• The 10 best new vinyl releases this week (24th September)

    By | September 24, 2018

    Turkish psych-funk, Japanese-inspired electronics and mercurial Argentine synth pop.

    This week’s best new singles traverse Anatolian psychedelia, Yorkshire Talking Heads and a certified rough-and-ready slice of gospel house.

    In the album’s section, VF favourite Lonnie Holley returns with another transmission for America, ambient hero Tim Hecker releases a Japanese-inspired album on Kranky and Sobrenadar releases wonderful Argentine synth-pop on Sonic Cathedral.

    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


    Altin Gün

    ‘Cemalin’

    (Bongo Joe)

    Listen / Buy

    This third 7” single from Altin Gün comes as another assured blast of funked-up Turkish stylings at the crossroads of folk and psychedelia. Channelling the music of legendary Turkish acts such as Erkin Koray and Selda out onto contemporary dance floors, this single and their recent debut LP are worthy investigations.


    Adelphi Music Factory

    ‘Javelin’

    (White Label)

    Listen / Buy

    In these rarified days of the internet seekers and reissue obsessives, new releases have taken a backseat to those wildly obscure unclassics played by whats-his-face and spun in every set on every stage at festivals all summer. So today I make a stand for the purpose built club killer – trax not tracks, perhaps lacking a little sophistication, but more than making up for it with maximum bang for minimum buck. Though the mysterious Adelphi Music Factory fall a little short of reinventing the wheel with this filter-friendly gospel house heater, slap it on any big room system and watch the place erupt.


    Mush

    ‘Gig Economy’

    (Dipped In Gold)

    Listen / Buy

    These much-loved racketeers are on an upward trajectory and this strummy, squawky single should help them gain the trust of all Marc Riley listeners. Like Talking Heads wandering lost down dark side streets in Leeds.


    Maoupa Mazzocchetti

    Gag Flag

    (Editions Gravats)

    Listen / Buy

    A psycho-tropic missive from Low Jack’s Editions Gravats, Maoupa Mazzocchetti’s Gag Flag is a surrealist’s dreamscape of warped EBM, mangled electro-pop and playful distortions, that shares as much with classic avant-punk disruptors like The Residents or (at a stretch) the subversions of Captain Beefheart, as the acid-laced electronics of Diagonal and Eric Copeland. Febrile stuff.


    Johnny Moped

    ‘Motorhead’ / ‘City Kids’

    (Damaged Goods)

    Listen / Buy

    Here’s the third release to commemorate Damaged Goods 30th anniversary (the first two coming from Giuda and Hard Skin) and this time you get the legendary Johnny Moped rewiring the Motorhead classic. All packed onto a killer ‘Mopedhead’ limited 7″ picture disc.


    LPs


    Lonnie Holley

    MITH

    (Jagjaguwar)

    Listen / Buy

    The artists behind The Vinyl Factory’s first ever album of the year back in 2013, we were captured by Lonnie Holley’s unshackled sonic invention, using synths and the power of his voice to weave fantastic narratives rooted in his experience of the world, as someone who has felt its trauma more than most. Five years later and, like the rest of us, Holley has witnessed an American turned inside out. As a result, MITH is more focussed and explicit in its themes than Just Before Music or Keeping A Record Of It, Holley’s guttural invocations confronting prejudice and institutionalised racism head on – his serpentine, improvised compositions bridging the black subconscious, from plantation spirituals, to the afro-futurism of Sun Ra. Holley is a timeless orator for this fucked-up age.


    Tim Hecker

    Konoyo

    (Kranky)

    Listen / Buy

    Ever happy to confound the gauzy, musical wall-paper definitions of the ambient genre to which he is often pigeonholed, here Tim Hecker returns with another densely textured record which fills any given space with it presence and refuses to be reduced to mere background listening. Taking inspiration from the classical music of the Japanese imperial court and recorded in the outskirts of Tokyo with members of the Tokyo Gakuso ensemble, Konoyo is another thrilling excavation and reconfiguration of sound from Hecker that stands amongst his finest work.


    Whodamanny

    T.C.P.

    (Origin Peoples)

    Listen / Buy

    L.A.’s excellent Origin Peoples offer us another journey into the sonic stratosphere this week, enlisting the hardware talents of Mystic Jungle Tribesman and Italian funk wizard Whodamanny for his first full length release. Shaking resort sophistication, coastal cool, cosmic funk and library synthesis over ice, Manny serves us a crisp sonic cocktail which sums up the current Neapolitan scene perfectly. Though the proto-techno pulse of ‘Centum-Satem’ threatens to steal the show, it’s the transcendent electronics of ‘The Light Of TCP’ which comes out first among equals.


    Sobrenadar

    Y

    (Sonic Cathedral)

    Listen / Buy

    Paula Garcia aka Sobrenadar makes some of the most stunning pop music we’ve heard in a long time. Hailing from Buenos Aires, Y is her debut UK release thanks to the excellent Sonic Cathedral and it’s simply beautiful. Electronics flicker against dreamy beats while her voice glides in and out of these excellent songs.


    The Declining Winter

    Belmont Slope

    (Home Assembly Music)

    Listen / Buy

    This shadowy West Yorkshire collective who emerged from the ashes of the much missed Hood release their boldest and most eclectic record to date. A love affair to the north, it veers between the brittle shimmer of acoustic pop to twilit techno soundtracking a late night drive over their beloved Yorkshire moors.

  • 10 new albums to look out for in September

    By | August 31, 2018

    Next month’s wantlist.

    We’ve combed through the pre-orders, promos and release listings so that you don’t have to, showcasing a diverse selection of music from our favourite artists and labels, alongside newcomers we think you need to hear.

    It’s an electronic affair in September, as we look forward to new albums from Sarah Davachi, Tim Hecker and little known Cornish resident Richard D. James. There are also new visions from South Africa and Peru in the music of Thabang Tabane and Dengue Dengue Dengue, while Lonnie Holley and Fatima provide the soul in records that deal with the political and the personal in turn.


    Aphex Twin

    Collapse EP

    (Warp)

    Listen / Pre-order

    Due: 14th Sept

    Described by Warp as “a juicy bag of delights!” Aphex Twin’s Collapse EP finally arrives this month, after being teased out via a series of artwork around the world in August. Collapse follows his ‘3 Gerald Remix’ / ’24 TSIM 2’12” via Michigan record shop Technical Equipment Supply. The EP, falls between Avril 14th’s “sumptuous celestial patchwork of sadness and euphoria” and Come To Daddy – “the most petrifying song in the universe.” Sounds like a real hoot.


    Thabang Tabane

    Matjale

    (Mushroom Hour Half Hour)

    Listen / Pre-order

    Due: 14th Sept

    Continuing the rhythmic and spiritual tradition of his father Philip Tabane, considered the architect of the malombo style, Thabang Tabane’s new album Matjale picks up the legacy of the music, which originally developed as an implicit retort to Euro-centric influences on South African music and flew against the grain of apartheid censorship. Released via new South African label Mushroom Hour Half Hour, Matjale continues to build on a contemporary malombo sound, which reached a vast new audience last year through Sibusile Xaba’s brilliant Open Letter to Adoniah.


    Sarah Davachi

    Gave In Rest

    (Ba Da Bing)

    Listen / Pre-order

    Due: 14th September

    An elegy to quiet spaces that capture the essences of different times of day, experimental composer and multi-instrumentalist Sarah Davachi’s Gave In Rest is born out of an exploration of solitude. Tapping into the sonic and atmospheric rituals of religious and spiritual spaces, the has crafted an album of secular hymns, continually pitting harmony with dissonance, and over dubbed vocals with vast expanses of sound. Look no further than the glacial Baroque movements of ‘Evensong’, treated through an EMT 140 plate reverb, to get a sense of the material substance of these ephemeral pieces.


    Tentenko

    Tentenko

    (Toothpaste Records)

    Pre-order

    Due: 20th September

    Japanese producer/singer Tentenko first came to fame as a member of Japanese alternative “idol group” BiS, before going solo. A co-founder of experimental duo Mika Ten, though she has released dozens of records in Japan, Tentenko’s eponymous debut LP marks her first international release. Its 10 tracks include a Shintaro Sakamoto-written number ‘Nantonaku Abenai’ and a cover of Ikue Sakakibara’s techno-kayo 1980s track ‘Robot’. Think mutant synth and j-pop electronics that are weird and totally wonderful, with a dash of industrial freak-outs thrown in for good measure. Just the way we like it.


    Lonnie Holley

    MITH

    (Jagjaguwar)

    Listen / Pre-order

    Due: 21st September

    The artist behind our album of the year in 2013, Lonnie Holley returns on Jagjaguwar with MITH, a typically idiosyncratic response to the rapid disintegration of politics and social cohesion in the United States. A self-taught musician with a harrowing story, Holley’s work draws on ancient ritual themes, articulated through free-form synth improvisations and stream of consciousness vocals, to weave a very unique form of Afrofuturism. First track ‘I Woke Up In A Fucked Up America’ sets the tone – an impressionistic punk poem delivered with visceral intent.


    Dengue Dengue Dengue

    Semillero

    (On The Corner)

    Listen / Pre-order

    Due: 21st September

    Peruvian duo Dengue Dengue Dengue join On the Corner and label mates Penya for a 6-track excursion to the root, or perhaps more specifically the seed, of Amazonian psychedelia. Title track ‘Semillero’ finds kindred spirit in the Andean flutes and contemporary producers from Angola, weaving a contemporary vision of afro-Peru that pays its dues to the ancestors in the process. Another fine outing for On The Corner, with artwork to match. A strictly limited vinyl run so be quick.


    Tim Hecker

    Konoyo

    (Kranky)

    Listen / Pre-order

    Due: 22nd Sept

    Who wouldn’t be excited about a Tim Hecker album recorded in a temple on the outskirts of Tokyo? Taking cues from gagaku, a form of Japanese classical music performed at the Imperial Court, the project is the product of several visits to Japan where Hecker collaborated with members of the gagaku ensemble Tokyo Gakuso. It also signals Hecker’s return to Kranky following the 2016 release of Love Streams on 4AD. “Both in texture and intent, Konoyo conjures a somber, ceremonial mood, suffused with ritual and regret,” reads the press release. Sounds about right.


    Inland / Julian Charrieré

    An Invitation To Disappear

    (A-TON)

    Listen / Pre-order

    Due: 28th September

    An Invitation To Disappear first took shape as Inland’s soundtrack to Julian Charrière’s film set in an Indonesian palm plantation. The project was created as a response to the 200th anniversary of the eruption of the Tambora volcano in 1815, which plunged the world into darkness and caused a series of extreme weather conditions. For his debut LP, and first release on Ostgut Ton sub-label A-TON, Inland, aka British producer Ed Davenport, reworks the material and field recordings into 8-tracks, spanning from stripped back, ambient hues of techno to (slightly) more euphoric shades.


    Fatima

    And Yet It’s All Love

    (Eglo)

    Listen / Pre-order

    Due: 28th September

    Eglo Queen Fatima returns with her eagerly awaited second album, And Yet It’s All Love. “An emotional, yet entertaining trip through the full cycle of the relationship,” the album takes listeners “from first meet, the blinding honeymoon period and struggle, right through to the break-up and eventual fallout.” With killer first singles ‘Caught In A Lie’ and ‘Somebody Else’ alongside 12 new tracks, consider the album a sonic ode to heartbreak that’s as at home in your bedroom as it is on the dance floor.


    Jlin

    Autobiography

    (Planet Mu)

    Listen / Pre-order

    Due: 28th September

    Last year US producer Jlin crafted the score for a dance project in collaboration with choreographer Wayne McGregor. An exploration of memory, Autobiography combined algorithmically-assembled choreography with live musical accompaniment by Jlin – performed by 10 dancers in unique sequences at every show. The Autobiography LP collects 13-tracks from its debut performance, and follows the release of Jlin’s Black Origami LP – one of our favourite albums of 2017.

  • The 10 best new vinyl releases this week (6th August)

    By | August 6, 2018

    A Peckham-via-Pakistan beat tape, and a lost ’80s Taipei disco suite.

    This week’s new music is something of a deep dive into the fractured world of electronics, with new singles from Nathan Micay (fka Bwana) on Whities, the Savaga’s Esya and some curious ’80s synth workouts on new Principe imprint Holuzam leading the way.

    In the album’s section, analogue hardware reigns supreme too, with new music from synth alchemist Steve Hauschildt, a stripped-back new record from the unstoppable Helena Hauff, and Forma’s finest album to date on Kranky.

    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


    Nathan Micay

    Whities 017

    (Whities)

    Listen / Buy

    The artist formerly known as Bwana emerges from his cocoon and takes flight on a pair of life-affirming, wing-stretching tracks, soft as the sunrise and no less epic. The ‘First Casualty’ is a kosmische-tinged roller, that flits between the day-break euphoria of Berlin’s river side dance parties and a kind of serene, pastoral idyll, where twinkling keys play like insects on the water’s surface. And if the A-side is the dawn chorus, then B-side ‘Beginning Ballads’ is its twilight companion, a darker, moodier piece of chugging techno that looks naively on into the night.


    Dwart

    Taipei Disco

    (Holuzam)

    Listen / Buy

    Recorded between 1989-1993 and named after Guangzhou’s “only proper club in town”, this time capsule EP is a proper outer-national journey. Lead by a questing and immersive 11-minute synth and drum track, Portuguese journalist and producer António Duarte takes us from his neighbour-proof 19th floor apartment studio in Macau, to the dance floor of the titular club for a live rendition, and onto an impromptu jam session with musicians from the Cape Verdean band Os Tubarões. A new label from those behind Lisbon’s Principe records, Taipei Disco is a fine way to open their singles account.


    Jaubi

    ‘Lahore State Of Mind’

    (Astigmatic)

    Listen / Buy

    As you’d expect from a label named after a Krzysztof Komeda LP, Astigmatic trade in mind and genre-bending music. This latest 7″ sees Pakistani ensemble Jaubi draw parallels between the tough living conditions of contemporary Lahore and ’90s NYC to create a traditional Pakistani interpretation of Preemo’s killer beat for Nas’ Illmatic. So far, so far out, but things take a turn for the sublime on the flipside, as Peckham native Al Dobson Jr. flips the Asian instrumentation with his trademark sound design for a mind expanding downbeat jam perfect for early morning stone-overs and the wake and bake crowd.


    Esya

    Absurdity of Being

    (Self-released)

    Listen / Buy

    There’s only 300 copies of this fine 10″ out there so act fast. Ayse Hassan’s day job is holding down the bass for Savages. She’s also in the amazing Kite Base. Now she’s really pushed the solo button with stripped back electronics, some flickery distortion and her own voice for the first time.


    Spellling

    ‘Hard to Please’

    (Sacred Bones)

    Listen / Buy

    The misspelt band name craze reaches its ultimate conclusion with this interest piece of apartment-based dance-pop. Chystia Cabral creates strange harmonic bursts of out-there, swirling pop music on a 7″ that also offers a Sparks cover on the B-side.


    LPs


    Steve Hauschildt

    Dissolvi

    (Ghostly International)

    Listen / Buy

    Following the 2016 release of Strands – one of our favourite albums that year – expert synthesist Steve Hauschildt returns with Dissolvi to continue his arpeggiated ascent towards cosmo-electronic nirvana. As ever, Hauschidlt manipulates his machines to reflect something more profound about human existence, threading his reflections into an album that swells and recedes with minimal techno, IDM flourishes and broad strokes ambience. As with Strands, much of Dissolvi‘s appeal is in its familiarity, rather than its difference – a technically astute, reassuringly controlled listen.


    Helena Hauff

    Qualm

    (Ninja Tune)

    Listen / Buy

    With one drum machine and one synthesizer Helena Hauff makes the kind of splash that puts those with more overwrought setups to shame. Revitalizing tired genre specifics in acid house and techno without needing to abstract them into oblivion, Qualm is gritty, to the point electronica that doesn’t relent. All the more appealing for its simplicity and direct production, this is a worthy listen.


    Forma

    Semblance

    (Kranky)

    Listen / Buy

    In the years since they caused a stir with their self titled debut, Forma have explored the fringe of the dance floor, glitching rhythms and droning ambience. Now back with their fourth LP, their second for Kranky, the Brooklyn trio fuse live instrumentation, immersive electronics and hypnotic rhythms into a cinematic masterpiece of synthesiser music. Over the course of seven tracks, Semblance explore picturesque new age, propulsive synth-pop and widescreen kosmische, turning out a solid contender for the end of year lists. Wonderfully presented in a gorgeous Peter Burr sleeve, this is a new highpoint in Forma’s career.


    Various Artists

    Paradise – The Sound of Ivor Raymonde

    (Bella Union)

    Listen / Buy

    Now this was a huge surprise for us and could be for many others too. Paradise is a compilation highlighting the work of songwriter, arranger and orchestrator Ivor Raymonde, who lent his magical touch to everyone from Bowie to The Walker Brothers via Dusty Springfield, Billy Fury and a whole load more. A brilliant compilation and a valuable introduction to a special figure in 20th century music.


    Elephant Micah

    Generica

    (Western Vinyl)

    Listen / Buy

    Generica is Joe O’Connell’s most fragmented album to date. It’s haunted, plaintive, harrowing and sounds like Bill Callahan smashed into a million pieces, or the punkier end of Mount Eerie. Needless to say, it’s perfect for 2018.

  • Tim Hecker returns to Kranky with gagaku-inspired new album Konoyo

    By | August 1, 2018

    Recorded in a temple on the outskirts of Tokyo.

    Tim Hecker will release his new album Konoyo on September 28 via Kranky. The album will mark the artist’s sixth release on the label, following his move to 4AD for his 2016 LP Love Streams.

    The announcement follows the reissue of remastered versions of Hecker’s first two albums, Haunt Me, Haunt Me Do It Again and Radio Amor, also on Kranky.

    Taking cues from gagaku, a form of Japanese classical music performed at the Imperial Court, the project is the product of several visits to Japan where Hecker collaborated with members of the gagaku ensemble Tokyo Gakuso, recording in a temple on the outskirts of Tokyo.

    As a result, Konoyo sounds a world away from the deconstructed vocal-lead harmonies of his exploration into the “liturgical aesthetics after Yeezus” on Love Streams. According to the press release, “both in texture and intent, Konoyo conjures a somber, ceremonial mood, suffused with ritual and regret.”

    Pre-order a copy of Konoyo here ahead of its 28th September release, check out the artwork and track list below.

    Tracklist

    1. This Life
    2. In Death Valley
    3. Is A Rose Petal Of The Dying Crimson Light
    4. Keyed Out
    5. In Mother Earth Phase
    6. A Sodium Codec Haze
    7. Across To Anoyo

  • Tim Hecker teases new LP, reissues first two albums on vinyl

    By | May 23, 2018

    Drone deity Tim Hecker returns to Chicago’s Kranky label.

    Tim Hecker, the Canadian producer responsible for noisy ambient classics such as Mirages and Harmony In Ultraviolet has announced his return to Chicago’s Kranky imprint.

    The label, which released some of Hecker’s most acclaimed full-lengths, will re-release Hecker’s debut album, Haunt Me, Haunt Me Do It Again, released in 2001 on Montreal’s Alien8 Recordings, and its follow-up Radio Amor, that emerged on Mille Plateaux two years later.

    Both albums have been remastered by Matt Colton and will be reissued on double vinyl, which should please fans: Haunt Me, Haunt Me Do It Again was reissued on vinyl in 2010, but copies already fetch over $100 on Discogs; Radio Amor has been unavailable on vinyl since its initial pressing.

    Kranky will also be handling Hecker’s next full-length, the follow-up to 2016’s Love Streams, which is set for release in fall.

    Haunt Me, Haunt Me Do It Again and Radio Amor will be released July 6 and can be pre-ordered via Bandcamp.

  • Grouper announces new album Grid Of Points

    By | March 8, 2018

    The follow-up to 2014’s heartbreaking Ruins.

    Liz Harris, aka Grouper, has announced the new album Grid Of Points on Kranky. Today you can hear the first single, the tender, piano-led ‘Parking Lot’.

    Grid Of Points follows the 2015 debut album from Harris’s band Helen, but is her first under the Grouper moniker since 2014’s Ruins. In the past years she’s released several one-off singles including ‘Children’ and the Paradise Valley 7″.

    Grid Of Points is a set of songs for piano and voice. I wrote these songs over a week and a half; they stopped abruptly when I was interrupted by a high fever. Though brief, it is complete,” Harris says in a statement. “The intimacy and abbreviation of this music allude to an essence that the songs lyrics speak more directly of. The space left after matter has departed, a stage after the characters have gone, the hollow of some central column, missing.”

    Grid Of Points is out April 27 via Kranky. Take a look at the artwork and tracklist below, and pre-order a copy here.

    1. ‘The Races’
    2. ‘Parking Lot’
    3. ‘Driving’
    4. ‘Thanksgiving Song’
    5. ‘Birthday Song’
    6. ‘Blouse’
    7. ‘Breathing’
    8. ‘Coal Train’

  • Stars Of The Lid reissue Gravitational Pull Vs. The Desire For An Aquatic Life on vinyl

    By | February 23, 2018

    The album’s first time on vinyl in over 20 years.

    Stars Of The Lid, the beloved drone duo of Brian McBride and Adam Wiltzie, have announced a vinyl reissue of their second album, 1996’s Gravitational Pull Vs. The Desire For An Aquatic Life.

    Originally released on Sedimental, Gravitational Pull will find a new home at the duo’s longtime label Kranky marking its vinyl pressing in over 20 years. Today you can revisit the gorgeous closer ‘Be Little With Me’.

    Though SoTL have not released a new album since 2007’s Stars Of The Lid And Their Refinement Of The Decline they have been quite busy. They reissued that album and its predecessor, The Tired Sounds Of Stars Of The Lid, on 3xLP in 2015. In 2016, the duo debuted new music while on tour and Wiltzie released the soundtrack album Salero.

    Look for Gravitational Pull Vs. The Desire For An Aquatic Life on March 30 via Kranky. Order it here and check the artwork and tracklist below.

    Tracklist:

    01. ‘The Better Angels Of Our Nation’
    02. ‘Cantus; In Memory of Warren Wiltzie’
    03. ‘Jan. 69’
    04. ‘Lactate’s Moment’
    05. ‘Be Little With Me’

  • The 10 best vinyl releases this week (31st Oct)

    By | October 31, 2016

    cover_image1

    Big releases on a handful of label favourites, including Warp, Sacred Bones and Kranky.

    This week’s record bag is full of potential end-of-year contenders, with Connan Mockasin unveiling his new Soft Hair project, Carla Dal Forno dropping a powerful new LP on Blackest Ever Black and analogue master Steve Hauschildt weaving a synthetic yarn on Kranky.

    Over in the singles bin, Chaos In The CBD jostle alongside another superb offering from Berceuse Heroique’s Jorge Velez and Gaika’s out-sized EP Spaghetto.

    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


    © The Vinyl Factory, 10 best record releases February 1st

    Jorge Velez

    Adam Eve

    (Berceuse Heroique)

    Listen / Buy

    Jorge Velez’ Animals Disk crept out earlier this year as one of the understated aural oddities of 2016, and this 12” on Berceuse Heroique is another case in point for a vintage year. Where Animals Disk uncannily reanimated the legendary sound of the Fairlight CMI synth, this particular side of Velez’s output takes its reanimation with a sense of boogie, and sounds well set to get the floor moving. Arthur Russell’s projects in the disco realm are an obvious reference point here, but as with his other works Velez is not just content to ape the past, keeping things suitably inventive.


    The Vinyl Factory 10 best record releases

    Chaos In The CBD

    Subterranean Storm

    (Mule Musiq)

    Listen / Buy

    Over the course of a productive three years, London’s Kiwi imports Chaos In The CBD have notched up an impressive string of essential releases for the likes of Church, Rhythm Section and YAM. ‘Subterranean Storm’ sees the New Zealand brothers return to Mule Musiq with three deep and tribal rollers awash with congas, enveloping pads and languid piano. Built with the system in mind, the whole EP is blessed with the kind of sonic profiling that’ll have you wide eyed and open mouthed in the midst of a busy club. It’s a detailed, delicate and eminently danceable addition to your collection.


    © The Vinyl Factory, 10 best record releases February 1st

    GAIKA

    Spaghetto EP

    (Warp)

    Listen / Buy

    This quick EP from GAIKA announces his place on Warp with both reference to the label’s past and tweaks for its future. Informed by two mixtapes worth of calibration, he patches together a bedrock of dancehall and industrial for his emotional treatises to land on, with centrepieces such as the heart-breaking ‘Glad We Found It’ and the abrasive but delicate ‘VSOP’ showing off his versatility as a producer and performer.


    © The Vinyl Factory, 10 best record releases February 1st

    Uniform

    Ghosthouse

    (Sacred Bones)

    Listen / Buy

    This is some gloriously heavy shit right here created by two guys who felt the time was right to start making some music together. Ben Greenberg and Michael Berdan have been circling the Sacred Bones camp for some time now and with Uniform have found a sound that’s heavy, a bit gothic and super dark too. Enjoy.


    © The Vinyl Factory, 10 best record releases February 1st

    Anna

    Systems Breaking Down

    (Be With Records)

    Listen / Buy

    Reissue specialists Be With Records drops its inaugural 12″ this week, and what a treat this is. Excavated from the RCA archives, ‘Systems Breaking Down’ is Anna’s synthetic love-letter to emotional collapse, a series of morbid fantasies on the pressures, insecurities and absurdities of modern life. On the b-side, the so-called “dance version” goes all-out John Carpenter, layering so much reverb on Anna’s febrile voice to almost obscure it entirely behind the amped-up dread of the synthesized instrumental.


    LPs


    © The Vinyl Factory, 10 best record releases February 1st

    Soft Hair

    Soft Hair

    (Weird World)

    Listen / Buy

    Sam Dust and Connan Mockasin are a match made in heaven and with their Soft Hair debut they have turned the pop dial up to eleven. It’s floaty and fun but in that weird, psychedelic cosmic way. It’s like Animal Collective but with better tunes.


    © The Vinyl Factory, 10 best record releases February 1st

    Carla dal Forno

    You Know What It’s Like

    (Blackest Ever Black)

    Listen / Buy

    It’s got droning instrumentals, haunted corridors and honest to god thunder and lightning, but I’ll be damned if You Know What It’s Like isn’t one of the year’s best pop records, too. Carla dal Forno’s debut for Blackest Ever Black is full of unexpected hooks, her voice coming from the other side of the room as if ghosting singer-songwriter traditions. She sings into premeditated settings of post-punk beats and halloween melodies, with a production that’s both clean as fancy dinner fine china and dusty as an old library. At first take, it might sound like a homogenous doomy slab – but with its hidden chords, violin trinkets and simmered textures, this record never quite lets you know it.


    © The Vinyl Factory, 10 best record releases February 1st

    Marcel Vogel

    Human Beings

    (Intimate Friends)

    Listen / Buy

    After topping the sales charts and packing the A-list record bags with a slew of hot disco edits on Lumberjacks In Hell, Marcel Vogel launched Intimate Friends as a platform for deep and dope original productions. Three years later and the Dutch based producer drops a killer mini LP on our toes, placing smooth neo soul originals next to remixes from some of his nearest and dearest. Buttery basslines and a heavy foot hold it down for the dancers while jazzy keys and emotive vocals supply just the right amount of soul to have your hands aloft in Peckham’s most popular nightspots.


    © The Vinyl Factory, 10 best record releases February 1st

    Steve Hauschildt

    Strands

    (Kranky)

    Listen / Buy

    Former Emeralds’ synthesist Steve Hauschildt returns to Kranky for a forth album in five years, wound like the “structural composition of ropes,” where the compositions “consisted of strands and fibres which form a unified whole.” But rather than get lost in String theory, this is an album which revels in its own clarity, rarely relying on smoke-machine static to create a sense of depth, but instead building its own forms from analogue arpeggios and post-industrial spaces that recall an imagined future not yet forgotten.


    © The Vinyl Factory, 10 best record releases February 1st

    Burkina Faso

    Volumes 1-3 Box Set

    (Sublime Frequencies)

    Listen / Buy

    The excellent Nonesuch Explorer LPs Savannah Rhythms and Music of the Grasslands were some of the first widely heard field recordings to expose some of the musical wonders from this landlocked African country to international ears, and here we have a 3xLP survey set from Sublime Frequencies which continues in the same informative and adventurous spirit of those original recordings. Taking in a breadth of musics and purposes, from spiritual invocation, to the guiding and protective songs of the hunt, wedding music, and onwards, this is a fine way to celebrate part of the multi-faceted contemporary sound of Burkina Faso, and indeed the 100th release of a label that remains a vital resource to field recording.

  • The 50 best LPs of 2015

    By | December 11, 2015

    We complete our end of year review with a look at the 50 best albums of 2015.

    Well, that was fun wasn’t it? A year that has seen Panasonic re-launch the Technics turntable, new pressing machines hit the market for the first time in 30 years and major supermarkets find space among the groceries for the odd Iron Maiden record, 2015 was a huge year for vinyl, matched by the glut of incredible music released across the spectrum. We even had a major hip hop album released on vinyl.

    With this many heavyweight albums delivering, the task of picking out fifty records that make the most of the format, both musically and visually has been tougher than ever. For the first time we opted to split our lists by format, with 7”s and 12”s commanding their own space, freeing us up to talk simply about albums.

    With artwork, rarity and reissues also taken care of, the ground rules here are simpler than ever. The record must have been released on vinyl in 2015, and barring the odd exception, that means the music must also follow suit.

    Without labouring the point, we’ve made space for a single VF release we believe deserves shine among the year’s most interesting vinyl editions, and where possible have sought to champion labels and artists that are pushing the medium forwards. No holds barred, expect everything from independent jazz, scuzzy punk funk and afro-electronics to shimmering pop, industrial grime and modern minimalism.

    Omnivorous beasts that we are, we believe these fifty records represent the most interesting, vital music of 2015 and would form the core of a pretty strong record collection.

    Catch up on all our end of year lists:

    The 30 best vinyl reissues of 2015
    The 20 best 12″s of 2015
    The 20 best 7″s of 2015
    The 20 best record sleeves of 2015
    The 10 most collectable records of 2015
    The Year in vinyl tech
    The 10 best vinyl soundtracks of 2015


    © The Vinyl Factory, 2015 best LP vinyl record releases, Photog

    50. Four Tet

    Morning / Evening

    (Text Records)

    Listen / Buy

    After the junglist manoeuvres of 2013’s Beautiful Rewind, Four Tet changes tack, rejecting conventional track lengths, song titles and the album format to deliver a forty minute tone poem split across two sides of beautifully packaged vinyl. The ‘Morning Side’ sees KH in ‘Ringer’ mode, marrying restrained house beats with uplifting synth drones and celestial melodies but with the glorious addition of a stunning Lata Mangeshkar sample. The ‘Evening Side’ meanwhile, drops into beatless territory where blinking electronics and FX soaked vocals sing us a starlit lullaby, up there with the finest moments of Rounds.


    © The Vinyl Factory, 2015 best LP vinyl record releases, Photog

    49. THEESatisfaction

    EarthEE

    (Sub Pop)

    Listen / Buy

    There’s something about these ladies from Seattle, Washington that makes them very special indeed. With this, their second long player, they have honed their skills into something which seems much tighter while reaching an even more expansive range of sound and colour. Yes you can hear Digable Planets, Erykah Badu and even The Fugees in their songs but it’s the little bits in between those elements that make this truly special. This is what all RnB should be measured against now.


    © The Vinyl Factory, 2015 best LP vinyl record releases, Photog

    48. Mbongwana Star

    From Kinshasa

    (World Circuit)

    Listen / Buy

    DRC has been the centre of some compelling musical collaborations in recent years, but none perhaps as true to the capital’s fertile scene as Mbongwana Star. A seven piece band, a maverick Parisian producer and one of the year’s most unique records to break into a more mainstream consciousness, From Kinshasa fuses Congolese percussion (scrapheap techno gang Konono No.1 feature) with buckets of hefty European bass and abrasive post-punk flair. Rightly lauded and available again on vinyl by popular demand.


    © The Vinyl Factory, 2015 best LP vinyl record releases, Photog

    47. Jam City

    Dream A Garden

    (Night Slugs)

    Listen / Buy

    Luxuriate in the sonic swerve that this album represents after a half decade of influential club music from Jam City. There’s a surprise in the new use of vocals and instruments, but that’s beyond the point. Dream A Garden has an importance to our actual lives – a caring, gentle one – that reaches so far beyond the scope of so many albums that you have to wonder what people are playing at. This really is a thing to surround yourself with, repeatedly, and appreciate. And when you’re finished, listen to his newly reissued ice-cold score to Lux Laze, turned in shortly after early Jam City singles, and now beautifully repacked by new London label Utter.


    © The Vinyl Factory, 2015 best LP vinyl record releases, Photog

    46. Beach House

    Depression Cherry

    (Bella Union)

    Listen / Buy

    The wonderful Beach House released two albums this year and both pretty close together yet I think Depression Cherry just pips it. The songs here seem a bit more lost, a bit more atmospheric and a bit more heartbreaking. There’s elements of The Cocteau Twins and My Bloody Valentine all over its shoegazing shimmer yet the duo of Victoria and Alex make it all their own. It even comes in a red felt sleeve – pretty cool huh.


    © The Vinyl Factory, 2015 best LP vinyl record releases, Photog

    45. Jeremy Shaw

    Variation FQ

    (The Vinyl Factory)

    Listen / Buy

    Since ending his Circlesquare project (which released on Trevor Jackson’s Output Recordings), Shaw’s main focus has shifted to his visual art practice, yet his film, video and installation works almost always include a highly considered audio element.

    The soundtrack to his Variation FQ film is one of his most arresting pieces to date. Consisting of a repetitive, melancholy score combined with chopped vocal samples and time-stretched tape effects, he incites a hypnotic, mantra-like mood that accompanies the virtuosic dance style of the film’s protagonist – legendary voguer Leiomy Maldonado. Drawing on the classical piano works for solo variations in ballet with all the meditative grace of the great minimalists William Basinksi and Philip Glass, we were thrilled to bring it to limited vinyl.


    © The Vinyl Factory, 2015 best LP vinyl record releases, Photog

    44. Ruby Rushton

    Two For Joy

    (22a)

    Listen / Buy

    While not always explicit, the kinship between 22a’s earthy beats-driven 12”s and jazz has informed much of what the collective have released. With both Henry Wu and Al Dobson Jr. sharing their love for spiritual jazz on VF mixes, Two For Joy sees label boss Edward ‘Tenderlonious’ Cawthorne pick up the sax with his small group Ruby Rushton on a modern jazz record that grooves with hip hop sensibility as much as it swings, and, crucially, avoids labouring the point in doing so. Two For Joy is an understated antidote to Kamasi Washington’s maximal jazz odyssey, and one to return to again and again.


    © The Vinyl Factory, 2015 best LP vinyl record releases, Photography Michael Wilkin

    43. Thee Oh Sees

    Mutilator Defeated At Last

    (Castle Face)

    Listen / Buy

    As well as the amazing Damaged Bug album this year, John Dwyer also found time to release a new Thee Oh Sees album – even after telling everyone they were kind of over. However, after relocating to L.A. with some new personnel and the addition of two drummers he created their finest album yet. It’s full of rampaging riffs, psychedelic freak outs and some of the sweetest and whacked out pop you would have heard all year.


    © The Vinyl Factory, 2015 best LP vinyl record releases, Photog

    42. Owiny Sigoma Band

    Nyanza

    (Brownswood)

    Listen / Buy

    If you listened to their VF mix, you’ll have experienced Owiny Sigoma Band’s sprawling, cross-cultural palate. Avant-garde Spanish ambience, eastern melodies, African folk, industrial, Sun Ra, calypso, weird post punk-cum-jungle, electro funk… an incredible amount of ground was covered in under an hour.

    Whipping up a heady brew for their third full length, Nyanza is as genre-defying as the mix presaged, albeit with entrenched roots in traditional Kenyan folk. The collective travelled to the Nyanza Province of Western Kenya to meet members of the Luo tribe, an exchange which became the basis for this record – which updates the minimal Luo sound with the kind of left-right intensity discharged on 2012’s Power Punch.


    © The Vinyl Factory, 2015 best LP vinyl record releases, Photog

    41. Joanna Newsom

    Divers

    (Drag City)

    Listen / Buy

    This year broke the five year wait since 2010’s extraordinary triple LP Have One On Me, and whilst Newsom’s latest offering Divers may be a more conventional record in terms of its length, the density of song arrangements and ideas are no less ambitious. Make no mistake – as with her best work this is one for repeated listens, with intricate nuances in lyricism, instrumentation and the production revealing themselves over time, and out of what might appear as overblown on the first impression. Fitting to the title, this one dived deep, and found some true pearls of her song-craft along the way.


    © The Vinyl Factory, 2015 best LP vinyl record releases, Photog

    40. Lonelady

    Hinterland

    (Warp Records)

    Listen / Buy

    Lonelady aka Julie Campbell really hit her stride with her second full length release on Warp and surprised quite a few people with how well she could turn out exciting pop music. Hinterland brings to mind elements of Talking Heads and A Certain Ratio with it’s new wave grooves and instant dance ability but it’s the lady herself that fills the gaps with her killer melodies and even more dangerous hooks. Don’t underestimate this record – one listen and you’ll be sucked straight in.


    © The Vinyl Factory, 2015 best LP vinyl record releases, Photog

    39. The Mystic Jungle Tribe

    Solaria

    (Early Sounds)

    Listen / Buy

    This brilliant, obscure release on Italy’s Early Sounds sees ancestral musicologists The Mystic Jungle Tribe arrive a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away to take a sonic survey of the remote planet ‘Solaria’. Their findings range from the bizarre cosmic voodoo and sci-fi exotica of ‘Ocean FM’ and ‘Neon Lights’ to the squelching machine funk of ‘Ancient Lizard’ and ‘Plastica Razionale’, and the synthetic proto-house of ‘Land Of Dunes’. Trippy low-fi funk the likes of which wouldn’t feel out of place on PPU, The Mystic Jungle Tribe have dropped one of the year’s surprise packages and a real treat for the astral adventurers out there.


    © The Vinyl Factory, 2015 best LP vinyl record releases, Photog

    38. Helena Hauff

    Discreet Desires

    (Werk Discs)

    Listen / Buy

    Hamburg’s Helena Hauff follows up a slew of 12”s with her first real full length Discreet Desires. And boy, does it sting! “I have the feeling it’s more one-to-one – you do something and then the machine reacts. The machine has its own mind too, so it gives something back,” read press materials at the time. That kind of approach to tech probably goes some way to explain how she’s managed to rip out seriously intoxicating machine-funk, brimming with subtle and insouciant melodies that seem to have a mind of their own.


    © The Vinyl Factory, 2015 best LP vinyl record releases, Photog

    37. Lightning Bolt

    Fantasy Empire

    (Thrill Jockey)

    Listen / Buy

    This one was more of the same in the best possible way as Fantasy Empire righteously nailed Lightning Bolt’s high-octane song format in a way that seemingly denied 12 years of ageing and put it on a par with the frenetic exhilaration of 2003’s Wonderful Rainbow. Sure there has been some changes to the recording format here – in that this is a first hi-fi studio effort – but it does nothing to detract from the rawness of their sound, instead casting the bass guitar/drums tumult in a clarity that’s all the more addictive and potent in it’s ability to take over a space and accelerate.


    © The Vinyl Factory, 2015 best LP vinyl record releases, Photog

    36. Gwenno

    Y Dydd Olaf

    (Heavenly Recordings)

    Listen / Buy

    Before the trainspotters and pedants out there take exception to the inclusion of Gwenno’s Welsh language sci-fi triumph, its 2014 release on Peski arrived so late in the day, and in such limited numbers that it evaded last year’s chart rundown. Thankfully, indie stalwarts Heavenly picked up this remarkable fusion of Krautrock, synth pop and revolutionary politics for a full scale release, giving the former Pipette the attention and admiration she deserves. Undoubtedly the most accessible and catchy ‘foreign language-feminist-sci-fi-Kraut-concept album’ ever released, Y Dydd Olaf was also 2015’s true unorthodox pop masterpiece.


    © The Vinyl Factory, 2015 best LP vinyl record releases, Photog

    35. Bastien Keb

    Drinking In The Shadows Of Zizou

    (One-Handed Music)

    Listen / Buy

    While it’s been a big year for One-Handed Music’s Mo Kolours, whose new album Texture Like Sun ran this list close, one of the label’s rising stars has quietly pulled out one of year’s strongest debuts. Proving that you don’t need the big city to spawn big ideas, Leamington Spa’s most exciting multi-instrumental beat-maker Bastien Keb draws on all sorts of influences, from Sun Ra and Curtis Mayfield to Broadcast to come out with a new and compelling palette of sounds. More experimental tracks like ‘Doodlebag’ wind and unwind with clock-like rotations, while there’s enough song material among the instrumentals (‘Down River’ especially) to show Keb knows how to wield a hook. We appreciate the nod to Zinedine in the title too…


    © The Vinyl Factory, 2015 best LP vinyl record releases, Photog

    34. Elysia Crampton

    American Drift

    (Blueberry Records)

    Listen / Buy

    Drawing heavily on Facebook-era infoxication, pop fragments, video game FX and spoken word, sampling is the bread and butter of Crampton’s E&E catalogue. Her 2015 work though is derived most clearly from a personal voice, and notably, it shies away from collage art. In fact her 7” ‘Moth / Lake’ is altogether original in composition, while this debut album on FaltyDL’s Blueberry Records sits somewhere in-between. Hallmark Lil Jon squawks pierce MIDI orchestras and “transevangelistic prayers”; a conceptual meditation on the Latina identity in America, exploring “browness” as geology, not culture. Bordering on academic exercise but retaining a sense of play, American Drift is short in length but Herculean in scope.


    © The Vinyl Factory, 2015 best LP vinyl record releases, Photog

    33. Suzanne Kraft

    Talk From Home

    (Melody As Truth)

    Listen / Buy

    While many of the year’s biggest albums were all about making bold statements, this treat of a mini LP from West Coast producer Diego Herrera aka Suzanne Kraft is all about looking after number one. Recorded last winter but one which kept us cool all year, Talk From Home shimmers with the melancholy of lost youth and summers spent in blissful inertia. Tinged with an afro-cosmic feel that will delight fans of Gigi Masin’s Talk To The Sea and the ambient warmth of Andras Fox’s Overworld, Talk From Home is a quiet record and one to lose yourself in.


    © The Vinyl Factory, 2015 best LP vinyl record releases, Photog

    32. Levon Vincent

    Levon Vincent

    (Novel Sound)

    Listen / Buy

    Despite spending the last couple of years tearing up clubs across the globe, offering lucky producers apprenticeships and repressing the Novel Sounds back catalogue just to piss off the Discogs sharks, Levon Vincent still found the time to head into the studio and put together a breathtakingly good debut LP. Lavishly pressed onto quadruple vinyl (and still cheaper than Theo) this instant classic runs the full gamut of LV sounds, from brooding synthwave and hissing filth to wired EBM and glacial techno, while embracing lo-fi digi dub with surprising success.


    © The Vinyl Factory, 2015 best LP vinyl record releases, Photog

    31. Helen

    The Original Faces

    (Kranky)

    Listen / Buy

    With a host of intriguing collaborations from Liz Harris already laid out on vinyl (check out Raum and Mirroring if you’re unfamiliar), this particular foray outside of her Grouper moniker delivers a “pop/thrash” album of sorts. Whilst there’s still that unique voice swirling in the mix and the keen sense of atmospherics and nostalgia, its the fuzzed-up guitar, propulsive drumming and concise structures, all playing out on the borders of pop and noise which make this full length a worthy listen and something distinct in her back-catalogue.


    © The Vinyl Factory, 2015 best LP vinyl record releases, Photog

    30. The Green Door All-Stars

    Youth Stand Up!

    (Autonomous Africa)

    Listen / Buy

    If there were to be a studio of the year award, it would go to Glasgow’s Green Door all day long. A triangular recording project hatched at the studio by Optimo’s JD Twitch, Youth Stand Up! brings young musicians from Belize, Ghana and Glasgow together for ten tracks of cross-cultural collaboration. While this could sound like something cooked up by the British Council, the results are far more urgent and on point, finding an explosive middle ground between traditional Caribbean rhythms, hip hop, highlife and Glaswegian post-punk when none would seem forthcoming.

    Charting in the top two of the year’s best 12”s, Golden Teacher are on hand again here with fellow Optimo mainstays Whilst, lending a bit of Glaswegian grit to the party, as tracks like ‘Come With Me’, bristle with punk funk percussion and psych synths. A strong concept, expertly realised, and to top it off, the proceeds will be redistributed to cultural projects in Belize.


    © The Vinyl Factory, 2015 best LP vinyl record releases, Photog

    29. Alessandro Cortini

    Risveglio

    (Hospital Productions)

    Listen / Buy

    Stepping up his activities outside of Nine Inch Nails more than a notch or two over the past few years, Alessandro Cortini has produced some brilliant records, and Risvegelio is another highly recommended effort. Within the glut of those working with synthesizers at present, Cortini remains one of the most intriguing and distinctive voices. A vintage year for Hospital Productions with several fine releases for the label, and this at the top of the tree.


    © The Vinyl Factory, 2015 best LP vinyl record releases, Photog

    28. The Naturals

    On the Way (To The Laughing Light Of Plenty)

    (Emotional Response)

    Listen / Buy

    On that fuzzy line between reissue and new album, label boss Stuart Leath tapped into digging alter ego Emotional Rescue this year to pull out a huge new release on Response, salvaging a lost-not-lost album from Harvey collaborator Thomas Bullock and Secret Circuit’s Eddie Ruscha. With the original masters scattered to the wind and only 50 copies sold, On The Way features a raw and previously discarded second mix of folksy, Balearic-inclined, cosmic pop, that, as you can probably guess, defies just about every attempt at easy categorization. From ‘The Rose’, that could just as well have been a Mangiami dance floor special, to the chirpy, leftfield noodling of ‘Brilliant Light’, On The Way is a compelling trip. Of the variety on show, the 16-minute closer ‘The Pulse’ shines brightest, sharing something of Arthur Russell’s magnificent ‘In The Light Of The Miracle’.


    © The Vinyl Factory, 2015 best LP vinyl record releases, Photog

    27. Kamasi Washington

    The Epic

    (Brainfeeder)

    Listen / Buy

    Epic in any sense you’d care to mention, the first album proper from Kamasi Washington unquestionably stood alone this year in terms of scope and ambition. Proudly presented as a triple vinyl box set, clocking in at nearly three hours and featuring an extensive cast of virtuoso players, The Epic is a sublime, spiritual masterpiece which reconnects with the uncompromising thirst for expression at the heart of the art form. The true descendent of the most revered Impulse! releases, this LP reset the bar for the genre, reminding us that jazz can be challenging, emotive and beautiful all at the same time.


    © The Vinyl Factory, 2015 best LP vinyl record releases, Photog

    26. Moon B

    Lifeworld

    (Growing Bin)

    Listen / Buy

    In another fruitful year for Growing Bin, head gardener Basso spliced Wes Gray’s 2014 cassette only release, Lifeworld, onto a detailed vinyl pressing and gifted us the rosette winning bonus track ‘Moments In Slank’. This vaguest of references to the mighty Art Of Noise gave a hint to Moon B’s direction on this LP, with the Atlanta musician incorporating a plethora of tropical samples into his dusty world of lo-fi boogie and VHS house. Lopsided rhythms and swirling melodies create the kind of tribal psychedelia at the heart of the cosmic scene, while the wrong speed funk cuts pay homage to the chopped and screwed hip hop much loved by his hometown.


    © The Vinyl Factory, 2015 best LP vinyl record releases, Photog

    25. Tame Impala

    Currents

    (Fiction)

    Listen / Buy

    I don’t think there’s anyone I know who doesn’t like this record. Before its release the word on the street was that Kevin Parker had created Tame Impala’s best record yet and the word wasn’t wrong. Currents begins with the seven minute plus groove of ‘Let It Happen’ which grooves from the start and builds then get’s stuck then explodes! It’s an amazing tune and points the way forward for the rest of the record. There is not one shit song on here. It’s perfect pop music. It’s a true masterpiece. And the limited edition is even pretty collectable.


    © The Vinyl Factory, 2015 best LP vinyl record releases, Photog

    24. M.E.S.H.

    Piteous Gate

    (PAN)

    Listen / Buy

    In an interview with FACT James Whipple aka M.E.S.H talked of being “a receptor for constant information overload”, and on Piteous Gate he’s done some remarkable things with such source material and inspiration, crafting one of the year’s most refined takes on digital life and sound design. If adventurous electronic music is your thing this is well worth investigating- vital work from artist and label alike.


    © The Vinyl Factory, 2015 best LP vinyl record releases, Photog

    23. Dawn Richard

    Blackheart

    (Our Dawn Entertainment)

    Listen / Buy

    “I thought I lost it all,” cries Dawn Richard on album opener ‘Noir’ that bleeds seamlessly into ‘Calpyso’ – which with its jungle breaks, fizzy kicks and hazy fucked-up vocals, is a track worth your money alone. ‘Blow’ might have you daggering on the dancefloor, but don’t let it trick you – Blackheart heads in a much darker, inward, paranoid direction than its golden predecessor. Having managed to escape Diddy-backed girl-group Danity Kane twice now, Richard continues to eschew any notion of pop-dismissal.


    © The Vinyl Factory, 2015 best LP vinyl record releases, Photog

    22. Domenique Dumont

    Comme Ça

    (Antinote Recordings)

    Listen / Buy

    Unquestionably one of the labels of the year, Parisian imprint Antinote treated us to a string of flawless releases in 2015, and none were better than this sun kissed beauty from mysterious Latvian producer Domenique Dumont. A perfectly timed summer release, Comme Ça saw Dumont create a seductive mirage of afrobeat rhythms, surf guitars, dubby basslines and ye ye vocals which seemed to shimmer with the heat haze of an indolent afternoon. On paper a contradiction, the combination of lively rhythms and languid textures was nothing short of genius on record, embodying the carefree innovation which made this release stand out from the crowd.


    © The Vinyl Factory, 2015 best LP vinyl record releases, Photog

    21. DJ Sotofett

    Drippin’ For A Tripp

    (Honest Jon’s)

    Listen / Buy

    The spring saw Norway’s idiosyncratic, genre mashing, trail-blazing genius take a temporary side step from his Sex Tags Mania imprint, instead collaborating with London’s Honest Jon’s for this lavish double pack of mind expanding, scene smashing electronics. A serial collaborator, Drippin’ For A Tripp found Sotofett hooking up with Phillip Lauer, Jaakko Eino Kalevi, Karolin Tampere, Maimouna Haugen and Versatile boss Gilb’R on a sun drenched journey through poolside chill-out, warm Afro dub, Italo house and Rainforest rhythm, all imbued with the psychedelic sonics the producer has become known for. Sublime, diverse and unique, this double pack combined everything we’ve come to expect from the Norwegian producer, soundtracking the summer perfectly.


    © The Vinyl Factory, 2015 best LP vinyl record releases, Photog

    20. Grimes

    Art Angel

    (4AD)

    Listen / Buy

    How would Clare Boucher follow the sub-zero cyborg bliss of 2012’s Visions? Well, there was that Rihanna-intended, tipsy summer jam ‘Go’ – which pissed off fans for “pandering to the radio” – and there was a lot of waiting. Whilst Visions was polished off in a couple of weeks, Boucher spent years recording the follow-up at her own home. Giving herself the space to write, she took a step back, disconnecting entirely from contemporary pop. The result is a stupefyingly diverse range of headspaces; an invitation into the mind of a post-internet wild child.

    How could we have prepared for the cheerleader bomb shelling of ‘Kill V. Maim’, a track channeling The Godfather, except re-spinning Al-Pacino as a gender-swapping, space-travelling vampire? Or the diss-tracks? Or the manga-inspired scrawlings that look like they’ve been ripped straight out the back of an exercise book? Music industry slams, candy sweet fuck-offs, nods to K-pop, twilight moments, parallel universe EDM-bangers… it’s a sprawling pop vision, and one showcasing the complete range of her vocal register.


    © The Vinyl Factory, 2015 best LP vinyl record releases, Photog

    19. Floating Points

    Elaenia

    (Pluto)

    Listen / Buy

    Following fourteen EPs and singles – starting with a timeless 12″ on Planet Mu in 2009 – Floating Points finally came out with his first ever-full length this year. Alas, it will disappoint some of the FloPo camp, you know, those wanting deep bass bangers of ‘ARP3’ ilk. But with his classical and academic resume, it was obvious we’d get a fusion album, and one of cinematic dimensions.

    The work feels complete with seven tracks that map out discrete spaces, separate rooms in their own right, and yet together they build and build. The finale ‘Peroration Six’ crescendoes magnificently, working towards a colossal release, only to cut out abruptly. In a world of builds and drops, it’s a clever ending – toying with your expectations; leaving you dumbfounded.


    © The Vinyl Factory, 2015 best LP vinyl record releases, Photog

    18. Ibeyi

    Ibeyi

    (XL Recordings)

    Listen / Buy

    How has this one slipped through so many nets? Perhaps obscured by the Guardian-friendly hype that preceded release, perhaps because it surfaced so long ago, the music on Ibeyi’s self-titled debut seemed to get left behind. Drawing on spirituals and hip hop culture from the twins’ dual French-Cuban heritage, the sparse productions allow their maturing voices to lead from the front. A strong year of spell-binding, at times virtuosic live performances and a gorgeous, split-sleeve vinyl edition have done justice to a powerful debut.


    © The Vinyl Factory, 2015 best LP vinyl record releases, Photog

    17. Vakula

    Voyage to Arcturus

    (Leleka)

    Listen / Buy

    Imagined soundtracks are this year’s plat du jour. Released at the top of 2015 Vakula followed up the majestic You’ve Never Been To Konotop (#2 in our 2013 chart) with another expansive, expressive triple vinyl excursion beyond the imagination of us mere mortals. Conceived as an imaginary soundtrack to David Lindsay’s book of the same name, A Voyage To Arcturus sees Vakula apply his lysergic sonics to psychedelia, kosmische and ambient soundscapes as well as his usual freaked out jazz-funk and psycho-active house. A second long player followed this year dedicated to Jim Morrison, but in finding that middle ground between fusion and contemporary electronic music Voyage To Arcturus is in a world of its own.


    © The Vinyl Factory, 2015 best LP vinyl record releases, Photog

    16. J.G. Biberkopf

    Ecologies

    (Knives)

    Listen / Buy

    Ecologies could have quite easily slipped under your radar, but for fans of vivid and hyper-real sound collage this still stands out as a highlight of the year and marks a fine debut from both artist and label. Envisioned as “a field trip into the representations of nature emerging from the digital-social mediascape”, there’s a lot to wrap your ears around here as Biberkopf manages to bend all manner of sounds to a musical and theatrical will. Some rather fine cover art too from Joe Hamilton.


    © The Vinyl Factory, 2015 best LP vinyl record releases, Photog

    15. Sir Richard Bishop

    Tangier Sessions

    (Drag City)

    Listen / Buy

    Occultist, traveler, bookseller, master of myriad guitar stylings from Raag to Surf, Sir Richard Bishop’s pool of inspiration and discography is vast, and here the inspiration was narrowed down to a relatively simple concept- a recently acquired one of a kind 1890s parlor guitar and a week holed up in Tangiers recording it. The results are another marvel of his dual talents for melody and improvisation on an instrument that sounds both aged in tradition and full of possibility under Sir Rick’s nimble fingers.


    © The Vinyl Factory, 2015 best LP vinyl record releases, Photog

    14. Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe & Ariel Kalma

    FRKWYS Vol 12: We Know Each Other Somehow

    (RVNG Intl.)

    Listen / Buy

    What a year for RVNG. With their Savant reissue charting highly in our top reissues of 2015 list, the Brooklyn-based label paired ambient explorer Ariel Kalma with modular synthesist Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe for one of the year’s inspired inter-generational collaborations.

    Playing off the tension between Kalma’s naturalist sensibilities and the more industrial drones of Lowe’s reverberant tools, which and shape field recordings from the Australian landscape into a series of unique meditations, We Know Each Other Somehow is a beguiling listen that unfolds over time to create the sense of both kinship and alienation between man and nature. The psychical release also comes with a non-linear film which serves as the visual accompaniment to the shapes, moods and musings of the music. A complete and compelling project, and one of our favourites (if not favourite) FRKWYS releases to date, with RVNG serving up a treat with the packaging as standard.


    © The Vinyl Factory, 2015 best LP vinyl record releases, Photog

    13. Oneohtrix Point Never

    Garden Of Delete

    (Warp Records)

    Listen / Buy

    Whilst still relatively fresh of the presses Garden of Delete has stood out as one of the most remarkable releases of Daniel Lopatin’s storied career in electronic music, and an altogether different beast to it’s predecessor R Plus 7. The hallmarks of an OPN release are of course all over Garden of Delete from concepts to production, but the density of its musical juxtapositions and hyperactive flitting from sound to sound creates a world unto itself, where Lopatin has effectively melted his varied musical and technological fascinations into a beguiling whole. Simultaneously sounding like the product of a vivid imagination and of warped algorithms and autonomous machines, the most perplexing juxtaposition here is that it feels both vast and empty at the same time. One that’s certainly for repeated listens.


    © The Vinyl Factory, 2015 best LP vinyl record releases, Photog

    12. Fabiano Do Nascimento

    Dança Dos Tempos

    (Now-Again)

    Listen / Buy

    Another reissue label doing great things with new music, Egon’s Now-Again gave a platform to Fabiano Do Nascimento’s debut and conjured up one of the year’s surprises. Tender and urgent, the young virtuoso guitarist is joined by Brazilian legend Airto Moreira on percussion (for his first project in ten years), to craft a suite of compelling, pared down afro-infused instrumentals, recorded live with no over-dubs to capture the energy surging through the studio. Spine-tingling vocals from Do Nascimento’s girlfriend on ‘Ewe’ elevate this from a virtuoso study in Brasil’s folkloric tradition (think Hermeto Pascoal and Baden Powell) to something a little more timeless. It may have been a big year for Brazilian reissues, but if ever you needed evidence that new music is flourishing in the country, this is it.


    © The Vinyl Factory, 2015 best LP vinyl record releases, Photog

    11. King Midas Sound & Fennesz

    Edition 1

    (Ninja Tune)

    Listen / Buy

    The first in a four part series of King Midas Sound collaborations, Kevin Martin, Roger Robinson and vocalist Kiki Hitomi invited Austrian electronic minimalist and guitarist Fennesz for Edition 1. A complete album in the old-fashioned sense of the word, Edition 1 ebbs and flows like a continuous suite, the vocals at times submerged, at times surfacing from the icy lake of tape reverb and analogue fuzz. A record to immerse yourself in, Ninja Tune have also gone to town on the silver spot-varnished sleeve, replicated again on the instrumentals edition for those after the full set.


    © The Vinyl Factory, 2015 best LP vinyl record releases, Photog

    10. Len Leise

    Lingua Franca

    (International Feel)

    Listen / Buy

    After bursting onto the scene with a pair of essential EPs for IFeel and Nado, Australian sound sculptor Len Leise put the cherry on top of a remarkable 12 months with this glorious debut LP for Mark Barrott’s celebrated imprint. Channelling the otherworldly ambience of early Innovative Communication (and taking inspiration from the label’s artwork), the jazzy fusion of Windham Hill and the forward thinking tribalism of Eno and Hassell’s Fourth World : Possible Musics, Leise weaved liquid tabla, shimmering bells, fluid bass and breathy sax around the metallic staccato of marimba and stiff drum machines. Successfully fusing the organic and synthetic into a living, breathing and evolving whole, Lingua Franca saw Leise deliver his finest release yet, and the defining statement for the future primitive sound we’ve heard lately.


    © The Vinyl Factory, 2015 best LP vinyl record releases, Photog

    9. Jenny Hval

    Apocalypse, Girl

    (Sacred Bones)

    Listen / Buy

    Apocalypse, Girl is Norwegian sound poet Jenny Hval at her visceral best. She has already made folk and abstract noise, using her music to investigate the way human bodies constrict with social norms, but for her third record, she joins the goths in Brooklyn for a radical synth seminar. More questions about where we’re at as a collective civilisation (hear ‘That Battle Is Over’ for a dirge to the end of the isms that once determined our moral compass) channelled through music that’s interchangeably her harshest and most accessible. It’s in this tension that Hval thrives, her spectral melodies punctured by graphic lyrics (take ‘Take Care Of Your Self’ for Hval at her most unsettling), jettisoning the cosy in favour of the raw (and the wry).


    © The Vinyl Factory, 2015 best LP vinyl record releases, Photog

    8. Golden Rules

    Golden Ticket

    (Lex Records)

    Listen / Buy

    Psychedelic beat maker Paul White and Florida MC/vocalist Eric Biddines measured up as Golden Rules for another of the year’s most overlooked albums. Laced with wit and strangeness, Golden Ticket inhabits the kind of parallel universe that DJ Koze might call home, full of floral variety where every track is drugged under a pleasant haze of melancholy and nostalgia. From album opener ‘Auntie Pearl’s House’, Golden Rules establish their own set of markers, whether its nodding to ’80s cop show soul on ‘Down Soul Boogie’ or basking in the old-school grandeur of Yasiin Bey’s cameo on ‘Never Die’. Dope embossed artwork and a pair of golden records complete a really nice package. In a year where the heavyweights delivered heavy, serious records, it’s been harder to find space for a lighter, feel good touch, but Golden Rules is good enough to more than distract from the world’s woes. Put it on and light up, things will be better in the morning.


    © The Vinyl Factory, 2015 best LP vinyl record releases, Photog

    7. Björk

    Vulnicura

    (One Little Indian)

    Listen / Buy

    It’s an obvious one, but there’s nothing more satisfying than when a big record delivers. Already charted in our ‘best artwork’ list, it’s hard to know quite where to start with Vulnicura. A nuanced, confused, inquisitive, painful, vivid interrogation of a break-up, at times soaring above the complexities to analyse human emotion with idiosyncratic clarity, at others languishing in the mire of despair, anger and misunderstanding with the rest of us. Abandoning all concept in favour of pure emotion, Vulnicura could have fallen flat were it not so honest. With unforgettable artwork woven into the fabric of the narrative, it’s a complete piece up there with her most important records and a ready reminder that Björk is still out front all by herself.


    © The Vinyl Factory, 2015 best LP vinyl record releases, Photog

    6. Matana Roberts

    Coin Coin Chapter Three: River Run Thee

    (Constellation)

    Listen / Buy

    The third part in her visionary Coin Coin series, Matana Roberts’ River Run Thee is perhaps the most fluid installment so far, a stream of consciousness that flows in one uninterrupted gesture, tracing her own solo ‘sojourn’ south of the Mason-Dixon line. Her stories, expressions and exasperations are delivered in as a vernacular act, drifting in and out of focus as her voice meanders in an intuitive double helix with memories and samples of her own processed saxophone. Warped and sometimes even obscured by drones, the continuous suite (a form so crucial to Black American protest jazz – Max Roach’s Freedom Now Suite, and Charles Mingus’ Black Saint And The Sinner Lady) is described by Roberts as a ‘fever dream’, able to disturb and transform in equal measure. The vinyl comes complete with two pull out posters, Roberts’ own manifesto for the album and a beautifully printed sleeve. Put all distractions to one side and let River Run Thee run over you.


    © The Vinyl Factory, 2015 best LP vinyl record releases, Photog

    5. Jlin

    Dark Energy

    (Planet Mu)

    Listen / Buy

    With Mike Paradinas aka µ-Ziq at its helm, Planet Mu has racked up a reputation for daring electronic sounds. In the year the label turned 20, Illinois-based producer Jlin emerged as its leading light with her suitably titled debut.

    A life’s work condensed into dark matter, tripping dangerously from mutated footwork to the outer-reaches, rising and falling with cinematic intensity. Dark Energy bristles with jagged rhythms, chopping antagonistically between vocal samples (including Holly Herndon’s) that try to shine through the cracks. Softer moments like ‘Unknown Tongues’ and ‘Erotic Heat’ lend dynamic range to one of the year’s most daring albums.


    © The Vinyl Factory, 2015 best LP vinyl record releases, Photog

    4. Kendrick Lamar

    To Pimp A Butterfly

    (Top Dawg / Aftermath / Interscope)

    Listen / Buy

    While 2012’s good kid m.A.A.d city saw Kendrick seated comfortably on hip hop’s throne, the Compton native wore the frustrated air of a man who’d been handed the heavyweight title by default. Taking matters into his own hands the rapper dropped a provocative verse on Big Sean’s ‘Control’, but still couldn’t convince his contemporaries to step to in the ring. The only option left was for Kendrick to challenge himself, and thus the sprawling and ambitious To Pimp A Butterfly was born.

    Sonically at odds with current trends, the LP found Kendrick balancing P-funk and spiritual jazz while his multi-voiced narrative and socially aware lyrics articulated the African American experience from a variety of standpoints. The only release in our chart to feature Barack Obama’s favourite track of the year, To Pimp A Butterfly was Kendrick’s coming of age. That this major hip hop album received a vinyl release at all should not be overlooked.


    © The Vinyl Factory, 2015 best LP vinyl record releases, Photog

    3. Colleen

    Captain Of None

    (Thrill Jockey)

    Listen / Buy

    “I’m actually quite shocked that I’ve made four full albums without real basslines,” Colleen said upon releasing Captain Of None. How she didn’t arrive here earlier is indeed startling in hindsight.

    Once again it’s the Renaissance-era treble viola da gamba, an instrument rarely heard these days, at the forefront of this album. But taking cues from Jamaican producers, Colleen finally embraces her long-standing love of dub. Her acoustic lullabies enter an elegant, thrilling, at times unsettling, world of negative space. It’s well worth spending some time there.


    © The Vinyl Factory, 2015 best LP vinyl record releases, Photog

    2. Lifted

    1

    (PAN)

    Listen / Buy

    Did PAN slip something in our morning tea? Our brains feel washed. M.E.S.H.’s whiplash-inducing Piteous Gate, the beatless rumble of Helm’ Olympic Mess, Visionist’s precarious Safe debut… it’s been impossible to resist the adventures arranged and presented by Bill Kouligas’ peerless PAN label.

    It’s this Lifted record that keeps coming back to us though. A beautiful exercise in jumping off the grid, 1 sounds like what might have happened if Sun Ra recorded on Rephlex or if Squarepusher donned an Egyptian costume and joined the Arkestra. Back on Earth, it’s the first emission from Max D and Co-La’s new collective improv project. Using loose studio sessions as the environment to build upon, the duo reached out to a whole bunch of collaborators, dialling in Jordan GCZ (of Juju and Jordash) and ambient pioneer Gigi Masin for experimental overdubs from Amsterdam and Venice.

    What’s next from Lifted? “The first one taught us about matching players and their tones to what we come up with,” Max D told us in our interview with the collaborators. “We’re gonna probably go deeper and deeper into that zone, putting people’s sounds together with ours as a way to add layers. But, who knows?”


    © The Vinyl Factory, 2015 best LP vinyl record releases, Photog

    1. Holly Herndon

    Platform

    (4AD)

    Listen / Buy

    Just hours before Holly Herndon’s major UK show this autumn at Oval Space, home secretary Theresa May unveiled her so-called “snoopers’ charter” – the draft investigatory powers bill that would give police and security services access to records tracking every UK citizen’s use of the internet.

    It couldn’t have been more pertinent. For Herndon, the sanctity of online privacy is tantamount to the most basic of freedoms. As she told The Guardian earlier this year in response to Edward Snowden’s NSA revelations: “Violating my inbox felt [worse] than if someone went into my apartment. That’s where my relationships live”.

    The single ‘Home’, a homage to that violated digital space, set the tone for what is a sophisticated electronic album that interrogates one of the most complex and divisive issues of our time. And yet, Platform is not dry, not hyper-technical, instead building critiques into maximal hooks and deconstructed pop choruses on tracks like ‘Interference’, ‘Chorus’ and ‘An Exit’.

    Her follow-up to debut Movement, Platform is a glowing, singular protest album for the digital age. Circumventing polemics, Herndon cryptically hints at modern crisis borne out of systematic inequality, computer surveillance and neo-feudalism. Vibrant, vital and irresistibly produced, it is best consumed audio-visually, watching your laptop melt away via videos to ‘Chorus’ and ‘Home’.

    In one sense then, releasing, and owning Platform on vinyl may seem anachronistic, an almost wilfully counter-intuitive way to consume the record, away from the prying eyes of the state. Yet, as a safe, real world alternative, the vinyl edition offers a proxy A/V experience, lyrics printed out boldly across the double inner sleeves, a manifesto on Herndon’s New Ways To Love. We should all take note. Platform is only going to feel more relevant.


    Illustration by Hector Plimmer
    Photography by Michael Wilkin

  • Pavement, Mac Demarco and Beach House: 10 essential rock & pop releases to look out for this month (September)

    By | August 29, 2015

    rock and pop_sept_cover

    The good people at Norman Records provide the latest in our genre rundowns, picking out 10 must-have rock, pop and indie records.

    They might not have an actual bricks and mortar record store (although if you’re out and about in Leeds you can drop in on the warehouse and pick up your orders), but when it comes to sorting you out with the best new music, look no further than online record shop Norman Records. So how do you get that personalised treatment when there’s no record store guy to exasperate with your wide-raging yet incredibly specific requests?

    Here’s how: we asked Clint and Robin at Norman Records to “give us anything with a song in it” and sure enough they delivered the goods once more.


    Words: Clint and Robin


    Pavement_Secret_History_Vol1

    Pavement
    The Secret History: Volume 1
    (Domino)

    Listen / Buy

    Showcasing all the scratty B-sides and out-takes from the ‘Slanted and Enchanted’ era, this is the first in three collections of Pavement off cuts. Yes, it’s been out before as bonus stuff on the ‘S+E’ expanded edition, but crucially never on vinyl. A good place to study Malkmus & co’s process as they re-define the words ‘off-kilter’.


    jean paul satre expereince

    The Jean Paul Sartre Experience
    I Like Rain
    (Fire Records)

    Listen / Buy

    Of course they like rain – everyone in New Zealand likes rain. They have to. The Jean-Paul Sartre Experience are the latest fabbo band to get the re-issue treatment. They sound somewhat like a cross between the Chills and the Go-Betweens and of course that is a marvellous place to be.


    PEGA-MONSTRO

    Pega Monstro
    Alfarroba
    (Upset The Rhythm)

    Listen / Buy

    Portuguese roadtrippers Pega Monstro finally stop at the service station that is the UK for their first international release; their stay is, in typical form, brief. The shorthand punk tunes on Alfarroba sprinkle on a bit of shoegaze but stomp and thrash enough to keep you in the sometimes pretty cool real world.


    helen

    Helen
    The Original Faces
    (Kranky)

    Listen / Buy

    Grouper’s Liz Harris wanted to go full-on thrash with her new band, but she’s compromised and opted for dream pop, which I think you’ll agree is halfway to Slayer. Bass grooves spin like yarn through songs that are otherwise blown in two by sparks of furious guitar. There’s a tune that sounds kinda like ‘Brown Eyed Girl’ playing from within a raincloud, which is pretty cool to these ears.


    LaLuz_LP2

    La Luz
    Weirdo Shrine
    (Hardly Art)

    Listen / Buy

    The ghost of Ty Segall haunts this record – he isn’t dead, but all psych rockers are born poltergeists. La Luz exorcise surf rawk on their second record; it’s got riffs as sandy as a beach and a horror-flick tone as corny as an episode of Scooby Doo. The vocal harmonies are the real clincher, though.


    11183_JKT

    Mac Demarco
    Another One
    (Captured Tracks)

    Listen / Buy

    The slacker lad is back with another album of dreamy laid back pop. We’d say he’s marginally more melancholy this time but still with that woozy charm intact. Listen until the end and he’ll invite you to his house for coffee.


    deradoorian

    Deradoorian
    The Expanding Flower Planet
    (Anticon)

    Listen / Buy

    She’s spent a lot of time with Avey Tare and David Longstreth – two artists who hurl paint at the wall and call it art pop – but on her own Angel Deradoorian crafts sparse tunes that leave most of the music up to your imagination. The result is a chill record of hammock surrealism and bewildering harmonies.


    iasiah owens

    Isaiah Owens
    You Without Sin Cast the First Stone
    (Mississippi Records)

    Listen / Buy

    After nearly half a century in Flying Clouds of Montgomery, Isaiah Owens’ sent up this ode to the Lord. The Mississippi imprint recently had the good sense to reissue the record, honouring the grit in Owens’ voice and gravel in his guitar. Listen for ramshackle strums jangled at rocksteady rhythms, and for a raw musical testament.


    beach house

    Beach House
    Depression Cherry
    (Bella Union)

    Listen / Buy

    The galaxy of stadiums began to grate with indie rock’s chillest band after Bloom was released, so they’ve backtracked to the days before they made panoramic dream music. Their new, monochrome record favours purposely pedestrian drum machines, hushed melodies and the usual mix of guitar tones – gorgeous in one end, gritty down the other.


    LOW_OnesSixes_cover

    Low
    Ones and Sixes
    (Sub Pop)

    Listen / Buy

    We might be a tad early on this but let’s get ourselves excited eh? The Duluth veterans are now an incredible 20+ years into making slow songs in slightly different ways. This time they sound lush and arranged but their knack for being naggingly catchy and heartfelt at exactly the same time is still wonderfully intact. Perfect for the upcoming dark nights.

  • 10 essential rock and pop records to look out for this month (June)

    By | May 23, 2015

    Cover

    The good people at Norman Records provide the latest in our genre rundowns, picking out 10 must-have rock, pop and indie records.

    They might not have an actual bricks and mortar record store (although if you’re out and about in Leeds you can drop in on the warehouse and pick up your orders), but when it comes to sorting you out with the best new music, look no further than online record shop Norman Records. So how do you get that personalised treatment when there’s no record store guy to exasperate with your wide-raging yet incredibly specific requests?

    Here’s how: we asked Robin and Clinton at Norman Records to “give us anything with a song in it” and sure enough they delivered the goods once more.


    JoGru_PeanutButter-1024x1024

    Joanna Gruesome
    Peanut Butter
    (Fortuna POP!)

    Listen / Buy

    Here’s a record that’s as good to listen to as peanut butter is to eat with your hands — but with less inevitable shame. On ‘Weird Sister’, Joanna Gruesome knotted noise rock dynamics together with the snark of twee pop. Both are back here, sitting happy like good/bad angels leaning on your shoulder. More blastbeats, please.


    jacco_hypnophobia_CoverArt

    Jacco Gardner
    Hypnophobia
    (Full Time Hobby)

    Listen / Buy

    Psych rock that takes you somewhere without ever leaving the studio, Jacco Gardner has made a galaxy from his ornate pop, then flattened it out with a production job that sounds smooth and grounded. Silly and full of instrumental flourishes, it’s the cosy warm bass you’ll be left with between your ears.


    ilyas ahmed

    Ilyas Ahmed
    I Am All Your Own
    (Immune)

    Listen / Buy

    The translucent ghost guitar of Ilyas Ahmed will take listeners back to Liz Harris and her shelter-from-the-storm drones, which is no surprise, as Ahmed has released an album with her as Visitor. On his new record, he also references the homely ambient sing-song of Benoit Pioulard, sadly sighing over watery strums.


    jenny hval

    Jenny Hval
    Apocalypse, Girl
    (Sacred Bones)

    Listen / Buy

    Sound poet Jenny Hval has already made spectral folk and abstract noise, using her music to investigate the way human bodies constrict with social norms. For her third record, she joins the goths in Brooklyn for a radical synth seminar: more questions about where we’re at as a collective civilisation, channeled through music that’s interchangeably her harshest and most accessible.


    kvb

    The KVB
    Mirror Being
    (Invada)

    Listen / Buy

    The darkwave duo that sound like tall pillars in an empty room return with an album of towering synths, chilling atmospheres and uncomfortably thrilling beats. This is bright but eerie industrial pop — it’s as if it were being played underneath a cold sun.


    CF-055cover

    Thee Oh Sees
    Mutilator Defeated At Last
    (Castle Face)

    Listen / Buy

    The messiest bunch of garage rockers who ever didn’t clean out the Castle Face office fridge, Thee Oh Sees are back with yet another record of misshapen, gleefully distorted clusterfuckery. It is, of course, lovingly moulded into pop music.


    able tasmans

    Able Tasmans
    A Cuppa Tea and a Lie Down
    (Captured Tracks / Flying Nun)

    Listen / Buy

    There are so many re-issues about these days that it’s actually harder to think of an album that hasn’t been re-issued. This is one which sticks out from the herd though. Able Tasmans were a woefully underrated New Zealand band from the ‘80’s with a grab bag of styles, from dark scratchy indie to bagpipe pop. Well worth checking if you like the Chills, the Clean etc.


    jim orourke

    Jim O’ Rourke
    Simple Songs
    (Drag City)

    Listen / Buy

    The be-cardiganed pop master has spent many years making harsh noise from his Japanese hideaway, frustrating the legions of fans who enjoyed his ‘Insignificance’ and ‘Eureka’ albums. ‘Simple Songs’ should satisfy such cravings with its complex and winding take on progressive folky pop.


    unknown mortal orchestra

    Unknown Mortal Orchestra
    Multi-Love
    (Jagjaguwar)

    Listen / Buy

    Art-pop freaks Unknown Mortal Orchestra have discovered their inner Prince with this exuberant selection of clattering soul and funk inspired tunes. Coming across like a Stevie Wonder with his hands glued together it is sure to get the lop-sided party started.


    valet nature

    Valet
    Nature
    (Kranky)

    Listen / Buy

    Hitting the sweet spot between Slowdive ‘Pygmalion’ era atmospherics and Beach House/Mazzy Star drifting hazy songwriting are the unassumingly named Valet. With
    a name and sleeve you’d fail to notice in a crowd, the group comes into its own once the needle hits the record. Swoon-some stuff from the ever-reliable Kranky imprint.

  • The 10 best vinyl releases this week (3rd Nov)

    By | November 3, 2014

    Web

    The Vinyl Factory select the 10 most essential vinyl releases of the last 7 days.

    This week’s selection has everything you need for the onset of autumn, with brilliant new LPs from Grouper and Dean Blunt too warm your cockles and a stunning collaboration between the original Blaxploitation director Melvin Van Peebles and The Heliocentrics. As for the singles, there’s loads to explore from a bunch of artists we’d never heard of but couldn’t wait to share. Uku Kuut, Tom Noble and a brilliant Fat Cat split series are essential for those of you out for a new thrill.

    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, James Hammond and Theo Leanse. 5 singles and 5 LP’s every 7 days that are unmissable additions to any collection.


    Singles


    Tom_noble_mysticpleasure

    Tom Noble & Mystic Pleasure

    Back Door

    (Superior Elevation)

    Listen / Buy


    Ooh wee! Boogie hypnotist Tom Noble struts back into the discotheque with the same raucous swagger he brought to ‘Party Together’ on PPU a few years back. Riding the dials side by side with the shadowy digging collective Mystic Pleasure, the LA master fires up the ARP, sharpens the scalpel and unleashes as rough and ready disco-funk goliath on our asses. Passionate vocals and searing horns trade blows over a bumping groove that rattles along at breakneck speed on this single-sided, super limited dance floor stormer.


    split_12fat093

    Katie Gately / Tlaotlon

    Split Series #23

    (Fat Cat)

    Listen / Buy


    This is the penultimate release in Fat Cat’s long running Split Series, and it stands as another highlight for a collection that has been continuously adventurous and well curated. Here we have two decidedly different takes on experimental electronics, with Gately’s 14-minute voyage of fractured song-composition and Tlaotlon’s maximalist psychedelia on the flip side. There’s some shared ground here in a proclivity for sampling (think cartoon sound-banks and YouTube videos) but as with much of the series it’s the contrast of ideas between sides that’s half the fun. Very worthy listens from both.


    family man

    Family Man & Knotty Roots

    Distant Drums

    (Fam’s)

    Listen / Buy


    Aston “Family Man” Barrett was Lee Perry’s bass player in the Upsetters lineup before joining Bob Marley in the Wailers. This single sees him and at least one other member of The Wailers on top form – Knotty Roots is probably a pseudonym used by Barrett’s band-mates. It is an instrumental version of Love Thy Neighbours by Jesus Dread (aka Yabby You), a classic of Rootsy Reggae re-shaped in Barrett’s arrangement and performed in the nyabinghi style – a spiritual, driving, percussive beauty with leftfield spirit.


    deers_barn

    Deers

    Barn

    (Lucky Number)

    Listen / Buy


    Deers could possibly be the best all girl band to ever come out of Madrid! This is their second release (the follow up to ‘Demo’ back in July) packed full of jangly guitars, simple melodies and that particular lo-fi beauty that floored us with their first release. It’s perfect indie-pop and doesn’t get better than this.


    uku kuut

    Uku & Maryn

    Suggestive

    (PPU)

    Listen / Buy


    A real gem here dug out of the tiny Baltic country of Estonia, and a quartet of quietly brilliant boogie cuts from pioneering producers Uku Kuut and his mother Maryn Coote. It may sound obscure, perhaps even a little contrary, but Kuut’s ear for that particular form of proto g-funk could just as well have come straight out of the west coast. With one important difference, forget your palms trees and Pacific boulevards, the wonky charm of ‘Suggestive’ reflects that unique breezy flair you can’t help but sense looking out over the shimmering horizon of the Gulf of Finland.


    Click next to see our album picks.


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