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The best prog vinyl releases you can buy this month

Album Review

A poke around fantastic plastic with Fraser Lewry

You’ve got to admire a man like Chris Topham. An airline pilot with a floor-warping collection of vinyl, one assumes he chose the profession not for the glamour or the air miles, but for the opportunities it offered to scour the murkier corners of the world’s great cities for ever more exotic pressings.

For the last few years he’s run the Plane Groovy label (“My attempt to give something back to the hobby which has defined much of my life,” he says), providing a vinyl home for all sorts of musicians, the deals done on handshakes and the profits split 50/50.

All of Topham’s vinyl is heavyweight and high quality, and it’s been something of a bumper year already. Currently taking up needle-time are album-of-the-year contender Folklore by Big Big Train, Robert Reed’s Sanctuary II (in which the Magenta man continues to carry the Tubular Bells torch into uncharted territory), the sophisticated pop of This Oceanic Feeling’s Universal Mind, and a terrific double vinyl set from Francis Dunnery, where the former It Bites man strikes a glancing blow in the ongoing loudness wars. He’s recorded the album without EQ or compression, and says, “You should be able to turn it up without hurting your ears or making you feel sick after 15 minutes.”


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