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Would You Buy A Record Player From This Man? TURNTABLE II - This is How Brian Eno Plays His Records

Would You Buy A Record Player From This Man?

TURNTABLE II - This is How Brian Eno Plays His Records

by Ancient Champion, Columnist
first published: February, 2024

approximate reading time: minutes

Turntable II is on display at the Paul Stolper gallery until March 9th. It plays records at 33 and 45rpm.

Brian Eno has designed the Turntable II, his first foray into such industrial design since the 1974 Scratch turntable. It is a gorgeously otherworldly doodah, mesmerisingly so, featuring two independent generative orbs of light, emitting programmatic colourscapes. Turntable II is an edition limited to 150 pieces, plus 20 artist proofs. It will be on display at the Paul Stolper gallery until March 9th. It plays records at 33 and 45rpm.  


"When it doesn’t have to do anything in particular, like play a record, it is a sculpture"
Brian Eno 2024


In the realm of the music to listen to while writing about music delivery devices to listen to music on, type of thing, (that’s right, thank you Spacemen 3 for giving me the beautiful: Taking Drugs to Make Music To Take Drugs To title to misappropriate), I dug out Brian Eno’s white vinyl Dieter Rams LP that friend and sometime musical collaborator, the DJ, Prehistoric Man had gifted me a while ago. 

Prehistoric and I were at The Diskery, the oldest record shop in Birmingham(UK) and at some point I was admiring the aged clear skin of legendary industrial designer Dieter Rams, on the sleeve of Eno’s soundtrack LP for Gary Hustwitt's documentary about the great man. We were drinking a little wine and there was a jazz trio playing in the corner of the shop… If this all permeates and has you standing alongside me at the record racks, that’s great because it really was a perfect record store moment that I’m sharing to suggest that Ancient Champion exists not only in a digital space where you usually enjoy me, through sound, although, let’s consider, where are the defined boundaries of the digital realm? Once sound emanates from the stereo speakers, can it even be considered digital anymore? And once these words move beyond the plane of the screen are they digital anymore? Not, I think, right?

Anyways… as we left The Diskery, Prehistoric Man said, “This is for you.” Handing me the LP.

I didn’t even break through the Dieter Rams shrink wrap or play the record for an age. I looked at the cover art while streaming the music because of the inherent advantage in streaming - there's little motivation to rise from one’s chair, versus rising to remove the needle from the dead wax runout groove every twenty minutes or so when playing LP's. Generally as the most sedentary person still alive, I can easily sit for most of the day, slowly sliding down my Humanscale - rated for many hours of healthy sitting - chair, while losing the last of my physical structural integrity. This would be simply impossible in the analogue music world, particularly since the demise of the autochanger. 

As an aside, I will say how healthier much of my sitting became in 2024 with my adoption of the Pomodoro clock which I’d recommend for all short-burst inspiration creatives.

The Dieter Rams LP is in every way as great to listen to as it looks, as Eno masters the art of recreating Dieter’s Braun electric shaver played backwards through a megaphone while switching a high grade phaser effect to full. (Okay, it only begins like that.) I like it.

As a second aside it is a laborious task unearthing even alphabetically filed, by artist surname and soloist, LPs where the spines have been shredded. Daphne the cat has seriously turned her attention to the spines of our LP collection, when we are not looking and sometimes when we are... Daphne is a family member, if that is how she finds her neutered joy, who am I to question her? That’s one more for the streamers! No shredded spines. Anyway today I finally located Eno’s Dieter Rams LP and pulled it off the shelf, slid it from its sleeve and put it on our Audio Technica turntable and listened through a pair of Spendor speakers, apparently, they were used to reference sound in the BBC outside broadcast trucks of the 70s. That might be marginally apocryphal, but in a misappropriation of the critical thinking of John Berger, considering the Spendors in confined spaces, this is a Way of Listening.


How did the Eno vinyl sound vs digital? An interesting question that I will get to in a mo’ because it is important that I first discuss Brian's Turntable II. No, I don’t have one. The turntable consists of a platter and a base, common components on a record deck. Here they are gently yet constantly evolving light sources combining listening with a visual experience. 

I am able to close my eyes and meditate on the white vinyl rotations of my Dieter Rams LP, and the colours come in an auto-synethesia that in my lower-rent Bearwood way, enables me to replicate Eno’s lavalight-orb effect to such an extent an Ancient Champion can believe themselves actually be a living and listening witness to the Turntable II.

"It’s the softness of these colours and the way they merge with each other that is so seductive"
_Brian Eno 2024

It would not be remiss to regard Brian Eno as a Futurist. A producer and composer of gently restless and often experimental recordings, each imbued with avant-garde techniques and vaulting ambition. His trio of Bowie in Berlin albums are only one high watermark of a career that began as a synthesiser player for Roxy Music in 1971.

These are good times to be in the old record business. Locally, RPM Audio, the vintage hi-fi audio equipment store operated by Richard March of Pop Will Eat Itself, has crossed the street to occupy a property ten times as big as its original location. Johnny Ive, Apple computer’s celebrated designer, reworked Linn's classic Sondek LP12 turntable, incorporating a space grey base, improving the ergonomics of switching between singles and LPs and stuck a $64,000 price tag on it.  Vinyl record sales are booming. Outsideleft runs vinyl DJ nights with FREE live music on the first Friday of each month, it's packed. It’s a world gone mad all over again for music made of plastic. If this sounds like a mild indictment, perhaps who knows, an LP played often enough may well use fewer resources than the data centres and transmission of the same album again and again over the internet.

Turntable II has a groovy culpability in all of this. As a commodity lacking the all-pervasive AI imprimatur, it is rendered more retrofuturistic than futuristic. More space age than say, digital age, for sure. It is 100% analogue after all. Perfectly at home for a DJ Set at say, the LAX signature building when it was still romantically, dramatically, thematically called The Encounter, with it’s Star Trek sound effects elevator doors and futurist dining experience. Jet fuel roasted fillet mignon anyone?

You don’t think every home should have a Turntable II? Oh man, where did our dreams go?

Main by by Luke Walker/Paul Stolper Gallery
See Turntable II at the Paul Stolper Gallery until March 9th

Ancient Champion

Ancient Champion writes for OUTSIDELEFT while relentlessly recording and releasing instrumental easy listening music for difficult people. The Champ is working on Public Transport, a new short story collection that takes up where 2021's Six Stories About Motoring Nowhere (Disco City Books) left off. It should be ready in time for the summer holidays. More info at

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