Life Garden – Songs From The Otherside Of Emptiness

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Last months vinyl from ‘That Special Record’ was ‘Songs From The Otherside of Emptiness’ by ‘Life Garden’ who were formed in 1989 from the ashes of Maybe Mental whose two core members were David and Su Ling Oliphant. They invited poet George Dillon to the group, but tragically he passed away by the time they released their debut “Caught Between the Tapestry of Silence and Beauty” (1991). Subsequently, Life Garden added Peter Ragan and Bill Yanok, who eventually departed in 1995. Life Garden broke up in 1999.

I had to look the above up as I had no idea, which is usual. The music is breathy, spectral 80’s electronic experimentation, probably post-industrial if it must be categorised and the album is a compilation of releases between 1991 and 1994 from the albums

Following the passing of  George Dillon the band began to shift from using synths and samplers to an all acoustic approach. Over several months, Su Ling and David developed a unique improvisational style using digital multi-effects and loopers to process Su’s vocals and a variety of percussion, string and wind instruments. This became the foundation of the Life Garden sound and forms the majority of tracks on the LP. It also comes with a 7″ single, which I haven’t had a chance to listen to yet, mostly because I haven’t had a chance to listen to very much of anything lately but also because the switch from 33 1/3 to 45 requires the adjusting of the drive belt, which is a pain. In hindsight I should have picked up a turntable with a switch for that, as I end up playing a load of 45’s & 12″ singles together, or a load of albums, and some of the albums are 45 rpm and some of the 12″ singles are 33 1/3, it’s just a bit restrictive. I actually listened to a PJ Harvey album at 33 1/3 and quite liked it, even though it all sounded rather depressing, it was much better at the correct speed.

I was quite surprised by this album when I finally managed to find the time to play it. It didn’t sound to me as though the music was 25 years old, perhaps because it has a timeless quality to it. I’ve included track 4 below, “I Comeforth By Day Singing”, which is a favourite of mine already from this album. In it I can hear elements of Dead Can Dance, A touch of Cocteau Twins overlayed with  sense of adhan, the Islamic call to worship.

Tracklist

A1 Zhen
A2 Du
A3 Seed
A4 I Comeforth By Day Singing
B1 Saura
B2 Three
B3 Marut
B4 Sem
7 inch 8
7 inch 6

This was a great pick by ‘That Special Record‘ I think as it is new to me, interesting and opens up new avenues for me to explore. I also really like it, which is the most important thing.

Playing 45’s Tonight

Playing some 45’s tonight. 3 are on instagram, and if I have this right, down below:

#banshees #christine #siouxsieandthebanshees #45s #vinyl #vinylrecords #vinylcommunity

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#iandury #blockheads #vinylcommunity #45s #vinyl #vinylrecords #reasonstobecheerful

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Listening to 45's tonight. #45s #vinyl #vinyljunkie #vinylcommunity #xtc

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Vinyl Subscription Services

I’ve spoken before about being a member of a record club many years ago, this was for cassettes at first and then, later, CD’s. This model has been resurrected for vinyl lovers in various different flavours.  I subscribe to just the one, ‘That Special Record‘ , which I have mentioned numerous times and will again shortly, but there are several out there, so let’s have a look at them.

Wax & Stamp

Price: £26 a month

Wax & Stamp is a British subscription service that selects two records every month, one is an LP and one is a single and each week a guest selects one of them. These are selections that are outside the mainstream, as they say on their site: Wax & Stamp send out a wide range of genres, textures and styles. The only thing we shy away from is the mainstream. Every month is a surprise, as we don’t let anyone know what we’re sending out.Last month Wax & Stamp selected ALBERT / PERSON OF INTEREST -EDR002, the guest,  Martin Fitzgerald (RamAlbumClub), selected THE PARROTS – LOS NIÑOS SIN MIEDO which is a Spanish Garage Rock album.

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Here is a track from The Parrots album to give you an idea of what they sent out last time:

Flying Vinyl

Price: £20 a month, £216 a year

Another British service, but this time for exclusive 7″ singles. Focused on the Indie band end of the music spectrum, these 5 singles arrived boxed and with a booklet, explaining what’s in the box. There are alos often prints and lyric sheets included and at least one of the 7″ singles will be on coloured vinyl.

The last box sent out (October 2016 according to the web site, at the time of writing) contained the following:

Jaws – Right In Front Of Me / What We Haven’t Got Yet (On purple vinyl)
Annie Bea/DA7 – Luxury Kills / Dopamine Fiend (On colourless vinyl)
The Bay Rays – New Home / Four Walls
Swimming Tapes – Set The Fire / Souvenirs
Alex Lahey – You Don’t Think You Like People Like Me / Let’s Go Out

Jaws got the coloured vinyl treatment so, as an example, let’s have a listen to that:

Trax & Wax

Price: From £21.90 a month, £180 a year

Trax & Wax appear to be for lovers of the 12″ single which they offer in 5 different box options, Trax & Wax, Disco, Old School, Nu Skool and Techno boxes. You have a choice of 2 or 4 12″ in a box which depends on how much you are willing to pay, the standard 2 is the £21.90 option. As far as I can see you can change which box you wish to receive month on month, oh, and they are also British. Below is a selection of tracks they’ve listed as being in the boxes recently.

Vinyl Me, Please

Price per month: $23 (month-to-month), $25 (3-month) or $27 (annual)

This is probably the best known service of all of them. Vinyl Me Please delivers a surprise album every month and are focused on the deluxe re-issue aspect of the market, providing a piece of art and a cocktail recipie with every album (Nope, I have no idea why anybody would want a cocktail recipie but I guess some do). It appears that they are now 47 records in, and there are some there I’d like for sure, but some I would have no interest in at all. I guess that’s to be expected though. The latest issue, No.47 is The Books – The Lemon Of Pink, originally released in 2003, and it is a very desirable looking thing:

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Here is the track ‘Tokyo’ taken from this album:

Side note: they are actually on No.48 which is Nina Simone – Sings The Blues

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Price per month: $39 (month-to-month), $37 (3-month) or $35 (annual)

The above prices may seem quite steep compared to the others but this service offers 3 LP’s a month for that price based on what you like. You select a #vibe, which I assume is then based on your pre-specified music tastes and you receive records that are broadly within that category. They also do their own branded turntable and have a physical store (it’s in Santa Barbara, California. For people outside the U.S.A you will have to pay postage.

Vinyl Moon

Price per month: $30 (month-to-month), $29 (3-month), $28 (6 Month) or $27 (annual)

Vinyl Moon offers a rather different service by creating a compilation LP of 10 tracks every month. This is what they say is included as part of the package:

  • A compilation/mixtape of ~10 songs by great new bands/musicians.
  • Pressed on gorgeous colored vinyl.
  • Ultra premium record jackets designed by amazing visual artists.
  • A gatefold art sheet that features band info, lyrics, and single artwork for each track.
  • A members-only note about the music, art, and that month’s experience.
  • VIP access to the monthly record release party (Held in different cities)

Each monthly volume has a limited pressing, which must depend on the number of subscribers, so membership is, presumably, closely managed. The last volume to be shipped out contained the tracks below:

Volume 14:
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Side A

  1. Everything Is Green – “Drip Dry”
  2. Mallrat – “For Real”
  3. BF/C – “Temple”
  4. Pleasure Principle – “Let Me Hear It”
  5. PAIDEIA – “Restless Child”

Side B

  1. Arthur Wimble – “Hearts”
  2. Noble Oak – “All I Said”
  3. beGun – “NARI”
  4. Vimes – “Rudal”

 

Numero Group Project 12

Price: From £100 – £375

This is an interesting idea, which will be explained directly by the text from their website:

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These records won’t be available in stores and they won’t be repressed. We’re not issuing them on CD and the only way you can buy them is by joining the club. And that club? It’s limited to just a thousand members.

For listeners of a certain age, the recent news that Columbia House was at last filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection was met with a mixture of amusement and sadness. Columbia House thrived in a now-vanished monoculture of limited choices, offering seven (or eight or twelve or twenty) albums for a penny and following up with poorly designed full color catalogs full of a few hits and a lot of misses. Once hooked, a game began in which the warehouse would dispatch a record or tape each month—a surprise, almost always something unwanted— forcing the “club” member to choose between paying up or sending the thing back. And as crazy as it seems now, if you were from Terre Haute, Indiana, or Billings, Montana, this is probably how you got your music.

The 21st century is defined in part by an overwhelming panorama of choices. Especially in the world of recorded music, of which the near-complete history is available in two or three clicks. Want to hear Carly Rae Jepson’s Emotion? Or Ray Charles’ complete Atlantic recordings? You can, and you should. But the question remains—how will you find out about Jimmy Carter & the Dallas County Green’s undeniable 1977 private country-rock masterpiece? And how will you experience it with something resembling the sense of excitement that accompanied those seven Columbia House selections for a penny, the ones you actually wanted? Isn’t the predictability of unlimited choice part of what’s turning us all into such jaded monsters? In a world of unlimited access, we’re exercising some small degree of restraint. Like some poor kid stuck in 1991, we want you waiting by your mailbox. We want you to love every record so much that you keep the custom box it came in.

It’s cheaper in the US and about 50% more for outside the US, so 12 albums would cost you $150 in the UK (or $375 (rather than $450)if you signed up for all three series)

 

That Special Record

Price: From €28 per month with discounts for 3 Months etc.

OK, so this is my faviourite, which is fairly obvious as it’s the one I subscribe to on the 1 LP a month plan. I did look at most of the other services but this just suited me more than the rest and I can’t fault the service I have received from them. Although I have had major concerns about the records I’ve received before actually listening to them, they’ve all always turned out to be something that I liked (Which is a surprise in itself as I’d never heard of any of them). Miguel does a great job over there in Portugal and sometimes offers a more personal touch with a handwritten note or even a free 12″ included. I’ve been a subscriber for 6 months now and at no point have I considered cancelling my subscription, the surprise element of what will be in that months package is really rather fun and I do look forward to it arriving every month. I’ve also recently bought some LP’s from the store as That Special Record is most aligned among all the subscription services with what I am looking for.

As Miguel says: “That Special Record is here to help you discover the best outsider electronic music that’s currently being released on vinyl. I’m a record collector…literally obsessed with weird, obscure, interesting, outsider electronic music so I won’t sell you any records I wouldn’t buy myself. Less is more, that’s why our selection is small but carefully curated.

I also received an album by ‘Unearth Noise’ called ‘Prayer and Resonanace’ which has one of my faviourite cover images ever, so much so that it is in a frame on the wall above my turntable.

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There is also:

The Third Man Records Vault

Price per quarter: $60 for Platinum, $20 for Gold

Mississippi Records’ Community Supported Records

Price: Between $68 and $300

Did I miss some? Let me know and I’ll add them

Sister Bliss – Deliver Me Feat. John Martyn

Well, I love John Martyn and I quite like Faithless as well (which is where you may know Sister Bliss from) so when I stumbled upon the 12″ single of ‘Deliver Me’ for £2 it was a no brainer really. This is from all the way back in 2001 and back then they were calling this track Progressive House, but, to be honest, they could call it anything they want, if John Martyn is on it then I’m almost guaranteed to like it, and I do. There are lots of versions and the one below isn’t the one I bought, but it’s pretty close and John Martyn is, as always, just wonderful.

SJ Records – Stratford Upon Avon

I was in Stratford Upon Avon today and found myself with a spare couple of hours so I did a quick search on my phone and found SJ Records, which is upstairs in an antique centre opposite Shakespeare’s birthplace. The chap there, who is originally from California, was great. We chatted about records as I flicked through the crates and built a little pile of records that I wanted on a chair. At one point he went off to get a pepsi and offered me one as well, which was very friendly I must say. Here is a quick 30 second look around, although this video I took does make me a little giddy:

There’s very much something for most tastes there and a few things I had, like a really nice copy of Mr.Beast by Mogwai, which I would have bought if I didn’t already have it. There’s some quite pricey records but the vast majority are between £4 and £8. Roughly in line with what one might expect to pay on Ebay but, of course, without the postage cost and the very good company whilst browsing.

So what did I buy? Quite a few 12″ singles, some were a little bit impulse, which is not necessarily a bad thing as I rarely regret impulse buys of vinyl. There were a load of 12″ by The Cult, who I have a soft spot for ever since I first heard ‘She Sells Sanctuary’ so I picked those up, even though I have the albums they are taken from. How could I resist this though?

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In fact, here it is on video (I sound old fashioned saying that I know but what else am I supposed to say?), TURN UP THE VOLUME!

Ok, so I just had to listen to that three times before carrying on, it’s one of my faviourites of theirs. Then there was Lil’ Devil, classic rock lyrics!:

Livin’ in a shack in a one-horse town
Trying to get to heaven ‘fore the sun goin’ down
Lizard in a bottle, yeah

Dizzy in a haze for 40 days
Hey there, little devil

Come on little devil
Be my little angel
Come on little devil
Be my, yeah, angel, ow

Oh, she came on with an alligator smile
Dynamite lover, scorpion child
Trying to get to heaven ‘fore the sun goes down, yeah

She came on with a cyclone kiss
Hey there baby, you don’t never miss
Lizard in a bottle, oh yeah

The third 12″ single I picked up was from the same album, ‘Electric’ (which is a great album, get yourself a copy), ‘Wildflower’:

The fourth, ‘Rain’, was a mistake. It’s from their second album, ‘Love’ and I like it a lot, but I already have the 12″, so now I have 2, it was £3 so not the end of the world, but I actually picked the wrong one up and left the one I wanted there. Oh well, it might still be there next time I go back and it’s an excuse to put it down below:

These guys are still going, still writing and releasing new music and I’m going to be picking up their latest album at some point. I’ve seen it on the racks but there’s always been something that I wanted that little bit more.

I bought another 4 12″ singles and a couple of albums and as I was about to pay I was given an £8 Tangerine Dream album (Phaedra) that I’d been looking at as a thanks for buying the other records, which was just wonderful, it made my day. So if you ever happen to be in Stratford Upon Avon then pop in, you never know, you might just have a pleasant time and find a record you’ve been looking for.

Rapture – Record Store- Witney, Oxfordshire.

There are 2 record stores within around 20 minutes drive of where I work. This is the first of them that I’ve visited, in Witney, Oxfordshire. It’s in a sort of shopping arcade and the vinyl is all upstairs, which is a bigger square footage than the downstairs. I spent about 30 minutes there but still managed to dig through a lot of albums.

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I am all for stores selling vinyl, which should be obvious by now, but was disappointed. I found 5 albums in all this lot that I thought about buying. One was a re-issue of Phallus Dei by Amon Düül for £8.00, but the cover was absolutely knackered. The other 4 were jazz albums, in a section marked ‘Un-priced Jazz – Ask at the counter for details’. I almost did, but based on the prices of some of the priced Jazz albums in another section I decided against it as I really didn’t think they were going to be at a price I was prepared to pay, which wasn’t much at all. Perhaps I should have inquired, but I didn’t want them enough to bother.

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The feeling I had as I rooted through the albums was that most of the stock was made up of the parts of peoples collections that they were quite prepared to sell as they weren’t very good, or that a load of job lots had been bought up and there was nothing in them of much interest. I don’t want to sound overly negative, because conceptually it’s a nice shop, with a coffee bar, a seating area and a stage for in store performances, which is in the picture above, but for me, they don’t have the stock as yet. There was some to be fair, but the prices were too high for my blood, I can’t spend £40 on an Aphex Twin 12″ single, even if I want it, nor can I spend £18 on a Radiohead 12″ single when I know it’s available on line at £10. At the weekend I was talking to the owner of Seismic Records in Leamington Spa, one of my two local stores, about my willingness to pay a couple of £’s more than an online price as, when you take in to account P & P, it works out about the same, you are supporting a local business, and digging through piles of albums is fun! But £8 more is just too big a gap.

There was a small new vinyl section, but most of it was just a couple of £’s more than I would normally have to pay at my local store near home, so I left it, I would have been buying something just for the sake of buying something.

I did have a quick look through the 7″ singles, and there I found a lot that I would definitely have bought if the prices were lower. £8 for a single that is selling for £2.99 on Discogs, even with P & P is, again, too much of a gap.

I left with nothing, but I do wish them the very best of luck with it and, to be fair, if I’d had a bit more time maybe I would have found something I was prepared to pay an bit more for.

Aphex Twin – Cheetah EP

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Yesterday, while sat outside Costa contemplating whether I just had a cup of frothy milk and if I would ever actually reach the Marina Trench where the coffee must actually have been, I read one of the free papers that I picked up at the record store. It’s the NME, now free and funded by advertisements. Usually I just glance at it but it had a review of the Aphex Twin 12” single (mini album really) that I had just moments before bought. I had two weeks’ worth of copies and the Aphex Twin single was the lowest scored review from both weeks, which is ridiculous, even though I haven’t heard any of the other releases, I base my opinion not on fact but on brand loyalty.

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It scored a three with the synopsis of the review amounting to ‘Could do better’, whereas I listened to it on Apple Music and loved it, so I bought it. It’s all about opinions I suppose and, to me, mine is the most valid, so screw you NME with your balanced and well thought out words.

As a final word, I love the retro graphic design, because I remember when it was futuristic.

Label: Warp Records ‎– WAP391
Format: Vinyl, 12″, 33 ⅓ RPM, EP
Country: UK
Released: 08 Jul 2016
Genre: Electronic
Style: Techno, IDM