Beach House are, in my opinion, one of the masters of the dream pop realm. Music which creates an experience of the physical scale of the world is the best way I think this album can be described. Sounding round, heavy and full – I associate this album with the image of immense, beautiful mountain ranges and rugged landscapes. ‘Bloom’ sounds both elegant and strong, gentle but exploding with liveliness. Victoria Legrand’s vocals and lyrics perfect ‘Bloom’s ethereal atmosphere and merge seamlessly with gorgeous, shimmering guitar tones and the plodding pops and ticks of drum machines soaked in reverb. This musical expression of time and gravity is what makes ‘Bloom’ one of my favourite albums of all time.
A very special album for me, everything I want to hear and see in a band, especially this record. Every track is miserably beautiful with that rock n roll edge. Nikki Sudden and Dave Kusworth at their best.
I’ve chosen to write about ‘L’Eau Rouge’ for #IsolationVinyl as it’s a good signifier of a time and place in my life. I’m not a massive audiophile (under-stairs space houses all my records, but there’s no dedicated room or outbuilding!) but I do have a knack bordering on the autistic of remembering where I made pretty much every purchase in my collection. This one particular example was of course from Camberley’s Premier Music Outlet and also has a significant companion in the carrier bag that day. That was ‘Bleach’ by Nirvana.
‘Bleach’ actually makes a lot more sense as a purchase, as I had followed a line from Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr to Mudhoney, who I adore to this day (‘Touch Me I’m Sick/Halloween’ Sonic Youth/Mudhoney split EP bought in Basingstoke Our Price, fact fans!). The Sub Pop label link brought me to Nirvana and the first track I heard from them was ‘Paper Cuts’ via John Peel, which was very much in tune with my ‘no girls or melodies’ adolescent attitude to music at the time. I actually thought the rest of ‘Bleach’ sounded quite trad when I eventually heard it.
But apart from a grudging radio session in 1988, Peel wasn’t a Young Gods fan, even going out of his way to protest their ‘European arthouse’ style on one occasion. So apart from rave reviews in the music press, particularly from writers like David Stubbs in the Melody Maker, there’s every chance that I bought L’Eau Rouge without ever having heard the band play a single note.
They certainly weren’t played in the common room by the upper-6th formers who I would occasionally catch a mixtape from, which pretty much obliterates all the audio channels available in the second half of 1989.
This is why ‘L’Eau Rouge’ feels like such a personal and important purchase. It was the first thing I had bought with next-to no external influence, at least from any of my peers – and to a 17 year old starting to experience independence for the first time (weekend job down the A30 at Blackbushe Market supplying the disposable income), it was a pretty big deal.
And the excitement didn’t end on a purely symbolic level; the record itself has a fantastic molten-effect, fiery red sleeve. It’s on a BELGIAN record label! Even the fact I didn’t have anything else in my collection beginning with a Y gave it a kind of otherworldly status (a situation soon to be rectified by the purchase of ‘President Yo La Tengo’ from Westbourne Park Rough Trade).
It’s hard to go into a description of the music itself (sorry, #IsolationVinyl). Firstly, as the famous quote loosely attributed to Frank Zappa goes; ‘writing about music is like dancing about architecture’. Secondly, you can all just hop onto Spotify and listen for yourselves. But suffice to say, as we drank cider together through the last evenings of the 1980s, as the Eastern Bloc fell and terrorist convictions were overturned, I would bore my friends senseless with the fact that on this record that I now owned there were NO GUITARS. With the air of a sonic infant terrible that only an adolescent Wedding Present fan can muster, I held court like a true astronaut of distant frontiers amongst my cohorts, themselves inventing equally overblown discoveries in return.
I haven’t really changed that much. I still jokingly sneer at Radiohead and take delight in tossing curve balls to those who think they’ve got my musical tastes sussed out. You can’t really get through life like that though. Relationships, families and all that other stuff get in the way. As I approach my fifties I sometimes encounter things in my collection that I half-terrifiedly fling onto the turntable lest I get to the end of my days having never played it again. Social media, blogs, listening parties etc. really help keep the enthusiasm alive. But what sitting down and writing about ‘L’Eau Rouge’ brought back were the days when music really was all you could have time for.
Merci mille fois, Franz, Cesare and Ruse. See you on the anniversary tour.
Electronic, Experimental, Ambient (Island Records 1975)
If you enjoy walking the streets with the line ‘I’ll come running to tie your shoe’, in your head, ‘Another Green World’ was made for it. Limitlessly interesting and different, I feel that this album can not really be defined as solely ambient, pop or electronic. It is probably greater than that. There is a mixture of minimalistic instrumental, elaborate electronic and floating lyrical layers. I think that it is not limited to creating a single type of mood, but that it lends itself to many. When listening outside in the sun, the music sounds bright and appears to have been made along to the movement of shadows. On the other hand, when listening inside at night, Eno’s characteristic way with synthesizers can create a snow-globe feeling of being surrounded by space and stars. Genius absurdity may be the best way to describe this album, something I think is only a good thing. I am very happy to have been introduced to this album and a very happy record owner!
This was the first record I bought and it has become one of my favourite albums since. Richard Butler’s vocals are something else, I’ve never heard anything so intriguing. All the different sounds throughout this album amaze me. If you’ve never heard this album I strongly recommend it. Definitely the best way to spend isolation.. listening to records!! Let us know what you think?! 💗
The last month has been, well, a bit odd for us all. Since closing the doors to the physical store at 4pm on Saturday 21st March and furloughing the rest of the team (who have been awesome), I’ve been somewhat glad of the opportunity to get in the car and drive into the store and make sure that it’s still there!
I’ve also been picking and packing your orders, placing orders with suppliers to re-stock what we’ve sold etc. The support we’ve received from our regulars as well as new customers has been phenomenal – we truly appreciate it.
But other than a brief (socially distanced) chat to the postie collecting what we send out, that’s been my interaction with the outside world before driving home and spending time with the family.
It’s been great to have been so busy. There’s so much to do what with adding back catalogue to the website as well as new releases plus some rather haphazard attempts at doing the newsletter and updating social media. I think without listening to records though I would have gone rather mad (or perhaps a bit more bonkers than I am already am).
You may have seen on social media that shops are posting their #IsolationVinyl choices of the records which are their “go to” in the current environment. As a small shop, it isn’t going to take too long for us to run out of content though!
So we thought that we’d open up the opportunity for you, our lovely customers, to also share with us your #IsolationVinyl choices. The criteria is pretty simple – pick a classic from your collection and a recent / new release which you are enjoying. We’d love to see (yes a photo or two would be fab) your choices as well as a few words as to why you’ve chosen them. We will post them here on the website as well as on our social media and may also share with Record Store Day & The Square Shopping Centre. Please let us know if you’d rather we didn’t.
If you have something else creative which you’d like to contribute, send it over. We’d love to see it.
If you would like to join in, send your stuff over to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks again for your support.
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