Fleeing from Pigeons Records

A record label and blog from the same idiot that gave you Bearded Magazine

Productive variables?

Yesterday I had the pleasure of meeting John Leckie – he of producing Stone Roses, Radiohead and, err, Kula Shaker fame. I was writing a release based around his comments at a talk at the University of Westminster and, following the recent (modest) success of the Andy Price record (which has almost double the downloads of any other FFP-R release) it was interesting to get an insight into the world of ‘proper’ record production.

Andy’s record has galvanised me and a couple of other artists FFP-R are going to be working with in the coming months that ‘live’ writing and recording of records in the public eye is an interesting concept, and it is certainly something we’ll be exploring. But Leckie’s talk really introduced me to the romanticism of recording a record – coming into the recording “80% ready” and going to a £1,000/day record studio (such as the secluded, accessible only by boat Sawmill Studios) and working full time on a record for a number of weeks or months.

It was certainly something that would appeal to me to put a band that I really believe in through, but there is a huge disconnect between what major labels can afford for their artists and what a DIY or small label artist is provided. It strikes me as stunning that you can spend thousands of pounds on a record or you can spend literally tens of pounds on a record and the result, aside for the love of purest audiophiles, is negligibly different. Take the Holton’s Opulent Oog record The Problem of Knowledge recorded for £100 or Antarctica Takes It!‘s record The Penguin League, recorded through the built-in mic on a laptop for epically amazing records as examples.

It reminds me of the second Electric Soft Parade record The American Adventure, which, following a £1,000 recording in a Brighton studio, was rejected by SonyBMG who quickly frogmarched the brothers White into Abbey Road and spent around £100,000 recording four tracks. Listen to that record now and tell me which tracks were in Abbey Road and which were in a studio in Brighton – tell me the difference, because I’ve forgotten which track was recorded where…

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Right record, wrong format

Recently, I’ve spent way too much time and money buying records on vinyl that I previously owned on either MP3 or CD. The reasons for this are varied, but predominantly it’s because I simply don’t like CDs and I DJ mostly with vinyl.

Despite being the oldest popular format, the future of physical music – in my eyes – is vinyl. You get many records released with a free download code these days, and I can’t really see CDs being the predominant physical format in a decade’s time.

Unfortunately, pressing quality vinyl records is expensive, so the majority of small independent labels simply cannot afford to put out their fine releases on a format to suit. Recently, Tough Love Records got into a tricky situation when the company they’d tasked with pressing the 12″ copies of the new William record Slightly Delighted went into liquidation – costing the small independent label £1,200 – more than a small sum for a label born from a Coventry bedroom (you can buy the record in CD format to help them out here).

So the risks and costs of vinyl are high and, until it becomes a more popular format, they’re unlikely to fall. It means many records fall behind the wayside when it comes to a fan wanting a crisp pressing.

In no sort of order, here are my top three(ish) records that haven’t (to my knowledge) made their way to 12″.

Hanne Hukkelberg – Little Things / Rykestrasse 68 / Blood from a Stone

Hanne is a wonderful person, she produces records of utmost beauty that is only surpassed by their originality. Using sledges, typewriters, bicycle chains and a whole host of other weird and wonderful instrumentation, she creates what I begrudgingly call immense soundscapes. Created in a variety of locations, from remote Norwegian islands to the centre of Berlin, her three records are all wonderfully varied, but equally brilliant – it’s just a shame that The Leaf Label in the UK, and Nettwerk worldwide, haven’t been able to press these records to a standard befitting her music. Buy them in polycarbonate plastic format.

Cassetteboy vs DJ Rubbish – Inside a Whale’s Cock Vol.1

A phenomenal mix of music and cut-ups that mixes a blend of humour with cutting political commentary and satire. With the two lawyer dodgers Cassetteboy failing to clear samples for their usual cuts of irrelevance, DJ Rubbish’s useless rhymes and a host of guests falling into Streets parodies, hip-hop and R&B originals. There’s no way anyone would get the money together to put this out on vinyl, it’d be worth it to put this hidden gem in a special format though. Buy it in polycarbonate plastic format.

Tryo – Mamagubida

An enchanting release from the French four-piece. Nods to scathing political commentary and a love of the green herb pepper this French-language reggae release. The CD artwork is designed to look like a cardboard box, which is a reference to the band’s formation as homeless buskers on the streets of France. Recorded almost entirely live, this record started the band’s fierce popularity across the channel, and a deal with Sony watered down the political intensity of their future releases. Despite the disappointment, their debut still retains its charm and brilliance over a decade after its release. Buy it in polycarbonate plastic format

Other notable mentions
The Agnostic Mountain Gospel Choir – Fighting and Onions
Antarctica Takes It – The Penguin League
Bearsuit – Cat Spectacular
Beestung Lips – Songs to and from an Iron Gut
The Beta Band – The Three EPs
Brakes – The Beatific Visions
Caroline Martin – I Had a Hundred Reasons to Stay by the Fire
Cass McCombs – PREfection
Ed Cox – Clowncore
Electric Soft Parade – No Need to be Downhearted
Friska Viljor – bravo!
Gable – 7 Guitars with a Cloud of Milk
Grandmaster Gareth – The Party Sounds of Grandmaster Gareth
Gruff Rhys – Candylion
Jackie Balfour – Chip Pan Fire
John Peel – Fabriclive.07
Misty’s Big Adventure – And Their Place in the Solar Hi-Fi System / The Black Hole
MIT – Coda
Pagan Wanderer Lu – Fight My Battles For Me
Ralfe Band – Swords
Ratface – On Ice / Down with Ratface / Enough Ratface
The Rudy Trouve Septet – Songs and Stuff Recorded Between 2003 and 2007 Part One

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