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 instalment, we’re looking at an intriguing new release from long-serving indie heavy-hitters One Little Indian.
Although now based in the UK, Sarasara originally hails from Paris – a fact made abundantly clear on her sophomore effort, ‘Orgone’. Her lilting, breathy delivery is mostly in French, although she does sometimes sing in English. Her sensuously experimental musical backing, meanwhile, is resolutely European in execution. ‘Orgone’ finds Sarasara offering something close to 21st century avant-garde Chanson. Her arrangements are both imaginative and futuristic; there’s a palpable influence from styles of electronic and experimental music less than a decade old, despite the fact that the core of the work feels very much in touch with the rich history of French pop music.
‘Orgone’ hits the shelves courtesy of One Little Indian – a classic UK indie label that we’ve written about a number of times in past Vinyl Corner articles. From our experience, their pressings are uniformly excellent and Sarasara’s latest is no exception. Pressed by the seemingly unstoppable juggernaut of modern vinyl manufacturing that is Optimal Media, plenty of care has clearly been put into this particular release as the end results are excellent. As we’ve noted in some previous Vinyl Corner articles, Optimal Media are not always the most reliable when it comes to cleanly pressed wax but, fortunately, they’ve produced a disc almost entirely free of imperfections here. Both surfaces are clean and the disc itself sits flat upon the platter during playback. The LP is decently heavyweight but not a full 180 grams; we’d estimate that it weighs in at perhaps 140 grams or so. Dropping the stylus down, all the visual hallmarks of quality are proven to ring true. The noise floor is very low here and surfaces are hugely clean, with playback entirely free of pops and clicks. Surface noise is similarly scarce, with only a few very minor background crackles here and there. Sarasara is an artist who deals in subtleties; her work is frequently subdued and the nuances of her softly-spoken delivery and deft arrangement would be lost to any significant crackle. It’s all the more of a relief, then, that this is such a quality pressing. It should also be noted that the album is sonically excellent on this vinyl release, with crisp mastering and clear sound free of inner groove distortion.
As excellent as the pressing is, the packaging and presentation manages to set just as high a standard. The sleeve itself is a wide-spine gatefold made from glossy, heavy-weight cardstock. It feels genuinely sturdy in hand and is definitely of the best constructed covers we’ve looked at during a Vinyl Corner article in quite some time. The artwork – a dizzying collection of images every bit as woozy as the music within – is presented with excellent print quality and bright, impactful colours. The spine is beautiful and, as mentioned before, it’s a chucky affair that’s easily large enough to stand out on a packed shelf. Likewise, the chosen font manages to be both classily understated and clearly visible. One small complaint we do have about presentation is that the barcode is printed directly onto the back cover. We’d have much preferred it if it had been attached to the shrinkwrap as a sticker, so as to avoid marring the beautiful art direction. On a more positive note, the inner gatefold spread is put to excellent use. It provides full lyrics to every song on the album – again, in a mixture of French and English – and also furthers the album’s perfume-swamp aesthetic. The record is housed in a glossy printed card inner sleeve; much like the main cover, it’s one of the best quality inserts of its kind we’ve written about for Vinyl Corner. Naturally – and as with any card sleeve – we’d advise some caution when removing the record so as to avoid surface marking, but there’s no denying that this is a beautifully presented title. As a final bonus, a download code is included for all digital-listening needs.
‘Orgone’ marks out Sarasara as a unique voice with a singular vision. This One Little Indian vinyl pressing delivers the goods in all respects; it sounds excellent and the presentation and packaging is top-tier.
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!