FIELD TESTING THE THEORY

It is a funny thing, the vinyl hunter-gathering lifestyle. Although I have a number of tasty records in transit from exotic locations world-wide (all right, you got me; from the US and UK), the prospect of a record fair last Sunday was too good to miss. A leave pass negotiated, off I trotted, returning home a few hours later with a very pleasing haul of additions for the bulging Vinyl Connection shelves. There were acquisitions in Categories B, C, D and F, indicative of good variety and a satisfactory expedition. Also pleasing was the absence of Desperado behaviour (Cat. G). By the way, if you want a refresher on the categories, they can be found in the post ‘Digging’, here. Suffice to say, the unbleached calico tote bag — I’m an environmentally conscious consumer of polyvinyl chloride products, you know — was as satisfyingly full as my wallet was resoundingly empty I exited the Northcote Town Hall.

I won’t list every purchase here — it would be tediously long and much too revealing of the depth of my addiction — but perhaps a few highlights might entertain.

Zombi Anthology

Zombi – The Zombi Anthology [Relapse 2005]

Zombi – Cosmos [Relapse 2004]

Got interested in this electronic soundtrackesque duo when some enthusiastic postings on a FB Vinyl group coincided with an inviting blog article on their latest release by J Hubner. That’s yer genuine Category D at work, that is. So finding their first two albums, new but at reduced price, was very pleasing.

So far the first album has been spun several times and enjoyed. A simplicity of concept and presentation could risk the music sounding a bit too ‘bedroom studio’ but fortunately there is also enough invention to hold interest. The 2001 self-released debut EP is the better, showing more evidence of thoughtful development of fairly simple ideas. The second EP has that ‘tossed off quickly to ensure we had something to sell at gigs’ feel, which is OK because that is exactly what it was. Looking forward to album two, on muddy green vinyl!

This Mortal Coil - end in tears

This Mortal Coil – It’ll End In Tears [4AD 1984]

I have owned this 4AD collaborative effort on CD forever, but have never seen a clean copy on vinyl at a price I was willing to pay. There’s a story to be written about this album (or at least its key song) but will have to wait for another post. Suffice to say, this was pure Category B.

John Sangster - Lord of the Rings Vol 2

John Sangster – Lord of the Rings, Volume 2 [EMI 1976]

The love affair between Mr Sangster, an Australian jazz legend, and Mr Tolkien’s magnum opus was long in duration and prolific in progeny. This is the second double album in a series of three (double albums) followed by a fourth (double album) called Landscapes of Middle Earth. As I really only listen to Landscapes — it has fine playing by members of fusion band Crossfire — this was a classic ‘plug the gap’ Category F purchase.

Larry Young - Lawrence of Newark

Larry Young – Lawrence of Newark [Perception 1973]

A couple of weeks ago I flogged the CD of this album in the car for two days straight commuting. It was Buzz of the Week. So I was very excited to see it on vinyl, new and sealed, at the fair. The fact that I totally do not need to double up all these CD titles on vinyl is entirely beside the point, OK?

Miroslav Vitous Infinite Search

Miroslav Vitous – Infinite Search [Embryo 1970]

Another interesting jazz purchase. Young Master Vitous gathered a stellar band for this, his debut as leader. In addition to Miroslav’s bass, we have:

Joe Henderson – Tenor sax

John McLaughlin – Guitar

Herbie Hancock – Piano

Jack DeJohnette – Drums

Some will know Vitous as the foundation bass player in Weather Report. I love early Weather Report so I have high hopes for this record. A slightly unusual purchase due to the careworn cover.

Yellow Magic Orchestra YMA

Yellow Magic Orchestra – Yellow Magic Orchestra [Horizen 1979]

First album by the Japanese electro-pioneers. Bleepy, chirruping synths, real drums plus brittle rhythms squeezing out of tiny boxes, unfamiliar melodies and oriental humour. Ryuichi Sakamoto’s band started here. Sure, there’s a perfectly serviceable CD of this on the shelf, but look at the cover. And look at the back cover. Case closed.

YMO back cover

The final LP I want to share here is one of those exploratory Category C purchases that are a little hard to explain. Let’s start with the evocative burnt sunset cover and go from there.

Phase IV Soundtrack album

Original Motion Picture Soundtrack – Phase IV [Waxwork 2015]

What made me pluck this new, sealed LP out of the box? I suspect that multiple stimuli danced across the VC neurones like, er, something light and shiny that catches the eye and totally by-passes the bits of the cortex labelled ‘Sensible’.

The orange landscape and angular henge dwarfing the silhouettes of the human figures spoke of sci-fi leanings, as did the title. It was a nice heavy LP to hold — love those thick cardboard sleeves.

Turning the album over, the first name that caught my eye was David Vorhaus. Under the moniker White Noise, Vorhaus produced several innovative albums of progressive electronic-suffused music starting with the (in)famous An Electric Storm in 1968. Promising.

The next name to connect was that of percussionist, electronic composer and all-round interesting dude, Stomu Yamashta. Here he is credited with ‘Montage music’, whatever that means. But the last LP of his I got, I really liked a lot. Freedom is Frightening was released in 1973 with a fabulous cover painting by Saul Bass. Hang on just a moment! Who directed Phase IV? None other than Saul Bass. And hang on another moment, I have a vague memory that the Brian Gascoigne who composed this soundtrack also provided keyboards for that Yamashta album. Curiouser and curiouser.

But there were more stalls to visit and a diminishing wedge of cash, so I returned the LP and moved on and ultimately out, leaving the premises happy with my haul but still with this niggling niggle about Phase IV. So I sat on a chair and extracted the mobile internet device. Research on the run — gotta love it.

Turns out, Saul Bass made his name as a designer of movie posters and film titles and this was his only film as director. It’s a b-grade sci-fi horror/thriller about ants getting rid of humans, or something like that; made in 1974 and largely forgotten. As was the soundtrack, until Waxworks announced its first ever release in any format earlier this year.

It was enough. Back I went, offered the stall-holder my remaining cash ($30, in case you are wondering) and squeezed a final record into the bag.

So there you have it. Well actually, there you have about half of it. But it will suffice: a selection of new arrivals that spans the 70s, 80s, 00s and 10s and embraces Electronica, Jazz, Jazz-rock, Prog, Alt Rock and Soundtrack music.

So what will I listen to? For that matter, what would you listen to first?

32 comments

  1. I want Yellow Magic Orchestra. That looks awesome.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Once you adjust to the fact that you are eating sushi and not hamburger, it is a delightful record. Sort of like they fell in love with Kraftwerk’s Computer World and built their own universe from plans translated from German to Japanese.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I love that analogy! (I also love both sushi, and hamburger, so I’m still on board.)

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow Bruce, that Phase IV looks brilliant – that’d be my first port of call, definitely.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Span side one last night – weird enough to be promising. Kind of creepy in parts, soundtracky often but not always, oddly pretty now and then. Might do a whole post sometime.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Isn’t that a little awesomely weird that you just found the This Mortal Coil this past Sunday? Or is my timing wrong on which came first between this find and our Cocteau Elizabeth comment exchange? Song to the Siren, I’m assuming?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Synchronicity, serendipity, evidence of order in the universe? Or just plain weird. Yep, it lines up perfectly with our correspondence. And, yes, there is a ‘Song to the Siren’ post waiting to be written.

      Like

    2. …and begun this afternoon.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. That is an awesome cover design for the Yellow Magic Orchestra work. I’m also a big fan of Saul Bass’ PHASE IV gem, so that soundtrack would be one I’d love to get my hands on. If you’re ever in Los Angeles, you’d probably enjoy the first Sunday Pasadena City College Flea Market and Record Swap, VC. Have picked up many “polyvinyl chloride products” there myself. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The YMO cover is brilliant, in’t it? And I’d simply love going digging in LA. When shall we meet?

      I thought of you when I included this album, Michael. If you know the film and have any interest, would you entertain the idea of a collaborative post? Film and music?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Interesting. I’ll send you a response with my “surfer” address. Thanks. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Phase lV for me first up. Cheers

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Good-oh. Not a big fan of John Sangster, DD?

      Like

  6. It’s all new to me – so I’d be relying on your recommended listening order Bruce!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. From what I’ve seen, Geoff, I’d imagine that This Mortal Coil or the Zombi might be worth checking out.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Looks like a fun time, I have never been given the OK to attend a record fair, there have been several close calls but never a resounding OK. I may use one of my children as an excuse next time, that works for most things, nice haul, the Yellow Magic Orchestra would be my first call, I believe I have seen the ant movie though so it may be Phase IV

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve seen Antz, but I don’t think this was the soundtrack. 😉
      The child strategy is good once they are at an age where you can park them with a book or device. Good luck!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. They have their own vinyl now and are competition.

        Like

  8. YMO: what a classic cover. ‘Firecracker’ from that album is absolutely superb but I haven’t heard the rest of it, need to…
    Vitous: howzat for a personnel? Got to be worth a listen.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes indeed. ‘Firecracker’ explodes after the opening track ‘Computer Game’ which samples early game sounds with amusing effect. It is all rather charming in an odd sort of way.

      Like

  9. Definitely Phase IV for me as well. Looks incredible, really. That Miroslav Vitous seems like something I would quite enjoy, and with a set of musicians like that how can it not be brilliant?

    Glad to see you took the Zombi plunge. That Anthology is a good one for sure. Moore’s score for ‘The Guest’ is quite a synth-tastic treat.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. It’s the Vitous for me!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Some fine purchases there, Bruce. I would definitely have snagged the Zombi LPs. Shape Shift is on heavy rotation over here – pretty much soundtracking everything I’m doing (from driving to work, picking up shopping, etc).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Might have to spring for the new one, James. Especially if that sexy coloured vinyl is still around!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Reckon such a purchase wouldn’t be a bad idea!

        Liked by 1 person

  12. […] the vinyl at a recent record fair (and posted it in the Vinyl Hunter-Gatherer report) and very happy I was too. It is a wonderful, loose but soaring jazz album that bastes Larry […]

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  13. Thanks to this post I found a copy of ‘Phase IV’ on Discogs. Arrived today. Listening now. Happy with it. Reminds me a bit of the ‘Lucifer Rising’ score. How’s your copy sound? Does it still have that dusty, aged quality to it? Doesn’t sound remastered in any way. At least my copy doesn’t.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good get. It is interesting music, isn’t it? Part film score central, part experimental weirdness. Only played side one so far. Sounded pretty good. Will listen some more and get back to you!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I like it. Just want to make sure the vinyl sounds the way it’s supposed to. First Waxwork purchase.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. John, having just given side two an attentive listen, here’s my report card on what is my first Waxworks LP too.
          Pressing: pretty ordinary. A lot of surface noise (pops and crackles) for a brand new full price record.
          Mastering: clean, but as you say, no evidence of re-mastering. The sound-stage is relatively flat, consistent with the era but a bit underwhelming for 2015. Given the dramatic nature of the music, a missed opportunity here.
          Packaging: first rate. From the heavy card sleeve to the booklet, it looks beautiful. The pale yellow vinyl is lovely, but given the first point above, I’d give away the prettiness for better quality.
          Overall: Acceptable, but Waxworks could do better.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. Sounds pretty on point with my copy. Lovely packaging and some great archival photos from the time, as well as some great original artwork. Thought the vinyl was rather noisy, as you said, for a new record. Wish they had gone back and remastered. Would have made for a stunning listen.

          Thanks for your report. At least I know I didn’t get a flawed vinyl.

          Liked by 1 person

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