My New Years Resolution for this year was to promote labels that I believed in – we purposely don’t sell many new records and CDs on the site as we couldn’t possibly hope to compete with the South American rivers of the selling World and because, quite frankly, it would bore the shit out of us.
Funnily enough – this was the first New Years Resolution that i’ve ever managed to keep…
The labels that I want to promote are labels that follow a few rules set down by me as Dictator of the mono-stereo World: the music must be both interesting, there must be an overall aesthetic or tactile quality to the releases and they must be run by people who give a shit about what they do.
The first of these ‘Labels of Love’ is Preserved Sound – a label run by Hayden Berry from the artistic centre that is Hebden Bridge and personifies my golden set of rules. Releasing most things on limited hand numbered CD, with an occasional vinyl release, everything has an immediate feel of artisanal quality and attention to detail. The sleeves are always handmade and the music is always hand picked with love.
Visionary Hours is Hayden Berry himself, along with a large list of collaborators (including Bruno Sanfilippo, Richard Youngs, Western Skies Motel, Adrian Lane, Trigg & Gusset, Isnaj Dui and 3+ among others), with the pieces constructed around elegant guitar pieces and the other musicians freely adding their own contributions. Berry chose which piece of music to send which artist (sometimes more than one artist and so, in a sense, some artists were unwittingly collaborating with other artists) and then edited the contributions to create the final pieces.
The resulting album is simply beautiful, with the guitar interweaving amongst clarinet, piano, cello, zither, organ, flute, violin, fender Rhodes and saxophone. The different instruments and sounds are always complimentary to the guitar picking, and even letting space between the sounds resonate more so than the actual instruments in some cases.
This feeling of space gives the album an overall feeling of lightness and relaxed ambience, with the moments of silence being equally as important as the moments of sound. This impression of the air hanging around the music brings to mind the last two Talk Talk albums with their equally beautiful production, editing and attention to detail.
I have played this album more than any other in the last month and yet it still offers up new experiences with every play – such is the depth of beauty and the way everything hangs together whilst still retaining an air of minimalism.