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. Wewantsounds have proven themselves to be one of the most prolific and intriguing reissue labels of recent years; with ‘Saravah!’ – their latest title – they also prove themselves to be one of the most eclectic.
The name Yukihiro Takahashi is most likely to evoke images of the hugely acclaimed Yellow Magic Orchestra, or perhaps The Sadist Mika Band – both of which he was a key member of. Although his solo work is less widely celebrated, wewantsounds have still seen fit to shed light on ‘Saravah!’ – the first of many albums in which Takahasi takes the limelight. Considering his position as both drummer and vocalist in Yellow Magic Orchestra, the fact that he ably performs both roles here should be of no surprise; however the string-heavy disco/soul tone of ‘Saravah!’ accentuates a less widely recognised aspect of his work. The album boasts an eclectic and often heady mixture of styles, throwing soulful lead guitar against sultry strings and squelching rhythm synth in the creative equivalent of throwing ideas against the wall and seeing what sticks. The end results are occasionally cluttered but also charmingly eccentric. Despite an eclecticism that occasionally feels scattershot, ‘Saravah!’ ultimately succeeds as a classy, dignified alt-soul outing that’s heavy on dense, ambitious arrangements.
We’ve written about quite a few wewantsounds releases on Vinyl Corner, so long-term readers should already know what to expect from their releases. As with their other titles, ‘Saravah!’ has been pressed by Czech industry giants GZ Media. As a by-product of that plant’s continuous popularity, their quality control standards cannot always be relied upon. Fortunately, wewantsounds always manage to get the best out of them and this is another great sounding release from the label. The record is pressed on roughly mid-weight standard black wax. Surfaces are clean upon visual inspection and remain no less impressive when the stylus hits the groove. While we did pick up on a few intermittent and minor crackles, sound was generally excellent and boasted a low noise floor. The audio has been newly remastered for this release, bringing out much detail in the sound as a result. Takahashi’s stylishly understated drum work sounds great on this release, as do the silky-smooth lead guitar lines.
One of the most appealing hallmarks of a wewantsounds reissue is an adherence to the presentation of the original release. ‘Saravah!’ is no different, replicating the layout and visual stylings of the vintage pressing with impressive accuracy – although, naturally, some minor changes have had to be made. The original label designs have been recreated here with considerable accuracy, adding an appealing sense of authenticity to this reissue. The sleeve also benefits from such attention to detail. When reviewing previous releases from the label, we did note with some frustration their tendency to place barcodes directly onto the back covers. Fortunately, for this release they have wisely placed it instead upon a wrap-around OBI-strip style insert. This inclusion is the one aspect of the presentation that makes no attempt to replicate the original release, instead offering a short blurb about the album on the front and in-depth credits on the back. Faithful to the original release, a fold-out insert with lyrics and photos has been included, augmented for this rerelease with new liner notes in both English and French. The record itself is sleeved in a generic, non-polylined inner. It would have been nice to see this title presented with the disc in a higher quality sleeve; with things as they are, however, caution is advisable when removing the record and resleeving into a higher quality inner would serve the record’s longevity well.
Yukihiro Takahashi is a significant figure in the landscape of Japanese pop and ‘Saravah!’ is an intriguingly intercontinental offering from him. Wewantsounds have produced another great reissue here, having fine tuned their presentation to a higher level than ever before.
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