Couldn't ask for a better person to revive our mix series! Radio presenter [@intotheblue-bfm] and label head [@botanicrecords] Tim Sharp delivers a lovely hour through his personal stash for AV012 - an all analog affair, an ode to digging and discovery. Lock in & press play! Recommended timing: right before the sun goes down.
Tracklist: Pupa – Untitled [@ujikaji] Andrew Wasylyk - Flight Of The Cormorant [Athens of the North @djfryer] ???? - ???? [ATC-412, Art-Tune Company Hong Kong] 姚蘇蓉 - 臉兒紅, 心兒笑 [Wan Chai Records] Quiet Village – Circus of Horror [@k7-records] Alleycats - Mangsa Renungan Mu Ümit Aksu Orkestrası - Bermuda Şeytan Üçgeni [@zelzelerecords] Yuan Mou Gen Ren Zou (阮某跟人走) - 你唔貪猪哥 (w/The Stylers) Ahmad Nawab/Dhalan Zainuddin – Lagu Disco Ku [Gila Records] Waipod Phetsuphan - Ding Ding Dong [@paradise-bangkok] BURHAN TONGUÇ RITM GRUBU ve ISMET SIRAL - Du-Bi-Ba [@black-pearl-records] Andre Tanker Five – Swahili [@cree-records] Happy Boys – Dji Den [Fajalobie] Armanda Cusopoli – Non C'È Sole [NG Records] Mumbo Jumbo – Wind it Up [@efficientspace] Holy Balm – Fashion [@chaptermusic] Bullion – Say Arr Ee [@r-srecords] Drone – Nothing Dominant [Strange Love] Old Mate – I Think of You [@major-crimes-records] GASHH – Apocalypse [@botanicrecords] Kinn Leon – Visionary [@kitchen-label]
About the mix: "Recorded on a recent public holiday here in Singapore with a pair of Technics SL-1200s and a portable Sony tapedeck, run through a Pioneer DJM-750. Being for TAV I wanted this to be an all-analogue affair and in the end that suited the day perfectly; a rare afternoon without phone, internet or notifications.
As so often happens, this was actually supposed to be a practice take but I enjoyed it so much that here we are. There are always more records to get to but ultimately I felt the selection captured the spirit of what I was trying to do, which is to pay tribute to visiting and spending time around some of the region’s finest record stores and labels; somehow recreating the sense of discovery and delight that comes with making the pilgrimage to legendary places like ZudRangMa Records in Bangkok, unlikely spots like the flea markets of KL’s Amcorp Mall, the fabled Red Point Record Warehouse here in Singapore and - of course - the amazingly-curated Analog Vault. I think it also goes without saying that hanging out at any of these places (and countless more examples) is a privilege made all too apparent given the year we’ve had.
Ultimately, I wanted the mix to feel like browsing a crate or surfing a radio dial between these places; less concerned with technicalities of a club-style DJ set than an open-minded desire to discover something new (or old, really) and to see where a frequency - or crate - leads. Bursts of static; a needle that gives up halfway; worn-out grooves paired with pristine audiophile-quality pressings; decades-old cassette tapes barely holding on and some very dusty fingers - a look into the corners of my own analogue vault, so to speak." - Tim Sharp
About Tim: Tim is a New Zealand-born, Singapore-based radio presenter and label head with a decade on-air at leading independent stations from Sydney to KL – most recently as host of cult new music show Into the Blue on BFM 89.9 Malaysia. In 2016 he co-founded Botanic Records: dedicated to forward-thinking new music from Southeast Asia and beyond.
In this edition of Selects', we asked one of our favourite selectors in Singapore and good friend Farah (known on the decks as RAH) to pick out a few titles from our online catalog that she recommends checking out.
Farah's selects are incredibly fresh! The music listed here are mostly new entries at the vault, and they truly reflect her identity as a person and the fine selector she is. Often expressing herself through a diverse collection of Jazz, Hiphop, Afrobeat, Dub and more, Farah's picks will always move you, but not without saying something special at the same time.
As a core member of label Darker Than Wax and collective Revision Music, she radiates a positive and infectious message in her work and her DJ sets, moving feet, raising vibes and connecting souls. Check out July's edition of her resident show on Milan-based Radio Raheem here:
We certainly do miss live events and the energy Farah exudes from behind the decks. But while we're all socially distanced, have a listen to these incredible albums for a taste of what the vibe is like when RAH's in charge:
"Am a huge fan of Cold Cuts! And this project elevated their ability as visionaries, while encapsulating the multi faceted and progressive sounds of legendary collaborators. Boasts a wide range of sounds from Jazz to Hiphop, dub to Afrobeat. Enjoyable from start to finish." - Farah
"This is a first compilation from DTW core member Marco Weibel, who brought together a few musicians and artists in New York. This is a special one, because there was a bit of hesitation in putting it out - due to the social / political climate of things."
"It’s was in the midst of the #BLM movement, and we thought it wasn’t the right time. We decided to go ahead with it anyway, and donated a percentage of the profits to NAACP Legal Defence fund to help protesters and urged our followers to do the same. We have been receiving resounding support for the release and are very thankful it all worked out and that we were able to help with our music." - Farah
"What would begin as a casual conversation with Wahono would often take a turn and deep dive into Indonesian culture and politics. The man behind cult label Divisi62 is always challenging the perception and idea of Indonesian music. And you hear the introspective dialogue in the productions, as an attempt to reassess expectations of values and traditions. He makes like, thinking music. You listen and it makes you think and ponder. Just like the conversations with him." - Farah
"I caught Idris Ackamoor & The Pyramids in Amsterdam three years ago and it was one of the most mind bending / expanding experiences. This is a good album but I’m also looking forward to getting their newest release on Strut, “Shaman!”. Bong said that he will be getting it and I trust him." - Farah
Idris Ackamoor & The Pyramids - Shaman! is not in stock... yet! It will arrive in store later this month along with a bunch of new sounds we can't wait to share with you. Till then, hang tight! If you'd like to reserve a copy of "Shaman!", slide into our DMs via Facebook or Instagram.
We hope you're as inspired by these great picks here as we are. Follow RAH on Mixcloud and Instagram if you catch the vibe and consider signing up to our newsletter to stay clued in on our new arrivals. (scroll down for the signup form!)
Thanks for reading. Take care, stay safe & keep the music going!
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.
This coming week is going to fly by faster than the entirety of Circuit Breaker — we are, after all, knee-deep in the General Elections and we’re only days away from voting.
I’m not going to be parroting voting issues here — that’s not what you’re here for — but the information overload is certainly an effect of this pivotal period, and there’s nothing better than stepping away from your laptop and diving into your record collection for a good minute.
This week, Nick and Leon have rounded up crates of records that shine in jazz excellence, unsurprisingly, and there’s a healthy mix of current releases and reissues to dig into to get the blood flowing (if you’re not already watching Hammer Time wink wink).
The resurgence of Sachiko Kanenobu is one of the more heartening consequences of our YouTube crate-digger age — unearthed obscure treasures, forgotten over the decades, uploaded for online consumption. Cue “where has this music been all my life” comments from gobsmacked YouTube users.
The Japanese musician released Misora in 1972, amidst a wave of poetic singer-songwriters discovering their voice in a post-war society rebuilding itself (the compilation Even A Tree Can Shed Tears is the perfect gateway into that scene). Misora remained her only full-length effort, recorded with the creative assistance of peers Haruomi Hosono and Eiichi Ohtaki, but it had only flourished in appreciation within secretive circles of music nerds outside of Japan. While it has been reissued in limited quantities over the years, it’s gotten its proper due with Light in the Attic.
Now that Kanenobu has enjoyed a renewed path in her career, performing select shows around the world and attaining a young, newer audience, now’s a good a time as any to delve into the earthy magic of Misora, a gentle and sweeping album so captivating at any time of day. This LITA reissue comes prepared with an extensive interview with her.
Jazz organ is remarkably enjoyable, but with its historic association with the marketable genre tag known as “easy listening”, it’s also a bit of a challenge to find the musicians who creatively pushed jazz forward with the instrument. We already covered the inimitable Dr. Lonnie Smith in the previous roundup, but Gilles Peterson’s Arc Records has made the search much easier with this new reissue.
A labor of love from “Queen of the organ” Shirley Scott, a prolific and highly versatile jazz musician and composer, One For Me glides along smoothly — even as the performances recorded herein come across less like rehearsed parts and more like collaborative explorations. Scott uses the organ and mellotron with a deft textural touch, allowing saxophonist Harold Vick to occupy the space with terrific immediacy. This is undoubtedly Scott’s album, with maximized creative control on a recording fully self-funded, after years of working on projects subjugated by stuffy (and sexist) record executives. Let her words speak for themselves:
“All of the music recorded in this album is both personal and very purposeful to me because it is the first step toward honesty about what and how I want to play. I’ve done a lot of other albums, a lot of different ways for a lot of different people and now, with the help of the Creator, in whom all things are possible, I have done one for me too.”
Sault remains a mystery — all we know about them is they reside in the UK and are led by artist Dean “Inflo” Josiah — but when the music’s this gripping, the allure is merely a bonus.
5 and 7 are two albums the group dropped in succession last year, a collection of immensely spirited funk tunes that feel transported straight out of the 1970s, with an urgency that’s eternally relevant. The group’s newest album, Untitled (Black Is), was only just released and it’s an essential listen for these times.
While that title might take a while to be issued on wax, 5 and 7 are albums you should immerse yourself with while there’s still time — they’re only going to get bigger, so now’s the perfect chance to get a headstart.
No other album quite personified the freewheeling energy of 2016 (well most of it) like 99.9%, the infectious debut of producer Kaytranada. The only producer bold enough then to harness the power of Craig David, Anderson .Paak and BADBADNOTGOOD on a Gal Costa-sampling dance album — seriously, what a visionary — this album still slaps, but Bubba arrives in 2020 a different beast.
The focus remains on the dancefloor, but the techniques Kaytranada employs are different. Gone are the days of being a solitary producer hunched over his laptop — Bubba is a piece of work birthed from a fully-fledged studio, and the tracks are the result of extensive in-person collaborations (the list includes Kali Uchis, Masego, Mick Jenkins, Charlotte Day Wilson, amongst others).
It’s a dense R&B and afrobeat-inflected album to groove to, and it works equally as an enveloping listening experience and a perfect mood-setter for any ordinary work task.
While International Anthem hosts a vast array of exciting young artists, many of whom reside in Chicago, a name like Jeff Parker sticks out not just for his veteran status but for his immense contribution to the city’s flourishing underground music scene.
A member of pivotal post-rock group Tortoise, Parker has also contributed to the experimental sounds of Chicago — notably with label Thrill Jockey Records — and with his new home, he’s advanced his own musical language. It doesn’t get any better than Suite for Max Brown, where he effortlessly bridges the sounds of older jazz and funk with avant-garde digital techniques he’s amassed over his career. The final product is a constant conversation between what he dubs as “man vs machine”, with live improvisations backed by intuitive drum loops.
For an album personally dedicated to his mother, it’s expectedly tender and heartfelt, and unexpectedly short: the 39 minutes will be over before you know it. Buy it on vinyl and cherish every minute it’s on your turntable.
The mention of the musicians involved might suggest a heady or complex experience listening to The Other Fantasy, but that is far from the real thing.
A recent phenomenon that you can find online are musicians inspired by Weather Channel music — essentially, the smoothest jazz music you can conjure, inflected by celestial synths, and a pressing need to relax. It’s corporate mood music of the highest order, and this space is explored by a collective of seasoned jazz musicians in The Other Fantasy.
There’s lots of slap bass and flute magic to dig into here — but the centrepiece on this EP is ‘A Palm in the Closet’, which dares you to manifest the island breeze in your bedroom, even if it faces a multi-storey carpark.
Yes, you’re not seeing things — that album title looks familiar, but it’s not the only thing this project shares with A Seat at the Table, the 2016 opus by Solange.
The Koreatown Oddity is an MC, producer, and a familiar face in the indie rap scene of Los Angeles. He’s notably made contact with the larger hip-hop community on his latest effort Little Dominiques Nosebleed, a raw and focused documentation on life in his neighborhood.
This little curio, however, was initially issued on cassette to small and captive fanfare in 2018. It’s a distillation of the impact Solange’s masterwork had on him — reworking snippets of the album into a brisk 19-minute beat tape. Now pressed on fancy coke bottle clear vinyl, The Koreatown Oddity unearths new magic from an album already teeming with boundless depths.
We treat the experience of listening to music as something restorative, but Angel Bat Dawid believes it’s even greater. “The Egyptians used the power of sound to move objects. I believe that sound technology can move things. Sound is more powerful than we can imagine,” she speaks in a conversation with writer Emma Warren you must read.
It’s hard not to get engulfed by the world she meticulously crafts here, and the effect of listening to The Oracle feels like intruding into a spiritually-powered improvised jam session. The disbelief will set in once you read that Bat Dawid recorded every instrument on this album, save for a drum track on ‘Cape Town’. Bat Dawid masterfully uses catharsis as a foundation, and The Oracle ends up an intense and unfettered meditation on Black identity.
International Anthem’s discography is an extraordinary deep dive into modern jazz and improvised music — The Analog Vault’s got a few others stocked too — and the heights The Oracle achieves tower like a cathedral all on their own. Do not miss!!
The good people at The Analog Vault — the breezy selectors with the most immaculate tastes in town, Leon and Nick — have already got you covered over social media with their new arrivals.
Every few weeks, there’s always a new shipment of wax goodies to be discovered, and it’s no surprise that the choices cover so many bases that sorting through them all might be a tad overwhelming for some of you.
With this assumption, this is where I’ll be coming in, shining a light on just a handful of the stellar picks that the TAV team has brought in. If your post-CB budget is tight — whose isn’t, really? — this is exactly the place to be. (plus the store’s extended their 15% discount if that helps)
It only feels like yesterday when a certain 27-year-old who went by the enigmatic name of Ghostpoet shook the UK with Peanut Butter Blues & Melancholy, an unwieldy title for an album brimming with brisk and captivating wordplay, courtesy of Ghostpoet’s spoken word-style delivery.
Even till today, Ghostpoet refuses to go by genre — he once defiantly called it a “marketing tool”, and frankly he’s got a point there — but he’s been steadfast in waxing lyrical about despair and malaise in everyday life that rarely feels tiring.
While his early work is rooted in a charming late-night combination of fluctuating hi-hats and aquatic synths, with a persistent low-end punctuating each line of wisdom, his latest album I Grow Tired But Dare Not Fall Asleep is driven entirely by the analog, with angular post-punk guitar work that has added a new dimension to his body of work.
Recommended if you like: King Krule, later-day Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Sleaford Mods, Radiohead (especially if you love In Rainbows)
A country with a rich and deep trove of psych-rock treasures like Turkey has got record collectors and musicians worldwide entranced. Altin Gun has taken their niche interest into overdrive. They’re a beacon for a new breed of Anatolian rock, where dusty psych-rock collides with traditional Turkish folk music (if you want to dig further, archival label Finders Keepers is a good start to explore some of the genre’s high points).
Based in the Netherlands, Altin Gun places the spotlight back on Turkey’s folk songbook, with expressive new arrangements of songs frequently overlooked outside of the country’s borders. Gece is their second album, and the band draws upon an even more expansive palette of sounds: the percussive magic of ‘Leyla’ resembles most closely to the hypnotic grit that first inspired the band, but album closer ‘Süpürgesi Yoncadan’ is a propulsive and playful synth-pop ditty.
The only thing that unites these disparate sounds are their burning compatibility for the dance floor — while you’re still stuck in your bedroom, you might as well fashion one just for this album anyway.
RIYL: Selda, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Goat, Kikagaku Moyo
Nope, it’s not Ice Green Tea (this joke must be tired by now so allow us to make it for thevery last time, we promise), but Greentea Peng’s status has been brewing in the British R&B underground for a while now.
Since 2019, the name has been synonymous with a moody, playlist-friendly form of the genre, one that’s been given a robust platform through video series Colors(Greentea Peng’s appearance has raked over 5 million views alone).
Listening to the aptly-named Rising, it’s really not hard to see why: Greentea is remarkably skillful in allowing her voice to drift cooly overproduction that never overpowers her. Even as countless R&B singers attempt to project a detached presence to their work, Greentea never falters in making her intimate words sound impassioned. This long-awaited pressing on translucent green vinyl has only been out for a few months, but it’s unlikely to last on the shelves for long.
It’s no surprise that with 2017-2019 (also available in-store), Against All Logic has excelled once again. Beginning as an outlet for Nicolas Jaar’s scattered rhythmic blueprints, inspired by the bygone days of Chicago house and disco, the project is now an engaging facet of his ever-growing discography.
But unlike the nostalgic sounds of his first album, the AAL of 2020 is a much tougher beast, and this 12” single is the perfect launchpad into his harsh vision of the dancefloor. Featuring two original tracks, not included in the 3LP album, Jaar flexes his array of distorted, militant synth pads with the help of music iconoclasts Lydia Lunch and FKA Twigs, along with mysterious contributor Estado Unido.
Pressed on a generous 45rpm spread, this single alone will give your speakers a proper workout.
Over the past three years alone, independent labels all over the world have been generous in excavating master tapes of old Japanese albums for new reissues that rival $100+ original pressings.
This ongoing campaign has only revealed a sliver of the creative spark that thrived in the country from the 1970s to the present. The genre of “city pop” alone, first discovered by YouTube sleuths and vaporwave producers, has engaged an entirely new (and wholly international) generation of listeners, which we’ll get to in a bit. Meanwhile, artists instilling their own revolutionary takes on jazz, ambient, folk and new wave have been dutifully celebrated, but an artist like Masumi Hara stands as a unique example crossing these already-malleable boundaries.
4 X A Dream is a heady combination of chunky dub basslines, icy synths, ghostly tribal percussions and a commanding performance by the multi-media artist. It’s unlike anything you’ve heard, really, but Hara manages to be playful enough for these songs to be enchanting upon first listen. This masterfully-crafted reissue by Numero Group is the perfect gateway into his work.
With the tumultuous events of now, it’s imperative to plug out once in a while for your mental health. You’ll need a proper soundtrack for these fleeting periods, and it has arrived in this intoxicating 2LP package.
A collaboration between two esteemed Japanese musicians, producer Masanori Ikeda and keyboard player Takumi Kaneko, this self-titled effort is immediately evocative of 80s jazz-fusion — behaving like a distant counterpart of the breezy Pacific — but with a pronounced sensibility for modern house and Balearic sounds, complete with steel pans and lightweight piano chords. Simply put, if Pacific was made for fancy yachts, Coastlines is primed for the beach clubs.
This is an album best experienced cranked up with the window open and a tropical cocktail on hand. Trust us when we say this album has the power to gently nudge off the weight of the world, even if it’s just for an hour.
Japan going three-for-three on this list, unsurprisingly. And it is with Light In The Attic, whose ongoing Japan Archival Series have led the way in unearthing Japan’s heritage of eclectic and groundbreaking music.
The first Pacific Breeze compilation compiled treasures across the city pop spectrum — from infectious boogie tunes to offbeat studio experiments — and Pacific Breeze 2 is evidence that one release was simply not enough to capture its range. True enough, this edition tells a story of its own, beginning with artists like Bread & Butter and Eiichi Ohtaki — both rooted in the summery folk-pop sounds of the Laurel Canyon — who helped lay the foundations for the nebulous genre.
Across the board, there’s plenty to dig into. While city pop favorites like Anri, Kikuchi Momoko, Piper, and Junko Ohashi are present, the tracklist offer delights from Sadistics (who emerged from the ashes of Sadistic Mika Band, one of the country’s biggest glam rock outfits) and Mystery Kindaichi Band (a terrific one-off disco/funk project with little in the way of backstory), amongst other iconoclasts.
RIYL: If the first Pacific Breeze was your thing, this is simply unmissable.
A distinct and unwavering vision is the calling card for Moses Sumney, whose debut Aromanticism found an immediate audience in 2017.
Grae is something else, a two-part project of unfiltered ambition — the old saying goes that artists have their entire lives to prepare for their first album, and 2-3 years for their second. Sumney evidently made every waking minute of those years count to pour his heart and soul into this. The list of collaborators is breathtaking too: James Blake, Jill Scott, Daniel Lopatin, Shabaka Hutchings, Thundercat, Nubya Garcia, FKJ, Xiu Xiu’s Jamie Stewart — and that’s barely covering the whole lot of talent here.
The album is full of broad strokes of musical delights, with a distinct art rock sound that shapeshifts with inflections of strings, flutes, synths, and even organs. If you caught Sumney at Laneway 2018 and saw a glimpse of his potential, trust us when we say it’s beautifully realized here.
RIYL: Sufjan Stevens, Janelle Monae, Solange, James Blake
To explore the long and illustrious body of work that is Blue Note’s is to learn the history of jazz.
One would easily venture for the classics: you could already start and indulge in John Coltrane’s career-defining Blue Train, a masterpiece of hard bop as they come. Or you could expand your horizons with Eric Dolphy’s revolutionary Out to Lunch!, which nudged the label into the fringes of the avant-garde jazz world.
Or, if you’re recovering from a long day, you could sink into the tranquil and adventurous Maiden Voyage, which allowed a 25-year-old Herbie Hancock to establish his name outside of his work in Miles Davis’ “second great quintet” of the 1960s. And those barely skim the surface of the label’s most celebrated oeuvre.
But as Blue Note recently commemorated 80 years as a record label, the libations were preceded by a deep pondering over their output. Don Was, president of Blue Note Records since 2012, was tasked with recalibrating the label’s focus after years of releases that veered toward adult contemporary pop — album releases by Norah Jones, Priscilla Ahn and The Bird and the Bee, while distant from the world of jazz, were commercial hits for them.
All the while, classic titles have been dutifully kept in print with digital remasters, replete with enticing bonus tracks, and premium vinyl releases that appealed to the die-hard audiophiles, produced with the help of boutique label Music Matters.
Was, an established musician in his own right, took his newly-minted post with zeal by signing newer artists. Amongst the names he’s secured and nurtured are Robert Glasper (he once described Glasper’s 2012 genre-bending odyssey Black Radio as “everything I want to do at Blue Note”, Jose James and Ambrose Akinmusire, and the label’s taken on recent efforts by younger talents like Tom Misch & Yussef Dayes, Agnes Obel and GoGo Penguin too.
He was also eager to place a spotlight on the label’s lesser-known works, and it is with the Tone Poet series that that latter vision is fulfilled, 180g vinyl and tipped-on Stoughton jackets included. At a glance, the Tone Poet series might appear as yet another vinyl reissue series marketed by a legacy label — and, sure, it is — but the inner workings behind each title make this series a remarkable standout for any jazz lover and curious music collector.
It’s also important to note that with the Tone Poet project, Blue Note was not able to achieve this alone. Enter Joe Harley.
Harley was previously an ally in their vinyl reissue campaign as producer at Music Matters. The label has made it a practice to source original master tapes for any title, cutting brand new vinyl through a strict all-analog method. Those buzzwords are enough to light a fire in any 50-year-old vinyl purist, and Was has repeatedly proclaimed that the label had “cracked the Blue Note code”.
With the Tone Poet series, Harley and his crew — which includes prolific mastering engineer Kevin Gray — brought over their analog rituals from Music Matters, as instructed by Was. “[He] asked about every aspect of production, from the mastering, to the plating, pressing and jackets,” Harley writes in an essay.
“He literally said, “however you do it for Music Matters, that’s how we want to do it here. And I want you to help us achieve that.” How could I say no???”
The process of returning to the original master tapes — a meticulous and time-consuming process embraced by the likes of Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs and Analogue Productions — is usually achieved in hopes to replicate the listening experience offered by original pressings, many of which are now scarce and continually in-demand by collectors. For Blue Note, however, they have had to make adjustments for the modern age.
As Harley explains in this video, Rudy Van Gelder, iconic Blue Note engineer, had made technical concessions for listeners in the 1950s/1960s when cutting their records, keeping in mind that most of them played their precious Blue Notes on consumer-grade turntables (ie. ones with tonearms closer to the build and quality of Crosleys than Pro-Jects).
“He would roll the low-end and bump at 90 or 100 [Hz],” Harley elaborates. “So you hear some bass…but the kind of stuff that would get a stylus in trouble and make a record skip? He would roll off.”
Now, with unfettered access to the Blue Note vaults complete with engineering notes by Van Gelder, Harley is able to take full advantage of the frequency range that a studio master tape can provide. Theoretically, these titles are then able to offer audio characteristics deemed more accurate when compared to the original pressings (unless you’re aching for the signature RVG “sound”, in which case, happy spending $200+). The reviews have spoken, and they’re glowing.
The gatefold jackets printed for each title come with extensive liner notes and restored photos, issued to perfection by Stoughton Printing, recreating the tip-on look of the classic Blue Note sleeve. While the production process remains the same, what distinguishes the Tone Poet project from anything Harley has done at Music Matters is curation.
With input from Was, the titles selected are considered lesser-known and under-appreciated within the grander scope of Blue Note’s story. So while you may not be able to find a souped-up edition of Maiden Voyage in this series, you can explore Hancock’s The Prisoner, a mournful, socially-conscious effort that the musician deems “closer to the real me… than on any other previous one.”
The bulk of Music Matters’ work with Blue Note has consisted of mostly hard bop classics, but with Tone Poet, the wider breadth of styles and sounds that Blue Note has offered over the decades is slowly being unearthed. Fortunately, the ongoing campaign began in early 2019, with over 20 titles now available. Here are some of our picks to get you started.
The work of Dr. Lonnie Smith, first heralded by his 1969 Blue Note debut Think!, is testament to an imaginative fusion of soul, funk and jazz. All In My Mind is a celebration of his work, recorded live in 2017 at his 75th birthday celebration.
While this Tone Poet edition is a streamlined version of the digital release, it cherrypicks the most intriguing performances of that night. Dr. Smith has made his name with funky reworks that tackled songs like Hugh Masekela’s ‘Son of Ice Bag’ and Carole King’s ‘I Feel the Earth Move’, and this set was marked by spirited renditions of compositions by Wayne Shorter, Freddie Hubbard and Paul Simon.
With each track averaging at 8-9 mins, this is a live album to delve into — the vitality of Dr. Smith captured herein, at age 75, will blow you away.
An important chapter in the advent of post-bop in the early 1960s, Black Fire was the sophomore effort by a 32-year-old Andrew Hill, but it quickly established the pianist as a singular voice that veered towards the avant-garde.
While Point of Departure and Compulsion!!!! are celebrated by followers as Hill’s deep plunge into the abstract, Black Fire had already broken ground by challenging bebop conventions. With the help of saxophonist Joe Henderson, bassist Richard Davis, and drummer Roy Haynes, Hill draws upon the unhinged within familiar form and structure.
It’s the kind of album that will compel you to sit up and pay close attention — more than 50 years later, it’s still standing strong.
Within the first few seconds of the first track ‘Ode to Billie Joe’, you might already stumble upon something vaguely familiar.
The song kicks off with a leisurely drum break, one that has been sampled across hip-hop — from the beat that pushes Kanye West’s ‘Jesus Walks’ to full-throttle, to the serene moments that add to the uniform weirdness of A$AP Rocky’s ‘L$D’, it’s as iconic as they come.
Mr. Shing-A-Ling is far and beyond the most playful entry in this list — although sharing a spiritual kinship with All In My Mind, as it prominently features the smooth organ work of Dr. Liston Smith himself — and it’s a terrific party starter with its embrace of hard-knuckled funk grooves and gliding saxophone solos.
Duke Ellington, Max Roach & Charles Mingus -Money Jungle
A jazz album that rarely gets the respect it deserves, Money Jungle is the coalescing of three disparate and brilliant minds — the elder statesman Duke Ellington, aged 63 at time of recording, banded together with Charles Mingus, an avant-garde visionary with a fiery body of work, and bebop pioneer Max Roach.
What transpires is a collision still unmatched to this day. The recording sessions were denoted by tension, and the performances result in a grittier experience than most of Ellington’s lyrical discography.
For decades, however, the resulting recordings have been hindered by a sub-par mix — with distortion and imaging problems that bury the performances at crucial moments — so the Tone Poet reissue arrives as a godsend. It’s a significantly cleaner mix with added clarity and heft, especially with respect towards Roach’s fiery and polyrhythmic drum work.
Cassandra Wilson - Glamoured
Cassandra Wilson has the distinction of being one of the few contemporary voices put to wax in this series, and it’s not hard to see why.
Her 2003 effort Glamoured is a consolidation of Wilson’s powers, imbuing a mix of originals and covers — as wide as Bob Dylan’s ‘Lay Lady Lay’ to the Stax Records staple ‘If Loving You Is Wrong’ — with the same kind of languid energy that makes it a hypnotic listen. The vocalist is joined by the likes of multi-instrumentalist Fabrizio Sotti, who sat in the producer’s seat alongside Wilson, and drummer Terri Lyne Carrington, whose distinguished solo work includes a reimagining of Money Jungle.
Now a relic of Blue Note’s adult contemporary era, it’s concrete proof that the label has never slept at the wheel, just attempting different routes.
You have probably seen their stickers lying around the store and have been wondering who See You At One (Aka SYAO) is - They are a local collective with strong ties with the music and skate culture, focusing their energy on the spirit of creation, whether be it through producing clothes, uploading videos or feeding the experiential internet source with fresh ideas. During these times, SYAO has also been supporting the local community by showcasing different creatives on their social media platforms and also releasing a monthly mix called Frequency, where they get artists, producers, and DJs to curate a musical story every month!
Here are some of the mixes we've been diggin'
In this edition of Select's, we decided to hit up the elusive people from See You At Oneto pick out 6 titles from our Online Catalog that is sure to nourish your curious palette. The picks highlight some of the forgotten gems at the vault ranging from Doom, Spiritual Jazz, New-wave Funk, and Leftfield Electronica, truly representing their musical mood as a collective. All picks here are hypnotic in some way and we suggest taking the time to zone into each album at your own pace :) Check it out!
“Don’t you want music you could just boogie to? This is it. Never found the lyrics to the songs but they sound kinda sinister despite the feel-good tunes… Also, the guys in the band were called Billy Jaguar and Gel Valiery. After Valiery died, Jaguar became a priest, making gospel music.”
“You’ll need earphones/headphones for this because if your ears like tickling, this is the trippy record for you. Each sound has so much clarity, panning in and out of your left and right speakers. Every song is a sonic version of an M.C. Escher illusion…you just don’t know where a track is headed until it springs on you! ”
“A lot of songs on the album were previously unreleased. It’s similar to the Foodman album in that it tickles your ears but has a ‘reflective’ quality to it thanks to the synths. The journal that came with the release is also worth a read, which Cowley describes as “graphic accounts of one man’s sex life”.
“The album sounds as if Voigt recorded a party his neighbors were having, and he’s doing that from his bedroom because he wasn’t invited. The reverb makes it so hypnotic that the recording sounds better than the actual party. If Wagner and Schoenberg went to the clubs in late 90s Germany, this is probably what they would come up with—and indeed some of the music samples their work.”
“It’s brooding, progressive, intoxicating drone/noise territory—and the beautiful album cover pretty much illustrates the content quite accurately. It’s like a soundtrack to a death march heading towards the peak of a mountain... appropriate given the situation of the world.”
“The way she plays the harp on this record is out of this world! Or, ahem, transcendent (you can hear her plucking the shit out of the strings at some point). It’s amazing harmonic stuff and although the arrangements aren’t as grand as it was in her previous albums it’s a solid record. When you’re in need of spiritual rejuvenation, have a listen.”
*Also please check out their latest thread offerings via their webpage! They are doing free local deliveries so don't miss out on some crisp clothing
There are many different motivations for Vinyl collectors out there from the purist who believes vinyl LPs reign above all, the librarian who loves archiving and finding the rarest, the casual who collects records every now and then or the musical conductor, aka the DJ who finds joy in presenting their valuable finds. Everything comes from the sheer love of music, and Ichiro (aka Itch) is all of the above in our opinion.
The motivation to do what they do as vinyl collectors give the musical journey a sort of focus, allowing one to learn from the chosen path. It can be broad, it can be zoned in or even both, no matter what there's always something to take away! So let's dig into the mind of collector DJ Itch and see where this mystical motivation comes from and leads to.
Hi Itch! Thank you for doing this interview, could we start off with just a little bit about yourself?
Hi Analog Vault, thank you for asking me for this interview. I’m Itch, a DJ and a vinyl collector, and have been actively collecting vinyls inspired by the passion for “local exotic funk a-go-go” music from the ’60s to early ’80s in Singapore, Nusantara, and around the region. The music genres I’ve been collecting are A-Go-Go, Hala-Hala, Melayu-Indo grooves, Chinese Disco, Pop Yeh Yeh, Asian City-pop, and so on. My DJ set specializes in Asian sound and exotic music introducing forgotten local music gems from the past to modern listeners, and brings back nostalgic vibes for old-timers. My vinyl collection journey started from early 2017 when I visit Red Point Record Warehouse to purchase some second-hand Jazz or relaxing music vinyls. But, the owner recommended me to listen to locally produced funky music, and when I listened to it first, it was quite an addictive exotic funky tune that I haven’t heard before. From that day, my digging journey of local gems has started.
* Treasure Hunting with an Itch - Photo Credit Rizman Putra
Yes! we have always noticed your great collection of rare South-east Asian titles from attending some of your gigs! Could you expand a little more about this particular interest and what is your motivation behind this research initiative?
My interest came from after knowing about a Golden Era of Music scene back in 60s/70s Singapore. For many years, I’ve been listening to many kinds of music, and always enjoyed listening to Jazz or Motown soul music in 70s, but I didn’t know much about the same era music scene in Singapore. This curiosity motivated me to start listening to those music from online or YouTube. The vinyl collection of South-East Asian vinyls started when my DJ friend from Japan, Yohei Hasegawa, introduced me to vintage record shop in Singapore, which also helped me to open my journey of digging “local exotic funk a-go-go” vinyl records!
*Recent finds of SEA titles by Itch
1. Saloma - Entah Di-Mana EP
*Recent finds of SEA titles by Itch
2. Mahani Mohd & Jopie - 1000th Ku Nantikan
With that in mind, how do you go about choosing which ones go into your record bag and which ones remain when digging for SEA titles? Is there a particular mood or sound that you usually look for?
Choosing vinyl is the most difficult part. When you start digging, I just look through the shelves randomly and check any title I’ve been searching for. If I find it, those will straight go into my record bag! If not, I sometimes ask the shop owner for any recommendation or new stock, then search from that stack. But my budget is limited on one visit, so I just select those which can be used in the DJ event. The interesting part of digging is to find the dope groove music from the cheaper second-hand records! I try not to buy the expensive one. When I go digging, I just focus on the music produced in 60s to 80s from around the region which can be used on my DJ mix. Recently, I’ve been listening to soul and funk music from Malaysia in 70s, and there many wonderful covers and original songs.
We are also curious as to how you would organize them in your own personal space. Would it be by the era, style, mood, or region?? It's always nice to have a system in place for easier navigation especially for a DJ like yourself.
Never knew that my record collection can become so big in three years, and its always problematic to organize these records in my space. Currently I organize by its region (Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Japanese, others), then after that will put those in alphabetical order or its musical style. Otherwise, it’s difficult to remember where I put the vinyls. But, usually I always keep my favorite vinyls in my DJ bag, so I can listen to it anytime!
Apart from that, we also realized your love for Japanese City-pop and Funk, where you also have your very own night called “NightCap”. Could you tell us a bit about what the style means to you and maybe one of your favorite City-pop albums for a much-suggested listening.
Yes, “Nightcap”, my monthly night at White Label Records, is a good platform to introduce some of my favorite Japanese City-pop music mixed with Malay Funk or Nanyang Chinese Disco. Am happy that this monthly event turned one in February! As an Asian rare groove DJ, and as a Japanese, I wanted to share some of my Japanese rare groove music collection (Japanese Funk & Japanese city-pop). Some funk and boogie music produced in Japan have great vibes! Tatsuro Yamashita’s “Sparkle” (included in the LP album ‘For You’) and Miki Matsubara’s “Stay With Me” (EP) have been played every time at “Nightcap”, and always happy to see the audience singing together! My favorite City-pop albums will be Tatsuro Yamashita’s “SPACY”, Ruriko Ohgami’s “Typhoon Lady”, Taeko Ohnuki’s “Sunshower”, and so on…
We are always fascinated with collectors who purposefully dig for old records that are super rare to find, it's almost like a treasure hunt. Could you share a little about your focus on your musical journey recently? Is there a DJ / Collector / or ethos that you are inspired by? Maybe one or two rare records that you’ve been wanting to find as well.
Yes, digging vinyls especially the old ones are like treasure hunt! Recently, I’ve been focused on more Malay and Singapore soul and funk from 70s and 80s; Ahmad Nawab, Uji Rashid, Rahimah Rahim, Sharifah Aini, Anita Sarawak, Carefree, Flybaits, etc). Their music has wonderful soul, groove, and boogie with a bit of exoticness, and they can blend well with Japanese City-pop at my events.
I was first inspired by NADA, a sound duo comprised by Safuan Johari and Rizman Putra, who reinterpret Malaysian traditional music with modern technology. I learned a lot about 60s to 80s Malaysian music from them and inspired me to DJ. Then, I always get inspired by music selection by my favourite DJs, Iramamama, Vinylheavy, Tiko Disko, Yuichi Kishino, Hibiki Tokiwa, Yohei Hasegawa, etc.. Their music help expand my music knowledge about Asian music!
To end it off, We would like to say that you are one of the rare music lovers out there with such a sincere and genuine approach. Each record probably brings its own memories and experience back to you. Could you maybe tell us what do these records mean to you at the end of the day and how does it gel into your everyday life?
From these vintage records, each record has its own music culture history and these music brings back the vibes from those era into our daily life. Besides the music, the design or fashion from those era can be seen from the vinyl record, which is interesting part of the vinyl digging experience! Singapore has developed and changed very fast, but through the vinyl record I still can see how Singapore was before. Each vinyl has its own history and story.
A mix by DJ Itch for our Mix series - Providing an all Vinyl mix, picking flavours from the South-East Asian Region, songs and melodies that are nostalgic to all of us here.
- The End -
Thank you Itch for taking your time off and shining some light onto some of these musical gems. By doing this interview it has inspired us to always keep the musical search going! So much to learn from the past and so much to look forward to at the same time. Hopefully through reading this, it will inspire you to go on your own musical search and continue to keep your curious nature alive. Keep the fire burning :)
You can find out more about DJ Itch aka Ichiro via the mediums below! Please also check out his weekly mix that he has been doing during the Circuit Break era called "Stay Home Singapura". We Highly recommend to put them on for some time travels and spot on vibes.
Organizing one's record collection is a very personal experience, which helps give the collector a sense of solace, making the whole listening experience a much more enjoyable one. It almost feels like you’re arranging your musical memories into nursing homes, each LP waiting to be discharged at ease. Now is a perfect time to arrange your collection so let us dig into the mind of collector CK on how he arranges them.
So CK, let us start with a little about yourself, and how long have you been collecting records?
I am a happy husband and a father of a 10-year old boy. I started to fall in love with music after discovering my dad’s cassette tapes when I was 8 years old. The music from Michael Jackson, Bonny M, Elton John, etc just brought out my long-lasting passion for music. Collecting music in its physical form has always been my greatest love. I started by collecting cassette tapes in the 80s. Saving all my pocket money to buy that new album from my favorite band had been a repetitive cycle in my growing up years. After that, like what everyone did at that time, I moved my attention to CDs. It was only till 2012 that I started my vinyl records collecting journey. A good friend of mine was buying a new turntable and I followed him, and it ended up that I got one too for myself. I still remember the first record I have purchased - Nirvana “Nevermind” and since then the desire to own more records just grew stronger and stronger.
Seeing that you have built up a huge record collection over a long time, how do you care for each record individually in terms of storage? I.e inner sleeves and outer sleeves. Where do you usually source them and how important are they to you.
The records are like my babies. I take great care of every single one, putting the vinyl records into anti-static inner sleeves. I do prefer to house them in the Mofi premier inner sleeves but as they are not cheap, I will have to be selective on which one goes into the Mofi sleeves and which one will go into the cheaper rice-paper alternative sleeves. I generally do not prefer to use paper sleeves as they tend to create scuff marks after taking the record in and out. I have also housed the records in a 5mil plastic outer sleeves.
What kind of storage do you use to hold your records? The Ikea Kallax seems to be the most popular one for collectors but yours have such a Hogwarts feel going on and we love it! Could you share where did you get them and any advice for storage?
I have used the Kallax for years and they are really good shelves to use for any collectors. However, when I moved to my new place 3 years ago, I realized my childhood dreams of having a tall record storage shelves where I can climb up a ladder to store or pick my records. The shelves were designed by me and built by a local carpenter. I was inspired by a Japanese shelve design where they have this roller mechanism to pull the cover out and lay it down to form an album cover display. I love the concept and discussed it with my local carpenter to build one using a similar approach. The challenging part of the project was the ladder as I wanted to have a single ladder but ended up with two as the movement of the ladder from one side of the shelve to the other side (my shelves are in an “L-shaped” structure) required more space. After all, I am incredibly pleased with the final product!
Speaking about ladders, we were wondering how do you choose which LPs remain at reachable levels and which ones go up to higher levels. Is there a crate for “new arrivals” etc.
Generally, those records that I am very familiar with or I would think that I will listen to less often goes higher up the shelves. I have placed most of the box sets up on the higher shelves as I can locate them easier. The rationale is I do not want to be searching for a particular title or browsing through the titles while on the ladder. I do have a “new arrivals” crate but it is outside in my living hall, next to my sound system. It can store around 40 records. I keep them there so that it is more accessible during my listening session.
How then do you organize your records? Some people like to arrange it via genres, alphabetical order, moods for certain periods, or even eras. Which do you prefer, is it a combination, and how does it make sense to you?
I have recently made some changes to my organization. I have grouped them in different forms, first I have alphabetized the Funk & Soul, Jazz (Instrumental vs Vocals), Heavy Metal/Punk and Hip-hop (these are regardless of eras) titles. Next, I have grouped the records I associated them with the eras (the 80s, 90s, and beyond 2000s). I just grouped them based on which era I started to listen to them, this means I will have a Depeche Mode “Delta Machine” (released in 2013) in the 80s section as I have always associated Depeche Mode as the band I listen to in the 80s. I have also grouped some of the series I have collected together, like the Late Night Tales, Peel sessions, The Mood Mosaic series, Now That’s What I called Music, etc. There are also specific artists or bands that I am fond of collecting, like Miles Davis, Prince, The Housemartins/Beautiful South, and these are placed separately. I have also organized the rest in “Classic Rock Bands” (e.g. Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, etc), “Classic Male Artistes” (e.g. Paul Simon, Billy Joel, etc) and “Classic Female Artistes” (Joni Mitchelle, Dusty Springfield, etc). Last but not least, I have my “Mofi Titles”, “Soundtracks”, “Chinese Music” and “World Music” sections.
Recently we just learned that mono cartridges will be damaged when used to play stereo records. If so, do you separate your mono records from stereo? Since we are at it, which do you prefer anyways?
I don’t separate my mono records from the stereos. Currently, I do not have a mono cartridge but I am very keen to set up a turntable with a mono cartridge after hearing the beauty of a mono record played on a mono cartridge in a shop at Adelphi. The challenging part is my current turntable does not support two tonearms and this means either I change my turntable, or I will have to get another one for mono. I am still thinking about this at the moment.
Lastly, how often do you arrange your records and what does it mean for you? It’s a long process but I've got a feeling that it must be a therapeutic one, looking through each cover and the memories they entail. Maybe could you also share a particular section of your collection that you find yourself always going back to the most?
I must be honest that I can be a little messy when it comes to organizing and arranging my records. I tried to do it after every listening session if I can so that I will not misplace them after some time. It can be quite frustrating if you want to listen to one album for some reason, but you cannot find it in the section you thought you have grouped it under. Yes, it is indeed a therapeutic one to look through each record cover and many of its music will bring back specific memories of my life. My record collection is like a time machine, it has the power and the ability to transport me back to the time. As I grew up in the 80s, I must say that the music from the 80s will have the fondest memories for me in my collection.
Hopefully, through reading this, it will inspire you to start arranging your record collection however you may want. Ultimately, the process of arranging, cleaning, or packing always brings a sense of freshness, like starting a new or giving a new flame to your space. Being sensitive to our spaces and the things we have is always a true blessing to hold.
Thanks, CK for your insight and taking the time off to do this! Stay safe and take care!
Staying home this week? We've got you covered! Here are 5 great records to put on if you're spending lots of time at home. We've selected different music for different situations - facilitating Conversation, Rest, Cooking, Exploration and Reflection. Have a read and a listen below! You can click on the title or the album art to purchase the LP right here on our online store.
Music for Conversation The perfect LP to put on to help foster a sweet environment for some conversation with your family and loved ones. With the current situation going on, its a good time to catch up with the people at home. By guitarist Bill Frisell and bassist Thomas Morgan, Epistrophy was recorded at the famous New York City’s Village Vanguard – capturing the rare empathy these two players achieve together in an intimate environment. Put it on, have a listen and let the conversations begin!
Music for Rest Time for some rest and a moment to yourself – Komachi helps facilitate that with much grace. With the use of hypnotic sounds and carefully crafted textures, the music leads you to Meitei’s world of what he calls “the lost Japanese mood”. Truly an imaginative sound which inspires a sense of hope, and at the same time, some introspection. Plug in and allow it to take you into a land far far away.
Music for Cooking Dubbed as 'one of the finest recordings of Pearson's Career' by Allmusic, this here is an excellent one to listen to while you cook something delicious up! The colourful frameworks and consistently challenging compositions led by the touch of Pearson's piano makes a great mood to slice, dice, fry, saute, steam, boil, whatever it takes to satisfy your craving. Get in tune with The Right Touch and touch your cooking the right way!
Here's a special one to put on if you're in the mood for exploration! Not too far out, but definitely not restrained either, it's an illuminating listen, especially when you read about the inspirations behind the music.
“Polyhymnia” is named for the Greek Muse of music, poetry and dance, a figure that Ahmed describes as “A Goddess for the arts”. It is a suite of six movements that Ahmed dedicates to “six women of outstanding qualities, role models with whom I felt a strong connection”.
A highly evocative and inspiring LP to put on as you sit down to draw, paint, sew, stitch, mould, and create.
Marvin Gaye - What's Going On (Used copy - Exclusively available in-store)
Music for Reflection
What more can be said about one of the most iconic soul records of the 70s? We've once again found ourselves in very trying times indeed, it's as good a time as ever for this message to resonate.