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 rating the vinyl release of Lankum’s ‘Between The Earth And Sky’, one of the most intriguing trad-folk albums to have hit shelves in ages, courtesy of Rough Trade Records.
Perhaps the single biggest reason why traditional folk music continues to endure is the genre’s timelessness. Although Irish folk quartet Lankum’s latest collection – ‘Between The Earth And Sky’ – does boast some original material, the entire album is hewn with the sort of time-tested instrumentation and heavy, intricate harmonies that have formed the bedrock of folk music for hundreds of years. Lankum are a band with a few tricks up their sleeve however – while their chosen method of execution is undeniably traditional, the content of their songs is markedly individualistic. There’s an undercurrent of darkness and frustration to the album – especially on the stunning ‘Déanta In Éireann’ – but so too is there a real sense of humour, as evidenced on ‘Bad Luck To The Rolling Water’. ‘Between The Earth And Sky’ is a great album that defies pigeonholing and one made with an expertise and artisan’s hand.
Spread over two LPs, this is an excellent, sturdy pressing with great playback and crystal clear sonics with mastering which really allows the album’s rich, acoustic harmonics to blister and shine. Both visually and in terms of playback quality, this is a clean pressing which is free of defects; we did get the odd touch of very light noise but nothing more, and all-in-all sound replication is smooth and clear on this pressing. The length of the sides is also well gauged, with only two or three tracks per side – a short enough runtime that grooves are spacious and given enough room to breathe so-to-speak (there’s certainly no risk of inner-groove distortion on this release) but given that tracks tend to run anywhere from 5 to 10 or so minutes, sides still feel reasonably lengthy and not at all ephemeral.
Packaging and presentation is really nice on this release; it strikingly complements the album’s vivid musical aesthetic and houses the LPs in a chunky, well made gatefold sleeve that stands as one of the nicest jackets we’ve seen on a non-deluxe or limited edition release in quite a while. The gorgeous art is well printed, font choice is excellent and the layout is slick, uncluttered and attractive. In addition to the usual thanks and credit notes, there’s also some interesting information given on the songs found on the album which contextualises where the group heard them – in the case of the traditional pieces – and the source of inspiration for the original pieces. While it would have been nice to have had polylined inner sleeves included for added protection (the included sleeves, though nice enough, are just paper) the presentation on this is excellent – and the thick, attractive spine certainly makes for an album never difficult to find on the shelf.
An excellent release throughout, Rough Trade Records have done a great job on the vinyl version of ‘Between The Earth And Sky’, with both the presentation and pressing quality excelling.