, has kind of a double life. In many ways he is responsible for the continuing emerging food scene we have here, but has also been involved with music for several decades. I forget his exact title, but he was involved with David Bowie's Diamond Dogs tour. He was involved with the Parliament-Funkadelic tours and is still involved with Jimmy Buffett. I found out from Tom that he had the baby Mothership from the Parliament-Funkadelic tours. When I found out he had it in storage and understanding what this object represents in the history of rock, funk and African-American identity, I thought what an incredible and significant object to have in our city and what a shame it was stored away. I talked to Tom and he was generous to let us have that be the centerpiece to the museum.
The larger Mothership that was used in concerts was dismantled and sold off for parts. The baby Mothership was used as part of the original show. It would fly over the audiences and then land on the stage and the larger Mothership was revealed. About two years ago the Smithsonian rebuilt the Mothership for an exhibition. The fact that the Smithsonian went to the trouble to rebuild this thing, and we have an original miniature version is all the more exciting to me.
NUVO: Kipp, most of your work focuses on themes and objects from a much earlier period of history than the Mothership dates from. Was it difficult for you to work with such a modern object?
Normand: I do prefer to work with older things, but there was something particularly fascinating about this object. When you see it in person it looks like a piece of folk art. It's quite beat up. It had a long history. I think Tom said it was used in over four-hundred performances. It's almost like working with the stage prop of a great magician or a vaudeville troupe or something. It was really fun to try to create an appropriate context that would give the Mothership its due as the most important artifact in our museum, but then also not simply have the Mothership on a pedestal but to create this idea that it's sort of floating in this timeless situation where it's no longer a prop on a stage but a kind of talisman that means much more than the physical fact of its existence. It's a metaphor for so many things.
NUVO: Kipp, one of the items in the museum is a functioning record player. Can you talk about the role music played in designing the space, either as in influence or in guiding the components of the material you worked with?
Normand: At first i envisioned using old phonographs and broken parlor organs and pianos to line the walls and create display cases to showcase the objects. This was the grand vision I had. It's easy to think of things like that until you actually see the space. I think it measures ten feet by twelve feet. It's really tiny.
I thought there had to be a way to present music and I didn't want the museum to be filled with piped-in MP3 recordings of things. I wanted the soundtrack of the museum to be created by older means. So we used refurbished 1940s speakers mounted on the walls and other means of presenting these old sound relics.
NUVO: I happened to be in the museum the night before it opened, and when I went back the next day for the grand opening celebration it had been completely rearranged. I get the feeling that the Museum of Psychphonics is not a static exhibition. Can we expect the museum to grow and change over time?
Kaufmann: It's up to Kipp at this point. It's his baby now.
Normand: And you left it at my doorstep Michael. (laughs) I have great intentions of tinkering with it constantly and making it ever-evolving. I'd like to reward people who are curious enough to come back again and again. We hope to have listening parties and encourage the use of the stereo. We'd love to have experimental music nights and other different odd and wondrous events at the Museum of Psychpnics - for a very limited number of people of course, because it is so tiny.