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MAHOGANY: In The Presence Of The Crepuscular (7″, Amberley AMY 6, 1999)

Mahogany - In The Presence Of The Crepuscular

A record from what was in some ways an early wave of the instrumental, semi-electronic post-rock sound that came to inform vast swathes of independent music, this Mahogany single is a real ‘prepared with love’ kind of artefact, despite being packaged in a standard 7″ sleeve:

  • The cover artwork is superb – a bit of pseudo-Bridget Riley op art that hints at pixellated imagery, semaphore and all kinds of ‘hidden codes’. It’s the sort of cover one could obsess over for hours.
  • The label, Amberley, was a one-man outfit that had a lot of time and energy put into it (I used to correspond with the guy behind the label, and can vouch for his total belief in what he was doing) – by the time of this Mahogany record’s release Amberley had also put out singles by several other great bands of the time, including A.M.P Studio, Gnac, Navigator and Lazarus Clamp.
  • The record itself is pressed on super-heavy vinyl – and that’s quite a bit more expensive to do than the ‘normal’ weight of seven inch vinyl. Why bother, one might ask? Well, it does make the record sound better. It also makes the record feel better, like a item of intrinsic value that will sit confidently and comfortably on your turntable.
  • Included within is a properly-printed, folded insert with details of Amberley’s releases – something more than a simple cut-up photocopy insert.

Hell, maybe every single released independently is by definition a ‘prepared with love’ artefact. It’s just that not all of them show it so obviously, I guess. To me, I don’t understand why somebody who’s putting in the extraordinary time and effort required to simply get a record made and out there in the world wouldn’t extend that time and effort into all of its aspects – design, presentation, quality and style. Ticking all of those boxes is, for me, as DIY/punk as it gets: so much more so than intentionally presenting things in a scrappy or rough way to create some kind of (perhaps false) idea of ‘real’-ness… Maybe it depends on the kind of music, though. For this kind of music (refined, subtle and stylish post-rock), this presentation works for me.

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