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 this latest instalment in the series, we’re looking at a hugely original release from the tail-end of last year, Eiko Ishibashi’s ‘The Dream My Bones Dream’.
‘The Dream My Bones Dream’ is one of those wonderfully unique albums that sounds like nothing apart from itself. There’re no obvious points of reference over the course of its runtime, only the uniquely understated mood that Eiko Ishibashi conjures up. Although she’s a talented vocalist with a frequent jazz-tinged delivery, practically as much of the album is instrumental as it is sung. ‘The Dream…’ – her sixth solo album in total – was produced alongside Jim O’Rourke. It’s a deftly executed collection which oscillates between string and piano led reveries and tauter, more overtly experimental soundscapes. Moments such as ‘Agloe’ find anxiously militaristic drums rolling forward as subtle harmonies glide above it all, Ishibashi’s nuanced vocals all the while keeping proceedings focused in spite of the experimentation on show. ‘The Dream…’ is a collection of deeply immersive material that demands attention not only for its sheer idiosyncrasy but also for its abundant quality.
‘The Dreams My Bones Dream’ has been released on vinyl via the ever-intriguing US label Drag City (for those wondering, you’ll have to import directly from Japan if you want the album on CD). The last time we looked at a Drag City vinyl release was actually recently, during our review of their Pearls Before Swine ‘Balaklava’ reissue. We were impressed with the quality of that pressing, and their treatment of ‘The Dreams…’ is no less impressive. Cut as a decently weighty slab of black wax, quality control is solid across the course of the album. The noise floor is minimal and can only be heard faintly during the run-ins and between a few of the songs; it’s more than quiet enough to be drowned out by the music. We picked up on a couple of minor pops here and there but these were very rare so were of no real concern. Other than that, we really had no complaints. The mastering is warm, centred and full of clarity. Playback is free of issues such as inner groove distortion and sibilance, making for a listening experience that ticks all the appropriate boxes. A great sounding release from Drag City.
Packaging and presentation is really classy here, and definitely fits the unique vibe of the music it contains. The art direction is lovely, with a hushed, attractive colour scheme and sensitive font choice. Print quality is excellent in every regard; colours are well replicated and both text and images are sharp. If we were to nitpick, it would have been great to have had the barcode attached to the shrinkwrap via a sticker rather than printed onto the sleeve as it has been. Having said that, it is at least as subtle as such a thing ever can be and does not detract from the slick art direction too much. Also included in the package is a really nice printed lyric inner sleeve, which boasts a pleasingly minimal art direction in-keeping with that of the main cover. The lyrics are printed in both Japanese and, rather considerately, English. We wouldn’t necessary recommend the print inner as a functional inner sleeve (the paper stock seems a little rough and may scuff the record if used repeatedly) but, with the caveat of putting the record in a polylined inner yourself after purchase, this is a really nice addition to the package. Also worth mentioning are the labels, which look great and also list the tracks found on each side – a small touch perhaps, but one that makes discerning which side is which all the easier.
This is a really great release, both in regards to the music itself and the vinyl release from Drag City. Those with an interest in arrestingly unique, borderline genreless music would do very well to listen to ‘The Dream My Bones Dream’, and doing so via the vinyl release makes for a great experience.
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!