17 February 2009


...is a minuscule record label based in San Francisco. The format of choice is the limited edition CD. Though lacking any formal design technique, each release is well-presented with good quality printed artwork in jewel cases, though I think it would be more attractive if they went for a more unusual, possibly hand-assembled approach, maybe with some kind of unique personalisation of each individual item. Why should that matter? Well, I think it matters a lot right now. If the CD is to survive as a format against a backdrop of bleak economics and cheap downloads then presentation is vital, and I think this label needs to think about how they can manufacture items that people will want to cherish in future. I used to co-run a tiny cd-r label with a friend. Editions ranged from 4 to 50+ units, but we never used professional printers or duplication services. Everything was done by hand. I don't recall if that was a political or aesthetic decision - we just enjoyed doing the shit that way, and I honestly believe that the handmade arts will be one of the most effective ways to keep physical media alive in the future.

But enough inane ranting - what about this music? Well from the things they've sent me, it's generally pretty good. Prosumer Sound System makes retrofied instrumental electro/hip-hop/rave to a high standard, though somewhat lacking in 'edge'. Some more imagination/daring with the mixing and editing would definitely raise the stakes, though funnily enough when Prosumer drops out the beats completely, as on the humorously titled "Bonus Beats (No-Beats)" mega-mix from CD#2, the results are far more enlightening - an ambient wash of arpeggios, mentasms and orchestral samples that works perfectly.

Woodman & Woodman's "Sounds Of Wood EP" is a real surprise on account of the quality of his productions - clearly inspired by acts like Chris Clark and Jackson & His Computer Band, I could easily imagine this selection of twisted-tronica and spannered disco being released on Warp Records. But be careful with the heavy use of samples from well-known tracks by famous artists ...it might get you in trouble one day!

Bevels & Drop Shadows' "Vol.#1" is a strangely disfigured collection. On the one hand there are some anodyne IDM moments, then there's the bouncy electro gene-spliced with classical composition or that beautiful little child-like musical box piece that I find so enchanting. It's like they haven't quite decided what they want to do yet - and that makes for a fascinating half-hour.

This is a promising little label that could use your support, so if you're one of the few people out there with a bit of money left in your paypal account, why not give them a go? All releases (complete with audio previews) available to buy from the label's website.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous1:57 PM

    Presentation is vital? Have you checked Hard Format lately? Hope you're well!