• Four Tet remixes Bicep’s ‘Opal’ for new 12″

    By | March 7, 2018

    With new track ‘Helix’ on the flip.

    Bicep are releasing a new Four Tet remix of ‘Opal’ on vinyl, this April via Ninja Tune.

    ‘Opal’ is the fourth single taken from Bicep’s recent, self-titled album.

    The 12″ follows Bicep’s Glue EP and Four Tet’s ‘SW9 9SL / Planet’ two of our favourite 12″s of 2017.

    It also features a new track from Bicep called ‘Helix’ on the B-side.

    Pre-order a copy here ahead of its 27th April release, and listen to Four Tet’s remix below.

  • Our 20 favourite 12″s of 2017

    By | December 5, 2017

    From essential track IDs to crafted EPs.

    Having picked out our favourite 7″s and 10″s, we turn our attention to the 12″ in the second of our retrosepctive rundowns of the last twelve months.

    And just as 7″s no longer represent the year’s biggest chart hits, so has it been some time since 12″s were exclusively the domain of the dance floor.

    From the simple 2-track club banger to EPs that border on mini-albums, we’ve demanded that each 12″ offers something more than just an aggregation of the year’s best tracks.

    Some though, like Objekt, Denis Sulta and Bufiman do represent the year’s most urgent dance music, or in the case of Bicep, Four Tet and Nathan Fake distil new albums in more forms.

    This year, the 12″ has also been the friend of the UK’s burgeoning grassroots jazz movement, capturing the nascent scene as it grows and evolves, whether on Joe Armon-Jones & Maxwell Owin’s Idiom, Moses Boyd’s Absolute Zero or the improvised voyages of A.R.E. Project.

    And finally, the 12″ was also home to several beautifully crafted EPs, cementing concepts and musical ideas – from Fatima al Qadiri’s provocative sexual politics to LAPS’ DIY dancehall – that circumvent generic boundaries for something true to the musical diversity of 2017.

    You may have also noticed that we’ve changed the emphasis of our lists this year away from the tired, arbitrary and frankly over-used ‘best’, to the more openly subjective ‘favourite’. We believe this more accurately reflects the fact that these rundowns are essentially recommendations of what we’ve enjoyed most this year, as selected by our weekly contributors Patrick Ryder, James Hammond and Chris Summers, alongside VF’s editorial team, Gabriela Helfet and Anton Spice.

    What were your favourites this year? Let us know in the comments below.

    See the rest of our 2017 review:

    Our 50 favourite albums of 2017
    Our 10 favourite 7″s of 2017
    Our 12 favourite reissue singles of 2017
    Our 30 favourite reissues of 2017
    Our 12 favourite soundtracks of 2017
    Our 12 favourite record sleeves of 2017


    20. Bicep

    Glue EP

    (Ninja Tune)

    Listen / Buy

    Bicep may have dropped their long-awaited debut album, taking first place as the most track ID-requested producers of the year by a country mile in the process, but the audio pinnacle from this Belfast duo actually came in the form of their final release of 2017. The Glue EP delivered one of the LP’s finest cuts on the A-Side, plus fresh tracks which included the delightfully acid-tinged ‘DLR’ on the reverse. – GH


    19. Dazion

    Don’t Get Me Wrong

    (Second Circle)

    Listen / Buy

    This curveball dropped right at the start of 2017 and hasn’t left the record bag since. Lead track ‘Be A Man’ sashays across the dance floor with jasmin-infused disco pizzazz, lush synths and a belly-dance bassline underpinned by sharp-as-brass percussive shuffle. Things take a step down to Room 2 on ‘Rigola’, the groove staying in the pocket, with vibraphones to the fore. A triumph for the Music From Memory off-shoot that was heard far and wide this year. – AS


    18. Carla Dal Forno

    The Garden

    (Blackest Ever Black)

    Listen / Buy

    A VF favourite coming off the strength of last year’s debut full length You Know What Its Like and its accompanying singles, this year gave us four new cuts from Carla Dal Forno which made for more essential listening. An artist who sets out an alluring sound world of mysterious and uneasy pop music, The Garden carried on where her debut left off in its sparingly affective structures and ability to craft distinctive vocal hooks that work their way in with repeated listens. – JH


    17. Denis Sulta

    Nein Forteate EP

    (Sulta Selects)

    Listen / Buy

    Glasgow homebro Denis Sulta launched his own label with two choice EPs this year, the highlight of which was its inaugural release, Nein Forteate, featuring ‘Dubelle Oh XX (JVIP)’. The kind of synthy club anthem that Sulta is rightly becoming known for, its greatness lies about 3 and a half minutes in, when the track, seemingly at its peak, suddenly cuts out… Is it a mistake, a DJ faux pas, a power problemo? Nah. It’s Sulta bringing in a silky smooth “ohhhh yeah” vocal, before dropping the ole hook in back again to maximum effect. – GH


    16. Beatrice Dillon & Call Super

    ‘Inkjet / Fluo’

    (Hessle Audio)

    Listen / Buy

    One of our favourite collaborations of the year also appears on one of our favourite labels in sweet symbiosis, as Beatrice Dillon unites with Call Super for this Hessle Audio affair. As with many of the 12”s gracing this year’s list, the A-Side ‘Inkjet’ is a legit slice of aqua electronics, but it’s the flip – ‘Fluo’ – that we’ve been rinsing since it dropped. A soundtrack for the robot takeover to come, with Blade Runner-esque dial tones making way for exquisite saxxy breakdowns midway through. Proof, if ever you needed it, that no B-side should be left unturned. – GH


    15. Avalon Emerson

    Whities 013

    (Whities)

    Listen / Buy

    Avalon Emerson returns to Whities for the follow-up to her Narcissus in Retrograde EP – one of our favourite 12”s of 2016 – on a different, but no less excellent, tip. With this catchy double-dose, she continues her well deserved ascent as one of the most exciting producers around: ‘One More Fluorescent Rush’ serves glitchy, spaced out feels, before ‘Finally Some Common Ground’ takes off on a Soichi Terada-esque, one-way trip to the intergalactic mothership. – GH


    14. Four Tet

    ‘SW9 9SL / Planet’

    (Text Records)

    Listen / Buy

    Aside from a couple of split 12”s last year, 2017 marked something of a return to the prolific output we’ve come to expect from Kieran Hebden, releasing a handful of 12”s, a load of material via multiple Spotify aliases, some brilliant remixes, the year’s most ID’d edit ‘Question’, and a new full-length infamously made using just a laptop and a view over some unspectacular woodland. Thankfully, the album’s two stand-out tracks were also collected on this limited 12”. Propulsive, melodic dance music for the headphones or the dance floor, ‘Planet’ is Four Tet’s finest since There Is Love In You. – AS


    13. Craven Faults

    Netherfield Works

    (Lowfold Works)

    Listen / Buy

    Elusive, evasive, but delivered with unerring authority, Craven Faults is one of this year’s wildcards. Arriving on a mysterious label with a soaring two-track EP of airborne krautrock, Netherfield Works pays its dues to ’70s Düsseldorf and the San Francisco Tape Music Centre and casts them to the English winds, forging two sprawling tracks from within a nest of patch cables in an old Yorkshire textile mill. A modular synth record that, like recent works by Kaityln Aurelia Smith seems to shed its machined origins to become something altogether more organic, Netherfield Works overflows across two sixteen minute tracks that will appeal to fans of Cluster, Steve Reich and the like. – AS


    12. Fatima Al Quadiri

    Shaneera

    (Hyperdub)

    Listen / Buy

    Few EPs set out to challenge norms and hegemonies like Fatima Al Qadiri’s Shaneera, which riffs on the English mispronunciation of the Arabic word for “outrageous, nefarious, hideous, major and foul.” Reconstructing snippets of Grindr chats, online drag and femme comedy skits, and Iraqi proverbs into a hybrid vernacular built from Kuwaiti and Egyptian Arabic, Shaneera is an intoxicating listen – all menacing dubbed-out electronic arrangements – and a self-confessed “love letter to evil and benevolent queens around the world.” – AS


    11. Bufiman

    ‘Peace Moves’

    (Dekmantel)

    Listen / Buy

    Dekmantel celebrated a decade as a champion of left-field, dance floor meditations by delivering its strongest year yet, hosting an annual sell-out festival in Holland, a smaller soiree in Croatia, and releasing some of the label’s finest music along the way, including Dekmantel 10 Years 04 EP and Juju & Jordash’s Sis-Boom-Bah LP. However, it was Bufiman aka Wolf Muhler’s Peace Moves EP that best represented the weird af and wonderfully off-kilter sonics which have come to define the Dutch imprint. A seemingly bizarre combination of growling vocals and cranky, bent out of shape jack-in-the-box effects that sounds so wrong it’s right. – GH


    10. Moses Boyd

    Absolute Zero

    (The Vinyl Factory / Exodus)

    Listen / Buy

    Drummer and producer Moses Boyd exploded into the wider musical consciousness with ‘Rye Lane Shuffle’ in 2016, and this EP, co-released between VF and his own Exodus imprint, was his much-anticipated follow up. Ditching the horn stabs for shimmering krauty synths, Absolute Zero was born out of Boyd’s solo live shows but has since been reintegrated into the Exodus band with which he has sold out the likes of Corsica Studios and Jazz Café this year. Underpinned by his live-wire drum sound, this EP swells with a restless ease, referencing influences as broad as grime, ambient and hip-hop, rooting this new jazz mode in an urban context. One of the year’s breakthrough artists, expect to hear much more of Moses in the coming months. As objective as we can possibly be, the soft-touch laminate artwork by Optigram may also make this one of our favourite sleeves of the year. – AS


    9. Agnes Obel

    ‘Stretch Your Eyes (Quiet Village Remix)’

    (Phonica Special Editions)

    Listen / Buy

    You don’t need us to tell you how great it is to share a building with a record shop, let alone one as consistently on point as Phonica. So when manager Simon Rigg called us into his office one afternoon last summer with news of an extra special 12” on one of the shop’s in-house imprints we knew it was going to be good. Here Quiet Village pull apart Danish singer Agnes Obel’s ‘Stretch Your Eyes’ into a dark and dubby chorale, backed by an eerie a cappella imbued with the same haunting longevity of Massive Attack’s ‘Teardrops’. – AS


    8. SW. / SVN

    ‘Sued 18’

    (SUED)

    Listen / Buy

    Who needs things like track names when the music can do the talking? Not SW. that’s who. The producer follows up a close-to-perfect 2016 LP (appropriately called The Album) to team up with SUED co-founder SVN. SUED 18 kicks off with Pepe Bradock-esque house heaviness on the A-Side, plus a knockout, subdued techno ride on the reverse. – GH


    7. Floating Points

    ‘Ratio (Deconstructed Mixes)’

    (Pluto Records)

    Listen / Buy

    Though Floating Points debuted versions of the slow-rolling, emotional synth-filled ‘Ratio’ via live shows and DJ sets last year, it finally saw a long-awaited official release this October. Well worth the wait, ‘Ratio’ is a shimmering number that harkens back to Floating Points’ supreme ‘Myrtle Avenue’ and ‘ARP3’ fare. And though it may seem like a mere sales gimmick to release the track in ‘deconstructed’ parts, as he did on the B-side, it’s not. If you caught his live set this year, this seemingly fractured 12″ actually makes perfect sense because no live version of ‘Ratio’ was identical. An exciting hint that the best of his new material is yet come. – GH


    6. Joe Armon-Jones & Maxwell Owin

    Idiom

    (YAM Records)

    Listen / Buy

    A record that captures the jazz routes and roots coursing through London at the moment, tying together the convergent legacies of broken beat, house, 2-step and fusion that having been coalescing south of the river for some time. Aside from being assembled from a quintet of fiercely accomplished musicians (Armon-Jones & Owin are joined here by Nubya Garcia, Oscar Jerome and Jake Long), Idiom is a refreshingly playful record that never takes itself too seriously. With discrete improvisations woven into the fabric of each track, Idiom is greater than the sum of its parts, and a testament to the community that has helped elevate it. – AS


    5. Nathan Fake

    Providence Reworks – Part I

    (Ninja Tune)

    Listen / Buy

    A primer on how a track, in this case Nathan Fake’s ‘DEGREELESSNESSS’ from his Providence LP, can be turned into (two times the) greatness, thanks to formidable edits. A-Side sees Overmono assuming the rework duties to craft one of the anthems of 2017’s festival season, teasing out the most euphoric moments of ‘DEGREELESSNESS’ across seven and half minutes. Meanwhile, a no less worthy of rotation revamp from Huerco S brings a psychedelic, Middle Eastern-hued séance to send you into a zen-filled trance. – GH


    4. LAPS

    Who Me?

    (MIC)

    Listen / Buy

    LAPS are Ladies As Pimps, the Glasgow duo and Golden Teacher affiliates forging an industrial dancehall sound that’s unlike anything else we heard this year. If there’s one big hit here it would be title track ‘Who Me?’, which finds a sweet spot between the sensual, the confrontational and the surreal we had no idea existed. It’s a trick ‘Edges’ manages too, before rounding off the EP with the fragmented “pyjama house” of ‘Lady Bug’. A charismatic record that pulls no punches, and a fine first foray into new music for 2017 label newcomer MIC. – AS


    3. Objekt

    Objekt #4

    (Objekt)

    Listen / Buy

    If in January someone had told us one of the biggest tracks of the year would be a slowed-down two-step garage beat-meets-techno superjam, we would have been rather confused about what the year held in store. But so it was. TJ Hertz’s first release since 2014, a 12” on the club-focused white label series under his Objekt alias, stormed dance floors far and wide thanks to its unexpected B-Side. ‘Theme From Q’ is the kind of track that works in sets of all shapes, speeds and sizes, because it’s just that great. – GH


    2. Hieroglyphic Being, Sarathy Korwar & Shabaka Hutchings

    A.R.E. Project EP

    (Technicolour)

    Listen / Buy

    Arguably one of the UK’s most prolific and inspiringly creative musicians, Shabaka Hutchings leant his saxophone touch to a number of contenders for our favourite releases of the year, including the Comet Is Coming’s psychedelic jazz 12” Death To The Planet 12”. That said, A.R.E. Project, a unique and forward-thinking, improvised collaboration between Hutchings, Hieroglyphic Being and Sarathy Korwar was the obvious choice. Captured during a completely live, two hour performance aboard a studio moored inside a ship along the Thames, the EP sees cosmic sax merging with Indonesian folk music and space-age electronics for a truly one-of-a-kind result. – GH


    1. Sudan Archives

    Sudan Archives

    (Stones Throw)

    Listen / Buy

    One of this year’s most enchanting debuts came from violinist, producer and vocalist Sudan Archives, whose self-titled EP on Stones Throw takes the award for our favourite 12” of 2017. Channelling the bedroom RnB production that sustained her early forays into music into an outward-looking hybrid sound, Archives draws as much on North African melodies and instrumentation as Stones Throw’s storied left-field hip-hop tradition.

    A self-taught violinist, she weaves finger picking rhythms into the fabric of her productions, and uses its sawing melancholy to lend a gorgeous nostalgia to each song. And while ‘Come Meh Way’ might be the track you’ll have heard most, ‘Oatmeal’ and ‘Goldencity’ exude the same singular clarity, marking out a route between the percussive, earthy RnB of opening track ‘Paid’ and the syncopated folk musings of final track ‘Wake up’. A modest record, both utterly new yet uncannily familiar, we revisited this EP time and again this year, and can’t wait to hear what comes next. – AS


    Illustration by Patch D Keyes.

  • The 10 best vinyl releases this week (4th September)

    By | September 4, 2017

    New music from Bicep, LCD Soundsystem, a Twin Peaks compilation and more.

    Believe the hype? The early days of autumn see no signs of slowing down on releases, with long-awaited albums dropping from duo Bicep, LCD’s reunion record, and a Twin Peaks compilation to ease the pain now that the series has ended.

    On the singles front, we’ve got slinky R&B hooks from Cali, hypnotic archival synths from Ursula Bogner, and emotional dance-floor strings from London producer Nebraska.

    Scroll down for our definitive across-the-board rundown of the week’s new vinyl releases as selected by The Vinyl Factory’s Chris Summers, Patrick Ryder and James Hammond with help from Norman Records. 5 singles and 5 LPs every 7 days that are unmissable additions to any collection.


    Singles


    Brenda Beachball Ray

    Digi Drifts EP

    (Aficionado)

    Listen / Buy

    Formed in the cosmos but born in the Wirral, Brenda Ray came of age during the experimental explosion of the post punk era. First as a member of Naffi Sandwich, and then alongside her fictitious Beach Balls, she explored her own bonkers fusion of synthwave, dub and pop, shunning the mainstream entirely while winning an ardent underground following. After a recent flurry of archival activity, Ray returns to Balearic powerhouse Aficionado, with a trio of new tracks exploring abstract exotica, tropical tape wave and even dub techno. It’s inspirational stuff from one of the true sonic outliers.


    Nebraska

    ‘Rien Ne Va Plus’ / ‘Don’t You Know’

    (Friends & Relations)

    Listen / Buy

    Nebraska’s latest release on his small, vinyl-only label Friends & Relations follows the producer’s excellent Razor-N-Tape Drill EP earlier this year. The four-cut 12″ features two versions of each song. ‘Rien Ne Va Plus’ is bubbly house with a catchier than you realise, ‘Forget Me Nots’-esque loop. But it’s ‘Don’t You Know’ that we’re hoping to hear all autumn (and winter) long, with emotional disco strings on an Andres ‘New For U’ level, and bass that reaches into Pepe Bradock territory.


    inc. no world

    Living EP

    (Handsome Dad Records)

    Listen / Buy

    This shit swings in all the right places. Inc. No World (formerly Teen Inc. aka brothers Andrew and Daniel) return with the stunning ‘Living EP’ and it’s full to the brim with slinky hooks, solid grooves and just the right amount of smooth to come on sounding totally unique and totally vital right now. Five tracks deep and all totally essential.


    Ursula Bogner

    Winkel Pong

    (Faitiche)

    Listen / Buy

    Ursula Bogner’s story and archive are bound up in certain mysteries and potential fictions owing to the scarce details of her life, and the intriguing archival LPs that Jan Jelinek’s Faitiche records have released as a gradual unearthing of her syntheziser based home-recordings. With her archive seemingly spanning from 1969-1988, for this latest instalment into the known sound works of Ursula Bogner, Colombian sound artist Lucrecia Dalt delved into the vault and has brought us this 7” aural oddity that channels a keen sense of the uncanny within its electric currents.


    Jutland Songs

    ‘Charm on the Chain / Spark Out’

    (Gringo)

    Listen / Buy

    A band who play melodic but feisty rock as if they came from the 1990s. Think Polvo, Guided By Voices and Sebadoh. They also claim to like dogs and cats. A first?


    LPs


    LCD Soundsystem

    American Dream

    (DFA)

    Listen / Buy

    Believe the hype – LCD’s American Dream return is simply stunning. James Murphy has spent almost two years getting this album together (after getting the band back together that is) and the quality runs from beginning to end. Yeah it has glimpses of those disco skills they’re so good at, but it runs much deeper and a little darker too. Straight double vinyl, no variants, no gimmicks – the real deal.


    SW

    The Album

    (Apollo)

    Listen / Buy

    Though the snap-back and Supreme crew may be spilling their Redstripe to the latest lo-fi roller from DJ Irony right now, the heads have been nodding along to a different kind of vibration. In case you’ve been sleeping, top-tier techno druid Stefan Wust has spent the last five years holed up in a German forest, communicating with nature and running the utterly idiosyncratic Sued label alongside SVN. Informed by his woody surroundings and a record yield of freaky fungi, SW practices a lysergic form of techno typified by mind altering sound design, concentric rhythms and a general commitment to wigging you out. After a blink-and-you-missed-it release on his own Sued label last year, this shamanic techno masterclass is given a widescale release by the mighty Apollo. Buy. On. Sight.


    Various Artists

    Twin Peaks (Music From the Limited Event Series)

    (Rhino)

    Listen / Buy

    Following on from a host of Twin Peaks-related vinyl action in the past year, this week sees Rhino records dropping a couple more LPs as a fitting addendum to the closing of the current series. With a release of maestro Angelo Badalamenti’s original score and this 2xLP compilation of tracks culled from the show’s recurrent platform for live bands – the Roadhouse bar – there’s plenty for fans lamenting the end of the new series to warp their ears around. This set takes in a scope of sound befitting to the inter-dimensional trickery at play in the Twin Peaks universe: Lynchian themes of industrial grind, fire and smoke, surreal melancholy, and all pervasive electricity abound as the likes of Nine Inch Nails, Chromatics, Au Revoir Simone and Trouble deliver some choice cuts.


    Jack Cooper

    Sandgrown

    (Trouble in Mind)

    Listen / Buy

    In which Ultimate Paintings chief Jack Cooper reminisces about his youth in Blackpool over gentle guitars and cool detached vocals. Sorta like Like Lou Reed wandering down the pleasure beach.


    Bicep

    Bicep LP

    (Ninja Tune)

    Listen / Buy

    After months of teasing out snippets, and hundreds of track id requests via dark dance floor videos, Bicep’s debut album has landed. Though there’s nothing surprising on the LP, it’s no bad thing. All 12-tracks showcase what the duo does best: hook-filled house and techno minus a tendency for being too cloying, especially on standouts ‘Glue’ and ‘Opal’.

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