Vinyl Wings (Review)
Updated: Sep 29, 2020
Vinyl. From an outsiders view, many view the obsession with collecting records as sophomoric. There’s quite often a conception that people who collect records are acting as hipsters, posers, or audiophilic nerds. Although these things could be true, many who delve into the depths of these circular discs will realise the profound, almost inexpressible joy that overcomes you pick your disc and the needle makes contact with the grooves – pure bliss. In 2020, the growth in vinyl records meant that they surpassed CD sales for the first time since the 1980s. Having steadily made a resurgence since 2005, it seems that vinyl is here to stay. To fill music makers’ yearning to expand our collections, vinyl subscription services have risen too.
Vinyl Wings is a monthly subscription service which offers handpicked specialist music records delivered straight to your door. The service currently focusses on classic “Jazz and Soul” releases but is looking to expand its service by offering “Rock & Blues” as well as “Classical” offerings in the future. To learn more about Vinyl Wings, we got to the opportunity to try out the service as well as speaking to Vinyl Wings founder Amrian Kavkasidze.
“Jazz has been a big part of my life from a very early age” Amiran tells me. Sharing our collective lust to quash the conception that jazz is seen as “elevator music”, Amiran outlines that lying at the core of the project is the idea for Vinyl Wings was purely "to be able to share with people what a vast treasure this genre of music has to offer”.
How does Vinyl Wings work?
Vinyl Wings offers three subscription price tiers, giving customers the option of a month, 3-month or 6-month subscription. Each month, subscribers are offered a selection of three records, of which they’re able to pick two as part of the service. The selection is carefully thought through and curated by Amiran and the team to help satisfy the voracious appetite of vinyl junkies - offering a no "BS approach".
Explaining how the service narrows down which albums they offer, Amiran tells me that most of the “recommendations that I put through in the monthly selections are albums which I find are either often overlooked, or they have some sort of a significance because of the time or the circumstances they were recorded in”. Going on further, he illustrates that he spends most of his free time “reading books about jazz, about artists, or even about entire decades of a music style. In doing so I’ve come across so many albums I’ve never heard of or which aren’t popularised. Especially in jazz, musicians have been known to move from one group to another often, or they even just get an all-star lineup together for one album and record it. Think of Herbie Hancock or Wayne Shorter or Freddie Hubbard - those guys are all over the place and have played with the very best! But unless you read it, you may not immediately realise it”.
Vinyl Wings - The experience
With this in mind, I can honestly say that the selection offered to me represented all those elements. Having the choice between Robert Glasper Experiment’s Black Radio, The Fatback Band’s Keep on Steppin’ and Oliver Nelson’s The Blues and Abstract Truth. Despite it being a difficult choice, I had to go for Black Radio and The Blues and Abstract Truth. Both records are a fantastic depiction of artists pushing boundaries within the realms of jazz.
Glasper’s Black Radio experimentation of melding jazz with hip-hop, neo-soul, R&B helped create one of the most revolutionary records of the 2010s. Although he wasn’t the first jazz musician to test the waters in this way, with figures like Roy Hargrove creating similar vibes with his RH Factor in the early 2000s, the way in which he executed it with the help of star guests like Erykah Badu resonated with many. The innovation shown by Glasper helped raise that immortal question – “What is jazz?”.
When thinking about ground-breaking saxophonists of the 20th century, many overlook Oliver Nelson’s contribution to the world of jazz. Nelson’s improvisational skills were fierce, but his compositional prowess was also second-to-none. Capturing the post-bop and hard-bop sounds, Nelson’s The Blues and Abstract Truth sees trumpeter Freddie Hubbard and alto saxophonist Eric Dolphy shine through to create a timeless record, with the opening ‘Stolen Moments’ being one of the most iconic jazz compositions of all time.
Although I was fortunate enough to know a fair amount of the heritage and context behind these records, the accompanying contextual notes which come with these records is a great oversight into the history and significance around them. Providing elements like this allows the listener to pick out parts in the record, helping enrichen the listening experience.
Vinyl Wings - Verdict
As I outlined, with vinyl and record lovers, there tends to be a deeper connection with the music, possibly because you have a physical connection to the medium, one which requires care and looking after. This sense of connection to music is being lost through our consumption of music through streaming playlists. Amiran’s mission here really helps to revaluate our process of consuming music, giving it greater substance and meaning. Amiran tells me - “I think because music is now so freely available online and via streaming, no one bothers to read the back of an album or tries to find out the story behind it - that’s what I’m trying to bring to our Vinyl Wing members”.
Alongside expanding their genre offerings in the future, Vinyl Wings hopes to expand beyond their current capabilities. Tracking down original or even rare jazz reissues is difficult to do. There’s a whole breadth of music which is slowly being rediscovered, something which Amiran would like Vinyl Wings to consider going forward – “In the long term I’d love to be able to offer exclusive pressings of albums for members. There’s a huge catalogue of albums out there which unfortunately don’t see a reissue or a repress very often, so they’re harder to find on vinyl. That would probably mean getting a few more people on board who have some knowledge of music copyright law and a facility that’s willing to press for us, but these are learning curves along the way which we’ll have to get familiar with!”.
Vinyl Wings’ service is informative, passionate and scrupulous. Although some may raise an eyebrow at the price or purpose of the service, its expertise and ability to musically expand your collection counteracts these qualms. The service provides a fantastic foothold to help expand your precious music collection.
Check out Vinyl Wings here.