Medical Records is one of our favorite reissue labels unearthing amazing synth, minimal, cosmic/space disco, italo disco, etc. The runs are always limited and the releases tend to sell out fast. Check out this great interview (by Dave Segal) with Medical Records “primary care practitioner” (sorry, had to go there, he really is a doc) Dr. Troy Wadsworth in The Stranger.
Posts Tagged ‘synth’
Medical Records continue to blow our minds with their releases of incredibly rare/obscure electronic albums and their latest release, OGI, does not disappoint. Originally released in 1980 on EMI France, the OGI LP is the work of Hungarian-born Peter Ogi (pronounced as “ohgee”). Peter Ogi obtained formal education in music composition at the Budapest Music Academy and quickly thereafter formed the very early Hungarian punk outfit, the Spions. In the late 1970s, Peter began traveling back and forth between Paris and London where he worked together with legendary producer of the Sex Pistols, Malcolm McLaren. Their collaboration was integral to the creation of the OGI LP. It was recorded in Autumn 1980 at Pathé Marconi Studios, Boulogne. The album was composed by Peter Ogi with lyrics written by Malcolm McLaren on over half of the tracks. Unfortunately, the record was criminally overlooked most likely due to it’s French-only release. It is now being reintroduced for the first time in over 30 years.
Transferred from the original analog tapes from the vaults of EMIFrance. Officially licensed from EMI and features re-envisioned front and back cover art. This reissue is over one year in the making and is lovingly presented on high-quality 180gm magenta vinyl in a hand-numbered limited edition of 650 copies. All of the Medical Records releases go out of print very fast so don’t sleep!
Just out today, an excellent release in the Library synth/exotica vein, is Sven Libaek’s Solar Flares LP from 1974 reissued here for the first time by Votary Disk. Fresh from recording the legendary Inner Space soundtrack, Solar Flares is an amazing library recording for Peer International UK. Possibly best described as the companion piece to Inner Space, a polar vision in which this time the themes were inspired by the far reaches of ‘Outer Space’.
A pioneering recording that featured the Australian designed synthesizer, the Qaser (shown above), which was a prototype of the first digital sampler, the Fairlight CMI. Although recorded in Sydney, it only saw a limited library issue in the UK and has since become a highly collectible LP. Expect Libaek’s trademark sound of sublime spacey jazz exotica. Featuring Australia’s finest studio and jazz musicians. This reissue has newly remastered audio and a deluxe LP jacket with new notes and liner notes with vintage photos.
For audio samples and to order, wiggle on over here!
This week we’re shining our spotlight on fellow Emerald City sonic archaeologists Medical Records. Officially launched in 2008 by Dr. Troy Wadsworth (yup, he’s really a doctor!), Medical’s bread and butter is minimal is all manner of synthezied music: Minimal Synth, Synth Pop, Cosmic Disco, Italo, Prog Synth, and Cold/New Wave. Sporting high quality 180-gram vinyl (usually colored, too), excellent sound and packaging, Medical Records is a label after our own heart. This week we sat down with Troy to talk about his process, Medical’s backstory and what’s coming up on the horizon for the label.
LITA: Tell us about Medical Records. What inspired you to start the label?
MR: The story of Medical Records probably begins somewhere around 2004-2005. I had been an avid collector and fan of early new wave, krautrock, and other synthesized genres of music for years. Early on, it seemed like this niche of music was really just appreciated by a small number of people, and it wasn’t impossible to find (or even stumble upon) rare records from that time period (late 70s/early 80s). As years went by, the fan base seemed to grow exponentially. All of the sudden, finding these lost gems became nearly impossible unless you were willing to spend unnatural amounts of cash to obtain them. Around 2005-2006, it seemed like a great time to get involved and possibly start a record label to help make some of my favorite records available again. Unfortunately, at the time, I essentially had no funds for this type of things as I was mired in debt from being in medical school. A few years went by and other labels were luckily reissuing this type of music (Minimal Wave, Vinyl On Demand, Anna Logue, and others). I was further inspired by these great pioneer labels, and once I had the funding, I actively began working on the label around 2008 or so.
LITA: Your releases range from Italo disco classics like Alexander Robotnick’s Ce N’est Qu’un Début to minimal synth pop of Guyer’s Connection. Besides the obvious use of electronics, what would you say is the common thread of the albums you’re reissued.
MR: I like to imagine the underlying theme of the label is based in deep, analog synthesizer-based music. Whether it be the passionate prog-tendencies of Chrisma, the kosmiche space odyssey leanings of Deutsche Wertarbeit, or the synth-punk of Lou Champagne System, the overall aesthetic is rooted in interesting, colorful, and unique synthetic textures all created by the instrument of instruments. Also, I like to mix it up a bit by presenting a cosmic disco burner followed by a synth drone LP possibly followed by a sweet and sensual synth pop hit. I don’t want to be thought of as being restricted to one sub-genre. I think the catalog illustrates this point well so far.
LITA: Tell us about your reissue process? How do you find these records and the people that made them? I’ve read that the first few records took years to obtain the proper licences etc.
MR: Most of the releases so far have been records that I own in my collection and have been enjoying for years. When I started the label, I had about 10 records in mind to possibly reissue. 5 of those were so important to me that I elevated them to “must reissue” status. 3 on that “must reissue” list have already been released (OGI, Chrisma, and Dalek I). The last 2 are Drinking Electricity Overload and Mathematiques Modernes Les Visiteurs Du Soir. Those last 2 are in the works and will be released soon. Getting back to the process, I optimally attempt to contact the artist/composer first. I do that by a number of means. I have contacted people through Facebook (and before that, Myspace). I have contacted people through a string of other artists I have talked to. Tyler, my artist who designs/retouches the covers also has been helpful tracking people down in the buried internet. If I contact the artist, and they do not own the copyrights, then I have to contact the copyright holder to obtain a license. This situation can definitely take months if not years. OGI was licensed this way as it took me. It all works out in the end as long as folks are receptive and willing to answer emails, etc.
LITA: Audio quality is something we care a lot about at LITA, and it’s clear that from your releases you go for original tape transfers for your sources and press on 180-gram wax. Any stories of the struggle to find long, lost master tapes? What’s the remastering process?
MR: As much as I would like the contrary, it has not been feasible to transfer from the original tapes on every release. When the original tapes are available (and able to be salvaged), I of course proceed in that direction. In some cases, the tapes are simply lost forever, and we have to work with what is available. Sometimes this is a high-quality digital transfer from the original tapes that the artist (luckily) has access to. Worse case scenario is there are no tapes or high quality transfers, and the LPs would have to be mastered from vinyl. This can still have a very desirable outcome if done well (in the right studio with the right talented engineer which I have access to). I have not been a huge proponent of remastering, per se. With Lou Champagne System, the original tapes were transfered and EQ’ed, however. The final product is superior to the original pressing. OGI is a simple, clean transfer from the analog tapes that sounds fantastic with the “remastering” treatment. So, as you can see, it is release-dependent completely.
LITA: Was just listening to the Lou Champagne System No Visible Means LP this weekend. Incredible. What’s the story behind that record? Some seriously whacked out and demented sounds on that record.
MR: Lou Champagne was a member of the Ontario music scene in the early 80′s. Being an electronic whiz, he was able to sync up his guitar, synth, and drum machines so he could perform and record as a one-man band. The record was originally self-released on Lou’s own Pterodactyl Records in 1984. Though very obscure, this record has quite a cult following. For years, you could buy original copies direct from Lou, but the demand overpowered the supply. I was proud to resurrect this synth-punk gem. We were able to spruce it up (as stated above) by transferring the tape, EQ’ing the sound, restoring the original artwork (and insert), and releasing it on high-quality 180gram white vinyl.
LITA: If you had to pick one dream reissue, what would it be? Doesn’t have to fit in with your usual oeuvre.
MR: Honestly, I was on a personal mission to reissue the seminal IKO ’83 LP. The record seems to demand outrageous prices (over 100 dollars usually), and it would have been a blast to reissue. Unfortunately, it was bootlegged recently which always changes the dynamics of the market related to a release. I had been in contact with the artist, but things seemed to have dissipated. I also know they were in negotiations with other labels too. I wish them and whoever is lucky enough to licence the record the best of luck!
LITA: OK this is going back a bit, but what do you remember to be the first record you ever bought?
MR: Haha, ok, well, that is easy. Micheal Jackson Thriller. I don’t remember how young I was, but I was definitely in Elementary School. The first cassette I bought was Weird Al Yankovic In 3-D. Weird, huh?
LITA: Any upcoming projects you can share?
MR: I would be thrilled to discuss them. The next release is the underground classic Axxess Novels For The Moons LP (MR-011). It is an painfully rare LP that was released in 1983. Axxess is Patrick Mimran who is a well-respected French multimedia artist and active today. At the time, he was the owner of Lamborghini car company. Patrick has a custom built complex synthesizer and recorded this instrumental album on that very interesting machine. This will appeal to lovers of proggy-style synth records, disco motifs, and complex sequencing patterns. Following Axxess is a first for Medical Records. MR-012 will be a full-length LP by Italy’s Gay Cat Park. In 1982, they had one hit entitled “I’m a Vocoder”. We contacted them and were delighted to discover that they had other unreleased music from the same time period on cassettes. They restored these tracks, and Medical Records will present these lost tunes for the first time. Very endearing, upbeat synth pop with heavy Italo disco overtones. We are really looking forward to that record (expect it around end of May or so). Other releases confirmed with future release dates include a Christof Glowalla 10″ (famous for the ultra-rare “Erde 80″ 7″), a Tony Carey double LP (ex-drummer of Rainbow who recorded the stellar disco-infused Explorer and Yellow Power LPs which will be featured on the release), and the holy grail Overload by Drinking Electricity which will also be a double LP with the LP and singles/B-sided included! 2012 is gearing up for another exciting year here at Medical headquarters…
Heaven is a place where you get to listen to amazing music on an amazing pair of headphones. Currently, my little slice of heaven is blasting this gorgeous piece of yellow wax on my Grado headphones. Headphone heaven courtesy of our friends at Medical Records: Novels For The Moons by Axxess. Originally released in 1983, Axxess is the brainchild of French multimedia artist Patrick Mimran who was co-director of Lamborghini Motors (along with his brother) at the time and fittingly released the album on the imprint Lamborghini Records. Yes that’s right, LAMBORGHINI RECORDS. Every boy in the 80s had a poster (purchased at the school’s Book Fair) on his bedroom wall of some neon yellow Lambo speeding through the Italian country side. Oh what speed demon dreams! Anyway, this clearly was the music that the driver in said poster was listening to. A sort of nonchalant ostentatiousness, refined, sleek, dangerous yet controlled, and an unflinching stare into the face of 80s modernity. Oh yeah, and there are some rad snare sounds too.
So the story goes Mimran was deep into the likes of Klaus Schulze, Tangerine Dream, and Kraftwerk and figured if he can oversee the building of an über-luxury sports car, which not a complex custom built synthesizer? So Mimran commissioned the German engineer Andreas Bahrdt to build his sonic spaceship, a 16-voice analog synthesizer named “La Bart.” The music is pretty consistently upbeat with a forward pulpusion driving vibe. Kick and snare anchor the center sonic field like a stretch of black top while synth lines bounce from left to right in your peripheral “vision” like trees at 140 mph. Like I said, great headphone record.
Out of print and a top dollar collector’s item for years, Medical has finally righted this wrong. The LP features original reproduction sleeve art (front and back) featuring the mysterious and eye-dazzling original painting that donned the original LP. Included is a 2-sided insert featuring an interview and profile of Axxess by Dave Segal (who also wrote notes for our upcoming Donnie and Joe Emerson Dreamin’ Wild release) and color photos of the infamous “Le Bart” synth used to create this masterpiece. This will certainly appeal to fans of early progressive synth records, sequencer-heavy Tangerine Dream period, cosmic disco, and other lovers of all things early-electronic. Limited to 1,000 hand-numbered copies, this thing will be gone fast. Pick a copy up here.
“I’m the one, you don’t have to look any further. I’m the one. I’m here, right here for you,” oozes jazz, rock, and electronic music pioneer Annette Peacock on the leadoff title track of her solo debut LP. The album’s wide range of vocal emotions and diverse sonic palette (featuring Robert Moog’s early modular synthesizers, which the singer actually transmitted her voice through to wild effect) places it firmly at the forefront of the pop avant-garde. Originally released by RCA Victor in 1972 to widespread critical acclaim, I’m The One found itself amongst good company. Both Lou Reed and David Bowie had recently signed to the label—Bowie in particular was enamored with Annette—and artists ranging from ex-husband and jazz great Paul Bley, along with notable Brazilian percussionists Airto Moreira and Dom Um Romao, guested on the album itself. Writing and arranging I’m The One’s nine passionate tracks—bar a unique cover of Elvis Presley’s “Love Me Tender”—the disc grooves easily from free jazz freak-outs and rough and rugged blues-funk to gently pulsing synthesized bliss.
An extension of Annette’s late 1960s work with her Bley-Peacock Synthesizer Show combo, I’m The One is filled with strength and power, as well as a tender, sensual, and seductive side, born of a life surrounded with music and culture. Composing by age four, Peacock’s mother was a professional violinist. By the early 1960s, Annette had also collaborated with first husband, jazz bassist Gary Peacock and toured with legendary saxophone player Albert Ayler. Studying under Zen macrobiotics educator Michio Kushi and a confidant to Timothy Leary at the Millbrook psychedelic center, Peacock later worked, post-I’m The One, with rock stalwarts like guitarists Mick Ronson and Chris Spedding, Yes/King Crimson drummer Bill Bruford, as well as surrealist artist Salvador Dali.
The second release on our Future Days Recordings imprint, I’m The One will be available on CD and LP, re-mastered from the original tapes with a booklet containing beautiful unseen photos from the vaults of Sony Music and extensive liner notes from NYC-based writer and musician, Mikey ‘IQ’ Jones. The LP is limited to 1,000 hand-numbered copies and sports a deluxe Stoughton “Tip-On” jacket with a unique spot UV gloss and includes the same booklet as the CD plus a folded 18″ x 24″ poster of a never-before-seen photo of Annette. Indeed, she’s the one! Available for pre-order now!
Altres are a band from Dundee, Scotland who originally formed in 1983. They were playing mostly instrumental, improvised electronic music at a time when very few bands, if any, were making this type of music in the UK. The Altres’ initial line-up was Jeremy Bryning (synths), Joseph Donnelly (synths), Kevin L. Guthrie (synths, sequencer, drum machine), Brian Hutton (synths, sequencer, vocoder), Mike Nelson (guitar) and Maurice Richardson (synths, sequencer, polysynth, drum machine). The band’s influences included Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze, Philip Glass, Throbbing Gristle, Faust and many others, but their sound is clearly their own.
After a few months of recording the band had a lot of material on tape, so they decided to release their first cassette Rise in 1984. Within that year the band managed to release 4 more cassettes: Live at the Tayside Bar, Archive One, Archive 2 and Angel Chords & Devil Chords. The band also appeared on the audio magazine, INKEY$ – No10 cassette. Dark Entries have compiled their favorite tracks from each of these releases for this special 7 song compilation album entitled Archives.
Most Altres compositions begin with a sequence and a drum pattern. These wrap around arpeggiated synth pulses, and are accompanied by shrill feedback. Instruments used on the recordings include Casio MT40 Moog Prodigy, EDP Wasp, Roland SH-101, Casio VL-Tone, Korg MS20, MS50, SQ10 Poly-61, Ibanez guitar and vocoder. All of the instruments are fed through various effects and echo units. Everything is played and recorded live – there are no overdubs.
- Each song carefully remastered for vinyl by George Horn at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley directly from the original master tapes.
- Vinyl comes housed in a neon green jacket featuring the original design from the “Rise” cassette by Mike Nelson.
- Each LP includes a photocopied clear acetate with unreleased photos and notes for each song.
The San Francisco based label, Dark Entries is an office favorite here at Light In The Attic and the focus of this weeks label spotlight. Dark Entries was established in 2009 by Josh Cheon to showcase out of print and unreleased synth-driven music, as well as contemporary bands with a similar sound. Founded on the DIY ideals leftover over from 1980s independent record labels, each release is a limited run, hand numbered and sometimes stamped. You wont find CDs from Dark Entries, as the label is strictly vinyl and cassette only. Cheon, A vinyl-focused DJ and avid collector, takes great care in assuring that Dark Entries releases ”preserve sound quality and respect the aesthetics of its artist.” We recently chatted with founder Josh Cheon to talk about the label’s history, the process behind their releases and what’s coming up next for the label.
Tell us about Dark Entries. What possessed you to start the label?
I’ve been obsessed with records since I was a teenager growing up in New Jersey. I would take the bus to New York City and dig in the used bins of the vinyl stores trying to find out of print music from the 1980s. Now I use my record label to re-issue that hard-to-find music from my youth.
It seems like a lot of your records were originally released only on cassette. What is the process like for bringing these releases into the vinyl realm? Any stories of the struggle to find long, lost master tapes?
Yes the cassette was the most affordable medium back then, as well as today, for bands to release their material. The process starts with locating the master tapes. These are usually ½ or ¼ inch reel-to-reel tapes that must be “baked” or dehydrated before transferring. I use one of the best studios in California for this process, Fantasy Studios in Berkeley. All of my releases are then remastered for vinyl by George Horn, a true legend in the music production business. He cuts the lacquer on his lathe while I sit in the room.
The search for the master tapes of Jeff and Jane Hudson and Dark Day were a lucky coincidence. I knew the bands did not have their master tapes and one day a contemporary band on my label, Death Domain, alerted me to a message board where he saw a collector bragging about having the tapes of both bands. So I contacted the collector and we were able to borrow and eventually purchase the master tapes back for the artists to keep in their possession.
I’v been jamming your Alive Again reissue like crazy the last couple of weeks. I read in the notes that it was originally released exclusively on cassette and limited to 50 copies! A lot of your releases seem so obscure, it amazes us that you even find them! What led you to The Product, and how do you typically discover these lost basement gems?
It’s funny, a lot of my bands were found by watching Youtube videos over and over until a new band I had never heard of came on and I like them. I use search engines online to find the original band members and try to contact them. Sometimes I only have an address and write letters to the band members. For The Product I found a youtube video and contacted the person who uploaded the video, who led me the band.
What would you say is the thread that ties your releases together? What do you look for in a potential reissue?
The music has to move me. If my ears perk up and find myself humming along its most likely a match for my label. I like melodies and emotional extremes. I suppose these threads are found in all my releases.
What record has been the biggest challenge to reissue so far? What made it so hard?
Sometimes I encounter arguments between band members that are brought to the surface by the reissue. Many of these artists recorded their music when they were teenagers or in their 20s, a period of tremendous emotional growth, for some. I always take a very neutral role and sometimes act as a mediator when band members have stopped communicating.
Your Lives Of Angels Elevator To Eden reissue is a big favorite around our offices. Like much of your catalog, this was originally released only on cassette. What is your process for restoring or appropriating artwork for your LP releases?
I adore Lives of Angels! I have to thank Damon Way for that reissue, he begged me to reissue them a few years ago but I never paid any attention. Then one night at a party Damon was DJing and played “Ascension” by Lives of Angels and I ran to the booth and he held up the “Elevator To Eden” LP.
I’ll let my talented designer Eloise Leigh talk about the artwork restoration process:
“Some of the projects require completely new designs for compilations or releases that did not have a design before. Other projects are straight reproductions of the original releases, but with new inserts and printed ephemera designed to accompany them. In all cases, we strive to be as resourceful as possible to work within low budget limitations. Paper is often sourced from the local recycling center [S.C.R.A.P.], designs are often created in 1-color or 2-color with lower ink usage in mind, and layout sizes are often determined by what works best with local printers and their most cost-effective options. At the same time, quality of content is never sacrificed, and it has been an honor to help so many talented artists and musicians resurrect their amazing music in the most independent and authentic way possible.”
What have you been listening to lately?
I have been digging the new Chelsea Light Moving album, all 3 Grass Widow albums, the new album by Profligate, and Tonto’s Expanding Head Band Zero Time LP to name a few.
Any upcoming projects you can share with us?
At the beginning of April we have 3 female fronted bands from Nordic countries to celebrate Women’s History Month. KITCHEN & THE PLASTIC SPOONS from Sweden, Q4U from Iceland and BELABORIS from Finland. Then in May we are focusing on American groups, with LOS MICROWAVES from San Francisco, ALGEBRA SUICIDE from Chicago, and XEX from New Jersey, my home state. Later this year you can expect another compilation of BART (BAY AREA RETROGRADE), DARK DAY, NAGAMATZU and tons more surprises in store.