Equinox Records

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Equinox Records out of Berlin have been around for a while and they currently have a sale on in their shop so I recently hoovered up some bits I fancied. The packaging and design aesthetic of the label is very strong, being overseen by the label head Gunter Stoppel aka DJ Scientist. There is a look of unbleached card, circular designs, B&W inner sleeve photography and a multitude of formats including colour and clear vinyl, 5″ and postcard records, cassettes and other oddities. It’s a varied roster, mainly concentrating on instrumental beats and electronica with a heavy leaning toward Hip Hop and sampling. Of course I would be first to recommend 2econd Class Citizen but the new David Vangel album is excellent as are releases by Davinci and Deckard amongst others.

Magma DJ bags

I can’t say enough good things about the bags and DJ equipment that German company Magma makes. DK and I have been using them for a while now and they have the suss to tailor some of their kit to exactly fit the airline baggage size restrictions which mean we can take these onboard when we fly because they fit in overhead lockers. Check out their new catalogue, they pretty much have a bag for every need and they are all customisable with pull out compartments. They also make laptop stands, covers and sleeves, headphone and needle bags and more.

DJ Shadow – The Less You Know, The Better

Today sees the release of DJ Shadow‘s new album, ‘The Less You Know, The Better’, in case you hadn’t seen all the press and publicity recently. He’s taken a fair bit of knocking these last few years, since ‘The Outsider’ rode into town and divided opinion, with the majority, unfortunately, not in its favour. It had its moments, others were tucked away on B-sides and extras on special editions too, but the mix of Hyphy Hip Hop and indie rock with too few of his usual beat workouts led to a very uneven record that would have worked better as a series of themed EPs in my opinion.

It’s a favourite pastime to build ’em up and knock ’em down in this country, and being a Shadow fan was almost a dirty word for a bit. His involvement in the DJ Hero game probably didn’t help that situation but the appearance of limited handmade records, a series of archive tape compilations via his site and then the Shadowsphere has helped rebuild his profile ready for the new release.

The new record has some great material on it and is a return to form whilst still taking steps outside his comfort zone. ‘Border Crossing’ and ‘I Gotta Rokk’ are as strong as any of his more guitar-led material like ‘The Number Song’ and ‘High Noon’ and ‘I’ve Been Trying’ is an update on tracks like ‘6 Day War’ and ‘This Time’, using a sampled vocal entirely as the voice of the song, a trick he seems to repeat a few times here. One of the highlights of the album is ‘Redeemed’, a female vocal-led number that, on first listen, didn’t do much for me but just gets inside your head. For those that love the Shadow of heavy breaks, spoken word and scratches, there’s plenty of that and we get possibly the first RnB pop ballad(!) in ‘Scale It Back’. The howling Beat poetry in ‘Give Me Back The Nights’ doesn’t quite work for me and, again mystifyingly, several bonus tracks are more worthy of album inclusion in ‘Come On Riding’ and ‘Let’s Get It’. I’d like to know how many get involved in compiling the running order for his records these days as album sequencing is an art in itself.

It’s a shame the UK media has wanted to focus on ‘Endtroducing’ so much in the press surrounding the new album rather than let it stand on its own merits but it has produced a couple of very worthwhile radio shows which you can hear below courtesy of the ever faithful Joost over at Solesides.com. Coupled with his live show, which I saw a few weeks ago, and the self-depreciating artwork by Tony Papesh, it’s a great return to form.

DJ Shadow – THE MUSIC THAT INSPIRED… by Solesides on Mixcloud

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JG Thirlwell artwork

A couple of projects JG has been involved with recently have really caught my eye on the artwork front, both have a medical angle and lean on the black, white and red colour palette.

The first is Manorexia‘Dinoflagellate Blooms’, a double disc pack with X-rays and syringes. Click for larger versions. Buy it from JGT’s site here. It’s a double CD with regular and 5.1 surround sound version.

The second is a lovely 4 track 10″ under the name Hydrose Plus, a collaboration with Fred Bigot. The cover shows a face from a medical encyclopedia in profile but when you take the clear vinyl 10″ out of the sleeve you realise that the eyeball is printed on the label and fits perfectly into the eye socket on the front. Not only that but you also get an insert with the inside of the face cut away.

Buy it directly from the label here.

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