October 20, 2021
Analog hi-fi, vinyl, and wine – united in harmony.
Since its inception, Brilliant Corners has existed as something of a rarity in London: a music fanatic’s dream with meticulous attention to every sonic detail, that remains unpretentious and welcoming to all. Combining top-tier audio – those floor-to-ceiling Klipsch speakers! That glowing Bozak mixer! – in a setting with an abundance of wine and Japanese food, the Dalston spot feels like a neighbourhood haunt and a treat at the same time.
BC also operates a summer outpost, called GIANT STEPS, with a similar ethos — as well as a sound system that has graced festival seasons with its BBC turntable console.
But when Covid hit, BC’s founders, brothers Aneesh and Amit Patel, had to think differently. They transformed what was once a physical hub for audio-, oeno-, and Nippon-ophiles into a website — and the highlights of Brilliant Corners inspired its new platform, Idle Moments.
Since that time, the Patels have adapted further still, opening up an Idle Moments location on Columbia Road in East London, with vinyl curated by Tokyo’s Vinyl Delivery Service, alongside the best hi-fi and wine that BC has to offer.
Eager to visit this new sonic oasis, we took a trip to BC and spoke with Aneesh to find out more.
Idle Moments began as an online store – what lead you to start that?
After a couple of months of lockdown, not quite knowing how long Brilliant Corners would have to be closed for, we realised that we needed to find a way to pay for all our bills that we weren’t able to put on pause. We had a lot of audio equipment in storage that we had collected over the years, plus plenty of good wine sitting in the cellar at Brilliant Corners.
We chucked some records from our personal collections into the mix, and started selling everything on Instagram. We had a lot of people contacting us after that, so we decided to build a web store. More than just paying the bills though, it also gave us a way to connect with the communities that we were missing whilst everything was closed down.
How did the physical Idle Moments outpost come about?
The online operation was chaotically spread across the floor space of Brilliant Corners and our respective home apartments. There were vintage speakers, amplifiers, records, and bottles of wine all over the place. We needed a place for making and receiving deliveries, so we started looking for a retail unit.
The selection at the shop and on the website should broadly be the same. We’ve shipped everything from cases of wine to entire sound systems all over the world. However, we still prefer to engage with people in the physical shop if possible. At the shop itself, it’s easier to give proper advice on what we’re selling.
We’ve also enjoyed getting to know our local customers, and in terms of wine, figuring out what they like and don’t like, introducing them to new styles and unfamiliar grape varietals. Similarly it’s nice to be able to give more context to the records and equipment we are selling.
In the future, we’ll be planning more in-store events which celebrate certain winemakers, record releases, and generally look to build a community around the shop.
Does the area have particular significance to you?
It’s close to plenty of other great record shops like World of Echo, Yo-Yo Records, Flashback, Love Vinyl, and Atlantis Records. Plus we get to be neighbours with Brawn!
What do you stock at Idle Moments?
We stock wine, records, and hi-fi equipment that we know and love.
Good sound, music, and wine are some of the essentials of what we do at Brilliant Corners and GIANT STEPS. The products we offer at Idle Moments are borne out of that experience.
The shop is filled with wines from our favourite producers. These are either pioneers of the natural wine movement, or their most accomplished disciples. We try to make sure that every bottle on our shelves, regardless of its price point, has an enduring appeal. We also have a select range of other favourites of ours – from beer and cider to mezcal, rhum agricole, and Spanish brandy.
The new release records are a focused selection of deep listening and spiritually engaging music. We wanted to create a space dedicated to the style of more contemplative music that we were often listening to during lockdown. The selection is currently curated by Cedric Woo from Beauty & the Beat, and all of the records are essential listening.
All of the second-hand records are managed by Vinyl Delivery Service, a Tokyo-based record dealer that brings over thousands of records curated by their team in Japan. Scott from VDS has the knowledge of all the secondhand stock in the shop, and is there to provide recommendations alongside full in-store service.
The hi-fi section is made up of classic speakers, turntables, and amplifiers, all of which, for differing reasons, have a timeless quality, and above all look and sound great. It’s the kind of equipment we have always recommended to friends over the years, which has been tried and tested in various different settings and has always done a great job.
How did the collaboration with VDS come about?
Kay Suzuki (boss of Time Capsule records, former Head Chef at Brilliant Corners) knew we were looking for a permanent site for Idle Moments. He also knew that Rintaro Sekizuka, from VDS, was planning to start importing a lot of records from Japan to launch a VDS presence in London. Then Scott, who was already a friend of ours, started working with Rintaro for that same purpose. When we found the site on Columbia Road, it made perfect sense for us to work together, and share some of the retail space with VDS.
VDS’ selection of records is unlike any other stock in London. Lots of rare Japanese pressings, all in amazing condition across a range of genres, from jazz to electronic to obscure Japanese sounds. Their offering perfectly complemented everything else we were doing at Idle Moments, and it became even more exciting to be working with friends on a new project.
What’s the story behind the BBC console?
We were tipped off about the console by our friend David Hill. We bought it from a guy who acquired it from the widow of an ex-BBC producer.
It has two Technics SP10s mounted with BBC tonearms, built-in preamps, and pleasingly looks like something out of 2001 Space Odyssey. We took it to Farr festival and Houghton, as part of the GIANT STEPS sound system in 2017.
Looking back, that was an absurd thing to do. It weighs a ton, and is too precious to be bashed around in a van. For a while, it lived in the side room at Brilliant Corners, but it’s now found its rightful home at the shop.
What else have you got in the works?
We’re working on getting the GIANT STEPS sound system out of storage and back into the field in 2022! Plus an exciting and completely new project that you’ll hear more about very soon…
Photos by: Silvia Gin