Has the commercial interest in vinyl finally faded? Does everybody with a portable record player now finally have a repress of Rolling Stones’ Sticky Fingers and the Led Zeppelin box set with all those demos that weren’t good enough for the original records? Are we done with unnecessarily heavy 180grams of plastic and those ridiculous frames where you keep your sealed copy of Bitches Brew while you play Cardi B from Spotify?
At a glance it appears that vinyl culture is coming back to us. Pressing plants are now offering 45 day waiting times at their longest, and while it’s still expensive, limited runs of pressings seem not completely unattainable. If pressing plans are putting ads on social media, surely they must be looking for work.
It seems that the saturated vinyl market we’ve been swimming against with endless major label represses and established indie labels operating at a record a month productivity, has finally found some equilibrium again, allowing for people with a vested interest in vinyl culture to get their records out and for those patrons of the format to find that rare gem in a second hand market place again.
Even at Filter Musikk, Roland has seen an increase in interest for the second hand shelves as a new generation starts familiarising themselves with the hallowed shelves at Filter Musikk. Young, new labels like Ideophone are finding a place on the shelves where dedicated labels like the Sex Tags conglomorate still carve out an individual sound in the margins of vinyl culture. For a while it seemed that there were a few saturating the vinyl market, while many struggled and waited to get a mere foothold in a scene, but as Filter Musikk’s shelves start filling up with newer unknown labels, the winds of change seem to be in the air.
It’s more likely that you’ll find something at a local record store than on discogs today and as the “interest” wanes, records that were pressed in small numbers become more regularly available and don’t just end up in one online record store at an excessive price. Vinyl culture was – and should never about collecting or hoarding, it’s about the music and that’s why Filter Musikk exists and Roland Lifjell spends so much of his time at the store, siphoning in new music into Oslo’s vinyl community.
Some of these need special mention and this is the cut with Filter Musikk.
Jiska Huizing & Rudi Andre Valdersnes – IDE002 (Ideophone) 12″
Ideophone is an emerging label out of Norway’s left-leaning electronic music scene, and after releasing their first record last year, they are back with four tracks from label founders, Jiska Huizing & Rudi Andre Valdersnes.
Jiska Huizing & Rudi Andre Valdersnes’ music rests somewhere between sound art and the dance floor, creating dense sonic textures, curtailed by the presence of primordial rhythms. Together they find some form in the random, as pieces like “Ballad,” re-contextualise field recordings and concréte sounds from their abstract and root it into something familiar in purview of a drum machine.
Cinematic soundscapes; the wailing dissonance of a bowed string or voice; and hollow percussive metres converge on the fringes of the dance floor of IDE002. In the machine-driven foundations of track like “Cave” Huizing and Valdersnes drift to the middle of the dance floor, while in the more abstract ambience of “Dunes” they’ll apply sonic texture in music that moves closer to sound installation.
Like Mika Vaino and Lucy before them, Huizing and Valdersnes ground their electronic dance floor experiments in the organic, where rhythm structures and sonic textures find a more cognitive allure, not purely driven by functional design.
Floating Points – LesAlpx / Coorabell (Ninja Tune) 12″
We’re never under any assumption when it comes to the music of Floating Points. A fluid musical entity, Sam Shepard has gone from making intense club workouts for Eglo to leading a live band on stage and on record. Whether he’s making significant contributions to DJ bags, creating a classic album, or playing live there’s a kind of raw perfection to his work, that just seems to resonate with his audience. It’s not about playing the right note at the right time, but finding that rare, natural delivery that surprises and re-assures at the same time.
Some might have been circumspect when he released, “Reflections – Mojave Desert”, suspecting Shepherd of drifting off into some self-indulgent vortex, from which he might never return, but that’s not the case with the latest 12” via Ninja Tune.
“LesAlpx / Coorabell” finds Floating Point evoking those dance floor instincts that defined records like “Nuits Sonores / Nectarines.” Immersive and arresting, Shepard engages with the dance floor through deep minimal grooves, and melodic pieces that take on a life of their own. The extended version of “Les/Alpx” is progressive in every sense of the word, as melodies modulate and atmosphere’s build and dissipate into continuously evolving phrases. Those Jazz influences that are always very prominent in Shepherd’s work is ever more prevalent, but the sense of drama of this track and “Coorabell” is how it evolves within a club music dialect.
It’s far from the loop-driven, repetitive nature of club music today as old elements die off and new elements join in with textures moving and evolving with the progression. Keys, reaching heady melodic heights, stride over pads and busy atmospheres in a dulcet noise that rolls through the arrangements in bouldering waves. It’s perhaps too bold to play anywhere in the opening stages of a set or a party, but at peak time, it offers a magnificent crescendo into the rest of the night.
Body Beat Ritual – Instinct Primitive / Crash Report (Haven) 12″
Ritualistic machine music for corporeal desires. Instinct and immediacy subverts any preconceived purpose other than to make their audience dance in the most effective way. Impressing on a DIY pursuit, vaulted drums, harsh metallic synthesisers, acid contortions, and menacing vocal snippets fire across arrangements like an automated tank.
Body Beat Ritual bring two tracks to Haven with a focus on EBM and Industrial landscapes. “Instinct Primitive” and “Crash Report” are two concise club tracks that use few stark elements to maximum effect. Hints of the eighties come through on both tracks with jack hammering gated-kicks in a kind of universal theme that runs through the two sides. Body Beat Ritual avoid the industrial tag sticking too closely interjecting the metallic percussion with jack-hammering basslines and those vocal snippets cut up like a William Burroughs narrative.
Blush Response and VTSS are painted into a corner for their interpretations, having to retain those prominent elements, which leaves little room for anything else. While VTSS brings a more distinctive kick to the fore, Blush Response opts to re-jumble the arrangement in something closer to an edit than a remix, which ads or detracts little from the originals.
Blush Response – Selection For Societal Sanity (Sacred Court) 12″
Speaking of Blush Response… the label Sacred Court seem to have picked up from where Jealous God left off, but with a more sinister edge. While releases from the likes of Torn Relics and Restiva Plaggona on the label have leaned more towards Nouveau Art-Goth spectrum of industrial music, releases from label founder SNTS and Oake have favoured a more brutalist approach to Techno.
Blush Response however pander to neither camp, favouring a comparatively softer EBM palette in his work. “Selection for Societal Sanity” is machine music that turns the focus back onto the machines and not all the post-production additions in atmosphere. An array of noisy machines (most likely assembled in a modular configuration), scatter through the arrangements with the draconian march of the kick drum trying to impose order on them all.
Selection For Societal Sanity is at its best when Blush Response manages to rein it all into some form, like on the opening track and “RA9,” but when the machines start taking over like on “Net Terminal Gene” and “Acceptance by exclusion” it takes a hardened ear to appreciate the more erratic expressions.
LSB – Here With Me (Footnotes) 12″ – link
Like a dream drifting on some rational thought, drum n bass of the liquid variety rely precisely on the contrast between the fast-paced percussion and the softer melodic pieces moving through the arrangement at an inhibited tempo. It’s in the latter part where Luke Beavon’s work as LSB is particularly arresting on his latest EP, “Here with Me”.
Lonesome sine waves floating around the subterranean depths of the frequency spectrum create a willowing bed of sonic dirt from which expressive melodic movements grow. Strings, bubbling synthesisers and effervescent keystrokes create billowing textures like a lucid dream. The stoic rattling percussive elements come and go around the movements exactly as needed while maintaining a distance with its solemn melodic counterparts.
It is however when they seem to work in tandem like on “Space Stepper” where this record truly shines. A half step beat and a gloomy hollow pluck work in perfect harmony on this occasion, as a sub-bass drawl expounds on each bar in a hefty plume of the lower frequency. LSB’s fairly cooler sonic temperatures on this track, which together with “Do your thing,” offers a little contrast to the warmer tones of the A-side in a matter of dusk and dawn across the two sides of this release.