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Vinyl Corner : Devendra Banhart ‘Ape In Pink Marble’

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. Today we’re assessing Vinyl Me, Please’s version of Devendra Banhart’s eclectic latest, ‘Ape In Pink Marble’.

The Music:

A collection of charmingly lo-fi folk ballads and off-beat, fringe pop songs, ‘Ape In Pink Marble’ is Devendra Banhart’s latest in a string of niche experimental folk records going back some 15 years. It’s a quirky, varied collection of songs which manages to retain some sense of continuity in spite of the frequently borderline-genreless eccentricities of Banhart’s writing style – an approach that hints at the same experimental outlook as classic outsider songwriters such as Syd Barrett and Marc Bolan’s early, avant-folk fantasy realms. ‘Ape In Pink Marble’ is a curious, idiosyncratic record and simply by the virtue of that fact, it’s a hard record to grasp upon initial listens; investment of time is rewarded however and the album proves itself to be a set of songs that certainly pays back in kind any effort given over to it.

The Pressing:

We’re looking at the Vinyl Me, Please exclusive pressing of the album here, released in a run of 500 copies. The record itself is pressed in a beautiful shade of transparent marbled lilac which looks especially great if held up to a light source. It’s on roughly mid-weight vinyl (we would guess perhaps 140g) and playback is really solid. The album’s recording quality is purposefully lo-fi here, so it’s not exactly a sonic tour-de-force but such stylistic decisions certainly lead to a charming presence of its own and the pressing itself is generally quiet with a low noise floor. We did get a touch of light noise in a couple of places but this is unobtrusive and generally playback is very clean. The disc sits flat on the platter during playback and the record is clean out of the sleeve, being free of debris and marks from factory handling. Overall, a really solid pressing and a great way to hear the album.

The Packaging:

Presentation is attractive throughout this release, with the soft-focus charm of the hand-drawn art looking great, even when spread over an LP sleeve. If we’re being critical, the spine could stand to be a little more vibrant – the juxtaposition of pale blue on white doesn’t particularly pop out – but that’s a minor issue at most and overall presentation of the sleeve is both quietly attractive and in keeping with the subtlety of the musical content. Two stickers on the shrinkwrap are welcome additions, giving the name of the album in addition to confirmation of exclusivity to Vinyl Me, Please – both can be removed if wanted but we think they look good. Also included is a very attractive fold-out poster, boasting a candid shot of Banhart on one side and lyrics to the full album on the other. It’s a refreshing addition to the package and a real throwback to a time when posters were frequently included in vinyl releases. Although inserts are not altogether uncommon today, it’s a rarity to see a poster included nowadays and the choice to add one here is very welcome indeed. It’s also printed on nice quality paper, and a download code (redeemable in MP3) is also included for those wanting to listen to the album on the go.

Final Thoughts:

A thoroughly attractive package of one of last year’s most intriguingly quirky releases, the Vinyl Me, Please pressing of ‘Ape In Pink Marble’ is both visually and sonically arresting. The pressing itself is quiet and clean and, although the album has an unmistakably lo-fi quality to it, there’s a definite charm to that and all in all this pressing stands as a great way to experience the album.

Devendra Banhart ‘Ape in Pink Marble'