Out Now! Paper Relics – Emersion

We’re pleased to reveal that just over 3 years since ‘The Road Home’, the Paper Relics are back with a new EP named ‘Emersion‘. This project is a collaboration between our label owner Harry Towell and his brother Stuart. Their sound sits somewhere between post rock and ambient, with hints of folk.

Emersion‘ is out now in a run of 50 cassette tapes along with the usual digital formats if you prefer. The tape features cover photography captured by Stuart in a recent trip to the Scottish Highlands and right at the end of each side of the tape is a short bonus ‘loop’. You can also see additional photography captured by Stuart in the gallery below.

Whitelabrecs low-run releases are likely to sell out fast. The best way to keep informed is to join our mailing list which can be located through our website menu or you can click HERE

press release
“Paper Relics is a collaboration between Whitelabrecs owner Harry Towell and his brother Stuart. They began recording together back in 2010 at their family home, with an EP on the Audio Gourmet netlabel which was followed by debut album ‘Over Exposure’ on Time Released Sound. I’m 2018 they created ‘The Road Home’ for Whitelabrecs, a record in which Sven Laux also had a hand.

The Paper Relics sound takes Stuart’s guitar and bass performances as the focal point of the compositions, with Harry’s background in creating Ambient and electro acoustic music adding further detail and texture. Each of their infrequent records has an evolving character, as equipment and techniques get updated and their lives change. Over Exposure was a record about photography, reflecting upon faded old family polaroids of life on the farm that their father grew up on. The Road Home moved into a richer more detailed sound palette, themed around the brothers’ new homes.

‘Emersion’ is a four track EP which is the first item in their discography, in which they did not physically sit down to record together. It was created through file-exchanges during lockdown, as glimpses of a life beyond the grip of the pandemic became in sight. As cautious plans were being made and a strange sense of freedom emerging, they reflected on the time-warping effects of their endless days spent indoors throughout the pandemic. They opted for a lo-fi retro sound, which sets out a dusty, degraded aesthetic across the recordings. Reel-to-feel tape decay, radio distortion, vinyl crackle and VHS hiss give a vintage charm to these reflective songs. There is a palpable melancholy which disguises the key message of optimism, with this EP being released on the 19th of July, a day being dubbed ‘freedom day’ in the UK. ‘Emersion’ is a brief space for reflection, in which the dust can settle.

After the album had been finalised, Stuart took a short break in the Scottish Highlands and he captured a series of photographs whilst hiking in the landscape. The EP cover artwork is one of these images, overlooking Loch Ness from a misty vantage point. We’ve created a short run of cassette tapes to tie in with the retro, lo-fi theme and the tape itself is neon yellow; a flash of colour as a stamp optimism.

credits
Written and produced by Harry & Stuart Towell
Mastered by James Edward Armstrong
Photography by Stuart Towell

Stuart Towell: Guitar, Bass
Harry Towell: Baritone Ukulele, Harmonica, Violin, Mandola, Voice, field recordings, electronics, MIDI keyboard and programming

Coming soon… Paper Relics – Emersion

 

We’re pleased to reveal that just over 3 years since ‘The Road Home’, the Paper Relics are back with a new EP named ‘Emersion‘. This project is a collaboration between our label owner Harry Towell and his brother Stuart. Their sound sits somewhere between post rock and ambient, with hints of folk.

Emersion‘ will be released in a run of 50 cassette tapes along with the usual digital formats if you prefer. The tape features cover photography captured by Stuart in a recent trip to the Scottish Highlands and right at the end of each side of the tape is a short bonus ‘loop’.

Emersion will be released on Monday the 19th of July with no pre-order. If you join our mailing list using the link below, we’ll make sure you’re the first to hear.

press release
“Paper Relics is a collaboration between Whitelabrecs owner Harry Towell and his brother Stuart. They began recording together back in 2010 at their family home, with an EP on the Audio Gourmet netlabel which was followed by debut album ‘Over Exposure’ on Time Released Sound. I’m 2018 they created ‘The Road Home’ for Whitelabrecs, a record in which Sven Laux also had a hand.

The Paper Relics sound takes Stuart’s guitar and bass performances as the focal point of the compositions, with Harry’s background in creating Ambient and electro acoustic music adding further detail and texture. Each of their infrequent records has an evolving character, as equipment and techniques get updated and their lives change. Over Exposure was a record about photography, reflecting upon faded old family polaroids of life on the farm that their father grew up on. The Road Home moved into a richer more detailed sound palette, themed around the brothers’ new homes.

‘Emersion’ is a four track EP which is the first item in their discography, in which they did not physically sit down to record together. It was created through file-exchanges during lockdown, as glimpses of a life beyond the grip of the pandemic became in sight. As cautious plans were being made and a strange sense of freedom emerging, they reflected on the time-warping effects of their endless days spent indoors throughout the pandemic. They opted for a lo-fi retro sound, which sets out a dusty, degraded aesthetic across the recordings. Reel-to-feel tape decay, radio distortion, vinyl crackle and VHS hiss give a vintage charm to these reflective songs. There is a palpable melancholy which disguises the key message of optimism, with this EP being released on the 19th of July, a day being dubbed ‘freedom day’ in the UK. ‘Emersion’ is a brief space for reflection, in which the dust can settle.

After the album had been finalised, Stuart took a short break in the Scottish Highlands and he captured a series of photographs whilst hiking in the landscape. The EP cover artwork is one of these images, overlooking Loch Ness from a misty vantage point. We’ve created a short run of cassette tapes to tie in with the retro, lo-fi theme and the tape itself is neon yellow; a flash of colour as a stamp optimism.

credits
Written and produced by Harry & Stuart Towell
Mastered by James Edward Armstrong
Photography by Stuart Towell

Stuart Towell: Guitar, Bass
Harry Towell: Baritone Ukulele, Harmonica, Violin, Mandola, Voice, field recordings, electronics, MIDI keyboard and programming

Out Now! Spheruleus – Canvas Homes + Supplémentaires

The second of our new releases for March out today, sees the return of our label owner Harry Towell as Spheruleus. Harry has not released a CD on his label since 2016’s Obsolarium and with Canvas Homes + Supplémentaires he presents a double album of lockdown sound diaries. Some may recall Canvas Homes from Harry’s Home Diaries edition but 2nd Disc Supplémentaires is a new album, created during November’s lockdown mark II.

This limited edition double CDr edition uses photographs Harry captured during family walks as cover artwork and the sounds within these records cover field recordings, acoustic instrument sketches, household sounds and orchestral tones.

Whitelabrecs low-run releases are likely to sell out fast. The best way to keep informed is to join our mailing list which can be located through our website menu or you can click HERE

press release
“Spheruleus is Lincolnshire, UK based artist Harry Towell, who also runs Whitelabrecs and records alongside his brother Stuart as Paper Relics. Harry has been active in the modern Ambient music scene for over a decade and has released works with labels such as Eilean, Hibernate, Home Normal and Time Released Sound. His output on his own imprint has been scarce however, limited to one CD edition ‘Obsolarium’, released back in 2016.

We launched last year’s digital Home Diaries series off the back of ‘Canvas Homes’ which was a sonic diary of life at home during lockdown. The recording for this album began around 1 year ago with three key sound elements: field recordings, sketches made using acoustic instruments and MIDI keyboard arrangements. The sketches were all captured during brief 1-2 minute recordings to an iPhone whilst in his daughter Isla’s playroom. She unwittingly became part of the album and a positive constant during the strange events that were unfolding across the spring and summer. Walks out into local parks and woodlands became a source of field recordings and a connection to the natural world. Then evenings were a time of reflection and processing, as the sounds captured were orchestrated into tracks.

In November another lockdown was announced and Harry decided to repeat the process as a compare and contrast from his original process. The idea to create a second album began with the assembly of a new item of furniture for Isla’s room which arrived from France. A bag of spare fixings was labelled ‘Supplémentaires’ and Harry decided to set about a series of additional recordings with a view to release it as part of a double album. This time, the weather had turned cold resulting in a different lockdown altogether, with more time spent indoors. Isla had grown considerably in the space of just 6 months and her speech was much clearer. A familiarity with the ‘new normal’ also seems to have translated into the music, with longer, cosier tracks drawing out the winter months. There are more moments of calm and warmth; ‘les dormeurs’ was created at low volume one afternoon, as the household napped. ‘notre cocon’ establishes a sleepy comfort in the descent towards the festive period before ‘le résumé’ plays out a recollection of the year 2020, with Harry using every field recording he’d captured during this most eventful of years. The cover photograph was captured during a family walk in the summer; a reflective gaze into the local ‘Bourne Eau’.

credits
Written and produced by Harry Towell
Mastered by James Edward Armstrong
Artwork and design by Harry Towell

Coming soon…Spheruleus – Canvas Homes + Supplémentaires

The second of our new releases for March sees the return of our label owner Harry Towell as Spheruleus. Harry has not released a CD on his label since 2016’s Obsolarium and with Canvas Homes + Supplémentaires he presents a double album of lockdown sound diaries. Some may recall Canvas Homes from Harry’s Home Diaries edition but 2nd Disc Supplémentaires is a new album, created during November’s lockdown mark II.

This limited edition double CDr edition uses photographs Harry captured during family walks as cover artwork and the sounds within these records cover field recordings, acoustic instrument sketches, household sounds and orchestral tones.

The album will be released on Saturday the 20th of March with no pre-order. If you join our mailing list using the link below, we’ll make sure you’re the first to hear.

Whitelabrecs low-run releases are likely to sell out fast. The best way to keep informed is to join our mailing list which can be located through our website menu or you can click HERE

press release
“Spheruleus is Lincolnshire, UK based artist Harry Towell, who also runs Whitelabrecs and records alongside his brother Stuart as Paper Relics. Harry has been active in the modern Ambient music scene for over a decade and has released works with labels such as Eilean, Hibernate, Home Normal and Time Released Sound. His output on his own imprint has been scarce however, limited to one CD edition ‘Obsolarium’, released back in 2016.

We launched last year’s digital Home Diaries series off the back of ‘Canvas Homes’ which was a sonic diary of life at home during lockdown. The recording for this album began around 1 year ago with three key sound elements: field recordings, sketches made using acoustic instruments and MIDI keyboard arrangements. The sketches were all captured during brief 1-2 minute recordings to an iPhone whilst in his daughter Isla’s playroom. She unwittingly became part of the album and a positive constant during the strange events that were unfolding across the spring and summer. Walks out into local parks and woodlands became a source of field recordings and a connection to the natural world. Then evenings were a time of reflection and processing, as the sounds captured were orchestrated into tracks.

In November another lockdown was announced and Harry decided to repeat the process as a compare and contrast from his original process. The idea to create a second album began with the assembly of a new item of furniture for Isla’s room which arrived from France. A bag of spare fixings was labelled ‘Supplémentaires’ and Harry decided to set about a series of additional recordings with a view to release it as part of a double album. This time, the weather had turned cold resulting in a different lockdown altogether, with more time spent indoors. Isla had grown considerably in the space of just 6 months and her speech was much clearer. A familiarity with the ‘new normal’ also seems to have translated into the music, with longer, cosier tracks drawing out the winter months. There are more moments of calm and warmth; ‘les dormeurs’ was created at low volume one afternoon, as the household napped. ‘notre cocon’ establishes a sleepy comfort in the descent towards the festive period before ‘le résumé’ plays out a recollection of the year 2020, with Harry using every field recording he’d captured during this most eventful of years. The cover photograph was captured during a family walk in the summer; a reflective gaze into the local ‘Bourne Eau’.

credits
Written and produced by Harry Towell
Mastered by James Edward Armstrong
Artwork and design by Harry Towell

Home Diaries 006: Spheruleus

We’ve taken a pause from our schedule of CD albums due to our local post office closing, following the outbreak of Covid19. We launched a digital series called Home Diaries, in which we’ll release EPs and albums by an international line-up of artists, with the music created during lockdown and social distancing conditions.

The series reflects a range of sounds, styles and ideas, as each artist portrays their own reflections uniquely. Each release is digital only for now, as we hope to raise what we can to help keep our label ticking overat this time. The releases feature a recurring polaroid image of a small lonely house, with a coloured filter chosen by the artist for each respective release.

Next we welcome our label owner Harry, who records as Spheruleus. He hasn’t released with Whitelabrecs since the year we launched back in 2016 and his Home Diaries submission follows last year’s Light Through Open Blinds on Lost Tribe Sound. Canvas Homes is the working title and it makes use of guitar and ukulele sketches made whilst working from home and then when furloughed from work, whilst his daughter Isla played around the house. In the evenings, Harry expanded these sketches into electro-acoustic compositions, adding field recordings and orchestral textures using a MIDI keyboard.

We have an exciting line-up to follow and each release will include bonus PDF liner notes, which has an interview with the artist on how they made the album, what their situation is like, what they have planned, their influences and what equipment/techniques they used.  There are also additional photos provided by the artist as part of the PDF too. Click on the link below to check it out:

-LABEL LINK-
https://whitelabrecs.bandcamp.com/album/home-diaries-006

press release
“Home Diaries is an invitation to artists and musicians to create an album or EP to document their personal experience during the lockdown or social distancing conditions that are upon us, due to the coronavirus outbreak. The series reflects a range of sounds, styles and ideas, as each artist portrays their own reflections uniquely. Each release is digital only for now, as we hope to raise what we can to help keep our label ticking over at this time. The releases feature a recurring polaroid image of a small lonely house, with a coloured filter chosen by the artist for each respective release. We interview each artist and this is included as a bonus PDF with the download. You can also check out the Home Diaries series on Spotify if you prefer, which will be available to stream in due course.

For our sixth release, our label owner Harry Towell returns to the catalog for the first time since 2016’s Obsolarium. Harry records as Spheruleus and has released with labels such as Hibernate, Home Normal and most recently, Lost Tribe Sound with vinyl edition Light Through Open Blinds. This was an album about Harry’s first year or so as a home owner, when he recorded acoustic instruments and set it against various household recordings to preserve the experience.

This new Spheruleus album effectively became the spark to create the Home Diaries series. Harry recorded short guitar or ukulele sketches during the day as his daughter Isla played, before adapting these into tracks at night. Canvas Homes is a sonic diary of the events that unfolded, telling tales of Harry’s experience of lockdown, as he spent the time at home with his family. The work takes on the raw and unplanned nature of the acoustic sketches, adorned with documentary field recordings and orchestral MIDI textures.”

credits
Written and produced by Harry Towell
Mastered by James Edward Armstrong
Artwork by Harry Towell

Favourite Records of 2019

Our label owner Harry Towell has put together a post for the Irregular Crates blog of his favourite albums of the year, complete with a mix. Read below for Harry’s summary of the year followed by the top 20, with links and a brief commentary for each record. Click the image above to listen to the mix Harry has created, which counts down with a track from each of his favourite albums. Alternatively, there’s a player below and you can click play whilst you read…


“2019 has been very much the year of Ambient and Modern Classical for me in terms of my listening habits. I didn’t have as much time to devote to scouring weird and wonderful music across all genres as I usually do and tended to stick to ‘my scene’. I’ve been very busy running Whitelabrecs and so much of my spare time from work and family life has been set aside for working on the 18 album releases we managed this year and I tended to listen to upcoming label releases over and over as I prepared to release them. So my year has very much been soundtracked by my own label but I can hardly announce a best of list of work I’ve been directly involved with!

That’s not to say however, that I didn’t discover some truly breathtaking works from other labels and artists that I admire. I was sent quite a lot of the albums I have charted for a potential review on Irregular Crates and I regret not having the time to put pen to paper and support these albums. I always knew that whatever time constraints I was under, I wanted to give something back and keep these end of lists going, as a recommendation to others to hopefully introduce some wonderful music. I’ve always done it expressly to support labels and artists at the end of the year and I know how special it makes an artist feel, when a music-loving person enjoys their work enough to listen over and over again to the point of labelling it their favourite.

It’s now been 10 years since I got into the modern ambient/home listening scene and throughout the years on my old Audio Gourmet blog and Irregular Crates, I’ve done a ‘Best of’ list every time. After I wrote this article and before I made this year’s mix, I decided to glance back at these lists and skim through some mixes… The nostalgia it brought me is indescribable to the point where I realised that as well as giving something back to music by sharing my thoughts with friends and potential listeners, I am also documenting my life in music. The thought struck me to create a best of decade post or mix, but then I wondered if that might just be too big a task! Perhaps I’ll write a post and link to each of the charts and mixes, where applicable sometime before the year’s out?

Aside from my work on the label and my own production work, I’ve of course got a daughter who is almost 15 months old but also, I started a new job recently and gave up my other two. This has given a work/life balance that I can scarcely remember ever having and it’s given more time and space for music, where I’m now feeling less pressed for time. My work is an hour long commute each way, so five days a week, two hours a day I have a chance to listen to music and I’ve found that Spotify has become a more common platform for me since and I’ve created a few playlists across various genres which I’ve been adding to. I like many musicians never planned to use the service but it struck me that I actually own nearly all of what I listen to physically or at the very least as an mp3. The way I see it, there is actually a place for streaming as a tool of convenience when on the move and it gives artists and labels a chance to effectively keep on earning for every play even after a listener has purchased something. I know not everyone listens in this way, but it’s certainly the case for me. I did a survey of Ambient music listeners earlier this year and now have over 1000 people fill it in, so I look forward to sharing the results early next year!

This year I’ve followed a very similar format to last year’s post – my top 20 albums of the year are listed below along with a few words and the relevant links to check the album out for yourself. Then there”s a one and a half hour mix show too in which I’ve used some countdown vox pops that my wife Beth recorded for me a few years back. The cover artwork this year was taken on our first family holiday in Tenby, Wales as we looked out to St. Catherine’s Island one chilly September evening with the moon sat in the distance just above the sea. The holiday also formed a relaxing bridge between two jobs as I left my previous role of five years for pastures new. A wonderful week of reflection, looking forward to the future and making family memories.


1st:
A Winged Victory For The Sullen
The Undivided Five
Ninja Tunes

This album took me by surprise a little, not that it emerged suddenly as I’d been following the social media developments of the production for this record. But instead, it was the label which surprised me – it’s fascinating to see how Ninja Tunes has evolved; a label I’d explored in my teens for Trip Hop music is still around and still relevant, now working with powerhouses of Modern Classical music. It received considerable hype and I have to say deservedly so. I’ve known people who tend to swerve hyped records doubt it…and then listen and immediately get drawn in. It’s interesting for the Spotify or digital age, who build playlists – tell me how you can listen to a single track on this album? For me, it plays as a whole unit and I’ve simply not been able to put it down once a few notes from ‘Our Lord Debussy’ start. It commands a full listen, to be heard in all its glory. I loved O’Halloran and Wiltzie’s debut but this is their masterpiece and something that’s up there with some of the best music I’ve ever heard.

https://awvfts.bandcamp.com/album/the-undivided-five


2nd:
M. Grig
Mount Carmel
12k

I’ve been in touch with Mike (M. Grig) for a while after he’d contributed a track to the sleeplaboratory1.0 compilation on my label, Whitelabrecs. He announced that he’d be releasing an album with 12k, one of my favourite labels. I was so excited to hear it and when the album came out in May, it truly set me up for the summer. The warm guitars shine in the sun on an album steeped in nostalgia. The liner notes on the release page give further insight into the childhood memories which are woven into this beautiful record which is rounded off perfectly with the evocative painted cover art.

https://12kmusic.bandcamp.com/album/mount-carmel


3rd:
Mikael Lind
Contingencies
Archives

Archives, as they do so regularly, were responsible this year for introducing me to another artist. This time, enter Mikael Lind, whose album is set to a backdrop of the deepest, darkest forest. The artwork grabbed me first and I ordered the CD which has become the most played album in my car this year. There isn’t much written in regards to a concept but the artwork and sound are striking enough for this to still feel complete. Different pianos are played, with careful detail and minutiae embedded into the composition. Every track is a winner but Ideas Fade Away blows my mind.

https://archivesdubmusic.bandcamp.com/album/contingencies


4th:
Hoshiko Yamane and Mikael Lind
Spaces In Between
Time Released Sound

This one’s only recently dropped so I’ve not had long to listen to it. But then, I didn’t need long. It’s not difficult to be bowled over by an album when it’s of this quality. This album navigates the distance between Berlin and Reykjavik, the places in which these two respective artists live. Yamane was a violinist as part of Tangerine Dream and Mikael Lind has been forging his career as a modern composer to great effect. This record is utterly incredible and I wonder whether with a bit of time and space, it might have given A Winged Victory For The Sullen’s record a run for its money in first place….

https://timereleasedsound.bandcamp.com/album/spaces-in-between


5th:
Penguin Cafe
Handfuls of Night
Erased Tapes

Quality output on Erased Tapes is expected and there was no disappointment in their release of the Penguin Cafe’s ‘Handfuls of Night’. It’s a record in which Arthur Jeffes attempted translate his experiences travelling to Antarctica, a land which of course is inhabited by the penguin, and not much else! The album uses modern classical composition inclusive of piano, viola, double bass, violin, cello and percussion to name but a few ingredients, to tell the story of endless space. There is not just the vast open white blank canvas that one might imagine, cold and stark nothingness. Instead, this record is brimming with life and wonderment somehow and, it sounds particularly magnificent on vinyl, through a decent sound system and a bit of volume!

https://penguincafe.bandcamp.com/album/handfuls-of-night


6th:
The Humble Bee and Offthesky
All Other Voices Gone, Only Yours Remains
IIKKI

How do two such revered artists from the same scene combine? Craig Tattersall’s defined a generation through his work as The Boats, his label Moteer and of course, The Humble Bee whilst Jason Corder has been refining his work as Offthesky for the same duration. In a word, the combination blends together effortlessly. Whether that was the case in the studio/in production we may never know but this album is a work of art in every sense of the word. You’re left with half a photograph, evocative track titles and a careful unfurling of fuzzy, warm ambience and electro acoustics. Not to mention, a truly special physical edition by the fine art label IIKKI.

https://iikki.bandcamp.com/album/all-other-voices-gone-only-yours-remains


7th:
Justin Wright
Music For Staying Warm
First Terrace

This record was clearly instantly impressive but I found it move further and further up my ‘chart’ as the year went on. I wonder if it could be the weather? We’ve had quite a bit of wind and rain here in the UK so the title of this one helps it feel like a comfort blanket. Justin Wright has composed a suite of modern classical music, with cello at the centre of the production given that this is his chosen instrument. It is not deep, dark cello – rather, it is warm and uplifting in a strange, melancholy way.

https://firstterracerecords.bandcamp.com/album/music-for-staying-warm


8th:
Vieo Abiungo
The Dregs
Lost Tribe Sound

William Ryan Fritch has very much become the signature artist for Lost Tribe Sound but his other moniker Vieo Abiungo deserves every attention too. This year LTS put out an album with a title which doesn’t exactly have positive connotations. However, this record is everything but – there’s far too much detail and careful attention paid to the production of this percussion and instrument laden album. Across 14 short tracks, Fritch builds an exotic tale of a far away land, perhaps one that doesn’t even exist. It will literally suck you in with tribal tunes and its subtle moments of suspense. I’ve had this one playing in my headphones everywhere from the car to the supermarket. A must listen.

https://williamryanfritch.bandcamp.com/album/the-dregs


9th:
Offthesky
Illuminate
Eilean

With Eilean Recs set to bow out this year, it was exciting to see what records they’d put out to conclude this wonderful series. I was delighted to see the return of Offthesky! Anyone who has read pretty much any of my end of year lists, will have seen this artist’s name crop up time and time again. Indeed, Jason Corder’s work is something I’ve tracked ever since I got into the Ambient side of my musical taste a decade ago. This one’s a beautiful electro-acoustic album, which leans more on the Ambient side, also featuring guest vocals, viola, violin, cello, oboe and sax. Corder manages to concoct this into a liquid mix which flows effortlessly.

https://eileanrec.bandcamp.com/album/illuminate


10th:
Skyphone
Marsh Drones
Lost Tribe Sound

Lost Tribe Sound have had a phenomenal year and an artist they provided two superb vinyl editions for was Danish duo Skyphone. I must admit, I hadn’t heard of them but as soon as I caught a glimpse of the artwork, which for me would have to be the cover artwork of the year, I was always going to listen. Then the press videos of a room full of instruments was enough to get me excited enough to want to like their work… then the vinyl arrived! A superb selection of tracks, which traverse synth, guitar, vocal lines in a post rock meets ambient style. This one isn’t bogged down dreary drone, maudlin classical or grizzly grunge – it’s actually really uplifting and one I reach for time and time again.

https://skyphone.bandcamp.com/album/marsh-drones


11th:
Marek Kamiński
Not Here
Self Released

“Marek Kamiński sent me his self-released album early on in 2019 and I subsequently ordered it on vinyl. I was drawn to the cover artwork to begin with in that it is a good reference point to consider when listening: the tree is clearly no longer there, but there is plenty of evidence that it existed and something so colossal has left its mark. The music in Not Here is a selection of modern classical piano-led melodies, riddled in static and field recordings, reminiscent perhaps of Library Tapes which is no bad thing!

https://marekkaminski.bandcamp.com/album/not-here


12th:
Silmus
Laaksum
Volkoren

I reviewed Silmus’ ‘Shelter’ back in 2014 and it was to become one of my favourite albums for that year and beyond. So I was thrilled when Gert sent me ‘Laaksum’ at the beginning of the year. I regret not being able to review this one, especially given how impressive this album is, which features the cello talent of Guy Gelem. However, it’s a record that again features in my ‘best of’ list and something I’ve listened to over and over this year. If Shelter was one for indoors, Laaksum is an album for cold, wide-open spaces. The title ‘Dancing on the Pier, Discovering the Sea’ is a wonderfully evocative title for a track which fittingly, begins from hushed, slow tones before evolving into something more alive and vibrant against the backdrop of a darkened sky.

https://silmus.bandcamp.com/album/laaksum


13th:
Kira Kira and Hermigervill
Sumarbörn
Time Released Sound

Fine art imprint Time Released Sound continues to share superb material with the world, combining lavish packaging ideas with high quality modern composition, ambient and electronic music. I was taken aback by Sumarbörn by Kira Kira and Hermigervill, which combines glacial ambient and classical music with choral vocals. Doesn’t sound much on paper but it’s difficult to describe, so I strongly recommend you click on the link and sink into this one:

https://timereleasedsound.bandcamp.com/album/sumarb-rn


14th:
anthéne
Lost Channel
Archives

I was lucky this year to work with Brad Deschamps who records as anthéne, as part of a pretty special year for him: three album releases! My pick of the bunch would be ‘Lost Channel’ on Archives, with its warm drones which swell and soar, with the saturated sounds of tired tapes. The whole thing feels like a time lapse low drone-helicopter flight across the globe, with stormy choppy shores giving way to the gaping wide ocean.

https://anthene.bandcamp.com/album/lost-channel


15th:
Sven Laux and Daniela Orvin
The Writings
Dronarivm

Another entry for Dronarivm and a record collaboration between my good friend and collaborator Sven Laux alongside Daniela Orvin. The duo met over several studio sessions and this is their output, a cinematic epic that includes icy cold dramatics, slow and brooding soundscapes, warm and charming ambience and fuzzy orchestration. Check out ‘A Moment Of Silence’ in particular and be prepared to be amazed. What’s particularly impressive here, is just how effortlessly the two styles of these artists combine.

https://dronarivm.bandcamp.com/album/the-writings


16th:
Santilli
Surface
Into The Light

I discovered this one when prowling the feed of new releases on Boomkat and was drawn to the immediacy of this melancholy sound. It was hard to believe that this one’s a debut as it feels like years of honing a craft although, perhaps it is of sorts, since multi-instrumentalist Max Santilli has worked with many acts and artists over the years. I ordered this one on vinyl and have enjoyed the spacey chords, guitar and exotic percussive sounds ever since.

https://into-the-light.bandcamp.com/album/surface


17th:
Aries Mond
Cut Off
IIKKI

“I get sent most IIKKI albums for Irregular Crates and it pains me that I can’t find the time to write more about these works on the blog, as absolutely everything is pristine quality in terms of artwork and curation. This one by Aries Mond floored me the first time I heard it and has the same effect every time – it begins with rustling, prepared-piano style sounds – gentle and unfolding. The live sounding notes blur through reversing and subtle electronic looping and sampling, a truly clever record that never fails to immerse and pull you in, so long as you give it your time.”

https://iikki.bandcamp.com/album/cut-off


18th:
Halftribe
Backwater Revisited
Dronarivm

I’ve been enjoying Ryan Bissett’s work as Halftribe for quite some time now and a jaw dropping moment occurred not long after I hit play on ‘Backwater Revisited’ from the trusty Dronarivm label. The record features synth and electro acoustic tones, drenched in reverb and a tasteful hint of chorus. Plenty of crackle and space between the lines to allow for a glistening, wintry backdrop. The artwork features an adaptation of open source imagery by Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis from back in 1908 and this rustic, vintage cover fits in perfectly with the blanket-like folds of Ambience Ryan created here.

https://halftribe.bandcamp.com/album/backwater-revisited


19th:
Hampshire and Foat
Saint Lawrence
Athens of the North

I discovered Hampshire and Foat for the first time when I stumbled across their album ‘Saint Lawrence’ which came out on Edinburgh’s Athens of the North label. It was released in March and I grabbed it in the summer, in time to enjoy it in the sun which feels the best setting, particularly whilst driving or walking through the British countryside. The album itself was recorded live during a couple of sunny afternoons spent in churches on the Isle of Wight and whilst this album is truly masterful in its presentation, its recurring themes and acoustic presentation give it a beautifully intimate feel.

https://aotns.bandcamp.com/album/saint-lawrence


20th:
Leo Svirsky
River Without Banks
Unseen Worlds

“US based Russian pianist and composer Leo Svirsky first grabbed my attention via the cover artwork to his album ‘River Without Banks’ which appeared on the Unseen World label. It retains an organic feel to it despite the fact that it’ll probably be filed under Modern Classical; yes the piano pans across the stereo field from time to time, accent notes feel extended into drones and crystalline piano notes hover over one another. But, the piano is undoubtedly the focus throughout, making this one have that live feel. The sound is just magical and I recall many mornings sipping espresso in a coffee shop before work.”

https://unseenworlds.bandcamp.com/album/river-without-banks

Out Now! Paper Relics – The Road Home

This morning we announce a release we’ve been working on for quite some time and we’re pleased to increase the run count to 100 copies rather than the usual 50. This is because we have two editions – our usual white label vinyl effect CDrs as well as a special printed gatefold LP effect CDr which we’ve pushed the boat out for.

The Road Home‘ is an album from Paper Relics (brothers Harry Towell (Spheruleus) and Stuart Towell). The record centres around Stuart’s electric guitar and is joined by Harry’s electronics, acoustic guitar, zither, violin, voice, tapeloops, samples and field recordings. It’s also had some additional strings and production from Berlin’s Sven Laux.

This one should appeal to fans of The Frozen Vaults, Gentleman Losers or Mute Forest

You can listen to a preview of the album by using the Soundcloud player below or grab one of the remaining copies or a digital version by clicking the bandcamp player or link below.

This went to out to our mailing list last weekend and at time of writing, we’ve got some copies left. To find out more, you can click the link below or on the image above to listen. To avoid missing out on future releases, you can join our mailing list HERE

https://whitelabrecs.bandcamp.com/album/the-road-home


press release

“Paper Relics are brothers Harry and Stuart Towell who reside 16.1 miles apart. Their debut album was released back in the summer of 2011 on American imprint Time Released Sound, entitled ‘Over Exposure’. This was a record steeped in the past as they used lo-fi blues and folk guitar Ambience to reflect over childhood memories spent on a farm on which their grandparents live. The farm was set to become a housing development so the memories became all the more cherished through the recordings and accompanying artwork.

Now nearly 7 years on, the brothers’ follow-up record ‘The Road Home’ traces the journey from that very point of reflecting on childhood memories as young adults circa 2010/11, to now. The title might read to some as a return home, a struggle back to a family abode however, this record deals with the trials, triumphs and time in between, having both set out to forge their own paths to become homeowners with their respective wives. When they began recording, the brothers lived in the same home with their parents, each with a new relationship and a stuttering career. Yet whilst The Road Home tells the story of the last 7 years reflecting on what is now already history – it is an album firmly about the present as they enjoy the foundation for their futures, clinging onto what they’ve worked hard to achieve. The lyrics in ‘Timeframing’ are about freezing these moments and the dozens of clocks you can hear ticking at the beginning can also be heard in ‘Tinted by Time’ on Over Exposure. Harry revisited the same antique shop where these were originally captured to see if they were still there and was able to re-record them once more. This recording plays briefly as the track opens to focus your thoughts on time once more.

Opening track ‘Stoke’s Hall’ was something Stuart penned and recorded the night before Harry’s wedding and the title reflects the name of the venue. Likewise, Wyke’s Retreat harks back to Stuart’s wedding from the summer of 2017. Over Exposure was creaking with rustic charm, whereas The Road Home sees a more structured approach to production. There is more variety, as some pieces drone gloriously in an elegant daze, others are more alive as the subtle power of Stuart’s guitar takes centre stage. Then this time around Harry has provided vocals in ‘Timeframing’ and ‘Frost’ as well as building a couple of tracks that use drumloops and percussion, recalling some of his downtempo work as Spheruleus. To give one final twist to the presentation, Harry and Stuart enlisted the assistance of Berlin artist Sven Laux, who provided additional orchestration and sound mixing.

Paper Relics albums are never likely to be released on a regular basis due to the busy lifestyles the brothers lead, so we felt our usual run of 50 copies wouldn’t be enough to do this album justice. So The Road Home is available in two runs of 50 copies; our familiar ‘white label vinyl-effect CDr’ as well as a special printed CDr edition that looks just like a mini gatefold LP.”

credits
Catalog number WLR037

Paper Relics are Harry and Stuart Towell
Tracks were written, produced and recorded by Harry and Stuart Towell with additional sound mixing and orchestration by Sven Laux

Stuart Towell: Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, eBow, Bass
Harry Towell: Acoustic Guitar, Voice, Violin, Harmonica, Zither, Electronics, Sampling, Field Recordings, Tapeloop

Mastered by James Armstrong
Artwork by Harry Towell

Coming soon…Paper Relics – The Road Home

Next on Whitelabrecs, we’re set to increase the run count to 100 copies for the second time in our history, as we welcome brothers Harry and Stuart Towell to our catalog, as Paper Relics. Their last release emerged some 7 years ago on Time Released Sound, a set of lo-fi rustic folk/blues recordings. This time round, they’ve spent more time honing their craft, along with help from Sven Laux in a record that charts their personal progress since their debut album.

This one draws in many sub-genres from Post Rock, Shoegaze and Ambient to Neo Classical, Blues and some Folk and it may perhaps appeal to those who enjoy Mute Forest, Gentleman Losers or The Frozen Vaults. It will be made available in the Whitelabrecs store in two different versions – our classic white label vinyl-effect style CDrs as well as a deluxe printed version which imitates a gatefold vinyl LP.

Whitelabrecs low-run releases will be made available suddenly without official release dates, meaning they’re likely to sell out fast. The best way to keep informed is to join our mailing list which can be located through our website menu.

press release
“Paper Relics are brothers Harry and Stuart Towell who reside 16.1 miles apart. Their debut album was released back in the summer of 2011 on American imprint Time Released Sound, entitled ‘Over Exposure’. This was a record steeped in the past as they used lo-fi blues and folk guitar Ambience to reflect over childhood memories spent on a farm on which their grandparents live. The farm was set to become a housing development so the memories became all the more cherished through the recordings and accompanying artwork.

Now nearly 7 years on, the brothers’ follow-up record ‘The Road Home’ traces the journey from that very point of reflecting on childhood memories as young adults circa 2010/11, to now. The title might read to some as a return home, a struggle back to a family abode however, this record deals with the trials, triumphs and time in between, having both set out to forge their own paths to become homeowners with their respective wives. When they began recording, the brothers lived in the same home with their parents, each with a new relationship and a stuttering career. Yet whilst The Road Home tells the story of the last 7 years reflecting on what is now already history – it is an album firmly about the present as they enjoy the foundation for their futures, clinging onto what they’ve worked hard to achieve. The lyrics in ‘Timeframing’ are about freezing these moments and the dozens of clocks you can hear ticking at the beginning can also be heard in ‘Tinted by Time’ on Over Exposure. Harry revisited the same antique shop where these were originally captured to see if they were still there and was able to re-record them once more. This recording plays briefly as the track opens to focus your thoughts on time once more.

Opening track ‘Stoke’s Hall’ was something Stuart penned and recorded the night before Harry’s wedding and the title reflects the name of the venue. Likewise, Wyke’s Retreat harks back to Stuart’s wedding from the summer of 2017. Over Exposure was creaking with rustic charm, whereas The Road Home sees a more structured approach to production. There is more variety, as some pieces drone gloriously in an elegant daze, others are more alive as the subtle power of Stuart’s guitar takes centre stage. Then this time around Harry has provided vocals in ‘Timeframing’ and ‘Frost’ as well as building a couple of tracks that use drumloops and percussion, recalling some of his downtempo work as Spheruleus. To give one final twist to the presentation, Harry and Stuart enlisted the assistance of Berlin artist Sven Laux, who provided additional orchestration and sound mixing.

Paper Relics albums are never likely to be released on a regular basis due to the busy lifestyles the brothers lead, so we felt our usual run of 50 copies wouldn’t be enough to do this album justice. So The Road Home is available in two runs of 50 copies; our familiar ‘white label vinyl-effect CDr’ as well as a special printed CDr edition that looks just like a mini gatefold LP.”

credits
Paper Relics are Harry and Stuart Towell
Tracks were written, produced and recorded by Harry and Stuart Towell with additional sound mixing and orchestration by Sven Laux

Stuart Towell: Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, eBow, Bass
Harry Towell: Acoustic Guitar, Voice, Violin, Harmonica, Zither, Electronics, Sampling, Field Recordings, Tapeloop

Artwork by Harry Towell