Words by Rafe Arnott. Image courtesy In Sheep's Clothing.
The new look of record clubs in 2021 is all about human experience, taste and curation, and Los Angeles slow-music club In Sheep's Clothing is the first to put a face on it. A modern, organic twist on traditional record clubs of the ‘70s and ‘80s, the ISC Record Club offers hand-picked LP deliveries to your door every month. The project’s soft launch took place through March and has already sold out. No word if there’s a coming expansion.
In Sheep’s Clothing is more than just a place to understand what Japanese kissa are like if you’re in LA. (Kissa give customers the experience of listening to jazz LPs playing through rare vintage sound systems at specialized cafés). It’s been serving up a killer mix of rare groove albums through its online storefront for some time, giving the more esoteric collector a chance to add something inspiring to their crates. So, it makes perfect sense that they would take things one step further and offer such a unique opportunity for vinyl addicts of all stripes with their Record Club.
Photo above: Part of the high-fidelity system in situ at In Sheep's Clothing in Los Angeles. Image courtesy Timeout.
Unique because there's a human behind the curtain. Who hasn’t seen friends held rapt, momentarily paused as it were, when listening to music on modern music streaming services. This happens because their chosen music stops playing, and an algorithm keeps things going with picks of its own – based on your listening preferences of course. It can be pleasantly surprising, or a total disappointment. But, it's still silicon flipping through the virtual stacks. What if the tunes were chosen by a real human who knew what you liked? A novel analogue in the cloud-computing, covid-influenced, don’t-touch, don’t-leave-home reality that is the new normal, but one that resonates with any serious LP collector. Members of the club are requested to supply in-depth notes on their music tastes, favourite artists/albums/genres, along with any other information that can shed light onto personal music milestones which could assist the curators in their vinyl selections.
Photo above: The first two LPs delivered in the curated selection I received in March from ISC Record Club were impressive; German guitarist Paul Brändle's minimalist compositions from his Squama Recordings debut Solo, and a compilation of crooning psychedelic American folk and soul compiled from early-seventies 45s via the Foraged Sounds label, titled Belong To The Wind.
Anyone who hears about the ISC Record Club has been eager to learn more. Since there’s nothing officially online regarding it, here’s some background on the idea from ISC. “With a subscription to the ISC Record Club, you’ll receive individually curated, hand selected records based on your preferences once a month. Bundles will include brand new releases, overlooked gems, and record collection essentials, all in the spirit of emulating one of the most important elements of ISC: discovery.”
ISC online store curator Jonny wrote, “A big inspiration in bringing this record club to life is the lack of personal contact we’re all experiencing in some way. One of the greatest things about being in the physical space of ISC was being able to expose people to new music and create a lasting memory around that exchange. This is our way of trying to bridge that gap, by creating a personalized way of exchanging and sharing new music based on a human connection."
Check out In Sheep’s Clothing online store HERE.