Aug102018| August 10, 2018
Featuring Thom Yorke, Dr Octagon, The Wild Bunch and more.
The soundtrack to a forthcoming documentary telling the story of James Lavelle’s trail-blazing hip-hop label Mo’Wax will be released on double vinyl via Island/UMC at the end of August.
Given access to Lavelle’s personal video library, director Matthew Jones paints an intimate portrait of the label boss, DJ and musician, from his early influences in music, to his relationship with DJ Shadow, and his UNKLE project.
Released in conjunction with the film, the The Man from Mo’Wax soundtrack features a number of collaborators and influential figures in Lavelle’s musical journey. It includes UNKLE and Thom Yorke’s ‘Rabbit in Your Headlights’, Mo’Wax classics by DJ Shadow, Attica Blues, Dr. Octagon and DJ Krush, and pre-Massive Attack incarnation the Wild Bunch.
Both the film and soundtrack will be released on 31st August to coincide with the 20th anniversary of UNKLE’s game-changing album Psyence Fiction.
Pressed on red and blue vinyl, you can pre-order your copy of the soundtrack here and check out the artwork and tracklist below.
A 1 Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal & Charles Dutoit — Holst: ‘The Planets, Op.32 – 2. Venus, the Bringer of Peace’ (edit)
A2 Zimbabwe Legit — ‘Doin’ Damage in My Native Language’ (Shadow’s legitimate remix)
A3 Marie ‘Queenie’ Lyons — ‘See and Don’t See’
A4 The Wild Bunch — ‘Friends & Countrymen’
A5 RPM — ‘Food of My De-Rhythm’
B1 Hioshi Fujiwara + KUDO featuring DJ MILO— ‘Return of The Original Art Form’ (D.J mix)
B2 La Funk Mob — ‘Ravers Suck Our Sound and Get Fuck’
B3 Attica Blues — ‘Contemplating Jazz’
B4 Dr. Octagon — ‘Blue Flowers’
B5 DJ Krush — ‘Kemuri’
C1 UNKLE — ‘Back and Forth’
C2 DJ Shadow — ‘What Does Your Soul Look Like’ (part 3)
C3 RPM — ‘Flow’
C4 DJ Shadow — ‘Organ Donor’ (extended overhaul)
C5 UNKLE featuring Thom Yorke — ‘Rabbit In Your Headlights’
D1 Blackalicious — ‘Swan Lake’
D2 UNKLE featuring Ian Brown — ‘Reign’
D3 Queens Of The Stone Age — ‘… Like Clockwork’
D4 DJ Shadow — ‘What Does Your Soul Look Like’ (part 1)
Dec192017| December 19, 2017
Stunning artwork, design and packaging that makes the best of the format.
The beauty of vinyl is that it is tangible.
This year the sheer volume of special edition 100xLP packages, coloured records and picture discs on offer made it more difficult than ever before to ‘stand out’. That said, it’s easy to confuse flamboyant, bigger releases with better.
The most striking examples of record artwork in 2017 were those whose visual elements complimented the music in a unique way.
From the grandiose and meticulously crafted box set to the understated small pressing with animated prints to the reissue containing secret computer code messages hidden within, each of these releases brought its own remarkable spin on record sleeves in 2017.
You may have also noticed that we’ve changed the emphasis of our lists this year, away from the tired, arbitrary and frankly over-used ‘best’, to the more openly subjective ‘favourite’. We believe this more accurately reflects the fact that these rundowns are essentially recommendations of what we’ve enjoyed most this year, as selected by our weekly contributors Patrick Ryder, James Hammond and Chris Summers, alongside VF’s editorial team, Gabriela Helfet and Anton Spice.
What were your favourites this year? Let us know in the comments below.
See the rest of our 2017 review:
Our 50 favourite albums of 2017
Our 20 favourite 12″s of 2017
Our 10 favourite 7″s of 2017
Our 12 favourite reissue singles of 2017
Our 30 favourite reissues of 2017
Our 12 favourite soundtracks of 2017
Brainfeeder did it again this year with the release of Thundercat’s Drunk. Not only is the album one huge psychedelic soul fest but they managed to wrap it up in a 10″ box with one of the best covers of the year and filled with four 10″ records pressed to red vinyl. Each 10″ has it’s own specific optical madness going on, designed by illustrator and ‘meme builder’ Zack Fox, who announced the collaboration on Twitter with the words: “i designed these fuck-ass vinyl sleeves for my big sister @Thundercat’s new album”.
The box itself is designed by Adam Stover, with brilliant, instantly recognisable Apocalypse Now-inspired photography by Eddie Alcazar, the sleeve and box set draws inspiration from Herbie Hancock’s soundtrack to the Michael Winner-directed Death Wish, a 1972 vigilante action film starring Charles Bronson, copies of which would have doubtless ended up in the bargain bin of your local Blockbuster. An aesthetic clash of high and low culture that reflects Thundercat’s influences – from Chick Corea to Mortal Combat – the artwork and packaging of the record capture Thundercat’s freedom pick from vernaculars that are presented with equal validity, because the message at the root of it all is a poignant one. As he told FACT: “I do think you have to laugh to keep from crying as a black man.” – CS / AS
So twenty years after its original release we get the updated and expanded version, this time with the added OKNOTOK 1997 2017 text, unreleased tunes and b-sides too. There was triple black vinyl, triple blue opaque vinyl and a killer box set version later. The artwork is still as legendary as ever and with its triple sleeve it felt even more special. The stops were well and truly pulled out for the box where everything turned black, a hard back book was added, a notebook, a sketch book and a mixtape of incredibly hard to find versions inserted. And that’s before you find your way to the secret coded message held within… – CS
Jean-Jacques Perrey et son Ondioline
One of the great forefathers of electronic music, Jean-Jacques Perrey’s never-before-heard cuts, rare tracks and private press releases were compiled this year by Gotye aka Wally De Backer for a beautifully considered vinyl edition. Aside from the clear vinyl, and beautifully presented, minimalist gatefold, there’s a real sense of love and pride in this package, collecting early photographs and never-before-seen archival material in an accompanying booklet. While this one doesn’t shout from the rooftops, it confirms the simplicity of vinyl as the most complete way to transmit a musical or cultural idea. – AS
‘Sick Lullaby’ / ‘Cowboys or Indians’
(The Vinyl Factory)
Following the release of new album The Road: Pt. 1 earlier this year, UNKLE teamed up with VF and a host of former collaborators for four stunning limited edition 12”s. The pick of the bunch for us is ‘Sick Lullaby’ featuring Keaton Henson, the first of which is housed in a diamond-dusted, screen-printed cover by Warren Du Preez & Nick Thornton Jones. – AS
Mali – Nø Førmat!
If we hadn’t chosen to put this box set in our artwork rundown, it would have almost certainly made our list of retrospectives. Collecting four gorgeous, star-lit albums of acoustic folk and chamber music from Mali, Nø Førmat went to town on the box set, gracing each cover with bespoke illustrations that could be artworks in their own right. Musically for fans of Awesome Tapes, Soundway and Francis Bebey, the craft and visual attention to detail is second to none. – AS
(Mondo / Lakeshore)
Mondo are pretty much part of the furniture when it comes to our end of year artwork rundowns, and this year was no different, as we were tasked with choosing between stunning and elaborate releases for Hellraiser, Konami Kokeihi Club and more. However, we’ve gone for the understated charms of Carter Burwell’s Anomalisa soundtrack, with its aspirational, ultimately somewhat vacuous gatefold pop-up motif, designed by Alan Hynes, perfectly reflecting the soul-crushing emptiness of Charlie Kaufman’s animated mid-life horror story. – AS
Voyager Golden Record – 40th anniversary edition
Such was the enthusiasm when Ozma Records announced a Kickstarter to reissue the rarest record in the universe, the danger always existed that the finished product might fall short of its inter-planetray promise. Not so, thankfully, with Ozma’s detailed and beautifully realised approximation of the records Carl Sagan and NASA sent off into the cosmos in 1977. Expect to find shimmering facsimile reproductions of the turntable diagram on the cover and pull-out artwork, a cosmic slip, mat and full cover hard-back book documenting all of Voyager Golden Record’s extraorindary content. The best of all though, unsheathe the records from their inner sleeves and you’ll find the most convincingly radiant ‘gold’ vinyl we’ve ever seen. – AS
Awaken, My Love! (Limited Edition Virtual Reality Vinyl)
It’s difficult to decide what the most striking aspect of this LP is: the substitution of sweet psychedelic soul for Gambino’s trademark confessional hip-hop, the Tonight Show performance of ‘Redbone’ which saw a shirtless Glover switch into full Lando Calrissian putting the moves on your mother mode, or the absurdly lavish box set edition which hit the shelves in May. Before you even open the box, Donald rocks you with an Obi and embossed, glow in the dark artwork, then you dig in to find the LP cut loud on double 45, a 12 page booklet and a virtual reality headset which delivers exclusive content for the PHAROS.EARTH mobile app. If this is to be the last LP from the multi-disciplinary genius, it’s a hell of a way to sign off. – PR
Planets box set
Jeff Mills’ Planets – a sonic journey through our solar system – came to life in various forms this year, including a mesmerising, live orchestral and electronic show as well as this deluxe box set. The 9×7″ picture disc package features each planet in our solar system, as well as a out of this world print of Mills floating in deep space. A twinkling fusion of science, art and the inner workings of an inspired mind. – GH
‘Out Of The Blackness, Into The Blue’ 12″
(Caroline True Records)
Artist Matt Sewell continued his A Crushing Glow collaboration with Drumtalk’s ‘Out Of The Blackness, Into The Blue’ 12″. Its double dose of cosmic electronics was delivered on a blue “colour in colour” vinyl, with Sewell’s lush illustrations adorning the cover, plus a limited edition phenakistiscope. (A static print designed to give the illusion that it is an animation.) The result was a celestial symbiosis of Drumtalk’s music with surreal, bird-filled artwork. – GH
Dr. Octagonecologyst 20th Anniversary Box Set
(Get On Down)
Kool Keith’s time-traveling extraterrestrial rap surgeon from Jupiter alias, Dr. Octagon, celebrated 20 years since his debut, with this deluxe set from Get On Down. Housed in an 8-sided box adorned with Pushead’s original cover artwork, the 3xLP, 28-track package features five unreleased songs, plus a 40-page booklet. A fitting tribute to the most transfixing alien MC the world has ever known. – GH
Issue n°1: Benga Music – A signature genre from Kenya
Dedicated to shining a light on “unfairly overlooked music phenomena”, vinyl and magazine project FLEE launched its inaugural instalment this autumn. Each issue focuses on a specific period or genre, with a limited edition 12″, featuring traditional songs alongside reworks by contemporary musicians, alongside a silk-screened magazine with in-depth articles, interviews, photographs and original artwork. First up was Kenyan Benga music from the ’70s, housed in a striking and detailed package that made sure the genre won’t be forgotten anytime soon. – GH
Jul202017| July 20, 2017
Psyence Fiction comes to life.
UK trip-hop collective UNKLE are releasing a limited-edition, tri-colour run of their 1998 UNKLE77 action figures alongside matching vinyl singles, during the 2017 San Diego Comic Con.
The new package, celebrating the group’s 25th anniversary, is available in pink, blue and green, limited to 500 in each colour. Housed in ‘a life-size UNKLE77 head box’, it also contains a matching colour-splattered 7”, and clear record adaptor that lets you perch the action figure on your record player as it spins.
The pink set features ‘The Road’ single, the blue set features ‘Nowhere to Run’ and the green set features ‘Looking for the Rain’.
The release follows last month’s UNKLE x Vinyl Factory collaboration on four beautiful hand-made artist editions.
Head to Super7 for more info on how to nab one.
UNKLE releases ‘Cowboys or Indians’ with hand-made artwork by Warren Du Preeze & Nick Thornton Jones| June 9, 2017
Limited to 100 copies.
One of four new collaborations with artists who have a long standing relationship with James Lavelle, UNKLE release ‘Cowboys or Indians’ as a special collaboration with artists Warren Du Preez & Nick Thornton Jones as a screen printed limited edition of 100.
‘Cowboys or Indians’ is deeply rooted in Lavelle’s childhood listening habits: “It’s a love letter to London and the music its influenced by. The track looks back to the way I grew up with records as a teenager. When I grew up I was exposed to sound systems, hip-hop, post punk, and acid house. I’ve tried to combine these influences in a modern way.
Order it here.
Jun092017| June 9, 2017
Limited to 100 copies.
One of four new collaborations with artists who have a long standing relationship with James Lavelle, UNKLE release ‘Cowboys or Indians’ as a special collaboration with Turner Prize nominated artist Nathan Coley. Each edition is individually hand finished and signed by Coley, limited edition of 100.
‘Cowboys or Indians’ is deeply rooted in Lavelle’s childhood listening habits: “It’s a love letter to London and the music its influenced by. The track looks back to the way I grew up with records as a teenager. When I grew up I was exposed to sound systems, hip-hop, post punk, and acid house. I’ve tried to combine these influences in a modern way.”
Order it here.
Jun092017| June 9, 2017
Limited to 100 hand-signed copies.
One of four new collaborations with artists who have a long standing relationship with James Lavelle, UNKLE release ‘Sick Lullaby’ as a special collaboration with artist John Isaacs as a screen printed, hand painted and signed limited edition of 100.
Sick Lullaby entwines two musical enigmas in UNKLE and Keaton Henson. Beautiful and elegaic, the song is rooted in an ambient UNKLE sound, with a cinematic crescendo of strings and brooding piano. It is the second track from UNKLE’s upcoming album The Road; Part 1.
Order your copy here.
Jun082017| June 8, 2017
Sick Lullaby and Cowboys or Indians treated to exclusive new artwork.
James Lavelle has teamed up with a range of long-term artistic collaborators to release new versions of recent singles ‘Sick Lullaby’ and ‘Cowboys or Indians’.
The first single from new UNKLE album The Road: Pt. 1, released by The Vinyl Factory earlier this year, the cover for ‘Cowboys or Indians’ has been reimagined first by photographers Warren Du Preez & Nick Thornton Jones, with screen-printed and embossed outer sleeve and a 12″ insert.
The second of four special editions sees the track given new artwork by Turner Prize nominated artist Nathan Coley, who has individually hand-finished the die-cut outer sleeve, which houses a gold-printed inner sleeve and fluoro green vinyl pressing.
As well as the two editions of ‘Cowboys Or Indians’, UNKLE’s poignant collaboration with vocalist Keaton Henson ‘Sick Lullaby’ has also been given two new artist editions.
The first of these features more work by Warren Du Preez & Nick Thornton Jones, who have crafted a diamond dusted screen printed cover, while Berlin-based artist John Isaacs has provided the fourth hand-painted design in the series.
Each of the four editions has been signed by the artist and James Lavelle and is limited to 100 copies, available from The Vinyl Factory online shop.
Apr062017| April 6, 2017
Inspired by Meltdown Festival.
James Lavelle’s UNKLE will release their fifth studio album The Road Pt. 1 this June in a number of physical packages.
The album is a collection of fifteen new tracks inspired by Lavelle’s curation of 2014’s Meltdown Festival at Southbank. It includes collaborations with Mark Lanegan, Primal Scream’s Andrew Innes, Elliott Power, Mïnk and YSEÉ.
As well as standard CD and vinyl editions, The Road Pt. 1 will be released as a signed limited edition with orange and purple wax and a 36 page booklet housed in debossed gatefold sleeve. Due on 23 June, place pre-orders here.
Feb082017| February 8, 2017
All artists are either Cowboys or Indians.
In anticipation of their upcoming new album The Road, UNKLE will release ‘Cowboys or Indians’ on vinyl.
Available digitally in 2016, the track features Mo’wax affiliates Mïnk and rapper Elliott Power, as well as the artist YSÉE, who Lavelle collaborated with for Rick Owens’ Spring 2016 runway show soundtrack.
According to Lavelle, ‘Cowboys or Indians’ is deeply rooted in his childhood listening habits:
“It’s a love letter to London and the music its influenced by. The track looks back to the way I grew up with records as a teenager. When I grew up I was exposed to sound systems, hip-hop, post punk, and acid house. I’ve tried to combine these influences in a modern way.”
It also follows UNKLE’s exhibition UNKLE Presents…THE ROAD: SOHO at London’s Lazarides gallery, which runs until 23rd February. The show is the first in a series of events over the next year celebrating 25 years of UNKLE and their new album.
Due on 22 February, ‘Cowboys or Indians’ is available to pre-order now exclusively from VF Editions.
Jan302017| January 30, 2017
Directed by Warren Du Preez & Nick Thornton Jones.
Last week, we announced that the second track from UNKLE’s forthcoming album The Road would get a limited edition vinyl release. Featuring the plaintive vocals of regular VF-collaborator Keaton Henson, the elegiac single hears UNKLE drop the tempo for a ballad that soars with melancholy, cinematic grandeur.
Contributing the artwork for the release, photographers Warren Du Preez & Nick Thornton Jones have now premiered a brand new video for the track, which revolves through organic inner worlds, floating expressively between the ocean’s deepest depths and the most unreachable spheres of the cosmos.
Watch the video above and order your copy of the 12″ here.
Jan252017| January 25, 2017
Two musical enigmas meet.
The second track from UNKLE’s upcoming album The Road will be released on vinyl in mid-February via The Vinyl Factory and is available for pre-order now.
‘Sick Lullaby’ entwines two musical enigmas in UNKLE and Keaton Henson. Beautiful and elegaic, the song is rooted in an ambient UNKLE sound, with a cinematic crescendo of strings and brooding piano.
The release follows the exhibition UNKLE Presents…THE ROAD: SOHO at Lazarides gallery, which runs from 20 January to 23 February.
The exhibition features exclusive video and VR installations from 3D of Massive Attack, Futura, Doug Foster, John Isaacs, Norbert Schoerner, John Nolan, Nathan Coley, Ben Drury, Warren Du Preez and Nick Thornton Jones, Dexter Navy, Seamus Farrell and more.
The show is the first in a series of events over the next year celebrating twenty five years of UNKLE and their new album.
‘Sick Lullaby’ will be released on limited edition vinyl, housed in a full colour sleeve, with artwork by Warren Du Preez and Nick Thornton Jones (see above).
Dec142016| December 14, 2016
The Vinyl Factory will release titles from forthcoming UNKLE album THE ROAD.
James Lavelle will take over London’s Lazarides gallery for an immersive celebration of his music outfit UNKLE, which celebrates its 25th anniversary next year.
Daydreaming with UNKLE Presents… THE ROAD: SOHO will be the first opportunity to hear collaborations with Keaton Henson, Mark Lanegan and Eska from the forthcoming UNKLE album THE ROAD. The material will be presented with new video commissions and released on vinyl via The Vinyl Factory.
The show also features the premiere of a new virtual reality installation from Somerset House’s recent Daydreaming With…Stanley Kubrick exhibition, as well as paintings and special edition prints from a variety of artists and a programme of talks and film screenings.
“UNKLE has always been a multi-sensory creative project, ranging from genre-defining music to cutting-edge visual art. It therefore feels incredibly fitting to celebrate UNKLE’s past, present and future in Soho, where it all began, with an immersive show at the much-loved Lazarides gallery,” said James Lavelle.
“The exhibition is a collaboration between a number of very talented artists, presenting everything from paintings, videos, artefacts and film screenings; this is the definitive UNKLE experience. I look forward to welcoming visitors to daydream with us.”
Daydreaming with UNKLE Presents…THE ROAD: SOHO runs 20th January to 23rd February 2017 at Lazarides.
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16-18 Marshall Street
London W1F 7BE
Registered in England and Wales under no. 04184222.
16-18 Marshall Street
London W1F 7BE
Registered in England and Wales under no. 04184222.