Menu

Rich's Blog

The beauty of the physical format

Thursday 7 December, 2017

Today, I want to talk to you about my love of the beauty of the physical audio format.

I stream music regularly. There, I've said it! I love the big streaming platforms. Currently I pay for Deezer and listen to about 40% of my music consumption in this way. I also have a vast collection of downloaded music. I am a regular man living in the 21st century.

However, the remaining 60% of my music listening pleasure - the majority - comes from the good old physical format. I am of an age. I was born in the 1970s in a time when analogue physical formats were the only way of choosing the music you could listen to (CDs arrived in my childhood) and the only way you could stream music was via FM/AM/LW radio. Basically, if you didn't have the music on vinyl record or tape (either cassette, 8 track cartridge or reel-to-reel), you couldn't play it. The internet did not exist as it does today for us mere mortals and I grew up coveting, purchasing and cherishing the physical music formats.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s I flirted with downloads for a few years. However, there are some major problems that I have with downloaded or streamed music:

1). You can hardly see the accompanying artwork and it is quite often unmesmerisingly dull.

2). You do not have to play an album from beginning to end, you can select just certain tracks. This for me destroys the art of creating an album that takes the listener on a carefully crafted and sequenced musical journey.

Currently, I still buy vinyl, cassettes and occasionally CDs. All 3 (especially vinyl and cassette) have a tactile quality and the sonic properties of an analogue format - to me - are worth their weight in gold. Yes, vinyl crackles and pops, but the beautiful warm sound from it's grooves is pure magic. Watching the record spin is an enjoyable passtime of it's own. Plus, the covers are large! LPs have big 12 inch square artwork that can be studied or even displayed on a wall.

Cassettes have been much maligned in the past, but I think this is unfair. Yes, there is tape hiss, but the warmth from the sound on them is wonderful and can add something tangible to the music of an artist.

As a label, we manufacture CDs, vinyl and cassette tapes. Join me - and many others - in buying these products and enjoy the time and care that has been taking to make them something special. Something to be really enjoyed.

First stop, pop onto Facebook Marketplace and search for record player or cassette hifi. You can find great sounding old vintage machines really very cheap.

Enjoy the formats, enjoy the music.

Welcome To Corridor 13

Monday 27 November, 2017

Today’s post is about a recent album that is so fantastic I had to write about it. It is by an indie artist who I adore - Lemonade Kid.

‘Welcome To Corridor 13′ is the result of a year’s work by Lemonade Kid. The attention to detail clearly shows in this collection if finely crafted and performed indie-electro-pop songs.

A handful of free album download codes are available at the bottom of this post - be quick!

image

The album is at home in the collections of pop music lovers, indie fans and those who like electronic music equally. All of Lemonade Kid’s releases so far have been fantastic, but with this album he has surpassed himself by creating a masterpiece that is so clear and vibrant it excites me every time I listen.

Lemonade Kid is the brain-child of musician and songwriter Dominic Lack from Shrewsbury in the middle-ish of England. I spoke to him about his musical roots and creating this album (which was not an easy road for those involved) and found that his formative years watching ‘Top Of The Pops’ on the BBC as a young child and forming bands whilst at school mirrored my own youth and musical journey. Here is what he said…

“My earliest memories are of music. I can remember sitting in my mum and dads front room listening to ‘Sgt Peppers’ with big old headphones on. I remember listening to ‘Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds’ and closing my eyes imagining colours. Then dancing on the table to Gary Glitter on Top Of The Pops. Those were the days! I can remember writing songs and making up bands from the age of about 6. As a youngster I drifted in and out of loving music. Adam and the Ants were one of the first bands I fell in love with. I suppose I always liked bands that had a degree of flamboyance and odd front men! It wasn’t really until the mid eighties indie scene when I was a teenager that I started being in little bands at school and so on. I fell in love with The Smiths and the C86 indie pop scene that showed that anyone could make music and that the music was more important than the success I guess. Bands like The House Of Love and The Stone Roses were a big influence on lyrics and also blending in different styles. Then the acid house scene was a big thing and it was at this time I got really into the 60’s Psychedelic scene. I guess these things remain a big influence to this day. Being in bands around this time gave a real sense of identity but also demonstrated the difficulty of being in a group with 4 other blokes and the various inter band relationships that would appear…

Music has always been a release and an escape from every day life. I guess everyone needs some kind of release whether it be poetry , art or kicking a football about on a Sunday morning! With music of course there is a wonderful release of words and expression through music also.
Back then of course it was difficult to get your music heard. In bands in the 90’s we had tapes pressed and sold them at gigs and so on to other people who were into 'that kind of music’. The wonderful thing now of course is the internet where you can easily release music and have people listen all around the world. It’s also easy to send music to some of the amazing DJ’s that are out there. So now there are people out there who listen and you don’t have to send out loads of tapes in Jiffy bags!

image

After recording and releasing 4 EPs in 2016 in my mind I knew that I wanted to make an album in 2017. The EPs gave me a great opportunity to try different things and I always think sometimes it’s possible to be more experimental on a 4 track EP than on an album weirdly!
January saw the 'Program Electricity’ EP finished off and then released in February so then it was onto the album. Lots of songs were forming at this point. Recording though 2016 had helped exercise the creative muscle so by this year it was quite strong. The songs were beginning to form. Some of the songs that made the final cut were being written at this stage. One of the first was 'Glowworm’ though at this time it was a sprawling 10 minute epic! It was always called 'Glowworm’ though no words existed st this point.
Some of the songs started as lyrics, some as music, some as melodies. Some would be written on piano, some would come from experimenting with sounds some would come out of nowhere during a walk or a car journey. It varies from song to song. 'Zeroed’ started as a little song I’d sing with my 3 year old son. Often if he liked it it was worth pursuing! 'Apple’ started as just the chorus which again I sang to my son and he enjoyed. I always envisaged it as a sort of groovy acoustic song but it grew into something else!
I knew that I wanted other people involved on the album. Or course I had my faithful guitarist Jarrod as ever but also wanted some more musicians and more voices. As work stated properly in March I got in touch with poet ForgottenBee about creating and reading a poem for an instrumental song I had. She worked quickly and came back with something incredible. She really pushed the boundaries on this one. We had worked together on a couple of tracks before but this was the most collaborative we had been. It was probably one of those lucky accidents that recording throws up.
'Good Feeling’ had been written during the filming of the video for 'synthesizer’ (from Program Electricity) as a feel good song. I realised I didn’t really have any when applying for adverts and so on so set out to make one. I also at this point contacted German DJ Alice Peters-Burns who has an incredible voice. So that was set in motion. Just needed a backing vocalist…
Which was easier said then done. Despite meeting with two singers neither worked out. As we entered summer it looked like the album might be shelved. The vision I had for the album and the sounds in my head needed a second voice. I discussed with Jarrod just doing a couple of EP’s while we continued searching. 'Kill The Future’ EP was released as a stop gap on Election Day as a kind of weird multi media protest song but that wasn’t what I wanted to be doing. By this time there were about 20 songs written for the album. The album that wasn’t going to happen. Then Emma got in touch…

When I first met Emma it was basically at our first recording session. We had chatted online and so on but it was still a nerve wracking experience (I’m sure for her too). Once she started to sing the nerves soon disappeared and I realised that she was a great singer and also the kind of person that was going to be easy to work with. Someone to bounce ideas off of. I can honestly say without Emma the album wouldn’t have happened so I am very grateful to her. We first worked on 'Peacefully’ and it was only about 8 weeks after that that we finished the album. So she came in late but still her influence on the album is there for all to hear. We co wrote 'Margins’ (about the first date of two psychiatrists) writing a verse each. Basing each verse on our own recurring dream. Hopefully this will be the first of many Lack/Woodhouse compositions.
I always knew I wanted a guest vocalist on one song (at one point it may have been a few guest vocalists for the album to see the light of day though that would’ve been tricky). 'Corridors’ was a song we wrote in a band in the mid nineties (and the only song not written this year). Two of the members of the band have since died so it was something I wanted to record as we never did then. The moment I put down my vocals I released that it was made for a duet. The only person I ever thought of for this song was Damsel In The Dollhouse. The amazing Nina Dove. Such a wonderful artist , great singer and enigmatic figure. She was brilliant on the song. Professional and a joy to work with. She knew exactly what I wanted and I was happy to let her do whatever she wanted also!

I always wanted a particular sound for the album. Heavy in chorus, delay, reverb and phaser though it was definitely toned down along the way . Probably only the last two songs retain this vision but it’s probably all the better for it.
Time is always the enemy as an indie recording artist. Especially for me as my guitarist ,Jarrod, lives 100 miles away. Generally during our recording sessions we’d work on the ones he picked up on easily.
'Slowsand’ only was the last song written. Literally a couple of weeks before mixing was due to start. But it was made very quickly over the course of only a few days. It felt fresh and alive so felt like a good single and it conjured up images in the mind.
A lot of my lyrics are quite metaphorical. 'Slowsand’ ,for instance, while being about a down on his luck cowboy in the fictional town of Slowsand who falls into quicksand is very much a metaphor for life sucking you down. 'Never Going Home Again’ is about a couple of youngsters who escape from a children’s home in the 1970’s. No metaphor needed. 'Glowworm’ could be about the children’s toy or it could be a metaphor. In fact it’s probably more frightening if it isn’t metaphorical!
Mixing began at the start of September and it was almost a joy to mix. It was strange because it felt like I didn’t know the songs that well so they all sound dead fresh. As I mixed throughout the month I became more familiar with them and it was quite an easy and enjoyable task. The track listing changed on a daily basis or hourly basis sometimes.
The mastering by Aniofades was amazing in the end. Was a bit of a bumpy ride at times and I probably gave him a hard time (which isn’t like me at all) but I knew how I wanted it to sound. The difficulty with listening to masters is after a while the brain turns to mush and you need fresh ears. But by that point the ears are anything but fresh. It was only a couple of days after the final masters were delivered that it clicked and I realised what a great job he had done.
We recorded 30 songs for the album. This is quite amazing. Most of the tracks that didn’t make the album are almost finished. We’re finishing them off and they’ll all see the light of day somehow. Some ,although very good songs, just didn’t fit with the album in the end. One or two of them might even make the next one!
I didn’t have an album title until a couple of weeks before release. Nothing fitted. I knew when I found the title that it was the one. It fitted just right. And then the cover. That took a while and eventually we used the picture that Damsel In The Dollhouse supplied for Corridors. Again it just fitted.
It’s been a wonderful experience. A tough experience at times as these things should be I suppose. The great work done by Jarrod , Emma , Nina , Bee and Alice helped make this something I am so very proud of. It’s not going to top the charts or anything but if only a few people 'get it’ then I’m happy. It’s meant to be listened to as an album that was always the point of making one so some people will I guess and some people won’t but hey…..that’s bands for ya!”

I cannot list my favourite tracks as with all good albums, they change each time I listen. However, ‘Good Feeling’ is certainly the most catchy, upbeat pop song you will ever hear; ‘Corridors’ I find myself humming and singing around the house and ‘Harmonise Without’ is simply sublime, and very different as it contains the spoken word vocal of poet ForgottenBee.

Definitely you should check out this album. It is available pretty much everywhere, but here are some links:

Listen on Spotify

Listen on Deezer

Listen On AppleMusic

Download & Stream from Bandcamp

Lemonade Kid on Twitter

Lemonade Kid on Facebook

 

Lemonade Kid has kindly given me a handful of free album download codes for you. Be fast though!

Visit lemonadekid.bandcamp.com/yum and use 1 of the following codes:

vhzz-j2fr
6q2z-kdjl
urlk-6h8e
lvsk-kjbu
f2bd-kkxt

Don't forget to use the sharing buttons below or leave a comment. Thank you

Monster Thread

Monday 27 November, 2017

This will (I hope), change the way you find great new music to enjoy. Introducing the #MonsterThread Playlist on Spotify and Deezer.

I was introduced to this MASSIVE playlist on Spotify (The Big One) by its’ creator and initial curator Jon Magnusson. Jon is a folk/rock musician from Sweden (and his own personal music is fantastic). He contacted me via Twitter and asked if I wished to have any tracks from our label included. I looked into it and replied with a resounding “YES!”

The #MonsterThread Playlist - The Big One is a huge beast of a playlist taking in many, many different genres including folk, rock, metal, pop, electronic, dance, etc. The idea behind it is that you follow the playlist on either Spotify or Deezer and play it. Jon recommends (and I agree) playing it on Random or Shuffle mode so you get a good mix of tracks from all parts of the playlist, not just the beginning. You can join the Facebook group here and select up to 5 songs, either by yourself if you’re a musician or by your favourite independent artists, and request that they be added. Play the playlist as often as you can (you can even cheekily set it to play then mute the sound and do something else!) as you will find new artists, new genres and new songs to enjoy. You will also be helping every single artist included gain more plays for their songs and help them get recognition by the tastemakers who recommend tracks for high profile playlists.

So, tell ALL your friends and make your recommendations! Together we can create magic, help out independent artists and labels and enjoy some great music.

Follow the #MonsterThread Playlist on Spotify here

Follow the #MonsterThread Playlist on Deezer here

Read the full rules here

Trium Circulorum

Monday 27 November, 2017

This year (2017), I found a tape via a wonderful indie label Romeda Records. It was by Kanal Drei from Germany. Topography Of Invisible Threads was the first in a 3 cassette trilogy by Kanal Drei. A few months ago I added the second cassette in the series to my collection.

The music is Techno based, but far more atmospheric than club tracks. I call this Ambient Dub Techno. The effect that these 2 tapes had on me was profound. Firstly, they opened up a new genre for me to listen to and secondly, they began to inspire me to begin to try something a bit different in my own personal music making.

Shortly after, I found out that Kanal Drei was a project by a German producer and musician who also created music under many other names. His current main name is Trium Circulorum and the music released under this name is my personal favourite. Still the Ambient Dub Techno elements - a Techno basis is a common theme - but with sprawling, Ambient/Industrial textures interwoven. Over the past few months, I have snapped up 4 more Trium Circulorum cassette tapes and also countless digital releases from this artist name, 3dtorus and 3rd Witness (also the same producer).

The music of Trium Circulorum helps me to focus my mind. It is also endlessly inspirational to me with my own compositions.

I shall be eagerly awaiting every new release from all his artist names.

Find him at http://music.triumcirculorum.net/music

Find Romeda Records at https://romeda.bandcamp.com/

Welcome

Monday 27 November, 2017

Hi music lovers and welcome to my personal blog.

I am Rich James (christened Richard - and my mum still calls me that!) and I own and run an independent Electronic Music record label. Well… 4 labels to be exact under one company Pink Dolphin Music Ltd.

I will be using this blog to write short posts about (mainly) the music I like to listen to at home. This will include many artists (and maybe labels) - both mainstream and independent - not affiliated with any of our labels. Often the style will be Electronic music in nature, but not exclusively. I love Rock, Pop, Reggae, Ska, Orchestral, occasionally Hip-hop as well.

I hope you will discover new music to stream or buy, especially that by the underground independent artists and labels like ours who thrive on your support.

Grab a cuppa (or something stronger) and enjoy.