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Test Pressing

2014 / Reissues / LPs

If reissued singles are muddied waters of sometimes uncertain legality, then the albums provide less treacherous oceans. You know you know when you are holding a booted LP, and all the pieces represented here came with a lot of hard work and associated necessary press and promotion. It`s a market place that could easily be dominated by larger labels, people like Light In The Attic, and folks with firmly established track records, like Soul Jazz / Sounds Of The Universe, but where corners, niches have come to be occupied by friends like Emotional Rescue, Music From Memory, and small but committed concerns like Into The Light.

Light In The Attic weighed in with the Sly Stone Stone Flower compilation, focusing on a drum machine driven period of experimentation, pre-“There`s A Riot Going On”, that must have influenced Prince`s “Sign Of The Times” and that I can still hear in Moodymann. There were also two heavyweight vinyl reissues, nee documents, Ishmar manifestos, from Tinariwen, plus two lost, and increasingly personal and strung out, outsider masterpieces from Lewis. The search for Lewis read like a True Detective story, even if his eventual locating smacked a little of pre-order hype. Where is he? Oh, here he is. And then there was “Dylan`s Gospel”. Music of and for the Soul, that restores faith in whatever it is that you need to believe in; trees, sky, breath, humanity, love, a god, and should be listened to at least once a week. If you felt the need to sell all your records, for your own good you would have to hang on to this one.

The pick of Soul Jazz`s output for me was “Gipsy Rhumba”. I had been talking to Leo Mas and Moonboots about the possibility of putting together a Flamenco compilation to kick start Test Pressing`s Nippon vinyl arm, but this just completely stole my thunder. Great sleeve notes, great photos and music full of high passions. Bordellos, dancers, the air rich with the stink and promise of either a fight or a fuck. Lust in a word. It paints such vivid pictures that it makes me wonder if I was here before. I`ve always been drawn to Spain, by the weather and a suspect story of my conception there. I knew nothing about Flamenco, `cept it stirs my imagination, which is why I had turned to the gurus, but like those Mr Bongos Brazilian 7s, for the uninitiated “Gipsy Rhumba” was / is a perfect entry point.

RVNG Intl. are one label that has successfully mixed art and music for years and without compromise, simultaneously stretching backwards to history and forwards towards the future. The Ariel Kalma collection was fascinating, the compilation sequenced and building up to the stunning “Yogini Breath”, but the presentation of Craig Leon`s deliberately otherworldly LPs from the early 1980s was essential. “Nommos” not strictly a reissue but a re-recording, due to the complexities of ownership that have accompanied time and multiple label buy-outs and take overs. Every home should have one. RVNG`s motto is “By the heads. For the heads”.

Photographic memory is supposed to be a myth but I can honestly still see the ID piece on Leslie Winer`s “Witch”, where she defiantly took on the male dominated world of the dubologist`s mixing desk. I never knew vinyl copies existed, but Superior Viaduct put it back out there this year, and it didn`t disappoint. The music mixed Hop Hip with Dub and Taxi Gang rhythms, a la Massive Attack & Depth Charge, while the lyrics kicked proper beat poetry. Cryptic, knowing, streetwise, cinematic and evocative. The kind of stuff I`d like to write. It continues to blow me away. I bought two copies, and sent the second to Leo Mas (he of course already had one).

French label Born Bad followed up their excellent “African Electronic Music 1975 – 1982” with a second equally excellent, if not more so, collection of Francis Bebey`s recordings, moving onto the years 1982 to 1984. There is a magical duality about Bebey`s compositions: seemingly simple yet intricate, gentle yet frantic, playful yet scholarly.

2014 saw the rediscovery of Ben Cenac, with Deep88`s 12 Records enlisting him for a remix, and Rush Hour re-releasing that rarity, the cohesive House LP, produced under Cenac`s pseudonym, Push Pull. “Bang The Drums” sounded like the blueprint for all of those Deep Italian records on labels like Heartbeat and Calypso that now go for a fortune. We have a really nice interview with Ben that is half finished. Hopefully you`ll see the completed piece in the new year.

So to those friends, and friends of friends. Fellow enthusiasts, and legendary “excavators”, who have taken those wants lists, complied since days of yore, Lovefingers and Dream Chimney, not forgotten, and tracked down artists, stuck their necks out, made belief concrete, put their money where their mouths are, and done it properly.

Into The Light continued their mission to promote and publicize the endeavours of Greece`s underground electronic music pioneers, taking the various artists included on their inaugural compilation, and making available rare and unreleased archives. George Theodorakis got the comprehensive treatment, as did Vangelis Katsoulis, the latter winning out for me since it was less of the shadow, a consistent thing of beauty that mixed sweeping violins with Reichian minimalism and had the Penguin Café Orchestra performing in the bush of ghosts.

Stuart at Emotional Rescue seemed to spend 2014 concentrating on his other labels Emotional Response, Especial and new music, but the Javier Bergia retrospective “Eclipse”, pulled together with the assistance of Moonboots, proved to be perfect from start to finish, making available to everyone the sought after “Midnight Round Mekines” and as timeless in places as Javier`s work with Finis Africae.

2014 saw Amsterdam`s Redlight Records also branch out into new music with Crotocosm, Montezumas Rache, and Gaussian Curve, on labels Second Circle and Music From Memory, while their Joan Bibiloni collection, “El Sur”, rivaled the Javier Bergia for a complete and varied set that stood up to and improved with repeated listens. Jazz Fusion in the vein of Pat Metheny and Opafire, that stretched from Boogie to world ambience, all of it stratifying the air like a desert sun.

We put Music From Memory`s Gigi Masin collection, “Talk To The Sea”, at the top of our chart last year, prematurely as pressing problems meant that the vinyl didn`t actually hit the shops until January this year. To be honest, I would expect everyone who visits this site, and all of the people that “like” our Facebook page to own “Talk To The Sea” in at least one format. That has to be a given.