Favourite Records of 2021

Our label owner Harry Towell has finalised his top 20 list of favourite albums of 2021, complete with a mix. See below a few words from Harry on his year in music, followed by the top 20, each with a link, a brief commentary and artwork. You can check out the mix Harry created by clicking the picture above, 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 on…


“2021 has been a year of forging onwards, back ‘to normal’ after the pandemic, returns to work, business as usual etc. However, it doesn’t feel completely the same, with climate change, destruction, scandal, social and political unrest all around us and the constant shadow of a pandemic that’s still very much here to stay. That’s before we even talk about Brexit, in particular the challenges it has brought to running the label. All that sounds pretty negative, but the year for me has been positive on so many fronts and all the while, the year has been soundtracked by some fantastic music the whole year through.

I think this year, I may well have explored more music than ever before, with a mixture of homeworking, commuting and leisure-time listening which covered a wide range of genres. I focused on a few scenes in particular; in the summer I went mad on Deep House music again, as I launched my Wallofhouse blog. Then I’ve been fascinated by Modern Classical music and the volume of sheer quality that is emerging from this scene. And Ambient, drone, electro acoustic styles, being the focus of Whitelabrecs, also dominated my listening.

This year my wife and I welcomed our second daughter Emily, into the family and so we’ve turned the music studio into a little bedroom for her. My physical music collection is in storage for now and so my listening has been much more digital than ever before. I know there’s a lack of a fair deal for musicians with Spotify in particular, but it has enabled me to cast the net much wider as I search for albums to indulge in. I still can’t help but feel that ‘liking’ an album on Spotify so I can scroll through some menus and stream it again on demand, is more than a little soul-less. But for the time being, it has suited our circumstances and I have committed to buying physical versions of the music I feel will stay with me forever. I.e, albums that make my best of list!

Onto my best of lists, and Bandcamp followers or my Spheruleus Mixcloud followers will have seen my historic best-of list mix shows being uploaded. This summer I added an iPod playlist of all the mixes I’ve made each year and I was bowled over by the nostalgia each one brought to me. Listening to the music literally transported me back in time, so I decided to get them all uploaded to Mixcloud, add them to a playlist and I’ll maintain this going forward. As of today, we have 12 years of listening to tons of records, whittling them down to a list, and recording a show to listen back to.


Below is my final list then – my favourite 20 albums of the year each with a few thoughts and a link where you can find out more about an album for yourself. Then there’s mix show featuring a track from each album, which I’ve made as a countdown with the help of my wife Beth who recorded the numbers a few years back. The cover artwork this year was taken on our holiday in Tenby, Wales, our first as a family of four.  We love Tenby, a family-favourite holiday destination and it was particularly beautiful on the morning I took the photo. I woke up to the sound of the sea, which was less than 100 meters away from our apartment. I looked out of the window and saw the sun rising impressively over the sea and had to take a walk along the promenade to take photos. Of course, with the sepia polaroid effect I’ve added, you can’t see the sun…


1st:
Origamibiro
Miscellany
Denovali

Towards the second half of a year it’s not unusual for me to put out a social media message, asking people to recommend albums for me to check out, as I begin to refine my end of year list. I did so this year and Brian from Stationary Travels recommended Miscellany, by Origamibiro. I’m familiar with the artist’s work from several years ago and within very little time, this moved its way to the very top of my list. And stayed there. It’s experimental, playful, good fun and full of ideas, moments of satisfying calm, moments of decaying, clanking rhythms.

https://origamibiro.bandcamp.com/album/miscellany


2nd:
Eydís Evensen
Bylur
XXIM Records

Over the last ten years, there’s been a real wealth of quality modern classical music and talented composers are springing up each year. Some countries have a knack for producing a greater percentage of these and Iceland is at the top of the list. The latest name to appear is Eydís Evensen and it’s been on heavy rotation this year, and a record that I can easily listen through from start to finish. The thing I’m finding with modern classical these days, is that there’s so much of it, that the works managing to really stand out need that added magic. Bylur is one such example; there are rich strings against which the piano is more sparse, and then more piano-led pieces. Overall, the mood really is magical and this is at its peak in the vocal track ‘Midnight Moon’.

https://eydisevensen.lnk.to/bylur


3rd:
Sebastian Plano
Save Me Not
Mercury KX

Argentinian cellist Sebastian Plano is an artist I’ve been following since enjoying his album Impetus as well as his collaboration with Ben Lukas Boysen, both of which I own on vinyl. I jumped on this record as soon as I became aware that it was out and it’s right up there with the best, this year. I can’t really call it between the top three of this chart, and this could/should be higher given that it soundtracked some dramatic walks along the high promenade of the Tenby cost, as I walked to fetch breakfast on our holiday in September. Plano may be a cellist, but I have always seen him as an all-round composer; this one’s beautiful, rich, melancholy and imaginative.


4th:
Addex
Eko
Limitation Music

In the warm summer of 2020 I made a dub techno mix and discovered how beautiful this genre of music sounded in the sun. This year I set up a blog called Wallofhouse and spent a few months scouring for House music in all its guises. Yet my best (very loosely linked) ‘House’ discovery of the year is this dub techno/ambient record by Addex. ‘Eko’ is a spacious hour and a half of blissed-out, poolside chill and I found myself reaching for this record over and over this summer. The album also sounds great when the sun is well and truly down, late at night, with its minimal techno micro beats and lush, infinitely cascading pads.

https://www.beatport.com/release/eko/3314244


5th:
Mikael Lind
Geographies
Dronarivm

In 2019 i became aware of Mikael Lind’s work through his album for Archives and I’ve since been lucky to welcome him to Whitelabrecs with his album Give Shape To Space, followed by an EP with S.hel. His album this year for Dronarivm hasn’t left my car CD player and the packaging from this top label makes Geographies an all round spectacle I’m only to glad to appreciate time and time again, on my long commutes.

https://dronarivm.bandcamp.com/album/geographies


6th:
Andrew Tuttle and Padang Food Tigers
A Cassowary Apart
Bedroom Suck

I’ve followed Padang Food Tigers for many years now, since their EP ‘Born Music’ on Under The Spire. I am less familiar of Andrew Tuttle’s work, although I was aware of him as an artist – I’d just not explored his work before now. In this record, Padang Food Tigers’ signature folk sound combines into beautifully warm electro-acoustic drones; a record that I’ve had towards the top of my list all year.

https://andrewtuttle.bandcamp.com/album/a-cassowary-apart


7th:
Gaspar Claus
Tancade
InFine

A record I returned to throughout autumn this year is Parisian cellist Gaspar Claus’ debut album Tancade. When you think of grand, stirring modern classical music, you think of the cello. Its deep, rich texture and bass tones are so satisfying and powerful. But it can also sound excellent when the limits of conventional playing are stretched. Here, Claus uses bowed strings alongside plucked and rhythmic patterns and I’m led to believe the entire compositions are made purely from the cello. This is quite incredible given the detail and fully orchestrated pieces of music on offer.

https://gasparclaus.bandcamp.com/album/tancade


8th:
Fabiano do Nascimento
Ykytu
Now-Again

LA based Brazilian Fabiano do Nascimento was a discovery I made last year and his last album Preludio made my chart, after sound-tracking walks in a sunny pandemic-stricken UK. I was eager to check out his new album ‘Ykytu’ and this one is somehow even better than last year.

https://fabianodonascimento.bandcamp.com/album/ykytu-2


9th:
Valgeir Sigurðsson
Kvika
Bedroom Community

I’ve been following Valgeir Sigurðsson’s music and Bedroom Community label for many years now and was excited to learn of his film score release KVIKA, used in the film MALÁ RÍŠA which features various musicians including violinist Daniel Pioro. The album’s title is the Icelandic word for magma, which is fitting given the eruption at Fagradalsfjall which began in March, when this record was released. This record is sprawling with a wealth of orchestral timbres, through the multiple musicians that performed in the score but there are also plenty of electronics and effects that underly the mix, which help make this a fascinating listen all the way through its 21 tracks.

https://valgeir.bandcamp.com/album/kvika


10th:
The Lifted Index
Sanctuary
Seil

Seil Records have been storming it this year and I could have had a few inclusions from their catalog this year, that didn’t quite make the list in the end, notably albums by Jogging House and Thme. But the stand-out for me and my favourite electronic ambient album is Sanctuary by The Lifted Index. I’ve been working with artist Tom Tebby this year and he recommend I check out The Lifted Index, and this one really stood out. There’s no clear concept, it’s just seriously good ambient/post rock, created with synths, guitars and pedals.

https://theliftedindex.bandcamp.com/album/sanctuary


11th:
Balmorhea
The Wind
Deutsche Grammophon

“I’ve enjoyed Balmorhea’s work for many years and ‘The Wind’ was eagerly anticipated, and did not disappoint. Contemporary classical music befitting of Deutsche Grammophon but some folk moments and guest musicians, including Clarice Jensen, give this record a variation that makes it easy for me to enjoy in one sitting. The artwork is minimal, classic and striking and a loose theme around the natural world provides food for thought as you listen.

https://www.deutschegrammophon.com/en/catalogue/products/the-wind-balmorhea-12219


12th:
Olivia Belli
Sol Novo
XXIM

The high bar that is classical music is something I’ve already touched on and this is another example, of yet another talented composer, Mantova, Italy’s Olivia Belli. She says that dawn is her favourite time to compose and intended for this album ‘Sol Novo’ meaning new sun, to be filled with light. A further example of an artist inspired by the world around them and the result, is some exquisite modern classical music, centered around the piano, joined with gently stirring strings.

https://oliviabelli.com/sol-novohttps://silmus.bandcamp.com/album/laaksum


13th:
Schreel Van De Velde
Balts
Blickwinkel

There were some excellent guitar-driven records this year, that nodded back to post-rock from the early to mid 2000s in particular. I discovered this one by Schreel Van De Velde in the summer and whilst in reminded me of Tape with its use of guitar instrumentals, it has a sound of its own. Schreel Van De Velde is a Belgian duo combining the surnames of Lucas Schreel, who creates the melody in this project and Casper Van De Velde, who provides percussion.

https://blickwinkel.bandcamp.com/album/balts


14th:
Andrew Heath
New Eden
Disco Gecko

I’ve been in touch with Andrew now for over a year, working with him for his release for Whitelabrecs, a collaboration with Anne Chris Bakker as well as having him help with our label’s design work. We have more planned from Andrew in 2022 but also this year, he had been sending me his other releases. All are unmistakably excellent but New Eden stands out as the big one for me. I’ve listened to this over and over towards the end of 2021, a truly complete listen, urging the listener to search for a purer, more natural world; a better place. It works well as a sleep album but also, there is so much detail in the drones, electric piano and superb field recordings, that you can turn this up to a reasonable volume and allow your ears to explore.

https://andrewheath.bandcamp.com/album/new-eden


15th:
Teis Ortved
Parks At Night
Bathurst

Last year I listened to a lot of Jazz music and this year, less so. I think it may be due to listening to Jazz FM less and also, I didn’t go out searching for as much in the genre. However, I did stumble across this debut album by 17 year old Danish musician and composer, Teis Ortved. He comes from a musical family so you can expect a degree of competency in his approach to his first album. But listening to this album, I have been repeatedly bowled over at the talent oozing from the production of every beat, every synth and every sound. It’s such an accomplished first step into releasing an album that I’m excited to track Teis’ future career.

https://teisortved.bandcamp.com/album/parks-at-night


16th:
Philip G Anderson
Figment
Self Released

I have been following American composer Philip G Anderson’s career for a couple of years now and instantly jumped on his self-released album Figment, when it came out in June. His album ‘Wilderness’ was a firm favourite Modern Classical discovery last year and I’m sure it would have made my 2019 chart had I discovered it at the time. Figment does not have a clearly stated concept other than a single line talking about it being a personal reflection of struggle, growth and evolution. The album artwork shows the composer casting a downward glance, but these grand, technically brilliant, sonically fascinating compositions show that any struggle is paying off, if it relates to his musical career. His work is exceptional and I’m sure he’ll go far.

https://philipganderson.bandcamp.com/album/figment


17th:
Seaworthy and Matt Rösner
Snowmelt
12k

“Many years back during my early ‘ambient years’, when I’d first got into 12k, Seaworthy was one artist in particular that really got into a more acoustic version of ambient music. 1897 was out of this world for me back then and shortly after, Cameron Webb did a collab with Matt Rösner called ‘Two Lakes’, another exceptional piece of music on 12k. Several years on, the duo made a follow-up which I instantly took to exploring. Exotic field recordings, plaintive guitar and acoustic drones make for a truly compelling listen. And as always, beautiful artwork too from 12k.”

https://12kmusic.bandcamp.com/album/snowmelt


18th:
Oliver Patrice Weder
The Pool Project
SA Recordings

I’m a follower of Spitfire Audio, a quality company offering sample libraries for musicians and composers. I watch a lot of their videos and one of the video presenters is Oliver Patrice Weder, who unveiled the immersive Pool Project, in which an album was recorded inside an indoor swimming pool, at a beautiful location. Guests were involved in the process and Weder pulled everything together into this fantastic ambient/cinematic album, full of warmth and an airiness. Not to mention an accompanying and affordable sample pack available through Spitfire.

https://oliverpatriceweder.bandcamp.com/album/the-pool-project


19th:
Miguel Angel Tolosa
Nostalgia (Circa 1987)
LINE

Another discovery on the advice of a friend; James Armstrong dropped me a note to let me know I might want to check out this record. He knows I’m a fan of vinyl-crackle and ‘vintaged’ sound aesthetics and he was right on the money. I’ve had these snoozy, antiquated piano and orchestral loops on a lot this year – an exquisite record on Richard Chartier’s LINE imprint.

https://lineimprint.bandcamp.com/album/nostalgia-circa-1987


20th:
Prequel
Love Or (I Heard You Like Heartbreak)
Rhythm Section

“I went mad on House music again this year after setting up a new blog, Wallofhouse. Posts have been sparse in the last 6 months but during the summer, I was scouring new releases daily. What I’ve found over the years is that in the House music genre, albums are often geared towards retrospectives, or a collection of dancefloor tracks. The best albums contain a concept and here with this one by Prequel, it joins an impressive Rhythm Section catalog and already stands out. It’s a record I can listen to from start to finish; lots of deep loops, dusty samples and percussive breaks.”

https://prequel.bandcamp.com/album/love-or-i-heard-you-like-heartbreak

Out Now! Mikael Lind & S.hel – RAMMI

For this new digital edition, we welcome back Icelandic artists Mikael Lind and S.hel who both released solo albums on Whitelabrecs last year. RAMMI is the Icelandic word for frame, as Mikael and Sævar re-contextualised piano sounds within the plush surroundings of Valgeir Sigurðsson‘s renowned Greenhouse Studios.

RAMMI is released today, Saturday the 24th of April with no pre-order. If you join our mailing list , we’ll make sure you’re the first to hear about future editions.

press release
“In this digital EP release we welcome back two artists from Iceland who each released solo albums with us in 2020. This four track EP combines the contemporary modern classical work of Mikael Lind with the prepared-piano sound of S.hel. ‘RAMMI’ was recorded at Valgeir Sigurdsson’s Greenhouse studios in Reykjavik. The accompanying imagery is a photograph taken in Iceland by Mikael, with misty clouds of volcanic ash obscuring the landscape..

‘RAMMI’ is Icelandic for frame and this takes on its loose meaning to reflect the processing and techniques of the pianos that Mikael and S.hel created, as they aimed to extend beyond the framework of piano music. The rearrangement of the recorded sounds is also reflected in the track titles, as the letters of RAMMI are shuffled to give way to new meanings.

credits
Written and produced by Mikael Lind & Sævar Helgi Jóhannsson
Recorded at Greenhouse Studios
Mastered by James Edward Armstrong
Photography by Mikael Lind

Out Now! Mikael Lind & S.hel + Rachel Jutková – RAMMI

Today we’re proud to launch our new digital series called <facets> in collaboration with Art North Magazine. This series will involve a range of composers and sound artists, teaming up with talented visual artists, for an audio-visual release. For this first edition, we welcome back Icelandic artists Mikael Lind and S.hel who both released solo albums on Whitelabrecs last year. They’ve been paired with Slovakian painter and artist Rachel Jutková who took her one metre square painting out into the fields to shoot photographs of it, which placed the art in a new ‘frame’. RAMMI is coincidentally the Icelandic word for frame, as Mikael and Sævar re-contextualised piano sounds within the plush surroundings of Valgeir Sigurðsson‘s renowned Greenhouse Studios.

Each <facets> edition will include either an EP or album of music available in a range of high quality audiophile formats, accompanied by a work of art as the cover image and a booklet PDF which contains art, profile imagery, background information and an interview, featuring both the sonic and visual artist.

RAMMI is released today, Saturday the 24th of April with no pre-order. If you join our mailing list , we’ll make sure you’re the first to hear about future editions.


press release

“<facets> is an audio-visual series, co-curated between Whitelabrecs and Art North Magazine. This collection provides a space in our catalog for digital music, in which we aim to provide more than a few mp3s and a low resolution square image. Each edition of <facets> is pitched equally at both your eyes and ears. Sonic and visual textures overlap as we pair musicians, composers or sound designers with painters, sculptors or photographers. The work includes the music in a range of formats, specially created visual artwork and a PDF art booklet containing imagery, interviews and liner notes. Our collective aim is to create a coherent work of cross-media art, where the creative outputs of a sonic artist and a visual artist complement each other as a singular creative output.

In this inaugural edition of <facets> we welcome back two artists from Iceland who each released solo albums with us in 2020. This four track EP combines the contemporary modern classical work of Mikael Lind with the prepared-piano sound of S.hel. ‘RAMMI’ was recorded at Valgeir Sigurdsson’s Greenhouse studios in Reykjavik. The collaboration is complete with Fine Art BA (Hons) student Rachel Jutková, who has contributed her painting ‘Morning fog and walking on painting’. This is a mixed-media intuitive painting which was created in her studio and then later placed outdoors in a foggy field.

‘RAMMI’ is Icelandic for frame and this takes on its loose meaning to reflect the processing and techniques of the pianos that Mikael and S.hel created, as they aimed to extend beyond the framework of piano music. The rearrangement of the recorded sounds is also reflected in the track titles, as the letters of RAMMI are shuffled to give way to new meanings. This links into Rachel’s idea of placing her work outside of its usual context, physically, to allow for alternative meanings to be reflected upon.


credits
Music: Mikael Lind & S.hel
Mastering: James Edward Armstrong
Art Direction & Editing: Ian McKay
Additional Camera Work: Rachel Jutková

Featured artwork by Rachel Jutková: ‘Morning fog, walking on painting’ 100 x 100 cm, 2021

Music & Artwork © 2021, The Artists (Mikael Lind, Sævar Helgi Jóhannsson, Rachel Jutková), All Rights Reserved. Video ℗ by Art North Projects. Music ℗ by Whitelabrecs, 2021

Project Curators: Harry Towell (Music) & Ian McKay (Visual Art)

whitelabrecs.com
whitelabrecs.bandcamp.com
artnorth-projects.org

mikaellind.com
facebook.com/shelmusik
instagram.com/racheljutka

End of 2020 Sale – 30% Off

On Friday for Bandcamp day, we announced our winter sale for the month of December and into January before we begin our schedule for 2021. This year’s sale double’s the amount off from last year; a massive 30%!

The reason we’ve gone over the top this year is by way of thanks for all the support we received to keep us going in a tough year, but also, because our storage cupboard is overflowing with unloved CDs!

So until midnight on the 14th of January 2021, you can enjoy an extra 30% off all of our catalog, both physical and digital.

Simply enter the following code into the discount box provided when you check out to access the 30% reduction on all items:

CODE: extra30
LINK:
https://whitelabrecs.bandcamp.com/merch

If you’re new to the label and not sure where to begin, please see a few select items from our 2020 catalog that are low on stock. These might be a good place to start if you want to check out our catalog – simply take a look below and hit ‘play’ on the embedded mini players. You can then click the player or image to be transported to the release page.


Various Artists “Home Diaries”
April-June| Digital Only

A feature to pretty much everyone’s 2020 has been the outbreak of Covid-19, it goes without saying. In March we had to stop all of our planned CDr releases, due to the closure of our local post-office. With nothing to release and bills to pay, we launched the Home Diaries series, in which 30 artists contributed an EP or album which we sold digitally. Each record in the series featured a recurring image of a lonely house in a field, with varying colour filters and there’s a bonus PDF interview with the artist included with each one.
This details what the artist’s situation was during lockdown or social distancing conditions, as well as their plans and what equipment they used to create their work.

You can check out a landing page below, which summarises each release in this series. We’ll be releasing a double compilation album in January next year, featuring a track from each album, so watch this space!

https://mailchi.mp/971a27fff884/homediaries


Glåsbird “Novaya Zemlya”
September | 15 copies left

Now having landed at 4 different geographical locations, Glåsbird’s most recent edition to this series is a trip to the isolated and sparsely populated island Novaya Zemlya. This destination is two islands split in two by the Matochkin Strait. The northern island is pretty much all glacier whereas the southern island is currently inhabited by just over 2000 people and was also the site of the largest ever nuclear bomb test, the Tsar Bomba. Glåsbird uses icy static, strings and hints of brass to weave some of their most dramatic compositions yet.


thme “that’s what it will be like”
September | 30 copies left

Something which may have escaped the radar, this tonal, textured Ambient record by Parisian artist thme has been enjoyed by those who have checked it out with some nice feedback being received. Field recordings, samples and damaged piano keys drape over this idyllic but surreal soundtrack, with collage artwork provided by artist Arctic Sun.


Polaroid Notes “Ghost Sounds”
November | 10 copies left

These have literally been flying out the door since we released this latest album by Polaroid Notes last month. Although not intended to necessarily be festive, this record feels apt for this kind of year as we’re in winter holiday season, or at least over here in Europe anyway. Polaroid Notes used piano and synth to create deep and cinematic soundscapes, with some spooky undertones. The cover artwork is particularly striking we think, with the artist providing photography from the Black Mountain region of Southern Germany across the four panels of this package.


Mikael Lind “Give Shape To Space”
July | 10 copies left

We were thrilled to be working on the release of this album by Iceland’s Mikael Lind, an artist whose work featured right at the top of our favourite albums of 2019. Unfortunately we had to delay the release of ‘Give Shape To Space’ and we’re thankful Mikael stayed patient with us. This record features a generous selection of strings, synth and textural sounds along with artwork by his partner, Sigga Björg


Jens Pauly “Below”
June| 21 Copies Remaining

In June, we were delighted to get going again with our CDr releases. First on the list was the return of Jens Pauly, who had contributed ‘Vihne’ to our catalog last year. As with his last release, Jens completed the full packaging creation himself and put together a combination of black and white photography with sleek, minimal design. The music is a further selection of electro-acoustic manipulations, carefully blended with filigree detail.


Out Now! Mikael Lind – Give Shape To Space

In the first of two new physical editions on Whitelabrecs, we welcome Iceland’s Mikael Lind, who many may recognise from his sublime album ‘Contingencies‘ on Archives, his collaboration with Hoshiko Yamane for Time Released Sound or perhaps keen readers of our liner notes, as he helped mix S.hel’s Disconnect which we released in March.
His new album ‘Give Shape To Space‘ straddles the line of friction between his two production styles as modern classical minimalism is interwoven with modular synths.

The album will be released on Saturday the 25th 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.

Our 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 or you can click HERE

https://whitelabrecs.bandcamp.com/album/give-shape-to-space

press release
“Mikael Lind is a composer and musician originally from Sweden, currently based in Reykjavik, Iceland. He has released music through labels such as Morr Music, Archives and Polar Seas Recordings and has also collaborated with Tangerine Dream’s Hoshiko Yamane in an album for Time Released Sound. Mikael had played a concert with Hoshiko late last year and had planned a European tour for 2020 which has been cancelled due to the covid-19 pandemic. He also contributed some of the groundwork and mixing expertise in S.hel’s ‘Disconnect’ which we released back in March this year.

Growing up, Mikael was influenced by Aphex Twin and much of the Warp catalog as well as showing a keen interest in classical music, with Arvo Pärt a particular inspiration. Piano and synthesisers form the forefront of his sound as he combines orchestral timbres with subtle electronics. Recently he has been moving increasingly away from the typical Ambient sound in two directions; one is towards more classical music, and the other towards more electronic, modular music. ‘Give Shape to Space’ is somehow representative of this friction, without taking sides; modern classical minimalism with strings and pianos share the field with evolving modular synths, both contributing to ripping apart the comfortable ambient soundscapes and making them more expressive.

Mikael had various shapes in his mind as he developed the structure and detail that this record has become. He was reading about physics and in particular, quantum leaps. Beyond this, Mikael doesn’t want to dissect his album too much, in the hope that you, the listener will bring your own shapes and imagination to this sound space.”

credits
Written and produced by Mikael Lind
Mastered by James Edward Armstrong
Artwork by Sigga Björg
Design by Harry Towell

Coming soon…Mikael Lind – Give Shape To Space

In the first of two new physical editions on Whitelabrecs, we welcome Iceland’s Mikael Lind, who many may recognise from his sublime album ‘Contingencies‘ on Archives, his collaboration with Hoshiko Yamane for Time Released Sound or perhaps keen readers of our liner notes, as he helped mix S.hel’s Disconnect which we released in March.
His new album ‘Give Shape To Space‘ straddles the line of friction between his two production styles as modern classical minimalism is interwoven with modular synths.

The album will be released on Saturday the 25th 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.

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
“Mikael Lind is a composer and musician originally from Sweden, currently based in Reykjavik, Iceland. He has released music through labels such as Morr Music, Archives and Polar Seas Recordings and has also collaborated with Tangerine Dream’s Hoshiko Yamane in an album for Time Released Sound. Mikael had played a concert with Hoshiko late last year and had planned a European tour for 2020 which has been cancelled due to the covid-19 pandemic. He also contributed some of the groundwork and mixing expertise in S.hel’s ‘Disconnect’ which we released back in March this year.

Growing up, Mikael was influenced by Aphex Twin and much of the Warp catalog as well as showing a keen interest in classical music, with Arvo Pärt a particular inspiration. Piano and synthesisers form the forefront of his sound as he combines orchestral timbres with subtle electronics. Recently he has been moving increasingly away from the typical Ambient sound in two directions; one is towards more classical music, and the other towards more electronic, modular music. ‘Give Shape to Space’ is somehow representative of this friction, without taking sides; modern classical minimalism with strings and pianos share the field with evolving modular synths, both contributing to ripping apart the comfortable ambient soundscapes and making them more expressive.

Mikael had various shapes in his mind as he developed the structure and detail that this record has become. He was reading about physics and in particular, quantum leaps. Beyond this, Mikael doesn’t want to dissect his album too much, in the hope that you, the listener will bring your own shapes and imagination to this sound space.”

credits
Written and produced by Mikael Lind
Mastered by James Edward Armstrong
Artwork by Sigga Björg
Design by Harry Towell

Out Now! S.hel – Disconnect

For our next release then, we have something truly striking in the form of this debut album by Reykjavik’s S.hel. It will be released on Piano Day, combines piano and strings compositions with electronics and cinematic effects. To my ears, it sits somewhere between the quieter moments of Aphex Twin’s Drukqs, and then the work of composers such as Hauschka, Nils Frahm and perhaps even the artist’s mentor Mikael Lind, who mixed the album. For us, the artwork absolutely sets this album off in a truly unique way, thanks to the work of Sarah Maria Yasdani, helped by Rakel Ýr Stefánsdóttir. It really embodies the concept of this album which is disconnection and questions of origin. We have a feeling it may very well strike a chord with people right now, even though the concept for this album was born long before Covid 19 was a thing and is not actually related! Our message to the world right now is to think of the people all around you and care for one another. Get connected, even if it has to be at a distance. The album was released on Piano Day, Saturday the 28th of March

Disconnect was released to subscribers of our mailing list last weekend, who had the first opportunity to grab one of these 100 CDs. We do have some available however, please note, there will be a delay in shipping following the closure of our post office due to Covid 19. We aim to ship every order as soon as we can but please bear this in mind if you decide to order. You can also stream the album in full on Bandcamp as well as Spotify and of course, you can grab a digital version if you prefer, by clicking the player above or link below. To avoid missing out on future releases, you can join our mailing list HERE: 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 or you can click HERE

https://whitelabrecs.bandcamp.com/album/disconnect


press release

“There’s a well-known German saying ‘Ich bin Weltbürger: überall zu Hause, überall fremd’ which roughly translates to ‘I’m a world citizen: I am everywhere at home and everywhere a stranger’. S.hel believes this is a phrase which describes him well; London his birthplace, being partly raised in Germany and residing in Iceland.

Disconnect is a debut album by an emerging artist, arriving at a time of uncertainty and disarray, where terms such as self-isolation and social distancing are on everyone’s lips. However, this record’s theme is not born out of the adversity that coined these phrases. Instead, when creating these works the artist was informed by his thoughts around identity and how we perceive it as a whole. Do places of origin matter? He moved around a lot as a child and at times, felt he had no roots which left him feeling very disconnected at times. Some years on and settling in Iceland, he now realises the valuable lessons and skills the experience has brought.

Disconnect follows the self-released EP ‘Lucid’ in 2018 and the primary instrument is the piano. Aptly, we will be releasing this album for piano day as this unique record draws in wide influences including mentor Mikael Lind who mixed the album, S.hel’s piano teachers Sunna Gunnlaugs and Kjartan Valdemarsson as well as compatriots Jóhann Jóhannsson and Hildur Guðnadóttir. Contemporary composers play their part too in the stimulus, such as Nils Frahm, Arvo Pärt and Max Richter. Disconnect flits between intimate and organic piano compositions and granulated or randomised electronic effects, interspersed with swathes of strings and synthesizer. Creaks and pensive moments navigate perceived silence and suspense, whilst the mood switches effortlessly to the grandeur of modern classical orchestration in equal measure.

This striking album package is complete with the wonderful concept artwork of Sarah Maria Yasdani and Rakel Ýr Stefánsdóttir who have also produced and directed accompanying music videos. The concept works hand in hand with the music and the themes of disconnection S.hel portrays and reflects on the loneliness resulting from being part of a society that has lost itself in daily routine. Currently the routine may be all we crave, but maybe amongst all this we can all find some way to connect again.”

credits
Written and produced by S.hel
Mixed by Mikael Lind
Mastered by James Edward Armstrong
Art concept and photography by Sarah Maria Yasdani and Rakel Ýr Stefánsdóttir

Coming soon…S.hel – Disconnect

The world is faced with a huge wave of adversity right now and the uncertainty will continue over the coming months and dare I say, beyond. Uncertainty isn’t anything new of course but I guess many of us get used to the status quo and find our normal. What do these times mean for Whitelabrecs? Well, the truth is – we don’t know in the short term. We’re pretty sure however, that the long term will be fine.
So with the rest of this year’s releases, we’ll be guided by you our listeners and followers and see what happens! For some regions, expect postal delays but for now here in the UK, my trusty postman assures me he still wants my business. So for now until I’m forced to stop, I’ll keep selling CDs and visiting him once or twice a week 🙂

Onto our next release then, we have something truly striking in the form of this debut album by Reykjavik’s S.hel. It will be released on Piano Day, combines piano and strings compositions with electronics and cinematic effects. To my ears, it sits somewhere between the quieter moments of Aphex Twin’s Drukqs, and then the work of composers such as Hauschka, Nils Frahm and perhaps even the artist’s mentor Mikael Lind, who mixed the album. For us, the artwork absolutely sets this album off in a truly unique way, thanks to the work of Sarah Maria Yasdani, helped by Rakel Ýr Stefánsdóttir. It really embodies the concept of this album which is disconnection and questions of origin. We have a feeling it may very well strike a chord with people right now, even though the concept for this album was born long before Covid 19 was a thing and is not actually related! Our message to the world right now is to think of the people all around you and care for one another. Get connected, even if it has to be at a distance.

The album will be released officially on Piano Day, Saturday the 28th of March but if you join our mailing list using the link below, we’ll make sure you’re the first to hear.

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 or you can click HERE

press release
“There’s a well-known German saying ‘Ich bin Weltbürger: überall zu Hause, überall fremd’ which roughly translates to ‘I’m a world citizen: I am everywhere at home and everywhere a stranger’. S.hel believes this is a phrase which describes him well; London his birthplace, being partly raised in Germany and residing in Iceland.

Disconnect is a debut album by an emerging artist, arriving at a time of uncertainty and disarray, where terms such as self-isolation and social distancing are on everyone’s lips. However, this record’s theme is not born out of the adversity that coined these phrases. Instead, when creating these works the artist was informed by his thoughts around identity and how we perceive it as a whole. Do places of origin matter? He moved around a lot as a child and at times, felt he had no roots which left him feeling very disconnected at times. Some years on and settling in Iceland, he now realises the valuable lessons and skills the experience has brought.

Disconnect follows the self-released EP ‘Lucid’ in 2018 and the primary instrument is the piano. Aptly, we will be releasing this album for piano day as this unique record draws in wide influences including mentor Mikael Lind who mixed the album, S.hel’s piano teachers Sunna Gunnlaugs and Kjartan Valdemarsson as well as compatriots Jóhann Jóhannsson and Hildur Guðnadóttir. Contemporary composers play their part too in the stimulus, such as Nils Frahm, Arvo Pärt and Max Richter. Disconnect flits between intimate and organic piano compositions and granulated or randomised electronic effects, interspersed with swathes of strings and synthesizer. Creaks and pensive moments navigate perceived silence and suspense, whilst the mood switches effortlessly to the grandeur of modern classical orchestration in equal measure.

This striking album package is complete with the wonderful concept artwork of Sarah Maria Yasdani and Rakel Ýr Stefánsdóttir who have also produced and directed accompanying music videos. The concept works hand in hand with the music and the themes of disconnection S.hel portrays and reflects on the loneliness resulting from being part of a society that has lost itself in daily routine. Currently the routine may be all we crave, but maybe amongst all this we can all find some way to connect again.”

credits
Written and produced by S.hel
Mixed by Mikael Lind
Mastered by James Edward Armstrong
Art concept and photography by Sarah Maria Yasdani and Rakel Ýr Stefánsdóttir

Out Now! Various Artists – Sleeplaboratory2.0

2019 was a truly landmark year for us, with our new gatefold-LP packaging style being so well received, not to mention all of the support and great feedback we received from fans and the press alike. We started the year with a special compilation album themed on sleep; Sleeplaboratory1.0. We’re delighted to launch a new decade and exciting times ahead with the follow-up to this series, Sleeplaboratory2.0. We’ve been working behind the scenes on this one since last summer and we’re proud of the results in an album which features established artists within the scene, alongside label familiar favourites.

Sleeplaboratory2.0 was released to subscribers of our mailing list last weekend and unfortunately these have now sold out already! You can still stream the album on Bandcamp and of course, grab a digital version by clicking the link below or image above. To avoid missing out on future releases, you can join our mailing list HERE

https://whitelabrecs.bandcamp.com/album/sleeplaboratory20

press release
“Sleeplaboratory is a compilation series that we launched in 2019 and the success of this effectively launched our printed gatefold-LP style CDrs which featured all of last year. The Sleeplaboratory1/.0 compilation was created as a special celebration for our fiftieth release and we enjoyed the concept so much, that we decided to run another one. Sleeplaboratory2.0 continues the themes of sleep, rest and personal reflection, not necessarily aiming to meet the current trend of mindfulness and well-being but instead, it intends to rest the listener in a way that is appropriate to them.

The idea was originally came about after our label owner Harry and his wife had a baby daughter, Isla. Harry curated a full-length compilation to help soothe his daughter to sleep and whilst Isla hasn’t needed much of a helping hand where sleep is concerned, he was keen to continue this project as a series. Throughout much of last year, we have been working on a follow-up, inviting artists to meet this sleepy brief of minimalist Ambient tones. We’ve invited familiar label artists back as well as established names and perhaps you’ll see that the odd one or two go on to have releases with us later this year.

Over the 16 tracks, a serene and enveloping environment is established. The physical product is as usual presented across four printed panels and this time, artwork is provided by Harry’s wife Beth in an image taken on a family day out. As usual, we will not make any recommendation on how our listeners might best enjoy this record and so it’s down to you to choose the best environment to listen, whether this be late at night with headphones, on a loud system or perhaps played through Bluetooth speakers in and around your home.”

credits
Curated by Harry Towell
Mastered by James Edward Armstrong
Cover Photography by Bethany Towell
Packaging design by Harry Towell