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 new article in the series, we’re lending our ears to the latest release from Vinyl Corner favourites Analog Africa.
Although the archipelago of Cabo Verde is small enough to easily pass unnoticed on any large world map, it’s a country famed for its vibrant culture. Of that distinctive output, the music made both now and in the past by those who occupy its ten islands has become the stuff of fantasy for many a collector of African vinyl rarities. Cabo Verdean quartet Voz di Sanicolau released one such item in 1976; their sole LP ‘Fundo De Marê Palinha’. Taped in Holland and released both in the band’s home country and Portugal, it was a collection largely centred upon infectiously groovy, danceable pieces, although they weren’t above throwing the odd powerfully emotive ballad into the mix. It was a record which disappeared quickly, fast becoming a desirable item amongst collectors and still yet to see reissue in its full form. What the venerable German reissue label Analog Africa have offered with their latest release, though, is a six track EP boasting a collection of the album’s strongest cuts. For those enamoured with the compulsive rhythms and intense soul of Cabo Verde’s distinctive sound, it’s a tantalising morsel. It’s ephemeral in every sense of the word; the EP itself can be heard in a spare twenty minutes and even the individual songs fly by in taut, well-crafted three minute snatches of sound. That brevity only lends it a moreishness difficult to resist, though, and long-term fans of Analog Africa’s output – as well as curious newcomers to their carefully curated catalogue – will doubtless be pleased with this latest addition to their roster.
Due to the brief runtime of Analog Africa’s Voz di Sanicolau EP, the release has been pressed on 10″ vinyl. Although it’s certainly the least common of the three main record sizes, we have featured a few such releases here on Vinyl Corner in the past. This sleek slab of black wax – produced in a limited quantity of 1500 copies – bore a few strands of factory debris in the case of our copy but we were able to easy brush this away with a carbon-fibre brush. The surfaces themselves are impressively glossy, being free of the unsightly marks from dirty stampers and incorrect handling at the factory which all-too-often appear on modern releases. Auditorily, this is as impressive a release as any we’ve previously written about from Analog Africa. Playback is clean throughout, boasting a low noise floor and barely a crackle anywhere across the EP’s twenty minute runtime. Although the sound quality of the material’s original taping isn’t exactly high-fidelity – perhaps as a result of a likely limited budget – remastering efforts have been made and consequently sound is excellent, boasting a crispness and a direct, impactful oomph.
Packaging and presentation on some 10″ releases can err on the side of minimal but if Analog Africa have routinely excelled in any one category, it’s the stylish and considered presentation of everything they release. Their edition of ‘Fundo De Marê Palinha’ is certainly no exception; the cover itself is an impressive gatefold produced from a sturdy cardstock which feels great in hand. The inner gatefold spread has also been put to good use, offering an in-depth and informative essay on the material and artists who made it. The labels are also classy and distinctive, boasting a variation of the same design as that which has adorned every Analog Africa release since the label’s inception. The inner sleeve is a generic black paper one and, as such, we’d advise caution when removing the record from it. As always, we’d also suggest swapping it out for a polylined sleeve for subsequent usage. Although it would have been nice to have seen a polylined inner sleeve included from new, the presence of a download code more than makes up for that. Redeemable through bandcamp, the code allows for download of the EP in any of a veritable smorgasbord of filetypes, from high-quality lossless formats down to compact yet lossy audio types.
As per usual from the excellent Analog Africa, this is a great release which sheds a much welcome light upon music which might otherwise have been lost to the mists of time. ‘Fundo De Marê Palinha’ boasts a clean pressing and impressive presentation, in addition to the intriguing tone of its music.
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!