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! dziadosz/mreńca – mirage (reworks)

Next we welcome Polish artists Bartosz Dziadosz and Tomasz Mreńca with Mirage, which is a reissue and adaptation from a release on Taalem last year. The album includes artwork by Peter Nejedly and the album opens with interpretations of the original Modern Classical composition by SpheruleusSven Laux and Giulio Aldinucci. The remastered version of Mirage then closes out this record, with the dark and mysterious listening experience recalling the work of The Frozen Vaults, Erik Skodvin or Max Richter.

This album was announced to our mailing list last weekend and there are but a few copies left at the time of writing. You can listen to the album in full by hitting play above or clicking the link below, where you can purchase a physical or digital version. To avoid missing out on our future releases, you can join our mailing list HERE

https://whitelabrecs.bandcamp.com/album/mirage-reworks

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
Bartosz Dziadosz and Tomasz Mreńca are friends and artists from Poland. They started collaborating on musical projects a few years ago, most notably as part of modern classical group The Frozen Vaults which also include Harry Towell, Yuki Murata and Dave Dhonau. This group saw a far flung collaboration with locations including the United Kingdom, Japan as well as Poland and recordings shared over great distance as the project developed.

In ‘Mirage’ and also the recent ‘Black Lake’, the project sees Bartosz and Tomasz collaborate closer to home. Bartosz records solo material as Pleq and works with sound as part of the theatre whereas Tomasz generates sounds on analog synthesisers and violin. Mirage was originally released as a 3 inch CDr via Belgian label Taâlem last year and we’re pleased to present this piece in its remastered state, alongside reworks and interpretations from Spheruleus, Sven Laux and Giulio Aldinucci. Each of these renowned composers were invited to portray the dark, mysterious passages of Mirage in a different light, making for an album experience rather than a simple reissue with ‘remixes’.

Spheruleus selected a looping section of the original strings in a brooding, dramatic piece steeped in tape decay, Sven Laux has focused more on the timbral quality of the strings whereas Giulio Aldinucci sculpts the piece into a dynamic drone which reaches a subtly noise shrouded crescendo. The reworks are followed by the original, in all its glory.

We’re informed that Mirage was inspired by Witold Lutosławski as Bartosz and Tomasz had listened to his work together.
When they set about composing Mirage, they wanted to create this in their image and since they are so used to each other’s company, they did not need to labour into plans and concepts. Instead, the music flowed freely. The concept became the action of creating itself, in a way which etches a description of the artists themselves, for the listener to decode.

credits
Written and produced Bartosz Dziadosz and Tomasz Mreńca
Mastered by Tim Diagram
Artwork by Peter Nejedly

Coming soon…dziadosz/mreńca – mirage (reworks)

Next we welcome Polish artists Bartosz Dziadosz and Tomasz Mreńca with Mirage, which is a reissue and adaptation from a release on Taalem last year. The album includes artwork by Peter Nejedly and the album opens with interpretations of the original Modern Classical composition by SpheruleusSven Laux and Giulio Aldinucci. The remastered version of Mirage then closes out this record, with the dark and mysterious listening experience recalling the work of The Frozen Vaults, Erik Skodvin or Max Richter.

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
Bartosz Dziadosz and Tomasz Mreńca are friends and artists from Poland. They started collaborating on musical projects a few years ago, most notably as part of modern classical group The Frozen Vaults which also include Harry Towell, Yuki Murata and Dave Dhonau. This group saw a far flung collaboration with locations including the United Kingdom, Japan as well as Poland and recordings shared over great distance as the project developed.

In ‘Mirage’ and also the recent ‘Black Lake’, the project sees Bartosz and Tomasz collaborate closer to home. Bartosz records solo material as Pleq and works with sound as part of the theatre whereas Tomasz generates sounds on analog synthesisers and violin. Mirage was originally released as a 3 inch CDr via Belgian label Taâlem last year and we’re pleased to present this piece in its remastered state, alongside reworks and interpretations from Spheruleus, Sven Laux and Giulio Aldinucci. Each of these renowned composers were invited to portray the dark, mysterious passages of Mirage in a different light, making for an album experience rather than a simple reissue with ‘remixes’.

Spheruleus selected a looping section of the original strings in a brooding, dramatic piece steeped in tape decay, Sven Laux has focused more on the timbral quality of the strings whereas Giulio Aldinucci sculpts the piece into a dynamic drone which reaches a subtly noise shrouded crescendo. The reworks are followed by the original, in all its glory.

We’re informed that Mirage was inspired by Witold Lutosławski as Bartosz and Tomasz had listened to his work together.
When they set about composing Mirage, they wanted to create this in their image and since they are so used to each other’s company, they did not need to labour into plans and concepts. Instead, the music flowed freely. The concept became the action of creating itself, in a way which etches a description of the artists themselves, for the listener to decode.

credits
Written and produced Bartosz Dziadosz and Tomasz Mreńca
Mastered by Tim Diagram
Artwork by Peter Nejedly

Drifting, Almost Falling Interview

Harry Towell our label curator was fired a few questions by the Drifting, Almost Falling blog this month, focusing on all things Whitelabrecs. It’s been a while since we’ve done an interview so it’s always nice to check in, talk about how things have been going lately and maybe hint at the odd plan for the future.

You can listen read the interview on the Drifting, Almost Falling site by clicking HERE and perhaps read some of the other articles and musical recommendations whilst you’re at it?

Alternatively, the full interview is included below…

DAF: You record under the Spheruleus name (as well as Magnofon) and run the Tesselate, Audio Gourmet and Warehouse Decay labels while also writing for the Irregular Crates Blog. What was the impetus in starting another label? Are you a workaholic? Are Tesselate and Warehouse Decay still active?

HTI am indeed a workaholic. I have no idea how I find the time. But then I don’t truly see music as work so it’s not hard. With all the labels and pseudonyms, I guess like many artists, I have a habit of starting something new! Some creators end things by closing doors neatly behind them when they intend to open a new one. Others, like me, tend to leave doors open and chop and change between projects. Audio Gourmet for instance could have stopped a couple of years back when I was working more on Tesselate and Warehouse Decay, but I am glad I left the door ajar , as this year I’ve been putting out free EP’s again and really enjoyed it, with some great support.

Currently Warehouse Decay is inactive and I’ve no immediate plans to get it going again. I’ve always loved House music and wanted to be a part of the scene and use my experience running Ambient labels to make a go of it. Unfortunately it proved a tough nut to crack and apart from a few friends who supported it loyally, I felt pretty alone. It’s interesting that Ambient music fans, artists, labels etc have all taken different paths to stumble on the genre, many from Post Rock, Metal or IDM, many from the New Age or ethnic Ambient genres too. It seems that Deep House is not such a conventional route and so I didn’t have as many interested contacts or a connected audience.

Tessellate is not fully closed, despite being inactive of late. I always feel it could be another window if I felt like splashing the cash on some more luxurious packaging but the trouble is the risk as to whether I’d make enough back to justify a bigger release.

I launched Whitelabrecs after an idea which was the blueprint for the packaging and I recalled how well Under The Spire did as a label when starting out, when they released things in simple rubber stamped cardboard packages. I had also recently been reunited with my record collection and was feeling very nostalgic about the days when I’d visit local record stores, purchasing white label vinyl as I got to grips with DJing. Often records would have nothing other than a sticker or rubber stamp, sometimes even just an etching on the black plastic space near the label. So I did the usual, set up a website, a Bandcamp page and started asking around to see if anyone would want to release on this new label of mine. Thankfully there was a lot of interest and here we are today!

DAF: How important is the visual identity to the label? Compared to the Tesselate releases, Whitelabrec’s releases have the hand-made aesthetic. Was it important for the label to have an aesthetic to encompass a concept?

HTFor Whitelabrecs this has become crucially important – it was the idea behind the label and I’ll keep it going for as long as I can. I think this is also why I slowed down with Tessellate, as the packaging is different for pretty much every release and the label never truly found an identity. When the idea struck for Whitelabrecs, I truly connected with it and wanted this to be the plan for all releases on the label. I knew there’d be the odd detour but for general releases, I decided that it was very important to follow the pattern this time so I could build an identity.

DAF: Is the label genre bound or do the releases float over various genres?

HT: The label isn’t genre-bound as it will be rooted in my own music taste which is incredibly varied. So far releases have been generally within the modern Ambient scene, perhaps encompassing most of the sub-genres from floatier drone stuff, to glitch electronics and onto Modern Classical, Folk and even Jazz. This has generally gone down well with listeners. I’m open to pushing the boundaries in the future and taking one or two detours so watch this space! But generally, I’m looking at releasing introspective, thought-provoking music and can’t see that changing. In other words, I’m not likely to rekindle my failed dreams from Warehouse Decay by releasing dancefloor-ready Tech House!

DAF: A glance at the catalog reveals a mixture of familiar names with those that are new (or side projects). How important is it to you to expose people to new artists? Does this become a factor when deciding what to release?

HTI have always worked with both newer names to the scene and more established artists and in the Whitelabrecs catalog there is a blend. I don’t dwell too much on whether an artist has released before, how successful their other work was or how many Instagram followers they have. We’ve only got 50 copies to make and sell, of which the artist gets 10. So I only have to worry about those 40 copies and they tend to shift regardless of how well established an artist is. Sure, it certainly helps to have some familiar names –releases by Tsone, Steve Pacheco and Guy Gelem took little in the way of a push! I’m also delighted to give some other artists their first taste of releasing a physical album however, such as Sea Trials, Ludmila and Ben McElroy. I remember how exciting this felt when I first held a copy of ‘Frozen Quarters’ which I released as Spheruleus on Under The Spire.

Looking at the future of the label there are no plans to just attract well-known artists now it’s a bit more established. We have demos queued up until WLR043 and in that queue we’ve got some well-known artists as well as new comers so the blend will continue.

DAF: You’ve recently done a cassette release and the 20 cdr box set. What other plans do you have for the future? Do you plan quite far in advance?

HTThere’ll likely be another box set for those that don’t mind waiting a year or two to play catch up. I did this so that there’s a way for people new to the label to not miss out completely and also, because I was getting asked about out of print releases. I’ve always said I wouldn’t reissue anything individually, but since box set orders are always likely to be low due to the price tag, I took the decision to do this just so there is a way for new collectors to join in the fun.
I enjoyed making the mix tape too and was surprised at the level of interest having never worked with this format before. I’ll certainly be doing more mix tape releases in the future and perhaps get into the local fields and continue the photography theme for the artwork.

There are no other clear ideas just yet as I’m currently just getting my head down and working my way through the discography queue. I think another compilation could be in order at some point but there’s no overall rush on that. There will be new ideas though – with both the box set and the tape, the ideas struck me suddenly and it doesn’t take me long to pull it all together once ideas such as these set in.

With schedule, I’ll take in demos and add them to the back of the queue once approved. I’ll leave them until I get nearer – perhaps drop in with the artist and have a chat now and again. Some artists are very keen and understandably so, so we organise things well in advance so everything’s ready. Other artists are happy to leave it until the few weeks in the run up to the release and wait for me to get back in touch.

There is a lot to do for each release but we’ve followed a similar formula since the beginning, so I’m quite used to it now, 28 releases in – so the work isn’t too daunting. I guess burning the CDs is the most time-consuming thing but that gives me a chance to work on other things, listen to music and relax bit too.

Whitelabrecs Box Set

We’re busy working behind the scenes on our next release which is imminent, however we’ve had the idea for a long time of putting together a Box Set of our first 20 releases so that there is at least some way of people new to the label being able to get a copy of our many sold out/out of print items.

We’ve made it clear that we won’t re-press any albums as we want to keep things small and collectable but for those looking to either preserve the collection or play ‘catch-up’ if they’ve only recently discovered us we think it’d be cool to make things available as a box set.

The package itself is simple and ‘DIY‘, very much like each of the CDr releases we put out with a card board box being the perfect size to comfortably house the 20 discs. The box will be hand-stamped in an ink colour of your choosing and the vinyl-style CDrs will be contained with a polaroid of the cover artwork and inside card sleeves. Again, you can choose the colour of the sleeves.
You’ll be contacted following your purchase and we’ll consult on your options and then we’ll order the materials, burn the discs and deliver to you securely!

You can visit our dedicated page on the Whitelabrecs Bandcamp site where an order can be placed by clicking below or HERE

https://whitelabrecs.bandcamp.com/merch/whitelabrecs-cdr-box-set-1-20

Out now! WLR021 Various Artists – Whitelabsounds

This is a proud day for us at Whitelabrecs HQ – we’ve been working hard behind the scenes for a while on our very first compilation album and for this, our packaging/design takes a slight turn. This release continues along the lines of vinyl-effect CDrs of course but this time, we’ve splashed out on creating a small scale fine-art vinyl imitation CDr, which is presented exactly as a professional vinyl LP would, only smaller!

The album sees us make good use of the full space on the disc as we’ve approached our own artists, label friends and established artists alike. The final product sees well-known producers such as Offthesky, Darkroom and The Green Kingdom line up alongside our very own David Kolhne, Jose Soberanes and Ondrej Zajac. We couldn’t be happier with the packaging and the quality of the tones contained on the disc and we hope you will be too.

As you can imagine, most of the 100 copies have been gobbled up by our subscribers however, at the time of writing copies of this album are still available – to find out more or grab a copy, 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/whitelabsounds

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
“Since we began running Whitelabrecs in January 2016 we’ve managed to put out 20 albums covering the varied ground of the Ambient scene and featuring artists both new and established. Usually by the time that this many releases have amassed, most labels will have created at least one compilation or sampler but rest assured, we’ve been working behind the scenes for several months on our very own ‘Whitelabsounds’.

Our very first compilation album features a CDr full of top drawer Ambient and Experimental music featuring well known artists in the scene such as Offthesky, Maps and Diagrams, The Green Kingdom, Wil Bolton and Darkroom as well as contributors to our discography and other friends.
The album is presented as a small-scale fine-art vinyl LP imitation package, with a printed outer photographic/graphic sleeve, white card inner sleeve and a printed vinyl-effect CDr. There’s not a rubber stamp or white label in sight, as we wanted to present something truly special and hopefully, the start of a series.

The sounds contained within the disk are to be seen as a mood board of the various shades of modern Ambient music, with darker drones concocted from electronics and light noise sitting alongside beautiful electro-acoustic pieces, framed as a sort of mosaic. Every tile tells a story as each artist’s environment, experience and influence helps shape their sound. Somehow, the whole body of work becomes greater than the sum of its parts and that brings us to the artwork, a photograph of tessellating mosaic tiles taken in Pompeii, Italy.
Some tiles are worn and disintegrated whereas some are smooth and clear, perfectly reflecting the tones that can be heard on this inaugural Whitelabsounds compilation.”

Catalog number WLR021
Mastered by Tim Diagram
Photography by Bethany Towell
Artwork by Harry Towell

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Coming soon…Various Artists | Whitelabsounds

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This is a proud day for us at Whitelabrecs HQ – we’ve been working hard behind the scenes for a while on our very first compilation album and for this, our packaging/design takes a slight turn. This release continues along the lines of vinyl-effect CDrs of course but this time, we’ve splashed out on creating a small scale fine-art vinyl imitation CDr, which is presented exactly as a professional vinyl LP would, only smaller!

The album sees us make good use of the full space on the disc as we’ve approached our own artists, label friends and established artists alike. The final product sees well-known producers such as Offthesky, Darkroom and The Green Kingdom line up alongside our very own David Kolhne, Jose Soberanes and Ondrej Zajac. We couldn’t be happier with the packaging and the quality of the tones contained on the disc and we hope you will be too.

This will be released to our subscribers first, so to avoid missing out be sure to sign up to our mailing list so you hear about it first!

Please note, this is a CDr, not a vinyl record!

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
“Since we began running Whitelabrecs in January 2016 we’ve managed to put out 20 albums covering the varied ground of the Ambient scene and featuring artists both new and established. Usually by the time that this many releases have amassed, most labels will have created at least one compilation or sampler but rest assured, we’ve been working behind the scenes for several months on our very own ‘Whitelabsounds’.

Our very first compilation album features a CDr full of top drawer Ambient and Experimental music featuring well known artists in the scene such as Offthesky, Maps and Diagrams, The Green Kingdom, Wil Bolton and Darkroom as well as contributors to our discography and other friends.
The album is presented as a small-scale fine-art vinyl LP imitation package, with a printed outer photographic/graphic sleeve, white card inner sleeve and a printed vinyl-effect CDr. There’s not a rubber stamp or white label in sight, as we wanted to present something truly special and hopefully, the start of a series.

The sounds contained within the disk are to be seen as a mood board of the various shades of modern Ambient music, with darker drones concocted from electronics and light noise sitting alongside beautiful electro-acoustic pieces, framed as a sort of mosaic. Every tile tells a story as each artist’s environment, experience and influence helps shape their sound. Somehow, the whole body of work becomes greater than the sum of its parts and that brings us to the artwork, a photograph of tessellating mosaic tiles taken in Pompeii, Italy.
Some tiles are worn and disintegrated whereas some are smooth and clear, perfectly reflecting the tones that can be heard on this inaugural Whitelabsounds compilation.”

Catalog number WLR021
Mastered by Tim Diagram
Photography by Bethany Towell
Artwork by Harry Towell

Coming soon… Various Artists | Whitelabsounds

We’re keeping further details fairly close to our chest, but we wanted to share a project that will be ready to drop very soon: our very first compilation album!

This will be released in a bigger run than our usual fifty copies and will include work from Whitelabrecs’ contributors such as Spheruleus, David Kolhne, Ondrej Zajac and La Petite Vague as well as a few friends we’ve drafted in such as The Green Kingdom, Offthesky, Maps and Diagrams and Darkroom.

Out now! WLR011 Spheruleus – Obsolarium

Next up on the Whitelabrecs catalog, we have an album by our label owner Harry Towell under his Spheruleus guise. This record sees our catalog return toAmbient territory but Harry is renowned for creating an Ambient sound that is put together using mainly acoustic sources. ‘Obsolarium‘ is an album inspired by an abandoned Bass Maltings brewery complex with Harry providing photography from the grounds of the Grade II listed building.

Harry’s work is influenced by a variety of genres as his music taste draws in Ambient, Folk, Downtempo Electronica, Jazz, Modern Classical and Deep House to name but a few. Particular artist influences include The Gentleman Losers, Richard Skelton and Offthesky. ‘Obsolarium’ is available now on Whitelabrecsin a very low run of just 50 CDrs.

The album went out to our mailing list subscribers last weekend and most copies have sold – there are just a few left however at time of writing. To find out more or secure your copy, 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

Take a look through this email to find out more or click the link below, or image above.

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

 

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Press release
“Spheruleus is Lincolnshire, UK based sound artist Harry Towell who has previously released work through labels such as Eilean, Home Normal, Hibernate and Under The Spire. Harry has been active as Spheruleus since 2009 with his discography starting on netlabels before progressing to limited edition physical records. Over the years Harry’s musical projects have included blogging, DJing and more recently, running record labels. He is responsible for netlabel Audio Gourmet, occasional physical label Tessellate Recordings and House/Techno label Warehouse Decay.

Harry has been making music one way or another for over 15 years, with early work being more in the Deep House field when he also used to DJ. In his DJing days, Harry’s chosen format was always vinyl which is where the inspiration for his new label for 2016 came from; Whitelabrecs specialises in highly limited edition runs of vinyl-effect CDrs, inspired by some of the white label bootlegs he purchased during the early 2000s. So far we’ve amassed a discography of ten albums varying in style and next, Harry presents an album as Spheruleus entitled ‘Obsolarium’. The record is inspired by the abandoned Bass Maltings complex which is located in Sleaford, Lincolnshire and was formerly used to brew beer up until the late 1950s. The buildings have been pretty much abandoned ever since and due to their impressive stature and Grade II listed status, they have remained an ever present fixture of the landscape surrounding Sleaford, as development or demolition continues to stall.

Harry was simply fascinated by this towering set of buildings and also, its abandoned state of decay which has been a feature in his work for many years. It is not possible to legally enter the premises, so Harry took a series of photos and field recordings standing at the gates and Obsolarium was born. Harry set about weaving decaying sounds of acoustic instruments, samples, drone loops and various lo-fi VST effects. Instruments and sounds used include an out of tune piano at his local village pub, (recorded after everyone had left), a detuned piano at a friend’s house, a violin, classical guitar, voice, harmonica, zither, a warped music box, a cello iPad app and vinyl samples.

Obsolarium tells a story starting with the commercial success of a powerful brewery, the rail links used to distribute the produce before descending into a melancholy reflection of what once was, accompanied all the while with a crumbling disintegration. Whilst everything unravels and fragments, the series of structures remain.”



credits
Catalog number: WLR011
Written and produced by Harry Towell
Mastered by Tim Diagram
Photography by Harry Towell

Coming soon…Spheruleus | Obsolarium

Full steam ahead as usual and next on the Whitelabrecs discography we welcome Spheruleus to the catalog. Some of our followers/fans will know that the man behind the label is Harry Towell who also records Ambient music as Spheruleus and we’re sure they’ll have anticipated a highly limited Whitelabrecs release from Harry at some point. ‘Obsolarium‘ moves us back to Ambient territory with the label but with the acoustic sound sources typical of the Spheruleus sound taking centre stage. Harry’s work here sees piano, classical guitar, violin, voice zither and harmonica recordings woven into a crumbling ten track tapestry inspired by an abandoned brewery complex near to his home town. You can listen to a preview of the album by using the Soundcloud player below or keep a check on our Facebook page to preview the packaging when we share it.

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
“Spheruleus is Lincolnshire, UK based sound artist Harry Towell who has previously released work through labels such as Eilean, Home Normal, Hibernate and Under The Spire. Harry has been active as Spheruleus since 2009 with his discography starting on netlabels before progressing to limited edition physical records. Over the years Harry’s musical projects have included blogging, DJing and more recently, running record labels. He is responsible for netlabel Audio Gourmet, occasional physical label Tessellate Recordings and House/Techno label Warehouse Decay.

Harry has been making music one way or another for over 15 years, with early work being more in the Deep House field when he also used to DJ. In his DJing days, Harry’s chosen format was always vinyl which is where the inspiration for his new label for 2016 came from; Whitelabrecs specialises in highly limited edition runs of vinyl-effect CDrs, inspired by some of the white label bootlegs he purchased during the early 2000s. So far we’ve amassed a discography of ten albums varying in style and next, Harry presents an album as Spheruleus entitled ‘Obsolarium’. The record is inspired by the abandoned Bass Maltings complex which is located in Sleaford, Lincolnshire and was formerly used to brew beer up until the late 1950s. The buildings have been pretty much abandoned ever since and due to their impressive stature and Grade II listed status, they have remained an ever present fixture of the landscape surrounding Sleaford, as development or demolition continues to stall.

Harry was simply fascinated by this towering set of buildings and also, its abandoned state of decay which has been a feature in his work for many years. It is not possible to legally enter the premises, so Harry took a series of photos and field recordings standing at the gates and Obsolarium was born. Harry set about weaving decaying sounds of acoustic instruments, samples, drone loops and various lo-fi VST effects. Instruments and sounds used include an out of tune piano at his local village pub, recorded after everyone had left, a detuned piano at a friend’s house, a violin, classical guitar, voice, harmonica, zither, a warped music box, a cello iPad app and vinyl samples.

Obsolarium tells a story starting with the commercial success of a powerful brewery, the rail links used to distribute the produce before descending into a melancholy reflection of what once was accompanied all the while with a crumbling disintegration. Whilst everything unravels and fragments, the series of structures remain.