Vinyl Corner is a feature where we take a look at vinyl pressings of various albums and weigh them up to see just how good they sound, how well they’re pressed and what sort of packaging to expect, as well as a brief overview of the music itself. This time we’re analyzing the ethereal soundscapes of TALsounds‘ 2017 release ‘Love Sick’
So much music has an obvious beginning and end, an overt sense of forward momentum that keeps the sounds therein contained within broad notions of normality; TALsounds trades in something more subtle than that. Rather than conventionally structured tracks bound up in the usual notions of songcraft, Natalie Chami’s songs simply drift – that’s not to say ‘Love Sick’ is an album lacking in direction, but it is one that is best taken as a mood piece; an album to absorb not in the way you would most others, but rather in more intangible, emotive terms. It’s an album of gently ebbing waves – a sighing backing vocal here, a gloopy synthesizer there – one that, by nature of its tactile ambience, is well suited to the raw soul of the vinyl format. Hooks are few and far between here – ‘Love Sick’ certainly isn’t an album of earworms – but it is a sweeping, powerful exercise in place and time and one that serves as the ideal soundtrack of a moment of inner contemplation.
Surface noise can kill albums where subtlety and nuanced inflection are central to their impact, so it’s fortunate that the vinyl pressing of ‘Love Sick’ is a very good one. We did get the occasional light errant crackle but nothing more and it’s definitely a great sounding pressing with a low to almost nonexistent noise level throughout and very few records at this low pricepoint ($18 from Ba Da Bing Records’ webstore) boast outright flawless playback. The record itself is well made, weighing in around 180g by our count and sitting nice and flat on the platter during play. There are some signs of factory handling on our copy but these are non-sounding so it’s no more than a visual imperfection.
Sonically, there’s a dynamism to ‘Love Sick’ that’s made the most of on this vinyl pressing and, as such, allows it to stand as the definitive way to hear the album. The complexly overdubbed waves of vocal have a clarity and individual tonality to them that’s certainly hinted at on other formats but really comes alive on wax. Synthesizers, too, have an acute sense of light and dark here, ethereally shimmering high-end notes have a real weightlessness to them, whilst the sub-bass rumbles lurch with an ineffable presence and weight behind them that lends the whole album a sense of auditory vitality best represented on vinyl.
The sleeve is fetching and solidly constructed, boasting a striking, minimalist visual streak that lends the often oblique atmospheres of the music a more concrete counterpoint. Print is well defined and high quality, with the candid cover shot being rendered in good quality – the spine in particular stands out by way of a bold font and eye-catching colour combination that means this is an album that is never difficult to find on the shelf. The inner sleeve is a generic, non-polylined paper one so replacing that would be worthwhile; but other than that there’s nothing to fault here, especially given the pricepoint. Also worth noting is the inclusion of a bandcamp download code, redeemable in an array of file types including MP3, WAV and FLAC.
‘Love Sick’ is an album simultaneously caustic and warm, alien and deeply human. It’s a duality that flourishes within the context of a record’s tactility and Ba Da Bing’s vinyl pressing of the album delivers a dynamic soundscape that lives up to that. The overall presentation is striking and powerful; the album’s minimalist aesthetics standing up well to the physicality of the format, the record likewise being well pressed so that immersion in the album’s lucid soundscapes is easily attainable.