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 looking at Dumb Numbers’ ‘Stranger’ EP released by Joyful Noise Recordings.
Since their 2011 inception, Dumb Numbers have grown more than adept at crafting impressionistic, panoramically atmospheric soundscapes in which dark tonality and creeping atmosphere are the order of the day. Released earlier this year, their ‘Stranger’ EP is one of deeply abstract sonic landscapes in which ephemeral snatches of clarity hover in a miasma of disquiet; it’s not easy listening per se but it is undeniably affecting and unmistakably potent in the right context. The group certainly don’t lack the room to explore, with the entire near half hour EP being spread over two lengthy pieces. The first and longer of the two is fully instrumental but the second pits a distant echoing monologue against music no more overtly hook-based than the piece that preceded it. While Dumb Numbers do certainly request of their listeners a degree of fortitude few have, those with an ear for the murky avant-garde performances found on the EP will certainly find much auditory nourishment here.
Where most 12″ EPs and singles are on relatively lightweight vinyl, this pressing weighs in with a pretty substantial heft. As well as feeling sturdy in hand it sits flat and unwarped on the platter during playback and the record looks simply superb with a fantastical blend of of green and purple. If the record sets a lofty visual precedent then it’s one that it has no trouble living up to auditorily. Playback is near-as-dammit silent throughout with a noise floor as quiet as a whisper and no defects on our copy to distract from the album’s searing ambience. Running at 45rpm, this pressing sounds great and really lets the EP’s blistering harmonics ring out.
Packaging and presentation is unusual but fetching on this release and definitely sets the EP apart. Rather than being housed in a traditional sleeve, the record is instead packaged in a wrap-around card insert which presents the EP’s eerie cover art in fine form, whilst also giving a track-list on the back and a small handwritten numbering – out of 500 copies – to give the release a personalised touch. The one downside of this is that there’s no spine – so unless you’re particularly organised with your record collection, finding it may prove tricky. That’s no deal breaker though and we really like the way the EP has been packaged, as it gives the release a unique flavour of its own.
Sonically arresting and powerfully involving, ‘Stranger’ is a great EP from Dumb Numbers and the vinyl release from Joyful Noise Recordings is just great, not only allowing the music to be heard under optimal conditions but also giving the release a memorable and unorthodox presentation that only reinforces the band’s one-off identity.