For anybody interested in analog technologies and music, Gideon Schwartz’s Hi-Fi: The History of High-End Audio Design offers a deep dive into the history and renaissance of lo-fi audio. From Bang & Olufsen’s glorious wire recorder from 1947, the Beocord 84U, to the stunning Clearaudio Statement V2 turntable from 2008, and so many more, the products highlighted within this 272-page book are some of the most beautifully designed devices in the world. Audio fans will be delighted by the countless turntables, reel-to-reels, vacuum tubes, amplifiers, speakers and more.
Written by former jazz and pop critic at The New York Times, Nate Chinen, Playing Changes: Jazz for the New Century is a definitive guide to the genre from the past to the present. While today’s jazz may be different, it’s rooted in the same ideals and ethos, and Chinen argues for its continued relevance while highlighting some contemporary talent. He does this while educating readers on the genre’s illustrious and influential past.
As Bluetooth earbuds and headphones become more prevalent, many users are now accustomed to frustration when confronted by entertainment systems on airplanes, in gyms or rental cars. Allowing you to connect your wireless headphones to these screens is the AirFly Pro: a dongle that plugs into a standard jack. This little gadget can wirelessly connect to two sets of headphones and has a 16+ hour battery, so your next long-haul flight or gym session can be as entertaining as ever.
Warp Records celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, and the “post-genre” label unveiled the epic WXAXRXP SESSIONS box set in celebration. This hinged box comes filled with 10 sessions recorded for radio (each on 12-inch vinyl) spanning the brand’s vast history—from the Peel Sessions of the ’90s right up to this year’s broadcast on NTS. There are also eight prints by Synchrodogs, and a sticker set. Settle in for hours of music by Flying Lotus, Bibio, Aphex Twin and others.
Shot by Ruvan Wijesooriya, this image taken at the DFA + LCD Soundsystem party at midtown NYC’s Downtime club perfectly captures a moment in 2007, a year when both the label and band felt omnipresent. The photograph was used as a poster insert for the European seven-inch version of “Disco Infiltrator” (from the band’s debut self-titled album), and now is being printed in a limited edition of 150 on archival 305 GSM 100% cotton white photo paper. Each print is signed and numbered.
Featuring some of her big hits, rarities and remixes, Mary J Blige’s HERstory Vol. 1 is a set of eight standard-weight, seven-inch records (also available as a double-LP) that’s made for fans of ’90s R&B. With a remix of “What’s the 411” featuring Notorious BIG and K-Ci, and “Can’t Knock The Hustle” with Jay-Z, the album features a bunch of versions not previously available on physical CDs or vinyl. Full of ballads and bops, this is a glorious collection of songs by the R&B queen.
Composed by Sufjan Stevens and played by Timo Andres, this ballet score for a Justin Peck-choreographed dance performance (which premiered with the New York City Ballet in 2017) impresses with its subtlety and emotion. Far from merely background music, the 10 tracks (referencing the collection’s title Decalogue, which means 10 commandments) dip, accelerate, crescendo, and sometimes even pause entirely to afford the performers solemnity. The Deluxe version of the LP comes with a 40-page songbook and an art print by Charlotte de Mezamat.
Set to be released 8 November, this vinyl pressing of the haunting and heartbreaking Ghosteen is the 17th studio album by the universally beloved Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds. The stunning record deals with grief and longing, but its over-arching themes are enduring love and healing. Lush and poetic, it’s an exquisite and entirely transfixing record.
An autobiography by punk icon Debbie Harry, Face It: A Memoir was crafted by Harry and music writer Sylvie Simmons. The fascinating tome is full of history, anecdotes and wild tales, but steers clear of being a full-on confessional—which perfectly suits Harry’s impeccably crafted Blondie persona. From her teenage years to moving to New York, meeting Chris Stein, her rise to fame and the creation of Blondie (the band and the character), nearly everything gets documented candidly alongside never-before-published photographs and artwork. Of course, there’s much more to Debbie Harry than Blondie, and plenty of that is explored within, too.
Available for pre-order now, a special four-vinyl edition of N*E*R*D’s seminal debut record In Search Of… features the US “rock version” and the European “electronic version”—each in their own two-LP gate-fold jacket. The 2001 album saw N*E*R*D (at the time Pharrell Williams, Chad Hugo and Shay Haley) catapult to international acclaim, thanks to their melding of countless genres (from funk to rock, hip-hop and beyond) and flawless production. Though some 20 years old now, the album—named for the Leonard Nimoy-hosted TV show, an ode to the band’s collective Star Trek obsession—remains infectious, polished and ahead of its time.
Founded back in 1989, XL Recordings originally planned to release dance music, but has since expanded significantly—with the likes of Låpsley, KAYTRANADA, Frank Ocean, Ratatat and Radiohead among their ranks. You can rep the label, and collaborator Maharishi, with this Italian crushed nylon flight jacket in bright sunset yellow. The fabric features metallic-finished fibers, giving it an iridescent quality, and the jacket fastens with a Swiss Riri double-way zip.
Merely by dribbling this tennis ball-sized device, you unlock the capabilities of some of the grandest beat pads. Whether you toss it as hard as you can or just flick its exterior, different sounds are produced based on the pressure applied. In fact, its customizability lends endless outcomes. From the ball’s partner app you can share, collaborate and even connect multiple Oddballs. Price is Pounds.
A drum kit sized to fit your fingertips, Sphero’s Specdrums 2 Rings are designed to detect colors and play an assigned musical note for each. Simply wear it with the screen facing down and tap everyday objects to make a beat. Whether using the device’s preset library of instrumental sets or recording your own samples, you can make songs during a commute, at your desk or even on your own clothing. Each box comes with two rings, instructions on how to pair them with Specdrums MIX app, and a multi-colored playing pad.
Legendary DJ/producer/composer Jeff Mills (aka The Wizard) is commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing by releasing a conceptual album inspired by the moon. Available as a double-LP (or on CD), the record, called Moon — The Area of Influence, will be made up of Mills’ nuanced, cinematic and Detroit-rooted techno. In his words, “This album and the imagination that helped to produce it should be considered as a proposition with open-endedness and no foreseeable conclusion. It is a chemistry of facts and feelings based on then, now and forever.” Set for release 19 July, it’s available for pre-order now.
Mother Earth’s Plantasia, originally released in 1976 by beloved composer/songwriter and electronic music pioneer Mort Garson, is a wildly sought-after record—having only been available in very limited numbers at LA’s Mother Earth store (with a purchase of a house plant) and at Sears. The album was composed on a Moog synthesizer with plants as the intended audience. Now, Sacred Bones Records is reissuing the cult album—with the option of a limited green and white “Spider Plant” vinyl. Each record comes with a reprint of the original booklet and with new liner notes.
The next generation of Ultimate Ears’ Wonderboom is the Wonderboom 2: while still portable, Bluetooth-capable, long-lasting and loud, this new iteration has some unbeatable features. New to this iteration is stereo-pairing with another Wonderboom 2, some 13 hours of playback, and a new fabric exterior. We especially enjoy its “outdoor mode,” which equalizes the speaker’s output and ultimately improves its ability to cut through noise (like chatter, cars or other nearby speakers) and is activated with a button on the speaker’s bottom panel. Available for pre-order now, the Wonderboom 2 is available in four colorways and is water- and dust-proof.