Vinyl Pipe Dreams – Ninja Tune’s role in Record Store Day 2015

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I am not a vinylist.

I don’t crawl the back-street stores dropping needles on dusty copies with half-an-ear in. I don’t tinker and tamper with my equipment; cleaning and wiping, loving and caring, like one does a nice pipe. I don’t have stacked shelves of multicoloured bar codes, sleeves lined in vibrant – contrasting with – faded rows, stacked under my decks. I don’t even have decks – and when I do – they’ll be CDJs.

For the loyalists that might be reading with a cringe, it begs the question ; “Why?”

Simply: I’m not dedicated enough. I don’t want to be a faux-fanboy, hopping on a fervently defended wagon to sit in the corner with one floppy wax copy and get eye-balled off the carriage for lacking a collection bigger than a flight-case. I feel like vinyl is waiting for me when I’m financially established – when I’m ready to commit to the adventure, and don’t get me wrong, I’m keen to be ready… very keen. It’s just not a reasonable expectation to have right now, the vinylist nature just isn’t viable for me. But it’s hard not to get involved…

Every time a powerful new release comes along I have to internally battle my deep desires to order the limited vinyl edition; a sweet smelling sleeve, the smooth touch and the tiny ridges, the large space for artwork, the pamphlets and just the physical nature of it all, the heart’s desire to salute DJ culture and its powerful routes, to immerse myself in the tide rising again, to help the movement and offer my financial support to artists I love, it’s all so hard to resist… but, as I said before, I haven’t got decks… what’s a vinyl collector without even a gramophone to dish out the crate digger beats? Just someone fishing for culture-credit? Someone sitting on gold that some poor soul, who actually has a pair, should be spinnin’ – but instead there’s some dickhead in Essex with the only RSD exclusive sitting unopened under his bedside table, waiting for the day when he MIGHT acquire the equipment to actually listen to it…

In this perpetual collide of feelings, submissive shame vs. defensive desire, I ignored the Record Store Day 2015 as best I could. OK, lie… I didn’t ignore it, just didn’t invest too much time into checking it out. If I caught wind of too many beautiful beats I feared I would have broken, gone mad with musical luster and just hoovered up loads of exclusives better left in the hands of the people dedicated 365/8 days of the year. Not that my desires only crop up on RSD, it’s just all of the exclusives that lurk on that day… well, some of the best talent of the year pops out in that brief window…

Machinedrum – Vapor City Remixes

Vapour City, what a place (it was), what dark narrow streets, looming buildings of black, spires of white gold, a constant hue and haze, a thick fuzz smoking through the patterned streets. The washed beach, the sprawling park, the dodgy alleys and sketchy corners, the manses and the hallow figures drifting through Machinedrum‘s fantasy project focus.

I’m a citizen, signed and printed on the dotted line. What’s it like to live there? Fucking ethereal. Electric. Alive.

As a citizen, I’m allowed access to the more secret parts of the city, a few cheeky exclusives…

Ninja Tune has been my only contact with Record Store Day 2015 – one simple playlist that almost had me fall into the buyers trap – the conundrum screaming in my face as I glued through four tracks irresistible – four tracks on repeat for a long old while, in a few different listening circumstances.

Track 03 of that playlist is track 01 of the above – the Darren d-de-Bridge‘s Fall N Rise Remix of the Mechanical-drum’s Rise N Fall. Though I start with this collection of Vapour City Remixes, a four piece EP gathered on the wax world for the celebratory day, because, as a citizen of the fair city, I’ve already had the pleasure of owning Om Unit‘s disgusting Rollers VIP of the mammoth Gunshotta and Fis‘s terrifying  haunt on Eyesdontlie (if ever there was a bridge to walk you into the original 180 banger, there it is) for a little while now, some six months in one case. So yes, I’ve already got a little digital claim on this one BUT the vinyl temptation is more than fisting my soaking musical mangina, just listen to Moresounds‘ remix of Don’t 1 2 Lose U – fisted! But, at least, out of the four tracks available, I already have half…

Machinedrum – Vapor City Remixes: Successfully and respectfully yet begrudgingly resisted!

Amon Tobin – Dark Jovian

Dark is the Jovian that emerges from the depths of the terrifying gorge…

Here, in this one singular distorted EP, are your perfect two set-opening tracks.

Dark Jovian, has the floor by the jugular, huge black fist tightly clenched around the necks of the petty. They are on edge, scared, questioning, swaying, waiting… for that fickle thing they all call a “drop”. FOOLS!! In this state, the Jovian at the wheel, he smiles; “Will there ever be one?” – he contemplates, sinister is the nature of his existence.

I’m not one of these “Where’s the beat mate?” types. I’m akin to a long ambient stretch. I’m currently waiting, as I roll through a playlist, for 20 minutes of unreleased/demo/messing-abaauut, signatureless sounds from the blimp-flying Twin to play. An Aphex Twin bit that is simply: a long stretch of analogue performance – a freestyled composition of sound – some beautiful, some horrible – emotion’s at play here, not dancefloor shaking. Or, if it is for the dancefloor, it’s for one bearing the feet of an audience on a different listening level – one ready for absolute madness, open for anything.

Amon Tobin‘s Dark Jovian is but a simple 2-and-a-bit minutes of a similar sort to the 20 minute slog ahead of me, but it’s brief listening is no less an experience. The short nature of the piece drives a hungrier scrap to the peak – it builds to consuming gargant size far quicker – its rise from soft to loud: a brief few moments. Enough time to lift the eyes and tickle the ears, gently, from silence to absolute noise, without blowing a vital drum.

2 minutes is no lesser a time than the preludes heard on some of the biggest dancefloor anthems of all time – in fact, in many cases, far lesser a time. It’s the perfect introduction-disconcertion before the B-side ruins everyone’s draws.

The Eprom (what a guy!) remix of In Your Own Time is the half time monster I’ve been waiting all year for. Since the crisp and sharp assaults of Alix Perez and Stray’s 85 tracks that dominated 2014, the sounds of Sabre and the Ivy Lab crewdem, Halogenix slipping in noise for the Ivy massive as much as in his solo work, Lee Bannon, even Calibre,  the aforementioned Om Unit & Machinedrum, Mr. Carmack… there was so much Trap-inspired and infused Drum & Bass pouring out of the past two years that me and the collective just didn’t know what to do with ourselves.

This year? Well, there’s been input. Again: crisp and clean, cut razor sharp, electric and nasty… but Amon Tobin, oh Eprom… oh the In Your Own Time (Eprom Remix)!

As the Dark Jovian dismantles, the steely organic percussive cracks of the Tobin whip clears the oscillating space as new growing pads swell for the introductory finale. Through the space of 3 minutes, from the Dark Jovian to long-awaited “drop” moment of In Your Own Time‘s Eprom remix, a room is ruined by the disgusting nature of this tune so heavy.

Those kicks, those snares, those hats and those sub-zero frequencies. One bar of bass-centric space and then SMASH! The rippling electricity of layered synths bring that Trap stomp to full vital life – faces torn apart, lovers weeping in strangers’ arms, faecal matter; off-guard and accidentally splattered across the floor, Pollock-style.

Gun-cocking samples, the fierce presence of nasty G-culture, rap-city, b-boy disaster, blended in harmonious union with the thirsty filth of the UK’s driving bass music powerhouse. I broke down in the middle of this one – mentally and physically – hysterical laughter at the sheer madness of it all – nothing too dissimilar, melody or format wise, to all of the previously mentioned legends pushing the Half-Time-Dnb/Trap-Crossover sound, just the vital ingredients, the kits used and the samples and that lack of crisp and sharp – it’s there, don’t get me wrong – but this one, the Eprom, he waves those bass-reeces about like they’re streaming musical tails tied to the end of his swooping and skittering baton: wobbling and warping in ways rarely heard elsewhere but the absolute masterclass.

It doesn’t take a rocket salad to work out why this one was saved for Record Store Day.

Amon Tobin – ‘Dark Jovian’: My smile, it hurts the corners of my mouth, for the lucky few that now own this very limited copy. And as much as my heart and soul salutes the exclusive home that this EP wholly and entirely deserves – I weep uncontrollably, knowing that it will never be mine and that I will probably never, EVER hear anyone, Tobin & Eprom included, play the two demons in succession, just as I imagine it, just as they should. Helplessly and emotionally distraught – successfully resisted.

Annabel (lee) – Believe

Go to sleep kittens. Hold your glass and rest your head, Nan. Relax in the speakeasy diner’s lounge, the stage awash in the red loom of eras passed but here, in this moment, present. The past reborn – the now is Annabel (lee).

I’m context-less here, I don’t know what this piece belongs to, I know Annabel (lee) like I know puffer fish prep: don’t eat my puffer fish.

I’m here as a little boy, subject to life without preconceptions and ideals, without morals and education, my life with only a few pages of a past to tell, recent history more days-gone-by than stories of old, those not-so-distant memories are just dreams blurred infinitely with reality – and the music is good.

After all of that electric clash I thought it would be nice to simmer down with the gentle sway of the band – and to account for my lack of depth to offer, I’ll let yours and mine, our fresh-faces, take on some learning, together…

As written by the Ninjas of the vaults:

The power of peace. Inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s renowned poem of untimely death, Annabel (lee) muses on the refrain “in a kingdom by the sea…” as she whispers from beneath the currents, “I shall never leave you”. The duo project, from Annabel (lee) and Richard E, invokes the haunting classicism of Claude Debussy and Erik Satie, intermingled with the quiet folklore of Nick Drake and Joni Mitchell, tipped with the jazz stylings of Miles Davis and Billie Holiday.

Annabel and Richard met despite being divided by the Atlantic Ocean. She, a New York-based vocalist, was searching for a way out of the madness of monotony, singing jazz and cabaret standards by numbers. He, a London-based Yorkshire-man, was a highly respected though discontented dance music arranger/producer who knew it was only a matter of time before he would chance upon the river of uncharted waters. She no longer suppressed her enduring appreciation for English prose and poetry (as a child, she would spend countless days in a dreamlike state, memorising and reciting classics to anyone who would listen, often quietly to herself), and it was that love and ability to best express herself via her own poetic writings, combined with her vocal prowess, that allowed Annabel to creatively break free. His admiration for all things William Blake (in addition to similar artistic forms of Romanticism), combined with production and arrangement skills, paved the way for a distinct and definitive project of endless possibilities.

Finding one’s true voice can take what feels like centuries, although well worth the wait. Is it more appropriate for jazz, classical, folk, or some mysterious type of cabaret? The answer lies perhaps somewhere in their midst. From the layers of the symphonic to the intimacies of the acoustic, Annabel (lee) suffuses all with ethereal magic.

…Now there’s a thing.

The culminated product of childhood adoration for poetry of the British shore and electronic productive lustre for something more – the ‘New’ York collides with the old country. Could the coupling be more perfect? The canyon of cultural differences between the hardened city livers of America’s New York City and the humble country-ale sipping folk of the dales, England’s Yorkshire, home to the city of (old) York. Musically entangled in this – this fusion of so many things. Beautiful to the last breath.

I’m not sure what the synonomous nature of this tune is with Record Store Day 2015, as the entire album, to which it belongs, as I’ve noticed during our time learning together, was available, in all sorts, digi wax or other, from Monday (27/04/2015). My guess is that it was a fantastic pre-release vinyl tease – and what a choice it was.

Annabel (lee) – Believe: I’m comfortable leaving this one to those with a real passion, fathoms deeper than my own, for this music. In spite of its gorgeous nature, there’s folks out there that deserve it far more. Comfortably and successfully, eyes wide smiling, resisted.

The purists might cringe

But I am content – yes I could save and do away with frivolous things, investing my pennies into rare plates and white labels. I could dive down the rabbit hole into wonderland and find joy, smiling like a Cheshire cat, teeth sparkling and my bright eyes a’wonder.

But I’m not the man I need to be, at present, to carry the vinyl mantle. Though the obvious qualities that exists in the format, one deserved of every returning growth that it’s seen in the past few fleeting years, are ones not gone ignored. One day I will proudly spread my shoulders, firmly place my feet on the ground, lay my hands across the 1210 spread and join the fold of the kings, the mantle upon our entrusted shoulders, one and all.

No buy links this time around kids.



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