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 giving a brief overview of the music itself. For today’s article, we’re spinning the latest outing from long-serving socially-conscious electro-rap outfit Asian Dub Foundation.
Asian Dub Foundation have to their name a long string of records which deal in the challenging realities of British life and politics. Their records are tableaus of the real; they offer the soundtrack to a country whose societal divisions have always been deeper-set than many would be willing to admit. It seems fitting, therefore, that ‘Access Denied’ – the group’s latest effort – finds the band as riled now as they’ve ever been. This is a record which bristles with fury directed at Prime Ministers none of us are likely to forget in a hurry; figures whose careless comments, lack of empathy and brash policy-making are traits which came to inform ‘Access Denied’, the album’s dense rhythms and caustic production reflecting its dark lyrical themes well. There’s been much discussion of America’s societal decay of the past half-decade but here Asian Dub Foundation tackle Britain’s no less fundamental atrophy, to compelling results.
Spread across two heavyweight slabs of black wax, the vinyl release of ‘Access Denied’ is one which seeks to present the album’s boisterous production in the best possible terms. It’s certainly successful in those goals; the four sides here are relatively short, skirting around the potential issues which come with overly long sides – issues which include inner groove distortion and reduced bass. Indeed, this is a great sound sounding release; the rhythms comes thick and fast yet never does the album’s sonic signature feel sloppy, with both the bass and vocals boasting a presence which lends them a full-blooded impact. In the case of our copy, both LPs sit flat upon the platter during playback and the quality of the audio itself is similarly stout, boasting a low noise floor which bears only a few errant crackles across the breadth of the album.
As is fitting of a double LP, ‘Access Denied’ is packaged in a sturdy gatefold cover and, whilst this shouldn’t really be notable in itself, it is frustratingly common for double LPs to appear in non-gatefold single sleeves only marginally (or sometimes not at all) wider than the cover for a single LP release. It is, therefore, a pleasant surprise to see this title offered in a full gatefold cover, one which spreads artwork across the full breadth of its gatefold panels. The records themselves appear in generic paper inner sleeves free of polylining and – whilst we would, as always, recommend swapping these out for more protective sleeves of your own – we were still able to remove the records from their sleeves without sustaining any damage or surface marking.
With ‘Access Denied’, Asian Dub Foundation have released a record wholly immersed in its time and place. Those who crave overtly politicised music which revels in its criticism of the status quo will certainly find that here and, for those prospective listeners who prefer their rabble-rousing on wax, this vinyl release ticks plenty of boxes.
Enjoyed this feature? We’re always looking for further albums to highlight on Vinyl Corner – and if you have a vinyl release that you’d love to see written about here, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org – it would be great to hear from you!