s

Blog

How tape label Evening Chants tackled vinyl (and how they’re pushing forward in 2020)

How tape label Evening Chants tackled vinyl (and how they’re pushing forward in 2020)

A little disclaimer: the people behind Evening Chants are good friends of mine, and I’ve had the honor of performing at their pop-up shows in pre-COVID times. But while the growth of the label is something I’ve witnessed from the ground up, with the grunt work carried out by label owner Nigel Lopez in its infancy, there’s also very little I know intimately about the label’s behind-the-scenes activity. At least, until now.

With just three releases under their belt, Evening Chants has defied easy categorization. The duo of Nigel Lopez and Jasmine Ho, who serves as the label’s creative director have established the label as less a distinct home for genre-specific music than a space of unfettered exploration — allowing the crystallized loops of Softman to coexist with Melting Bridge, a Taiwan-based duo whose music is a meditative and fractured reflection of the environment it was birthed from.

Handpicking music from Singapore and beyond, Evening Chants releases albums on limited edition cassettes; replete with artwork and packaging that explains why their tapes sell out so easily (aside from their limited quantities).

The recent re-release of Kwaidan, the haunting debut from Japanese artist Meitei, also marked the label’s very first vinyl release, a significant undertaking for any independent record label. While it’s already fetching heavy prices on Discogs since selling out, the duo are now preparing a second print with an elegant addition that you might want in your collection.

  

And with the year still powering through cautiously, Evening Chants have a slate of upcoming releases that signal further depths into the label’s expanding ethos. What the heck does that mean? You’ll have to read my conversation with Lopez and Ho to find out, where they speak freely about running Evening Chants, Kwaidan’s repress, their schedule of upcoming releases, and what “horror musique concrete” sounds like.

---------

1. Hey guys! How was the circuit breaker for yourselves and Evening Chants?

Nigel: Hey Dan! I’ve always been a homebody, so I have to say that I selfishly enjoyed the circuit breaker. It definitely gave me some space to breathe and somewhat relax. I can’t say that much of my lifestyle changed.

Jasmine: The circuit breaker was great for me. I like staying at home and I don’t have any complaints being near my cat all day for the past three months! Been reading a lot more and having more time for myself!

---------

2. Have the events over the past few months changed the course for the label’s plans?

Nigel: We were due to release the repress of Meitei’s Kwaidan in May. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, the pressing plant we use in Dublin had to temporarily pause operations, which meant that we had to put our plans on hold as well. Other than that, we’re still on schedule for our upcoming releases!

Jasmine: That’s right! Due to delays in production, we took the time to pre-prepped ourselves on the release by liaising with artists and exchanging design ideas so that we can plan ahead and send them out once it was open again!

---------

3. Stepping back to a few months ago, you guys handled a breakthrough release with Meitei’s Kwaidan on vinyl. For a tape label, why was vinyl added to the equation?

Nigel: I’ve always wanted to put something out on wax, but due to the costly nature of the medium, I’ve always been averse to it. However, I felt like it’s about time I took some sort of ‘risk’ and shake things up on my end, presenting the label with new challenges and opportunities.

Being a naturally risk-averse person, I only decided to press on vinyl after seeing the immense success that Meitei’s debut album Kwaidan got, and was fairly confident going into it. Now I’m hooked and wish that all of our releases can get pressed and released on vinyl. Hopefully, we’d be able to do it eventually.

---------

4. Was the process different from getting your usual releases pressed?

Nigel: For sure. It’s definitely a more intricate format, which requires test pressings and intense scrutinizing before giving the green light. Moreover, the medium itself is significantly larger in size than a cassette tape, which means more space to play around with. Jasmine did an incredible job designing the vinyl artwork and layout and shaping the rest of our label’s identity on wax for all of our releases in the future. We have a very beautiful insert that will come with the upcoming Kwaidan repress that we’re very excited about!

Another difference would be in terms of shipping. Vinyl is relatively heavy and bulky, and as such, not only was it more expensive, but I had to make sure I had the right packaging materials and ensuring that it reaches the listeners safely.

---------

5. Jasmine, how was the experience like doing artwork for Kwaidan’s vinyl release?

Jasmine: Evening Chants has given me the opportunity to directly communicate with the artist to find more ways to help visually translate, reflect, and amplify the experience of the music/record. I’ve always found that as one of the key responsibilities of a designer.

The feedback has been great so far and I am currently working with Meitei to do his other collaterals outside of EC. For the reissue this time, we’ve included an insert which is accompanied with a text-based commentary for the album to bring the experience even more. Meitei, of course, has helped pick beautiful Japanese artworks that captured the inspiration found in his soundscapes.


---------

6. Is vinyl a format you’re still thinking about for future releases?

Nigel:
Of course. As mentioned, if we could, I would press all of our releases on wax. But due to the costly nature of it, and how we are an independent label, we have to be more selective in which we choose to release on vinyl. Sometimes an album is just meant to be on tape and not on vinyl.

Jasmine: I agree with Nigel. Although I think we also look into other ways to help make the physical releases more interesting. For example, all our cassette tapes have an OBI band with a hand-embossed logo and our upcoming release includes a story booklet in the cassette.

---------

7. So now that we’re entering a period for music where COVID-019 continues to rage on, what’s your take on the label’s future moving forward?

Nigel: We’ve already shifted away from the traditional record label since streaming took over, so I don’t see COVID-19 affecting Evening Chants in any way as we operate mainly online. Occasionally, we organize live shows here in Singapore, but we do not have any fixed schedule when it comes to it. I guess, when the right opportunity comes, then it comes. But, we don’t see it happening anytime soon.

One change that we do see happening is how our artists are going to tour. It is extremely unfortunate that this is the case, but hopefully, things will get better in time to come and they’ll get to share their music in the best way that they can: live.

Jasmine: On top of that, I definitely see us experimenting with different formatting. I would like to see our releases put out in more innovative ways in order to give and help the artiste reach a bigger listening audience that they deserve.

---------

8. Are there certain decisions taken differently?

Nigel: We have taken into account that people are more wary of how they spend their money. Especially with this uncertainty, many people have lost their jobs or are at risk of doing so. As such, their priorities have changed and rightly so. I have to admit that it does feel a bit surreal releasing music in such times, but like myself, music will always be an important constant and it is only right that we continue to contribute to this the only way we can – to put out more amazing releases.

---------

9. Do you believe it has affected the label’s use of physical formats?

Nigel: With the temporary closures of the vinyl pressing plant, it has accumulated some backlog in terms of operations, which has resulted in our orders taking longer than usual. Thus, we had to shift some of our releases to a later date.

Jasmine: I’ve got an extra soft spot for physicals — I feel that if it’s done nicely and well thought-out, people would still try to acquire them at the right cost.

---------

10. Ever since the label has gained followers with each release, has it been a priority to engage with them?

Nigel: We try our best to keep them updated as much as we can on social media. We also keep in touch with them with our new releases via Bandcamp’s messaging system (which is incredible, by the way). We are immensely grateful for the support and love that we get from the community.

11. Could you tell us about what’s on the schedule for the label in 2020?

Nigel: It has been pretty quiet on our end since the Melting Bridge release due to personal commitments. But this year, we’re very excited to be working on a few releases that are all due for the second half of 2020. Apart from the Kwaidan repress, we have a few new releases lined up.

We have been working on one of the upcoming releases for awhile now by an incredible artist that not only dabbles in music but also art. So, we are very excited about introducing this highly overlooked artist to everyone. The best way to encapsulate the release is if the movies Midsommar and The Blair Witch Project had a baby, it would be it both sonically and aesthetically. I would also describe it as “horror musique concrete”.

Another one of our releases that we’re excited about is from a musician who has been composing music for films, documentaries and tv shows on Adult Swim, Netflix, etc. The album takes us into his own world of celestial soundscapes and personal life, completely disconnected from any of his professional work.

We also have an upcoming release from one of our familiar names, where we’ll be releasing our most “dance-iest” record so far, but of course, with an Evening Chants twist to it – keeping it weird.

---------

12. Just to cap it off, what’s been spinning on your turntable lately?

Nigel: I’ve bought so many records during this period! But here are my more regular spins in the recent weeks:

Craig Kupka Crystals: New Music For Relaxation 2 (Smithsonian Folkways)

Side A’s “Trombones of Lithia” is a gorgeous 20 minute composition with meditative, gentle and warm brass textures and layers. Very aptly named New Music For Relaxation 2, this album delivers exactly what it promises. A+ ambient/drone record.

Maxwell Sterling Laced With Rumour: Loud-Speaker Of Truth (Ecstatic)

I’ve never heard of Maxwell Sterling before this release but immediately became a fan. This album originated from a “multi-channel installation commissioned by Nottingham Contemporary in 2018”. (Boomkat). An intricate mosaic of jazz sensibilities with a strong ambient foundation, this album brews some sort of a fog throughout its 40-minute runtime. While it leaves me in an amnesiac state by the end of it, I keep wanting more and flip the record all over again.

Lamin Fofana: Dark Water (Black Studies)



I saw Lamin Fofana in Berlin last year at an old Franciscan monastery (alongside Kara-Lis Coverdale as well). He opened the evening with an ambient dj set that instantly sucked me in and left me with a profound experience. When I went back that night, I started doing some research on his work and have been waiting for him to release more music. Then came “Dark Water”, which released in June this year. This ambient record epitomized the very same feeling I had when I saw him in Berlin –peculiar yet highly intriguing synths and organic textures pieced together to create an incredibly cohesive sound. This album is not on vinyl, but really hope it gets pressed eventually.

Jasmine: I think the new Green-House and Skee Mask are great! I’ve been going back to The Depreciation Guild and Computer Data a lot too, it’s so enjoyable and always manages to lift my mood up while working.

Skee Mask - Iss006 | Illian Tape

Computer Data - Verlust | Lost Palms

- The End -

The Analog Vault - Top 10 picks of 2019

The Analog Vault - Top 10 picks of 2019
Here are some of our top picks of 2019! It was very difficult to narrow it down to just 10 but we managed to pick some based on what was popular amongst you guys who have supported the vault over this year. We added more tunes to our Spotify playlist so that some of these titles don't get missed out but here are our 10 picks, in no particular order! 
*A big shout out to all who came through and spent the year with us listening and discovering music together
1. VA - Pacific Breeze (Japanese City Pop, AOR, Boogie 1976-1986)

One of those compilations that you won’t want to skip a single song. A very good introductory to the world of Japanese City Pop and one of our best sellers here at the Vault. With its eye-striking cover painting done by Tokyo based artist Hiroshi Nagai, we’ve seen many head turners and questions asked purely based on its illustration. Many key City Pop players on here, from Taeko Ohnuki and Minako Yoshida, as well as cult favorites Hitomi Tohyama and Hiroshi Sato. The music ranges from the playful emotions of City pop, its Machine like – Computer funk groove, right down to that distinct nostalgia which we all love from time to time. If City Pop is your thing, this compilation won’t disappoint!

2. Meitei - Kwaidan

Released on vinyl by local imprint Evening Chants, Meitei’s Kwaidan is a weird and wonderful journey into the spooky world of Kwaidan – a style of Japanese ghost stories. Using intricate sound collage as form, the lost Japanese mood is presented in a contemporary spin on this exceptional LP.  

3. Fauxe - Ikhlas

Our first release as a label! This wonderful beats album by local producer Fauxe was initially released on cassette in 2018, and we absolutely had to release it on vinyl. Fauxes exploration of the KL music scene is a story expressed through samples of traditional Malaysia music with Hip Hop as its vehicle. Inspired by an eight-month stay in Malaysia, this LP is a true modern ode to the sonic legacy of the country. Likewise, we are inspired by the man's love for music of all sorts and his Ikhlas (sincere) creativity.

4. Various Artist - Hydeout Productions - First Collection

A compilation album, the first of 2 released by Nujabes Hydeout Productions Label. Previously on CD, these beautiful songs have made their way onto wax for the first time. Featuring some major players such as Funky DL, Apani B-Fly Emcee and Shing02 paired with the iconic beats of the late Nujabes. Not much has to be said but this compilation helps to show how far his music has reached out, breaking boundaries and forming a unique vibe truly known to Nujabes. With his classic style of sampling and his known swing, the music here presents a colorful, wavering and watery flow that brings moods of both melancholy and beauty. 

5. Bombay S Jayashri - Shravanam

Time Capsule has knocked it out of the park with their fourth release, presenting the transcendental work of intimately spiritual Indian classical music by celebrated vocalist and composer Bombay S Jayashri. The drone of the tambura, intricate percussion and meditative chanting make up its deep musical landscape, truly engulfing any room this is played in; deservedly due to the incredible production. An incredible release by Time Capsule that will touch anyone with a spiritual charge.

6. Keith Jarrett - The Melody At Night

This LP is on rotation at the store most of the time as it fits the vibe of the store perfectly! If you have visited our store in the last 3 months, you probably would have heard it. Melancholic and beautiful from start to end with the solo piano work of Keith Jarrett, this LP is perfect for an after-work listen or just before you head to bed! First time on Vinyl from the good people of ECM Label, we highly recommend it for all music lovers and vinyl collectors :)  Perfect album to sum up the end of 2019.

7. Mort Garson - Mother Earth's Plantasia

First official reissue of this plantastic masterpiece made up of beautifully synthesized arrangements for flora and fauna. Surely one of the most popular reissues of 2019 with its iconic artwork along with some lovely melodies packed in here. It comes with a very creative seed paper download card - plant it and watch it sprout :) “Warm earth music for plants and the people that love them” – all melodies were created on the Moog, orchestrated by Mort Garson leading the instrument to speak a charming and subtle language. If you haven’t listened to this, we ought you to! Truly putting the synth in photosynthesis is the right tag line!

8. Sampa The Great - The Return

Melbourne artist Sampa The Great here with her debut album The Return. Truly unique rhythmic flow throughout with top productions and water like rhymes. Some key collaborations here as well such as Silent Jay, Jon Wayne and London Jazz collective Steam Down, giving it that extra flavor. Listening to it in its entirety is key here, with each tune touching different styles yet moving seamlessly as it progresses. Surely a must-listen for all hip hop heads and RNB lovers looking for that fresh sound. 

9. Resavoir - Resavoir

Chicago collective Resavoir with their first full-length album providing a very refreshing take on Modern / Contemporary Jazz. It features a suite of elegantly orchestrated jazz instrumentals filled with samples and interesting electronic textures. Loads of rhythmic styles on this one as well with that breakbeat, hip hop, house, and soul-jazz type rhythm. If you’re looking for something fresh sounding, Resavoir is a perfect LP to sum up that cross between Modern Jazz, Electronic and Ambient music.

10. The Comet Is Coming - Trust In The Lifeforce of The Deep Mystery

Trust In The Lifeforce Of The Deep Mystery is the second studio album by the English group, The Comet Is Coming. With Shabakka Hutchings leading the group with his high paced out style of playing the saxophone / Bass clarinet paired with lush electronic elements and a tightly pocketed drum groove – All the right elements for an interesting listen, definitely one of the freshest sounds in 2019, contributing to the ever-growing sound of the UK Jazz scene.

Catch you guys in 2020, Peace! 

Outin 014 - Guided Meditation + Daniel Peters [Selector Special]

Outin 014 - Guided Meditation + Daniel Peters [Selector Special]

The 14th edition of our intimate in-store series OutIn saw Guided Meditation (Nigel Lopez) and Daniel Peters take to our decks for a Selector Special. 

The last time these two got together was back in 2016, for the official Daido Moriyama exhibition afterparty at the Singapore International Photography Festival. They were joined by The Analog Vault Selectors for an evening of eclectic selections, making for a journey through numerous windows and alleyways of music throughout. If you've missed it, here is your chance to check it out! 

AV Mix Series -

For the 7th Edition of our mix series, we have Daniel Peters who has been writing about music for close to a decade, occasionally taking the reigns at parties to play a selection of dance floor burners and atmospheric jams. He’ll claim it’s eclectic, but it’s really just all he has.

AV Mix Series -

For the 6th edition of our mix series, we have Nigel Lopez aka Guided Meditation, founder of experimental label Evening Chants and indie label Middle Class Cigars. His moniker Guided Meditation is a channel for him to share his discoveries in the experimental/ambient/electronic side of things.

Have a listen :)