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 spin round we’re slipping the new LP from Icelandic synthmiesters, Fufanu, onto the turntable.
Iceland’s Fufanu have an interesting discography under their wing. Initially starting out as a techno act, before moving into indie influenced territory over the past few years, their latest outing – ‘The Dialogue Series’ – compiles a trilogy of digital-only EPs release over the past few months. It’s a synth-driven collection of tracks infused with the kind of dour sound-craft which informed albums such as The Cure’s ‘Seventeen Seconds’, and even Joy Division’s ‘Closer’. Throw into the mix a healthy dosage of Berlin-school and kosmische ’70s/’80s electronica, and you have an intriguing recipe indeed. There’s even a nod to the more rock-infused end of Drum ‘n’ Bass, perhaps even mid ’90s Bowie, in standout cut ‘Chop Chop’.
Released by long serving indie establishment One Little Indian, the vinyl edition of ‘The Dialogue Series’ has been pressed by Germany’s ever-popular Optimal Media. As far as their track record goes, they’re something of a patchy pressing plant and we have heard some records from them that disappointed due to surface noise and moderate crackle. Likewise, we have seen plenty of highly convincing, robust releases from the plant over the years too, and – perhaps through luck, or perhaps through a diligent test-pressing process – this release fortunately falls firmly into the latter camp. The noise floor is really low here and is barely audible even on the run-ins, let alone during the music. Playback itself is very tidy; there’s not a single pop or loud crackle to speak of on our copy, and only some very intermittent background surface noise can be heard now and then. Fidelity is excellent throughout; at only 5 normal length songs per side, there’s nowhere near enough music here to risk the likes of inner groove distortion, and the sonics are crisp throughout. The belching and buzzing synthesizers are particularly pleasing here – the panned saw wave at the start of ‘Chop Chop’ is quite the force to be reckoned with through headphones. A great pressing then, with very little in the way of complaints from us.
If the pressing itself offers a steadfast and commendable way of hearing the music, then the packaging and presentation admirably complement the sonic experience. Housed in a slick gatefold sleeve, this is an attractively presented release with an appealingly clean art direction. The jacket itself is sturdily made and print quality is solid as well, with lovely, vivid colours and sharp clarity. The spine is well laid out, and its brilliant yellow colour scheme makes it easily locatable at a glance. The LP can be found in a custom-printed art inner sleeve, which also looks great. As an actual, functioning inner sleeve, it’s not one we’d recommend because, like all such print inners, it has a tendency to cling to the record and risks leaving surface abrasions upon removal. However, while we would suggest keeping the record in a polylined inner of some sort, you can’t fault the printed inner as an addition to the overall presentation. Rounding off the package is a full-colour, glossy fold poster – which is a desirably old-school extra and not one that a whole lot of modern releases sport.
Those with a taste for moody indie-electronica are likely to get a lot from Fufanu’s latest outing. It is dark, rhythmic stuff and, converse though it may seem, such electronic grooves are well suited to vinyl as a format – analogue or not. This is a great pressing which ensures the album remains an easy, enjoyable listen throughout, and the presentation is also really classy here.
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!