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’s instalment finds us encountering the debut album from an intriguing new talent.
Modern Composition is a style in great popularity at the moment, with plenty of talented composers – often primarily pianists – throwing their hats into the ring. Gabríel Ólafs’ youth alone is enough to set him apart from the crowd; at 19, his debut album marks a mature initial statement that surpasses plenty of comparable records made by those senior to him. A quietly reflective and, at times, melancholic listen, ‘Absent Minded’ presents a series of sensitive and sparsely arranged piano compositions. There’s a deep ambience to much of the album; thanks not only to the performances but also to sensitive engineering and respectfully minimalist production. Fans of the genre will certainly find an intriguing new artist in Ólafs.
Released by the reliably great One Little Indian, ‘Absent Minded’ has been pressed by the always in-demand German factory Optimal Media. Their output has been known to suffer from surface noise issues, which is something of a concern considering the quiet and fragile ambience of the album in question. Fortunately, they have created a very clean pressing here and one that adheres fully to the high standards needed to enjoy such a quiet album on vinyl. The noise floor is low and both sides ring true with tidy sound throughout. We had no trouble at all with surface noise anywhere across the album and fidelity remained excellent at all points. One Little Indian were clearly keen to ensure that this would be a pressing befitting of the music, as this is certainly one of the cleanest Optimal Media pressings we’ve heard in some time.
As is commonplace with Modern Composition releases, ‘Absent Minded’s art direction is minimalistic to a fault, with a tasteful, clean presentation and ample blank space. While the art here may not be vividly striking, it does suit the pretty, understated atmosphere of the music. Print quality is sharp and defined, and the inclusion of a full-coloured printed inner sleeve is a welcome one. It is also die-cut with a label hole on one side; the artwork on the A side label matches that of the inner sleeve, resulting in an interesting and unusual effect. Overall, this may not be one of the more remarkably presented releases we’ve written about here on Vinyl Corner, but it is well executed.
‘Absent Minded’ is a promising debut outing from an interesting new artist. Fans of the style are likely to find much to enjoy here and the vinyl pressing offers a great way to hear it, thanks to a remarkably clean pressing from the sometime-patchy Optimal Media. Well worth investigating.
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!