Friday, 12 February 2021

A Dismal Orb

It's not terribly obvious from the picture below, but I was sad to discover my copy of The Orb's Live 93 CD has succumbed to disc rot. This was not entirely surprising, considering the CD matrix bears the dreaded "Made In UK BY PDO" etching. It was discovered in the mid-90's that CDs manufactured largely between 1988 and 1992 at the Philips and Dupont Optical (PDO) plant in Blackburn (“4000 holes in Blackburn, Lancashire!") were beginning to exhibit discoloration on the playing side of the CD due to, and I'm quoting Wiki here, "lacquer used to coat the discs was not resistant to the sulfur content of the paper in the booklets, which led to the corrosion of the aluminum layer of the disc " I had seen the telltale signs on the Orb CD a few years ago but inspecting the CD yesterday, the rot had spread right around the edge of the disc and caused skips, splutters and drop outs on playback. No big deal, I simply bought a later repressing of the album yesterday, but I'm looking now at other discs of mine known to be affected – two Warp CDs - first pressings of Autechre's Incunabula and Aphex Twin's Selected Ambient Works Vol 2. Happily, neither discs show any signs of deterioration, and both can be replaced easily enough. The one I'm most worried about is my copy of Coil's Unnatural History, which is not so easy to replace but luckily, the disc is so far unblemished. But considering the amount of optical discs I own, CD, DVD, BR it was a sobering moment to discover the Orb disc is no longer playable…

The dreaded sign of CD rot

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