The streetview of Parallel Records, © Tourismus NRW e.V.

Par­al­lel Re­cords

Just for the re­cord(s)

The cloth bag purchased by customers to take home their LPs, magazines and books used to bear the words “I am Damo Suzuki”. This is the title of a song by New Wave legend The Fall – and Damo Suzuki was the second singer in Can, one of the most influential German avant-garde rock bands worldwide. The inscription reflected at least two sections in the shop: “Indie” and “Avant-garde Rock”, both of which are labels that may have become paradoxical today, but which conjure up certain associations. On the wall, there is a photo of Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy. Why open a record shop? “Oh, that happened of its own accord; all three of us were DJs, collected records and worked in record shops or for labels”, says Thomas, who is mainly responsible for soundtracks, reggae and Bob Dylan. Jazz is another pillar at the store, as well as Latin and New Wave, Christian's areas of specialism. The shop has around 25,000 LPs on sale, although they are just a fraction of the secret horde of records in the shop’s storage space in the cellar. When I ask Mark about his interests, he says “Classic and country”. There aren't many shelves upstairs that cater to this kind of music, but there are plenty one storey below. There, the shop houses another 75,000 records of all genres – all of them recorded in a database and accessible via the website. This database is updated every day. “There are customers who check the website for new arrivals every evening, and who turn up the next morning at 11”, says Mark. A typical sight in the shop is one of the three ascending from the cellar with three records under their arm.

The shop is also called “Parallel” because it is parallel to the mainstream – not in the sense of a pure counter-culture, but with a comprehensive offer of new and used goods. The records that have enjoyed the best sales tell the story of the shop since it was founded. They include “Let England Shake” by PJ Harvey, “Illmatic” by Nas, the red best-of album by the Beatles, the first album by The XX, or “A Charlie Brown Christmas” by the jazz musician Vince Guaraldi. Unlike the many highly specialised shops, at Parallel, customers can listen through many different genres, be they unconventional or conventional. Accordingly, the recommendations of the three owners also vary widely. Anyone visiting Parallel with a clear idea of what they want may well leave the shop with an entirely different set of LPs. This is a shop not only for freaks, but also for music fans.

Further information:
Brabanter Str. 2-4, 50674 Cologne


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