My Vinyl Collection: Coloured and Picture Disc Part 2

A second trip through the coloured and picture disc vinyl collection
[WARNING! Contains strong imagery!]

Hello and welcome to something slightly different; we're looking through the coloured and picture disc vinyl that has been added to the collection since July 2012. Back in July 2012 I posted 'Obsession #1: Coloured and Picture Disc Vinyl' to the blog, in this post I looked through my colourful records but also used it as an opportunity to go into the history of the vinyl record. This is one of my very early posts and pre-dates the regular My Vinyl Collection. I recently picked up 3 records that happened to be coloured and so I was prompted to do an update on this more colourful side of vinyl collecting!

>>> Links to previous My Vinyl Collection posts are in the right side bar >>>

Björk - Homogenic (1997) (2015 reissue)

Homogenic was Björk's third solo album; or perhaps fourth if you consider 1977's self titled album, yet in 1993 Björk released Debut so I consider that the true starting point. Homogenic sees Björk grow much more confident in her compositions and doesn't feature a dud among its 10 tracks. The sound of the album is a natural evolution from 1995's Post which combined forward thinking electronic music, strings, a pop sensibility and an incredibly distinctive and sweeping voice. Here it feels like everything is much more focused and some of the humour of Post has been removed and replaced with emotional intensity. Saying that the album isn't without its sweetness and it is a nice varied listen.

I really like the imagery for this release. Like all the early Björk albums the opening for the record is at the top rather than left side which is unusual. I tend to place it in the collection rotated so it is like a regular record in order to make sure dust doesn't get in through the top so I kind of defeat the uniqueness of the packaging!

This particular edition was released this year just on the lead up to her most recent record Vulnicura. It comes on a very bright solid green vinyl with a nice metalic looking centre label which fits the rest of the packaging perfectly. The record itself is rather thin and kind of sharp at the edges which is a shame. The pressing seems good to my ears but I get some fuzziness when Björk sings particularly high notes or heavy S sounds which makes her sound like she has a lisp; I'm not sure if this is a pressing problem or that my needle needs changing? Some other people have noted the same issue so I imagine it's lazy pressing... sigh.

Still... looks rather nice and Homogenic is definitely a stand out Björk album, not my favourite but definitely in my top 3.

I got this a couple of weeks ago, it is a collecting together of two Current 93 albums from the late 1980's. I didn't realise at the time of buying but these two records are basically two sides of the same coin so to speak. Swastikas For Noddy was the album that was released first and I believe Stephen Stapelton of Nurse With Wound didn't have much input with this record unlike many other Current 93 releases. Crooked Crosses... is a reimagining of Swastikas... with Stepelton pulling the strings; it features some rerecorded and remixed versions but the feel is largely the same just with intensity and emphasis put on different areas. I was a bit disappointed that these weren't two completely separate albums to be honest but I'm sure over time each record will start to feel different and unique and I'll appreciate the release as a whole a bit more.

If you've listened to any Current 93 you've probably made your mind up whether you like them or not, they're pretty divisive! They create (at least nowadays and somewhat on here) what has been dubbed 'apocalyptic folk' with David Tibet the leader and only consistent member of the group charging his ever changing band of merry men and woman into the depths of religion, sex, poetry, the occult and just weird weird shit! I don't agree with David's outlook on life (or least the one he tended to put forward at this time) but I do find his voice and way of constructing songs fascinating in a masochistic sort of way and I like the imagery and delivery, it's pretty unique. This set is a descent one from them but not their best, if you want a good place to start I would definitely recommend The Inmost Light trilogy of releases or perhaps Black Ships Ate The Sky.

I love the presentation throughout aside from the text on the center labels which makes me wince! It is all very well made which is a relief as the only other release I've had from David Tibet's new The Spheres label is I Am The Last Of All The Field That Fell (A Channel) which is an interesting listen but the pressing (at least my copy) was pretty noisy and inconsistent. Thankfully this one is much cleaner and the colours work well too.

Rhodri Davies - An Air Swept Clean of All Distance (2014)

I only got this a week or so ago but I have been listening to it almost none stop. I had heard some of Rhodri's work with other musicians and a little of his solo work but the velocity and frenzied sound here took me aback; in a good way.

Here Rhodri improvises (perhaps?) on a small lap harp with cacophonous yet beautiful results. The sound reminds me of a violently spitting and popping camp fire, really warm and incredible to behold yet dangerous and volatile. All the tracks here were apparently recorded on one day and they all share a sound, they begin at 100% and stay that way for a couple of minutes and then stop abruptly but the patterns and notes that fly in to each track give each track it's own flavour and personality. Definitely not for everyone but for me this is one of the best records of the past 10 years.

The record is on Alt Vinyl (miss the physical shop and exhibitions guys!) and is presented in a very personal fashion with simple and raw brown card folded over and screen printed and then the record - in a poly lined sleeve thankfully - sits between the folded card along with a short written piece by David Toop as an insert. This album is in an edition of 500; 250 are sold as part of a 4 record set called Pedwar which is a re-release of 3 previous albums along with this one. I will have to get the 4 record set one day... but I'll probably keep this copy either way! I love the transparent green and labeling too...

This live recording was released for Record Store Day 2014 and is limited to 1750. The recording is from a show for Sundance Film Festival 1995 which featured Devo in cartoon-like prison outfits for whatever reason! The recording has been doing the bootleg rounds for years as I believe the show was televised. This was one of the first live shows Devo played in 'classic' mode where they played exclusively tracks from their first batch of albums; so no tracks from Shout onwards although it does feature the laid back versions of Jocko Homo and Going Under which they started to do on the Total Devo tour. I much much prefer the regular versions of these tracks as the laid back versions come across very gimmicky... and Jocko Homo is one of Devo's defining tracks so it's a shame not to have it in it's regular state. 

The playing is great through out, in particular Too Much Paranoias which opens the set sounds rather gnarly! This was, I believe, Josh Freese's first gig with Devo and he adds a lot of energy to the performance, coming close to capturing Alan Myer's original spirit. It's obvious Freese has a love for these tracks and knows them inside out. David Kendrick of Sparks fame played drums with Devo on their late 80's and early 90's albums and his playing never seemed to have enough punch to my ears so it's great to have Freese here instead.

The sound quality of the picture disc is phenomenal as is the quality of the original recording although there is some kind of delay or reverb which on occasion gets in the way. The record comes in a regular see-through PVC sleeve, these are well known to cloud records and ruin the sound quality over time so I quickly put the record into a poly lining and now I can breath easy knowing the record isn't going to suddenly become unplayable! I'm not sure why people still present records this way, surely there is a better way to make them visible yet still properly protected.

The record was released by MVD and I never like their presentation, it always comes across cheap and amateurish and can often be mistaken for bootleg. They remind me of Music On Vinyl who also don't seem to put much care into the quality of the presentation. The record comes with a download code as well as a DVD that features the original gig and a short film from the 1980's called The Men Who Make The Music which had never been released on DVD up until this release. It's a great watch and essential for those hardcore Devo fans out there. Overall a great package and definitely value for money.

Devo ‎– Miracle Witness Hour (2014)

Miracle Witness Hour is a live recording of Devo from 1977, just before they were signed and blew up with their debut Q: Are We Not Men A: We Are Devo!. This was released by UK based label Futurismo as their second release after the Gleaming Spires' Songs Of The Spires.

The record was initially released on CD as well as three separate vinyl colours, Hot Dust (this one), Atomic Party (below), and Ultimate Virgin (white). A few month later they'd add Neutron Dream to the family which is like a purple with white flecks. Each vinyl release comes with a download code.

The packaging is very distinctive and rather nice. The front cover is die cut so that the TV screen shows the inner. The inner sleeve for the record comes wrapped in a fold out card which can be reversed to put a different image in the TV (as I've done above). The packing is nice although the record tore some of the wrap around card for me which is a shame.

The performance is great and is a good document for the Devo of the time. It features a jam called Polyvinyl Chloride which would never be heard again, it's definitely not essential but it is nice to be able to hear Devo experimenting. The set also includes Huboon Stomp which would also never appear on a main Devo album.

This version, Hot Dust, has glitter running through a shining red vinyl which looks great although it does effect the sound quality. During songs it is not that noticeable but between songs the noise is very noticeable and it appears to get worse the further you go into the record. It's not unplayable but it does make you worry about what it might be doing to the needle! There are no huge pops but it's just a constant low noise. This edition was exclusive to their website and select independent record stores.

Devo ‎– Miracle Witness Hour (2014)

This is the Atomic Party version of Miracle Witness Hour. Seeing as it does not have glitter thrown into the mix the sound quality is much better although the quality does get worse towards the center where all the flecks of colour are.

I like that labels like Futrismo are around and releasing interesting vinyl but I can't help feeling that if you are going to do a coloured or picture disc release you have to be very very careful to preserve a high sound quality otherwise what is the point? Thankfully these releases feature download codes but I hope in the future that the label also releases black versions of each album and makes sure that the pressing and sound quality are prioritised over the visual aesthetics. Some labels never get the balance right but one rare instance of a label that has gotten everything right so far are Data Discs who specialise in video game soundtracks. Each release the label has put out features a black edition and the coloured editions sound incredible. A lot of care needs to be put into pressing coloured records and I hope these Miracle Witness Hour releases taught Futurismo some lessons for future releases.

John Foxx - Metamatic (1980) (2014 reissue)

Metamatic was John Foxx's first record after leaving Ultravox in 1978 and features a warm, heavy electronic pop sound with a lot of influence from writer J.G. Ballard. There are some fantastic songs here that feel simultaneously old yet forward looking even today. Since its release it has been regarded as a classic of the genre and for good reason. Nothing is in excess and the music has a beautiful analog warmth. John's accent and singing voice sounds so distinctly British that it grounds the music in a strange familiar space. It feels simultaneously like a soap opera and a space opera and I think that is why his appropriation of Ballard works so well, the music feels everyday but skewed and distorted. John often floats around the notes he is singing or takes his voice to places it can't quite get to comfortably which can feel a little grating at first but I've come to like it! I'm thinking in particular of tracks like 'Tidal Wave' and 'Blurred Girl'.

I got this record for Record Store Day 2014, it is a numbered release and I have 0890/1200. Demon Records released this version which features a new 2014 master and it sounds great, very clear with each sound feeling well separated. The label would go on to release the record in black for wide release but it appears you can still get this white version for a descent price in some places. Surprisingly this is first time the album had been repressed on vinyl since it was first released in 1980 which I find kind of shocking. Demon Records expanded the packaging into a gatefold affair which looks very nice. The whole package feels to be of very high quality, the record sleeve is very thick and has a nice silky feel to it. The only issue I have with the packaging is the inner sleeve that holds the record, it is made out of a shiny paper which creases easily and just looks battered almost immediately. The inner sleeve does not fit well with the rest of the record which is a shame. If the record came in a poly lined sleeve with a separate matte paper insert it would have been perfect! Still, that's my only complaint and it's only minor! Great album, great pressing, great packaging.

Andrew Liles ‎– The Equestrian Vortex (2014)

You'd be forgiven for thinking this was a Ghost Box release due to Julian House's distinct artwork that has adorned all Ghost Box releases. Yet this isn't on Ghost Box but Death Waltz Originals, a sub label to the horror film soundtrack focused Death Waltz Recording Co..

This release goes hand in hand with the film Berberian Sound Studio by Peter Strickland and can be seen as a companion piece to the film. The Equestrian Vortex is the Italian horror film that Toby Jones' character is sent to do the foley for and I guess this release could be seen as the soundtrack to the film within the film... except there is no slicing of lettuce here! As the front of the artwork states, this is the 'voice reels' and as such is nothing but wretched screams, prayers and random voices that have been warped and elongated. It's a spooky and often unsettling listen as you would expect!

The record is 10" and is to be played at 45rpm. The record is a mix of blue and yellow and looks amazing. It plays amazingly too with none of the noise that people associate coloured vinyl with. Not for everyone but worth picking up if you're a fan of Nurse With Wound, Andrew Liles or the film Berberian Sound Studio. The record can still be picked up pretty cheaply from here and there although it is limited to 800 copies.

Takako Minekawa ‎– Fun9 (1999)

Fun9 - apparently pronounced 'funk' according to a sticker - is an album of Japanese pop with a sampling and electronic flavour. It was Takako's third album and was released in the west on the short lived and now defunct Emperor Norton label. In Japan it was released on Polystar which is related to Polygram, so quite a big release over in Japan.

I came across Takako through her most recent collaborative recordings with Dustin Wong on Thrill Jockey which came out in 2013 and 2014. I was surprised to learn that her work with Dustin was the first recording she had done since this here Fun9, I'm not sure why she ever stopped.

After learning of Takako I decided to go for this release due to Keigo Oyamada's (Cornelius) involvement as I love Cornelius' music and wanted to expand my vinyl collection with some Cornelius at the time. To me the four tracks that Cornelius worked on are the stand out tracks but the rest of the tracks hold up well with a nice relaxed feel and sweet hushed Japanese vocals over sparse electronic instrumentation and samples.

This came out between Cornelius' Fantasma and Point albums and feels that way, you can here Cornelius almost drafting out ideas for Point here. Although I came to this record for Cornelius it does stand up on its own and I am glad I own it. The pressing is very nice and although the sleeve is rather basic looking it is of high quality

Oceans of Silver & Blood - S/T (2008)

This release documents an improvised drone heavy set from 2007 by Joachim Nordwall on a Roland S-100 modular and Mark Wastell on his 32" tam tam working under the Oceans of Silver & Blood name. The record was released on the small experimental Swedish label Nosordo in an edition of 300. The duo have since worked together numerous times under the Oceans of Silver & Blood billing.

The music here is incredibly slow paced and rather quiet yet cinematic and somewhat menacing. The two instruments blend with each other to create one slowly evolving drone that is incredibly deep. The S-100 is used very sparingly here which I find interesting to listen to, it almost sounds like an acoustic instrument such as a singing bowl.

The pressing appears to be intentionally quiet as to mirror the actual performance yet the issue with this is that it gives way to a lot of vinyl crackle when turned up to a descent volume. I would have preferred a louder pressing that I could play at different volumes without getting too much vinyl noise. Perhaps there is a technical reason why it couldn't be pressed louder? I have seen Mark play his tam tam live many times and the physical presence is incredible, to simulate that I feel I need to push the volume up but then I get vinyl noise... I'm going in circles here! Great minimalist record that is worth checking out, try and see them live also.

Dinosaur L (aka. Arthur Russell) - Go Bang! (2013)

This is a record that I picked up at Record Store Day 2013, it features two version of Dinosaur L's classic avant-disco track 'Go Bang!': one mixed by Francois Kevorkian and one by Walter Gibbons. I was familiar with Francois' mix as it is featured in the essential compilation by Soul Jazz Records The World of Arthur Russell.

I love the mix by Francois, it just pops and sounds great, a real iconic sounding track. The Walter mix I find a bit harder to get into for some reason. It feels a lot more sparse and less groove heavy. I do still find it very interesting as it takes the track and extends it with more keyboard parts and completely different use of vocals. I would be interested to know how much involvement Arthur had with both of these mixes as they both sound so different to me. If the credits are to be believed Arthur wrote and produced both tracks but the mix was done by the respective mixers...

The single comes on a nice semi clear heavy 12" record. The sound quality is fantastic. The jacket is meant to replicate the 12" sleeve that would come with some of the Sleeping Bag Records releases as can be seen here. I can't find any information about how many copies this was limited to.

This is easily one of the most striking looking records in my collection, the soundtrack to the Mega Drive game Shinobi III from 1993; composed by Hirofumi Murasaki, Morihiko Akiyama and Masayuki Nagao and released on vinyl by Data Discs.

Shinobi III is an action game where you play as (you guessed it) a ninja, Shinobi III was famous for taking the series into a much faster direction with many more set pieces than previous games and as such is often seen as the quintessential Shinobi game and one of the best games for the classic 16-bit system.

The soundtrack was released by the newly formed Data Discs label who I cannot rave on enough about, they specialise in video game soundtracks to classic games. At the moment they appear to have an ongoing exclusivity deal with Sega but maybe in the future they will release soundtracks by other companies... who knows. I have two releases from them so far, Streets of Rage on black vinyl and this Shinobi III record on what they dub as 'Oxblood and Bone' coloured vinyl! This soundtrack comes in three different colours, black, red and then the one I have here which was pressed in a very small number (around 300-500 I believe) and is now sold out. With both releases I have been thoroughly impressed with the sound quality. This has to be the best sounding coloured records I have ever heard, it just sounds so clear, really great pressing. Both releases have a lot of attention paid to the packaging also, both coming with an OBI, posters and records presented in black poly-lined sleeves - that's how you do it people!

The company are to release Super Hang-On, OutRun and Streets of Rage 2 on vinyl next and if the current releases are anything to go by they will all be pressed on black vinyl as well as a selection of coloured vinyl, they will all sound amazing and come with a couple of extras... keep it up!

The great thing about pre-CD based games is that the music had a character all its own, even if the composer tried to emulate popular styles of music they could not help but make something distinct from what they were trying to emulate due to the vast differences in tools and the techniques they had to use in order to get desired effects; it was a limited tool set but that only adds to the character and charm. The function of video game music is so different to regular music also which changes how a composer goes about their work.

What of the soundtrack though? To be honest I did not grow up with Shinobi III, it was always too expensive when I was a kid so I played the much cheaper and more common The Revenge of Shinobi. I only played Shinobi III for the first time last year so the music doesn't hold that nostalgic feel for me. On the plus side this lack of nostalgia lets me listen to the music clearly and what I hear is great use of the Mega Drive's sound chip to create some dramatic, tense and often complex musical passages. There are tracks that really stand out to me such as the up tempo oriental superhero-esq theme 'Shinobi', the spooky and magical 'Izayoi' or the epic 'My Dear D' yet the soundtrack is varied enough to be enjoyable all the way through. On the negative side sadly the soundtrack is missing the track 'Ground Zero' and I would have liked each track to be a bit longer - perhaps it could have been a 3 sided release with an etching - but never mind. Great package all round and probably the best sounding and looking coloured vinyl I own.

Soft As Snow - Chrysalis (2015)

This is the latest - only just released today - from London based Norweigen dark electronic duo Soft As Snow. I've known them personally for a good few years now and worked with them among others to put on a music performance event back in 2014 which you can read about here. I know how long they've wanted to release this second EP so it's great to see it finally complete and in the wild!

The record is released on the Houndstooth label -  sub-label of Fabric - who appear to be carving out a niche for themselves with experimental dance and electronic music. Soft As Snow are perhaps known for creating an icy and often ethereal electronic pop sound but with this second EP of theirs they are moving in a much harder hitting and forthright direction with a heavier emphasis on synths and drum machines than their previous EP Glass Body.

The EP starts off with intentions of wiping the slate clear with the track 'I Adore' which comes in with hard hitting synth stabs and a bass drum to match before surging into a pretty anthemic chorus, it keeps the tension going throughout and is easily one of my favourite tracks on the four track EP, Another highlight is 'Mouth' which has a tribal vibe before half way through switching up into something that reminds me of Mica Levi's soundtrack for Under The Skin, a creepy electronic whaling sound that I find fascinating.

The record sounds amazing and is pressed on a deep solid pink. The artwork sums up the music really well and have a glossy finish which I usually don't like but here it works perfectly with the artwork. Worth checking out if you like your electronic music to have a song's backbone but still hit hard!

The Soft Pink Truth ‎– Why Do The Heathen Rage? (2014)

The Soft Pink Truth is a side project for Drew Daniel of Matmos; this is his third release under the name and features camp electronic covers of black metal songs... yep, you read correctly! There are covers of bands such as Venmon, Mayhem, Darkthrone etc.

The record is curious as it is a well curated set of covers by someone who has an obvious passion for the genre but who is known for working within the electronic genre. Drew seeks out the stranger esoteric corners of the black metal genre to find tracks that fit his very special sense of humour and then twists or highlights the sexual nature inherent in the music. He gives the music a kind of electro club vibe but what is so surprising about the release is the deep respect and love for the material (if not the politics) Drew has. This is not just someone pointing the finger at the genre and calling it stupid but someone who is trying to engage and interact in a way that feels true to him. It is intentionally provocative and tries to shake things up but at the same time it is a love letter for a genre he loves. The release definitely isn't for everyone... in fact it's hard to tell who it's for but I do enjoy some tracks here and I find the overall atmosphere really intriguing. Listen here to see what you think.

I got this record just before its official release when Matmos were playing a two day residency at Cafe Oto in London. The record is a kind of marbled pink which I believe is limited as Thrill Jockey only seem to have black copies on their website now. I've seen some copies that have black flecks in the pink but this full pink look is much more appealing and appropriate I think!

The cover is intense and feels like a gay black metal Bosch painting! Pretty shocking but also very funny. It has some lovely pink foil work which depicts blood spelling out Soft Pink Truth (very loosely mind). I don't really like the back of the album, I wish it fitted more with the front cover and was white. I also don't like the materiel that the inner sleeve is made of, that kind of shiny paper which creases far too easily. Great release from a very lovely man who signed my copy of Matmos' Supreme Balloon with 'D is for diamonds, dinner plates, demons and David, Drew Daniel'.

St. Vincent ‎– Strange Mercy (2011)

This is technically my partner's album but hey why not include it here! We picked this up directly from 4AD at a record label fair. That day we also picked up many other releases such as St. Vincent's Actor, Vashti Bunyan's latest album signed by Vashti and a Jim O'Rourke album. At the fair I was also able to pick up some Scott Walker + Sunn o))) Soused pencils... their existence is intriguing!

This is probably my favourite St. Vincent album, I think she gets the balance between the pop song and the more abstract side of songwriting just right. The music is fun, energetic and focused yet has a kind of mechanical and often spacious feel to the songwriting that to my ears takes a lot of inspiration from New Wave. I like the use of synths on the album and the recording and production is mostly very nice although it is a very vocal heavy production. I don't really get on with her latest self-titled album as I find the production very erratic and noisey, I like the cleaner production for her songs as it puts more emphasis on the quirky guitar lines and odd rhythms.

The single white record comes in a lovely high quality gatefold that feels luxurious to the touch. The album came with the title and the name of the artist on a transparent sticker stuck to the cellophane, we've kept this sticker although I haven't pictured it here; it was a large sticker that went across the mouth. The text on the back is in a nice gold foil and the labeling of the record makes the record feel special with minimal but effective gold and white colouring. This white record was for the US market only so it was a nice surprise when we opened it.

Posted on: 16th October 2015

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