Aug302017| August 30, 2017
The Discogs clamp down dissected.
Since its inception 16 ago years, Discogs (short for Discographies) has transformed from a kind of Wikipedia for vinyl into the world’s biggest facilitator of buying, selling and cataloguing physical music releases online.
Though the site has always taken down records which violated its selling terms, over the past month Discogs has adopted an increasingly hard stance on bootlegs: hip-hop records, edits, live concert recordings, even unofficial releases from artists themselves (e.g. Moodymann) have fallen to its chopping block.
One of the most unique facets of Discogs is the listings information featured alongside every release. Generated by its users, it catalogues the lowest, highest, and median price a record has been sold for on site, as well as listing how many users have the record in their wantlist or collection.
The information is a vital resource for buyers trying to prevent themselves from getting screwed over, as well as a way for anyone interested in a record to discover more about it. Once a listing is removed from the site, all of the pricing, wantlist and collection history is lost, though Discogs apparently keep archival records of the information offline.
As vinyl sales continue to grow, with over 4.5 million albums already sold on Discogs in 2017, and record pressing plants opening across the globe everywhere from a tiny Canadian island to South Korea to fill demand, what does this new enforcement mean for the future of the site and vinyl culture as a whole, and should Discogs be responsible for policing its site at all? We spoke to Discogs themselves, as well as the largest seller of records on site, a producer whose music was sold illegally, and a collector of hundreds of unofficial releases to find out.
What the largest vinyl vendor on Discogs thinks – Hon at Vinyl Pimp:
“I first noticed an increase in the amount of item violation messages we were receiving about one month ago. Initially I thought they were items listed on an incorrect release page. (E.g. A promo on an original version page.) I then ventured onto the marketplace forum, and discovered this has been going on since May 2017. Discogs staff have stayed away from the thread, and made no response.
I immediately decided to make a post on Facebook and got a few thousands views. Four hours later the press release was up on RA. Obviously, Discogs intended to get through these takedowns quietly, as there has been no warning to any of the users.
About 100 of our listings have been removed so far. They all have “Unofficial Release” as part of the format description.
Listing violation take downs have been around for a long time. It used to be because a promo was listed on the wrong release page, then racially sensitive materials were also getting taken down. Now we are facing the biggest and scariest action ever.
Vinyl Pimp sells on behalf of clients, as well as selling our own stuff we buy in. This means bootlegs and re-edits are part of our range, as that is what DJs and collectors buy for one reason or another.
Artists and labels don’t get royalties from our sales anyway, so in a way it doesn’t matter whether we sell bootlegs. We simply provide whatever is in demand – our action does not stimulate growth in any genre, style or format. We’ll continue to sell records on Discogs under their guidelines, as it is the best place for second hand items online.
Not only they have removed the releases from the marketplace, Discogs has taken steps to prevent users from adding these bootlegs to their collections and wantlists, which also prevents swaps between owners. These removed releases are going to be harder to come by, which will only drive the prices up.
They did not take this decision lightly – my guy from Discogs explained that they see a trend of other third party marketplaces (such as Amazon) getting hit by authorities for being responsible for the sale of copyright-infringed materials. They are doing this to prevent a real disaster, which in my opinion is a very smart move.”
What the collector with over 1000 records, including 135 bootlegs, unofficial releases and live recordings, thinks – Thomas J. Bollinger:
“I started with the Internet in 1994. So my opinion might be the same as many other veterans of the Internet: it should be a place of global free speech. I know that sounds naïve today, but then it was. So no, Discogs shouldn’t police what’s on the site.
Until I discovered Discogs, I wasn’t aware how many different versions of one record actually exist. And it was cool to find other media as well, like reel-to-reel, 8-track or 4-track cartridges for example.
I’ll continue to use Discogs, but I will search for an alternative to catalogue my collection. I will use it as a marketplace just like eBay and other sites that offer records. The USP from Discogs is basically gone. It’s just a lot of hassle for those that have entered their whole collection and inventory into the Discogs database.
Counterfeits are made to fool people and make a lot of money just by copying. What is wrong for a Rolex or any other brand article, is also wrong for records.
But it seems to me the question is not essential for Discogs. The essential question is: Are they liable for user submitted content? If so, why isn’t eBay? Why aren’t there police raids in thrift stores, second hand record stores and other off- and online marketplaces?
Bootlegs are not illegal in all countries, so Discogs could just inhibit the sale of bootlegs from certain countries if they are afraid of law suits. They could move their company and database in order to stay independent. There are plenty of free countries that value free speech (and free enterprise) much higher than the US.”
What a producer and collector whose album was illegally bootlegged thinks – Bullion:
“Discogs’ crackdown seems well intentioned, but I think it’s a bit of a shame. I’ve drawn a ton of influence (and samples, shhh) from music bought on Discogs, official or not. Mind you, there’s no shortage of great music available elsewhere, and perhaps it’ll save us all some time to let the tinnitus ring out.
There’s so much emphasis on ownership of music, and to simplify it, good music deserves to be heard! It’s obviously much more complex than that, and people need some protection over their work and payment for releases in their name etc. Selfishly, I just want to hear as much mind-blowing music while I’m alive.
The Pet Sounds: In the Key of Dee vinyl bootleg was so lazily made, it didn’t look, let alone sound good. It was overpriced and yet people still bought it, which says something about people’s obsession with vinyl. Discogs were pretty quick with getting it blocked once I asked. There are so many bootlegs and edits put together with love and they should be judged individually. A lot of admin though, I imagine.”
What the official line is – Chad Dahlstrom, COO at Discogs:
“Removing unofficial releases from the marketplace has been happening for years. We’ve continued to add resources and refine this process to help protect our community, artists, labels and rights holders, this means we’re able to be more proactive in enforcing items that violate our seller policy while continuing to honour DMCA takedown notices quickly.
As an international marketplace, we adhere to laws in countries we serve the most which are primarily the EU and US. Consequently, these laws are amongst the most stringent, so that works out well for protecting copyrights in other countries. For example, some nations allow the manufacturing of counterfeit music which could be legal to sell in those locations but would be considered a violation of copyright laws in the US or EU where the release is often ultimately purchased. For this reason, we choose not to be a platform for those types of transactions.
There are currently three classifications that are not allowed to be sold in the Discogs Marketplace: Bootleg, Counterfeit, and Pirate. In layman’s terms, those are: unauthorized recordings, fakes, and recordings that are distributed without authority. Edits, remixes, and mash-ups are a little more tricky because only the copyright holder and the creator knows whether or not the underlying tracks were cleared properly. We respond very quickly to notices about potential copyright issues, and we are working with the community members to identify suspect releases.
Our code is currently designed to remove the release in its entirety from the Marketplace without touching the history of its existence in the database. Copyright issues are not the only reason we block items from our marketplace. We also actively block Nazi/White Supremacy material and what we find is hate oriented propaganda material. That is done with the support of our community who help identify this material. Because we feel we cannot profit or support the sale of this we have always removed any sales history.
We don’t want to be the price guide, want list count or collection count for that material as we cannot support it as a company made up of caring humans. So, for now, this is just how the code works. We do still archive that data in the database as well, but we will not profit from it. For the record, our employees and company also contribute to causes such as the ACLU as we know some slip through the cracks and again that’s not who we are, and we want no profit from it.
The history of the release will maintain intact within the database and will remain. Our community has not identified sales data as a key historical marker, and honestly, the Discogs history would be a micro event on a bootleg pressed in 1964. With that said the importance of sales history is certainly debatable, and currently our system is designed to remove the release from the Marketplace which means the sales, want list and collection list history goes with it as well.
We have been taking this content off the marketplace for many years. We are only trying to get ahead of the issue and honestly believe supporting musicians, artist and label rights is an important part of our ecosystem, not to mention the right thing to do. We will continue to operate with the same music data and community first approach we always have. All we are doing here is more efficiently enforcing policies that are already in existence.”
Discogs has every right to limit what’s sold in its marketplace, but should also acknowledge that cracking down or banning bootlegs could change the very nature of the site itself.
More than any other music website, its influence and power today is thanks to the people who have contributed to it, to building listing information that makes the site so comprehensive and diverse.
Discogs’ transformation, from a database into a valuable resource, which prevents buyers from paying more than they should for a release, is something that the site itself has embraced in the past. It also benefits from more people selling in its marketplace, receiving a percentage of every sale.
To block the sales of Nazi or hate-filled music is absolutely right. To donate to the ACLU in efforts to counter racist music that might have slipped through the cracks of its marketplace is commendable.
To vaguely equate racist, banned music with bootleg releases that are in violation of copyright is another thing entirely. Where racist rhetoric inspires hate, violence and division, “unofficial releases” are, at their best, an example of creative or collaborative inspiration. This is especially the case for hip-hop, where a sample, mixtape or live recording can transform a known track or album into something fresh and new.
If the reason for this newly enforced crackdown is because Discogs isn’t able to properly monitor what happens on site in a nuanced way, it should just say so. By removing an innocuous listing history from a 1967 concert recording, or a Dub Syndicate album, or a hip-hop bootleg, Discogs doesn’t just do a disservice to the people who use it, it risks losing its credibility as the world’s most comprehensive resource for music discography, pricing, and releases.
Jul172017| July 17, 2017
Coastal funk, Caribbean boogie and Civil Rights jazz.
It’s high summer and our selection of the week’s hottest new vinyl is lathered up and ready to hit the beach. The singles bag is pure dance floor heat, with Bullion’s giddily reworked Blue Peter hybrid sailing in alongside reissues for some sizzling funk from South African and Trinidad.
In albums territory, Dam Funk fools the world into believing the new Garrett release on Music From Memory is a long-lost down-beat gem, there’s pan-global electronic oddness from the base of a Slovenian quarry and Soul Jazz join forces with Tate Modern for a heavyweight survey of the music of Black Power.
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.
London’s Randomer returns to the mighty Long Island Electrical Systems with a trio of top notch techno tonkers cut extra loud for total club carnage. A-side smasher ‘Smokin’ blows away your cobwebs with a killer combo of bleeping sequences, clattering percussion and a crispy tape finish, before the terror techno of ‘Velvet’ takes us right down the rabbit hole. Utilising doomy pads and angsty samples, Randomer keeps us on tenterhooks for time before the beat drops and the party implodes. Last but not least, B2 bomb ‘Rye’ rolls into smokey post peak territories with clicking percussion idents and all manner of post minimal tricks.
(Fruits de Mer)
A stellar two 7′ collection of selected highlight from the career of these ace late ’60s progressive folk psych people. It often sounds as if Syd Barrett’s Pink Floyd has bee taken over by members of Stackridge. Comes on the collectable Fruits De Mer imprint.
(The Trilogy Tapes)
Translating the sea shanty theme tune to children’s TV show Blue Peter into a made-for-the-floor house number sounds like a disaster on paper but somehow this one manages to avoid mere tongue-in-cheek parody and with a certain giddiness still intact. Indeed with an initial suspension of belief this earworm deceptively works its spell, and ends up as something unto itself.
Amsterdam’s finest unearth a pair of electronic boogie gems from South Africa’s rich dance music history. The title track is a silk house roller from ’93 with a wicked guitar solo that builds with the setting sun, while the flip carries stripped back PPU-esque funk jam ‘Don’t Judge Me Bad’ from the summer of ’87.
One of a few labels to get their hands on soca legend Shadow’s nocturnal boogie gems, Jamwax have pressed up the extraordinary violin-synth madness of ‘D’Hardest’ to a special max 12″. Originally recorded in 1980 (and included as a bonus track on Analog Africa’s recent reissue of Sweet Sweet Dreams), ‘D’Hardest’ is another monster cut from the man behind ‘Let’s Get It Together’ for the tropical dance floor.
(Music From Memory)
The latest must-have release from the hardest working men in Holland sees Dam-Funk roll his caddy down Sunset, taking MFM for the ride as he applies his synthetic boogie style to the world of coastal ambience. From the I.C. style sleeve to the spaced out synthesis within, this new release from Music From Memory glides effortlessly between new age and spectral synth funk, casually conning even the most eagle-eyed collectors into believing it’s a long-forgotten gem. It’s gonna keep you cool by the pool all summer long…
(Requiem For A Twister)
Last years Azur was probably their best yet but US jangle rockers Triptides prove they aren’t finished yet by unleashing another album of their West Coast leaning psychedelic treats. Listen if you like Real Estate, the Byrds and early REM.
(Don’t Be Afraid)
Having featured regularly on this weekly list, it’s no secret that we’re fans of Karen Gwyer’s hardware oriented take on techno, and this first LP for Don’t Be Afraid is another worthy refinement of her craft. Inspired by her youth in Ann Arbor, Michigan and shaped into being across a steady stream of visceral live shows, Rembo brilliantly translates Gwyer’s ear for risk taking in the live arena and makes many of her contemporaries appear positively unadventurous in comparison.
(Muting The Noise)
A bolt from the blue, or from the foot of an abandoned Slovenian quarry to be precise, Tropicalni is the fruit of Toni Bruna and Marcus Rossknecht’s new project as Keope. Space-age synth stabs and brittle electronics dance between the acoustic charms of traditional instrumentations and rhythms from across the world – from Latin cumbia to the mbira funk of West Africa. Somewhere between Nicolas Jaar, Cat Stevens’ balearic phase and Francis Bebey, Tropicalni is a vivid, if sometimes unfocussed record, but well worth seeking out if any of the above has pricked your ears. There are just 250 screen-printed copies available.
Soul of A Nation – Afro-Centric Visions in the Age of Black Power: Underground Jazz, Street Funk & The Roots of Rap 1964-79
Accompanying an urgent new exhibition of the same name at London’s Tate Modern, Soul Of A Nation is a snapshot of the music that inspired and was inspired by artists of the Civil Rights movement in the United States. Weaving together themes of spirituality, the avant-garde, protest and a re-awakening of African consciousness into music, art and poetry, it opens with Gil Scott-Heron’s rallying ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”, before going underground to capture the radical sound of jazz, funk and soul sound of independent black America.
Jun222017| June 22, 2017
Bullion revisits his now legendary ode to J Dilla, ten years on.
Ten years ago Nathan Jenkins aka Bullion sat down at his computer with an expanded box set of Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds and began the painstaking task of cutting and pasting snippets from each track in J Dilla’s lazy, slung style.
Jay Dee had passed away months earlier, and the resulting 25-minute mixtape became a legendary underground ode to the hip-hop producer – a sort of bedroom mash-up that Gorilla Vs. Bear praised as “a more adventurous version of The Grey Album, but with J Dilla and the Beach Boys standing in for Jay-Z and the Beatles” and gave Bullion 50,000 MySpace plays in a day.
Much bootlegged, but never officially released, Bullion is now revisiting Pet Sounds – In The Key of Dee ten years on for a live show at Jazz Café and took the opportunity to dive back into the unassuming story behind the album and it’s unprecedented resonance.
Expanding the set from 25 minutes to an hour has also resulted in the creation of new material, one track from which you can hear for the first time below while you read.
I grew up listening to the Beach Boys through my Dad, I had a makeshift surf board that I’d bring out to impress my parents’ friends at dinner parties. Pet Sounds was the more sophisticated side of the Beach Boys that I didn’t get into until my late teens. MySpace was becoming a thing and a few tracks from Donuts went up on J Dilla’s page. I became obsessed with it like everyone else. It had everything I loved about rap, garage and pop music and got me hooked on mimicking that production style.
I had a basic home set up for making music and got this Pet Sounds box set with all the studio sessions and Brian directing the musicians between takes. He sounds like he’s flying on something and he wants everyone to know how great the record’s going to be! I had a go at using some of the isolated parts to make a beat and before long had a few in the bag. I decided to do the whole album.
I was working in the day as a “music librarian”, so evenings and weekends I spent painstakingly programming samples and drums, trying to channel that clever Jay Dee swing. I was quite inexperienced with production so I wasn’t bothering with EQs or designing my own sounds or anything. Just pop a compressor on the whole thing and hope for the best! One thing I was careful not to lose was the attention to harmony and arrangement in Pet Sounds. It’s sacred, that album. I didn’t want to just chop it to oblivion.
Once all the tracks were finished, it made sense to sequence them as a seamless mix, the same as Donuts. With all the spoken samples I’d been collecting, this theme emerged of Brian Wilson and Jay Dee paying tribute to each other. Clips of people talking about the genius of Brian or Brian talking about his favourite Beatles albums turned into nods to Dilla and Donuts.
I put it online and Gorilla Vs Bear who had a pretty big following picked it up; I remember thinking I’d hit the big time because I had 50,000 plays in a day on MySpace! I actually quit my job shortly after that in dramatic fashion and went on holiday to Spain for a few weeks, but had to fly home a week early because I ran out of money.
The album was bootlegged on vinyl, either cut from mp3 or they took it off one of the CDs I gave away outside record shops. Whoever distributes it has done quite well according to numerous record shops abroad I’ve visited – “we just sold out of your Pet Sounds thing again!” I’ve finally had it banned from being sold on Discogs… The Beach Boys vs J Dilla isn’t even the right title!
Jazz Cafe got in touch to ask if I’d perform the album on the 10 year anniversary. I spoke to my drummer friend Giles King-Ashong – who plays with people like Mica Levi, Sampha and Kate Tempest – and he, along with another friend and musical don Raven Bush, came up with the vision for how we could do it. They put a 10-piece band together full of brilliant musicians and Raven transcribed the parts into sheet music. I’m hugely lucky to be able to learn from them all. It’s an extended version of the album and there’s a fair bit of new material especially for the show.
Bullion presents: Pet Sounds In The Key Of Dee Live will take place on 1st July at Jazz Café. Get your tickets here.
Jun302016| June 30, 2016
VF Mix 53 is as primal as it is brutal.
Imagine Can meets Mulatu Astatke at Adrian Sherwood’s place; and you’ll have a sense of what’s going on with London dance band Melt Yourself Down. Drawing on North African musical styles, post-punk, jazz, dub and industrial, the group’s apocalyptic second album Last Evenings On Earth, released earlier this year, sets up a dizzying continent hopping voyage “around a globe spinning ever more rapidly off its axis.”
Grab your passport again as their trop-industrial VF Mix mirrors the wild-eyed intensity of the record and their maniacal live show. It might span just nine tracks but it’s one heady experience that expertly unites and contrasts the nocturnal visions of Omar Souleyman, Golden Teacher, Sun City Girls, Iggy Pop and more.
Mixed by drummer Tom Skinner, listen below and keep scrolling for words on key moments from the selection plus the complete tracklist.
‘Never Is The Change (12” Take)’
(Deek Recordings, 2016)
Bullion’s LP Loop The Loop has to be one of the best records to come out so far this year! His productions are always on point and with that album he’s proved that he is a great songwriter and singer also. As a drummer I’ve always admired his drum programming with his attention to detail and subtle, unexpected intricacies. This extended 12” version is no exception. Pop-not-slop of the highest order!
‘Heli Yuweli (Rezzett Remix)’
(The Trilogy Tapes, 2015)
The Trilogy Tapes is one of my favourite labels, consistently putting out some of the most interesting and challenging music you’re likely to hear these days, always with amazing artwork and design from label boss Will Bankhead. This Omar Souleyman flip from TTT mainstays Rezzett just seemed to fit nicely with the MYD vibe.
(Golden Teacher, 2015)
So far I’ve not managed to catch these guys live which is a shame cos apparently they’re amazing! I love their records though and this track from their latest self-released EP is one of the hardest and rhythmically interesting dance tracks I’ve heard in a while. I don’t think any element of the track (except maybe the vocal) falls on beat 1 which gives it a real off kilter, wonky feel…at least that’s how I hear it! Pure sickness!
(On-U Sound, 1985)
The Circuit was the short lived production alias of On-U-Sound’s Adrian Sherwood and multiinstrumentalist
Steve Beresford during the mid 1980’s. Steve is a bit of a hero of mine; a ubiquitous presence on the London improv scene since the late 1970’s, his distinctively playful and singular musical approach can be heard on classic albums from the likes of The Flying Lizards, African Head Charge and Prince Far-I. He was a also a member of The Slits live band and features heavily on their second album Return Of The Giant Slits. This is one of only 2 or 3 tracks that ever got released by The Circuit. Apparently there was an album in the works back in the day so hopefully more material will resurface at some point.
Sun City Girls
‘Esoterica of Abyssinia’
The legendary Sun City Girls have been a pervading influence since first discovering them a few years ago. I love the way they operate in a sphere all their own with a general disdain and disregard for anything approaching the main stream. To call them niche-niche is an understatement! There is a strong Middle-Eastern and North African flavour that runs through their music (brothers Richard and Alan Bishop are of Lebanese heritage). Though far from being purists
of any particular style, they positively tear up the rule book and piss on it with joyous abandon! Often singing in made up language and incorporating mysticism and imagery of religious cultism in their lyrics and artwork, their gigs would verge on performance art, taking on a ritualistic atmosphere with audiences encouraged to be as much a part of the performance as mere spectators. This is definitely something we try and do with MYD also.
01. Normil Hawaiians – Sléibhte Macalla
02. Bullion – Never Is The Change (12″ Take)
03. Omar Souleyman – Heli Yuweli (Rezzett Remix)
04. Golden Teacher – Shatter
05. The Circuit – Loudspeaker
06. Aaron Dilloway – Psychic Driving Tapes (excerpt)
07. Iggy Pop – Life Of Work
08. Sun City Girls – Esoterica Of Abyssinia
09. Beau Wanzer – Groove’s No Zone
Lead image source: Elzo Durt, from La Femme’s ‘Psycho Tropical Berlin’
Feb292016| February 29, 2016
We select the 10 most essential vinyl releases of the last 7 days.
Taking the leap this week, we’ve got new singles from Posse, Micachu and Wild Billy Childish, as well as a rib-rattling ’70s underground psych ballad called ‘Synthezoid Heartbreak’ to share with you.
On the albums front, there’s Bullion’s long-awaited debut LP, a piece of shrink-wrapped genius (and a rare bit of major label biz for us) from Santigold, and a strong shout for vocal performance of the year from Mothers.
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.
Taz and May Vids
Whilst the acclaim for 2014’s Under the Skin soundtrack brought Mica Levi’s/ Micachu’s music to a much wider audience, this EP is a reminder that she’s been making great electronica for some time now. The springboard track for this EP ‘Go’ has been up online with its accompanying video since 2011, and Demdike Stare’s DDS label have taken it upon themselves to finally put it out there with some other choice selections that have yet to see the light of day on vinyl. If you haven’t heard anything from Levi outside of Under the Skin, this is a fine EP to acquaint yourself with another side of her craft. Only 500 pressed and these won’t stick around.
Perfect H / Voices
(Wharf Cat Records)
Spectral and stripped back slow core that reminds us of Galaxie 500, Low and Cass McCombs. Posse play a kind of shackled indie rock where the voice of some kind of David Bermann/Tim Darcy crossbreed is wrapped around extra cuddly guitars.
Superior Elevation boss Tom Noble mans the controls for the inaugural release on NYC imprint Arcane, donning his Diamond Jackson moniker for a trio of cut’n’paste club gems. The peaktime bump of ‘Stars’ opens the set, driving us into the heart of the floor with tape saturated machine beats and a choice Salsoul drum break. Jazzy Rhodes keys add an air of sophistication to proceedings, while the squirming, squelching boogie bass and shouted crowd vocals ain’t nothing but hot, sticky funk. ‘Maybe So’ finds Tom layering dreamy keys and love-stoned vocals over THAT Fingers track, while B-side cut ‘Streets’ offers an uplifting excursion into the soulful end of the dream house spectrum.
A Glimpse Of Another Time
Once again the legendary Damaged Goods label rises to the top of the pile with another killer single from a killer artist. The artist is of course Billy Childish and here with his latest band CTMF he carves a cracking track to a long forgotten legendary scene centred around Slim Chance’s Club at the Wild Western Rooms in North London. It sounds exactly like it should…and it does…and it’s great.
Synthezoid Heartbreak / Distant Visions
Having gathered the splinters from the worldwide post-punk underground in his 2015 compilation Critical Mass, Cherrystones turns up another truffle from the dirt, in the shape of this dinked space rock 7″ from Maya. With one of the best track titles of all time ‘Synthezoid Heartbreak’ is an asteroid from Ohio’s psychedelic underground, all chunky drums, massive guitar solos and primitive electronics, while ‘Distant Visions’ on the flip takes things down a touch, a plaintive prog lament “searching for the limitless horizons of infinite dreams”. The 7″ comes with liner notes from Maya’s Burk Skyhorse Price.
Loop The Loop
If you haven’t yet, now is the time to dip your foot in the river of Bullion. Nathan Jenkins rolls out his debut LP Loop The Loop this week, uniting a sound that has come to define his quietly curated label DEEK. The thirteen tracks collected here shimmer in their own peculiar light, gathering refractions of ’80s pop hooks, soaring saxophones, soft-padded percussion and astute observations that are as playful as they are melancholy. Life-affirming miniatures of a parallel universe, ‘My Lar’, ‘Never Is The Change’ and ‘Speed’ exemplify just how varied an album Loop The Loop is, where each piece is guided by a seductive internal logic. The artwork on the gatefold release is similarly on point, and a shining example of an idea executed with unerring clarity.
Santi White aka Santigold is back with her third album and once again shows everyone how to write the perfect album full of the most perfect songs. There’s not many other artists out there that can put over their ideas, visions and social commentary in such a stupidly catchy pop way that it takes a moment to sink in and to realise what that melody you’re humming really means. This fine lady is an absolute genius from every angle and this album is simply perfect.
“Imaginary soundscapes from imagined exotic places based on my travels in the Pacific Islands and South East Asia” is how Mike Cooper outlines this remarkably textured patchwork of sounds. With a wondrously eclectic discography to his name, New Kiribati is far from the more traditional folk roots he was associated with in the 1960s, and is testament to his expansion of this palette and ability to cast all manner of sounds into unfamiliar and alluring territories. Certainly one for your ears to swim within, and along with 2004s Rayon Hula, New Kiribati really deserves more attention as a sublime work of ambience that forges an exotic aura like no other. To have it on the vinyl for the first time is a very welcome development.
When You Walk A Long Distance You Are Tired
This indie-folk-rock four piece from Athens, GA have made a front-to-back gorgeous record of howling strings, plumbed piano chords, solemn guitar riffs and one of the year’s most unflinching vocal performance from Kristine Leschpe. Her Angel Olsen-ish vocals explore the big life questions whilst the band play spacious and elegant folk music.
Sometime In Space
After a couple of contributions to UK house institution Wolf Music, and a sublime 10″ on Church last year, Ishmael returns to the London label with his debut full length release Sometime In Space. The eleven track set sees the multi instrumentalist switch between stark and futuristic ambient pieces, hard hitting nebulous techno and soul infused house, maintaining a constant narrative throughout despite the varied genre. Whether he’s treating us to all out bangers like ‘Salt Spring Falls’ and ‘In Sun’, the deep and immersive ‘Leviathan’ and ‘Titan, My Friend’ or the abstract sounds of ‘Sputnik Sweetheart’ and ‘Desiderata’, Ishmael keeps the quality sky high, delivering an interesting and expressive debut LP.
Jan132016| January 13, 2016
2016 is off to a flying start.
If 2015 was the year for pressing machines and supermarkets, 2016 already looks like something of a turntable revival. With a rebooted Technics leading the charge, decks are taking over like never before.
There’s also a whole crop of new vinyl releases waiting in the wings. Amid those long overdue Twin Peaks reissues and 2015 hangovers like Arca’s Mutant, are sixteen forthcoming records that should whet your appetite in early 2016. From Kanye to Swans, get stuck in below:
This pair are onto a good thing. Ever since Berlin-based duo Africaine 808 dropped the sweet summer jam ‘Lagos, New York’ we’ve been watching their every step closely, entranced by their ability to seamlessly weave West African instrumentation into an analogue house framework that pops with the joy and vitality of downtown ‘80s NYC.
Almost three years after they exploded onto the scene with Silence Yourself, Savages new LP is about to be about an awful lot: “It’s about the choices we make. It’s about finding the poetry and avoiding the cliché. It’s about being the solution, not the problem. It’s about showing weakness to be strong. It’s about digging through your dirt to look for diamonds. It’s about claiming your right to think unacceptable thoughts.” Teased with the high-octane ‘The Answer’ and the certified murder ballad ‘Adore’, expect Adore Life to inject some post-punk punch into the first few months of the year.
After Vex’d dissolved, Roly Porter took a solo sidestep into immense, sci-fi inspired space. According to press materials his third full length will take another turn; this time, meditating on “ideas of rhythm, bass, sound design within his own world without having to shape any of these elements to fit preconceived ideas or rules.” The new angle seems like a perfect fit for his new home on Tri-Angle.
Anna Holmer & Steve Moshier
Breadwoman and other tales
After a stellar year in 2015, culminating in Savant’s fantastic Artificial Dance collection, we’ve been on high alert about New York label RVNG Intl.’s next move. Breadwoman does not disappoint. Cooked up in the baking heat of California’s Topanga Canyon in 1982, it’s a salient stream of Anna Holmer’s deconstructed language, an imagined vernacular here sculpted into song form by avant garde producer Steve Moshier. Startling and engrossing stuff.
(Def Jam/G.O.O.D. Music)
Due: 11 February / Listen
Hype/confusion around Kanye’s seventh LP has been building for almost as long as North’s been around. In January 2016, we know a few things though. The album will drop this February. Formerly titled So Help Me God, it’s now SWISH. And it’ll feature an all-star cast, from Paul McCartney to Kendrick Lamar.
But one thing that’s not been confirmed is whether or not there’ll be a vinyl release. Mainstream hip hop appears to dislike PVC, but with Kendrick bringing To Pimp A Butterfly to wax (albeit six months late), we’re hoping Yeezy will follow suit.
(Be With Records)
Who else can claim Ned Doheney, Letta Mbulu, The Streets and Cassie on its roster? Continuing to push the boat out in 2016, the Be With curveball this quarter is Kylie Minogue’s eponymous album from ’94.
A nice opportunity to bring Kylie fans out of the closet, the guilty favourite is her most in-demand with the original edition fetching as much as £150 on second hand markets. Touching on ambient, house, synth-pop and balearic, it’s a banger. As Balearic Mike says: “Brave move. I am a MASSIVE Kylie fan – as are all right-thinking people.”
(The Vinyl Factory)
Due: 19 February / Listen
JD Twitch did than more than most to improve our record collections last year, from those post-punk rarities to an inspired intercontinental collaboration on his Autonomous Africa imprint. For 2016, he goes back to his roots with a comp of ‘80s synth, industrial and cold wave from his earliest days behind the mixer.
Twitch has also enlisted contemporary cold-wave fans Powell and Helena Hauff to remix tracks on the compilation, which seems like a very good idea to us. We’re chuffed to be pressing it up.
Jesu & Sun Kil Moon
Jesu / Sun Kil Moon
Mark Kozalek and Justin Broadrick (of Godflesh fame) team up as Sun Kil Moon and Jesu for a powerful collaboration on Kozalek’s Caldo Verde label. If pre-streamed tracks ‘America’s Most Wanted Mark Kozelek and John Dillinger’ and ‘Exodus’ are anything to go by then it’s going to be an epic, harrowing trip, the latter using the death of Nick Cave’s fifteen year old son to form a ballad dedicated to “all bereaved parents”.
(Awesome Tapes From Africa)
The latest instalment on Brian Shimkovitz’s Awesome Tapes From Africa promises to be a firecracker of deconstructed dance music from the Ghanaian capital Accra. Made with Fruity Loops, reforming neo-traditional Ga music with the urgency of early ‘90s Detroit techno and Chicago acid house, Trotro was initially released in 2009, doing the rounds on the country’s mobile DJ scene. Elastic dance music at its most raw.
Loop The Loop
Following a string of brilliant EPs and collaborations, Bullion has finally got round to readying a debut album of his own. Making sideways pop-not-pop like no-one else, expect the LP to be as playful and strange as ever, the title track already out there leading the way, drenched in gluey, analogue warmth.
Ryuichi Sakamoto & Alva Noto ft. Bryce Dessner
Alejandro González Iñárritu’s icy and visceral Western The Revenant bossed the Golden Globes this week. It’ll probably sweep up at the Oscars too, although the slogging soundtrack won’t. Because Sakamoto intertwined his work with two other composers – Alva Noto and The National’s Bryce Dessner – it’s ineligible to compete, according to Academy rules. Well, fuck the rules. This is easily one of the best scores of the year and we can’t wait to play it on vinyl.
Due: TBA / Listen
Almost six years since her last outing with Antony & The Johnsons, Antony Hegarty returns as Anohni, with two of the most individual contemporary producers in tow. Enlisting Warp’s Hudson Mohawke and Oneohtrix Point Never, Hopelessness was teased with the incendiary and apocalyptic ‘4 Degrees’ before the Paris Climate Summit at the end of 2015. We’d expect nothing less from one of Björk’s primary collaborators.
Tim Hecker follows up 2013’s Virgins with a new LP and his first on 4AD that promises to be every bit its elegiac successor. With a performance planned at the atmospheric St John Church in Hackney for early May and Hecker refining his sound with every release, greater exposure through 4AD should see him reach a wider audience than ever.
Ghostface & DOOM
Due: February / Listen
“I talked to DOOM’s people. DOOM is ready now,” said Wu Tang veteran Ghostface in a recent interview. The near mythical collaboration has been mooted for close to a decade so we’ll forgive you for being a little sceptical here. Word on the street though is that the elusive project will finally see light of day in Feb.
Black Origami: The MotherBoard
Last year’s Dark Energy blew up the notion of a footwork album. Mutated, venomous, and yet strangely uplifting; it was christened within our top 5 records of 2015. As a steel mill employee, it took Jlin her entire life to weave together that long player. Now that she’s given up the day job, we’re all ears as she cues up her sophomore effort.
Hauled from the grave in 2010, Michael Gira’s resurrected Swans have garnered vast critical and popular respect. Amid a swarm of reformations cashing in nostalgia checks, the band stands near alone with a recent run of albums living up to every inch of their daunting reputation. Following last year’s live CD album The Gate, this year brings the final Swans album (and tour). Strap up tight.
Nov052015| November 5, 2015
Sam Bardsley and Guy Gormley share a track from their debut EP ‘Don’t Touch Me Now’.
One of our favourite budding labels, Bullion’s DEEK Recordings are releasing the debut EP from newest recruits Never this month.
The work of Sam Bardsley and Guy Gormley, ‘Don’t Touch Me Now’ is a typically playful, understated four-tracker, perfectly aligned to the label’s sideways pop sound, and is the latest in a refined series of quality 12″s from Laura Groves, Thool and Bullion released already this year.
As ever, DEEK’s attention to detail on the packaging is charmingly involved, with a sticker for every track slapped on the front of each 12″ sleeve by hand.
Of the four tracks on the EP, we’ve gone for the bubbly ‘Nile Splash’ to premiere below, an atmospheric Martin Denny-meets-Beppe Loda jam from the exotic end of the afro-cosmic spectrum.
Take a listen and check out our images of the 12″ in more detail below.
Aug242015| August 24, 2015
We select the 10 most essential vinyl releases of the last 7 days.
Nothing silly about this season, with this week’s record bag full to bursting with eclectic goodies. Whether you’re after the Bug on red wax, a slice of Baltimore digi-dancehall with a difference or some late night South London house, the singles box is for you. For the longer listeners, this week’s choices squeeze 8-track AFX into the crate, alongside music from Ghana, Japan, and New York’s soft French underbelly. Merci.
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. 5 singles and 5 LP’s every 7 days that are unmissable additions to any collection.
Zim Zim Zim
On both record and live The Bug tends to smash it, and this one has become a staple of his live set whilst not appearing on last year’s full length Angels and Devils. The honourable thing to do was put it out on a red vinyl 12” with an etching on the back, and that’s exactly what Ninja Tune have done here. DJ Burro Banton, makes this one truly come alive with the mad flow.
Wet Play – Where Good Friends Meet #3
(Red Laser Records)
Manchester’s premier party crew pull their collective finger out and drop their third various artists EP a whole eighteen months after the second. Any concerns about lost momentum are answered within the first minute as adopted manc Benny Badge squelches through an Antipodean boogie stroller par excellence, setting the scene nicely for Tension’s summertime soul smash, Croatian anthem and perfect end of nighter, ‘Your Sunshine’. Switching up from the endless boogie of the A-side, the flip opens with the now obligatory house slammer from Levelz associate and long term Player Metrodome, before Red Laser leader Il Bosco provides a floor teasing rerub of Kano’s Italo classic ‘Another Life’. Pack your snorkel, you’re in for a soaking!
Chaos In The CBD
Midnight In Peckham
New Zealand born brothers join Bradley Zero’s Rhythm Section label with a floaty four tracker, demonstrating their versatility as they branch off from their more bassy and analogue leanings on earlier releases via Hot Haus records and with the Clek Clek Boom crew. Instead they’ve adopted an easy listening, laid-back jazzy standpoint with this EP that compliments the title. Just imagine yourself sitting at the back of an empty night bus or strolling alone through the South London neighbourhood at midnight listening to these deep melancholic house cuts.
Give and Take
If you missed their amazing debut 12″ on Upset The Rhythm then shame on you. You can make it up by grabbing this limited 7″ and wonder how you ever lived life without them. Olympia’s best new band do that ’70s punk sound in a style not far from The Avengers or Legal Weapon yet add a bit more rock n’ roll and a more powerful almost soulful vocal. 1000 only. Be quick.
Rye Rye / Bullion
(Because / Kick + Clap)
Didgerdidoo dancehall from Baltimore’s Rye Rye opens this smart 12″ for Dave McLean’s (of Django Django fame) new label. A quirky, bass-heavy rotation that’s dripping in summer feel, ‘Keep Up’ is treated by Bullion on the flip for an elastic, tribal instrumental version that ends up somewhere properly cosmic. Fresh stuff all round.
(Razor & Tie)
Another totally underrated Austin, TX band strike back with their best album to date (and there’s been four already!) The Sword do riffs and they do them well. Not too heavy and not too light, slotting somewhere between Black Mountain and Masters Of Reality. This shit swings and grooves in all the right places over the course of it’s fifteen songs and rolls perfect on that highway cruise or late night blaze.
Listen / Buy
This one actually crept out a few weeks ago but you’d be forgiven for having missed it like I/we did. Ghanaian expat SK Kakraba is a master of the gyil- a 14 slat wooden xylophone with fitted resonators- and here the instrument’s propulsive and hypnotic sound are in full effect under Kakraba’s virtuosic playing. Released on Sun Araw’s Sun Ark label, check out this video for a taste of what it’s all about.
Remember The Life Is Beautiful
After picking up some serious plaudits with recent 12”s on Beats In Space, International Feel and Endless Flight it seems high time for Gonno to drop his second LP. The Japanese producer duly obliges, firing up his extensive hardware armoury to deliver a stunning collection of cosmic techno and Kraut inspired ambience. Whether we’re riding a driving dancefloor groove or floating free in a horizontal galaxy the melodies and harmonies are never anything less than sublime. Keep an eye out for this one in the end of year charts!
Lizzy Mercier Descloux
(Light In the Attic)
A timely reissue for French-born darling of New York’s ’80s underground, Lizzy Mercier Descloux’s 1979 Press Colour gets the Light In the Attic treatment. The kind of punk funk that would have been at home on 99 Records or Celluloid, Press Colour was the self-taught musician, actor, painter and poet’s debut. Fizzing with naive energy from the off, it’s an 18-track romp (recorded in little over two weeks) that draws influence from as far as field as South Africa and as close as Velvet Underground. There’s even a nifty cover of Lalo Schifrin’s original Mission: Impossible theme.
Orphaned Deejay Selek 2006-2008
10 years on from the Analord mega series of 12”s, Orphaned Deejay Selek 2006-2008 is Richard D. James’ first release under the AFX moniker since the 3 ½ hour series of 11 EPs was released sequentially in 2005. As the title suggests, these 8 tracks were produced from 2006-2008 immediately following Analord, and although branded as an EP, it could easily get away with being an album given the number of tracks featured on the release. The record begins with a cerebral techno number, moving on swiftly to a short interlude sharing much of the hysteria demonstrated in the opener. James’ analogue versatility is then tested following shortly with ‘oberheim blacet1b’, a cacophony of electro acidity. ‘Simple slamming B 2’ is a wobbly 150 BPM techno mover that is greatly dichotomized by the beatless weirdness of the subsequent track. The record ends with two rather tame productions, one of which, ‘NEOTEKT72’ may be the only likely candidate that might be heard on the dance floor with that hard-to-miss protuberant computerized explosive mimicry.
Jul302014| July 30, 2014
Nathan Jenkins aka Bullion, Laura Groves and Tic Zogson unite as Nautic to bottle a dose of bittersweet summer for the next instalment of our vinyl-only mix series.
Last year DEEK Recordings released Pun For Cover online, a selection of cover versions from a small stable of artists that have gravitated towards the label since it was launched by Nathan Jenkins – better known as Bullion – in 2012. Among the likes of Jesse Hackett (Owiny Sigoma Band) with whom Jenkins has worked as Blludd Relations and Gwilym Gold (who has recently released his new single ‘Muscle’ with The Vinyl Factory) are vocalist Laura Groves and Tic Zogson, A&R for XL Records.
Together with Jenkins they form Nautic, and having released their debut 7″ ‘Fresh Eyes’ in 2012, the trio returned this summer with Navy Blue, a four track 12″ of glittering summer-time pop that could just as easily have been salvaged from a busted cassette played to death in the 80’s behind the bar on the beach of some lost island idyll. In fact, we liked it so much it made our list of last week’s top 10 vinyl releases: “Luscious, sure-footed and deeply satisfying, ‘Navy Blue’ is fronted by the blissed-out, confident harmonies of ‘Show’ – a shimmering Balearic pop song to soundtrack the most sun kissed of summer evenings.”
Now, joined by their live bassist Ben Reed, the trio have raided their impressive record collections to channel their unique sound into an exclusive 40-minute mix for The Vinyl Factory, navigating the smoothest of paths from Cleo Laine to Chaka Khan without ever sailing too close to the wind.
Being a vinyl mix series, we’re asking each contributor to put their mix in a bit of context, talking us through their ideas and introducing a few of their favourite tracks and the records from which they’re taken, which you can peruse below while you listen.
Words: Nathan Jenkins, Laura Groves, Tic Zogson, Ben Reed
‘Life is a Wheel’ from A Beautiful Thing
(RCA Victor, 1974)
From her A Beautiful Thing album, which I bought in the Ealing branch of Oxfam Music about four or five years ago. She grew up in Southall, nearby, which is a nice little coincidence. I have pretty much all of her albums and they’re all brilliant. Such a unique voice, and one of my favourites. – Ben Reed
Eye To Eye
‘Hunger Pains’ from Eye To Eye
(Warner Bros, 1982)
Julian Marshall of Marshall Hain later formed another duo, Eye to Eye, collaborating with Deborah Berg on their eponymous long player. I found the record in Sweat Records, Miami, last year – the store that also put me onto Jimi Tunnell. Part-Jon Anderson, part-Steve Khan (I’m a prog-jazz man… what?), this bargain bin hero is one of my guilty pleasures – his non-hit ‘If It All Comes Down to Love’ is omitted from this mix because it’s a bit too guilty. – Tic Zogson
‘Roundabout’ from Shopping Trolley
(Hannibal Records, 1989)
This record was a gift from Ben, and features songs written by our friend and wonderful musician John Miller. It includes some beautifully eccentric titles such as ‘Bring Back the Mary Hopkin Days’ and ‘Graham, Return!’.
I became transfixed by this particular song with its mesmerising and twinkly keyboards which start from almost nothing and grow into a song. The lyrics are, to me, a good example of poignancy without being saccharine and overly sentimental – John’s great offbeat sense of humour shines through. – Laura Groves
‘Youth Of Nation On Fire’ from Quit Dreaming And Get On the Beam
Pure British pop funk. Chirpy little rhythms, punctuated vocals and chorused-to-death but sweet-as-hell horns. A few years ago I went on a rampage buying any Bill Nelson I could find. Turns out he’s pretty prolific but luckily a lot of his records are cheap. His whole style made quite an impression on me and the direction I wanted for DEEK. – Nathan Jenkins
‘Boxes Paradise’ from Boxes Paradise
Laura, Tic and I listened to this album quite a bit when we started writing songs together at my old flat in Ladbroke Grove – mainly due to the fact I couldn’t stop playing it for weeks after I got it. As far as I know, they grew to love it too! “Fixxx” off our first Nautic single is kind of a dedication to SF.
Franco Falsini, the lead singer, seems to have a thing about flying. Lots of plane imagery in this song. Listening to it makes me think simultaneously about family holidays to Italy and my fear of flying. “Boxes to emerge from, and return to…” is a fun lyric. – Nathan Jenkins
‘Baby Let Me Show You Where I Live’ from Definition
(MGM Records, 1968)
We have a mate called Tom Clowney (who is responsible for introducing me to Nathan and Laura). A lot of his dad’s records were promos that came from a friend of his who was a music critic. I discovered the Chrysalis album, ‘Definition’, in Tom’s dad’s collection and instantly fell in love with it.
I bought it from him for £20 about twelve years ago. There isn’t a weak song on it. The melodies are strong, and the chord structures are very inventive and often unpredictable, without sounding awkward or unnecessary. I bought a second copy on Ebay more recently. In my opinion, it’s one of the best albums made in the sixties. – Ben Reed
‘Take My Number’ from Free Ride
I played the 7″ of this to Laura on her first work trip down to London, after we met in Bradford. The track features shimmering electric piano, sensual fretless bass and a pristine English accent – all essential ingredients of any Nautic song! – Tic Zogson
‘Don’t You Ever Learn’ from Todd
I wanted to include Todd because it was Tic who first introduced me to his music. It would have been at his flat sometime in 2009 on one of my trips to London from Yorkshire, where I was still living at the time. I heard “Can We Still Be Friends” and was immediately hooked by the chords he used. This experience was pretty instrumental in me starting to buy records and exploring music in that way. “Don’t You Ever Learn” is from “Todd” which was recorded at Secret Sound Studios by Rundgren himself. I’m quite drawn to musicians who record themselves in this way because it seems like a more direct route to the inside of someone’s head – Todd’s seems like a pretty cosmic place. – Laura Groves
Michael Gregory Jackson – The Way We Used To Do
Cleo Laine – Life Is A Wheel
Eye To Eye – Hunger Pains
Shopping Trolley – Roundabout
Bill Nelson – Youth Of Nation On Fire
Sensations Fix – Boxes Paradise
Chrysalis – Baby, Let Me Show You Where I Live
Marva Whitney – Your Love Was Good For Me
Marshall Hain – Take My Number
Joni Mitchell – Smokin’
Chaka Khan – Twisted
60 Second Interlude…
Todd Rundgren – Don’t You Ever Learn
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16-18 Marshall Street
London W1F 7BE
Registered in England and Wales under no. 04184222.