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 today’s feature, we’re rating the
debut album by an intriguing emergent voice in Brazilian music – Ricardo Richaid’s ‘Travesseiro Feliz’.
Rio De Janeiro’s Ricardo Richaid will likely be a new name to even those with their fingers firmly on the pulse of modern Brazilian music. With ‘Travesseiro Feliz’ Richaid makes his debut statement – and a promising one it is too. Translating as ‘Happy Pillow’, the album’s title is a fitting one; its evocation of contented dreams suits these curious, ever-shifting yet ultimately vivacious and upbeat pieces to a tee. Richaid’s vision is one both ambitious and understated; on his debut album he melds a raft of different styles together, crafting something that is both subtle and nuanced yet arresting to those with the inclination to listen closely. A wide-eyed psychedelic daze is central to ‘Travesseiro Feliz’ but so too are elements of pretty, delicate folk rock and wild, shifting free jazz. The resultant record is one that’s hard to place; it’s as much indebted to the playful dream-folk reveries of Juana Molina as it is to the urgent, joyful rhythms of MPB yet it’s also a distinctively individualistic album. At just shy of half an hour in total, ‘Travesseiro Feliz’ evokes the brevity so commonly found in private-press psych rarities of the ’60s and ’70s – and, just as with some of those albums, the fleeting length is almost frustrating. What Richaid gives the listener here is so engagingly articulated that it could easily have been explored further. As it is, however, ‘Travesseiro Feliz’ marks an ephemeral yet intriguing debut from this new artist.
Released by the UK’s long-running Far Out Recordings – a label specialising in Brazilian music both new and old – elements of distinction on the vinyl release of ‘Travesseiro Feliz’ speak of a long-established label with plentiful experience in putting out quality records. For a start, their choice of pressing plant is a sage one; where many UK and European labels employ the services of GZ Media or Optimal Media – both inconsistent pressing plants not above noisy output – this vinyl release of Richaid’s debut has been pressed by the excellent French pressing plant MPO. Although a disappointing pressing does occasionally slip past MPO’s largely impressive quality control, this certainly hasn’t occurred here. This is a pleasingly weighty 180 gram black vinyl pressing which sits flat on the platter during playback and which boasts clean surfaces when inspected under strong light. Whilst those last two points should really apply to all new records, a frustratingly large amount of modern pressings suffer from either notable warpage or surface marking from new – so to find a release that has neither is something of a rarity in itself. More impressive still is the extremely clean playback; we heard barely an imperfection on our copy and the detailed mastering brought out a real depth in the soundscape that suits this complex, intricately-wrought music well.
‘Travesseiro Feliz’s colourful, eye-catching artwork is more than enough to indicate that the music contained within is likely to be a thrill and, indeed, the packaging and presentation at large are impressive. The cover itself is a non-gatefold design with a standard width spine made from mid-weight cardstock. Although not the most elaborate of designs, the price point of this release is moderate so that’s certainly understandable and it does feel solid enough in hand. The print quality is excellent throughout, with lovely rich colour tones and sharp definition. One unfortunate inclusion is that of a barcode on the back cover; as we often comment here at Vinyl Corner, it would have been far preferable to have seen this attached to the shrinkwrap as a sticker rather than printed directly onto the sleeve, but it’s ultimately a minor point. The inclusion of a polylined generic inner sleeve for the record is a big plus; the bulk of modern labels present their LPs in low-quality paper sleeves that can all-too-often cause scuffing to the records and leave paper debris across their surfaces. All those issues are circumvented by the inclusion of a polylined inner sleeve such as the one found on this release.
Ricardo Richaid’s ‘Travesseiro Feliz’ is a very intriguing, unique piece of work and the Far Out Recordings vinyl release provides a great way of hearing it.
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