AUM Fidelity’s World of Free Jazz and Elemental Light 

Source: Bandcamp Daily.

As the last label manager for Homestead Records in the early-to-mid ’90s, Steven Joerg was at the epicenter of the era’s indie rock revolution. But his heart was pulling him in another direction. Living in the robust cross-cultural pollination of downtown New York City made him realize his mission in life was to support and promote the creative improvisational jazz he was witnessing on a local level at the time.

“The mid-to-late ‘90s was a heady period,” he explained. “It was an insanely vibrant, cultural place where you could still get cheap rent and there were jobs to be had. You could see shows like the David S. Ware Quartet opening up for Sonic Youth at the Hammerstein Ballroom and Other Dimensions in Music opening up for Yo La Tengo at Irving Plaza. The two rock groups were no strangers to jazz, but they were excited to know there was this vital, utterly happening jazz going down right then and there.”


Texas label Astral Spirits Profiled Ahead of Chicago Appearance

Source: Bleader.

Cassette tapes don’t figure into this narrative, but they’re enjoying a revival among underground microlabels—and Astral Spirits, operated by Texan musician Nathan Cross, releases short runs of new jazz and improvised music on tape. In summer 2016, the label threw a weekend-long festival at the Hungry Brain, and this Thursday it comes to Constellation to celebrate two more tapes by a pair of Chicago-based ensembles. One is an eponymous blast of free-form noise by guitarists Mark Shippy and Daniel Wyche and drummer Ben Billington; the other, entitled Contra/Fact, is a wide-ranging blend of spiritual jazz and electronic grooves by veteran bassist Matthew Lux and his Communication Arts Quartet.

10 Essential Albums from Constellation Records

Godspeed You Black Emperor! performing live on...

Source: Pitchfork.

They brought the world Godspeed You Black Emperor!, whose guiding principles—saying no to photos, interviews, lead singers, and singles, and yes to ominous 20-minute instrumental orchestral-noise suites contextualized by group-written manifestos—ran completely contrary to conventional buzz-building strategies. And, ever since, the label has had an allergic reaction to chasing trends. While everyone was trying to sign the next Strokes in the early 2000s, Constellation gave us avant-garde klezmer. While many indie labels were scooping up any banjo-plucking beardo to ride the post-Mumford gold rush, Constellation was turning Colin Stetson into the indie world’s preeminent free-jazz superstar, or shining a light on the experimental Middle East–inspired electronica of Jerusalem in My Heart.

Crammed Discs Celebrates Boundary-Pushing Music From Around the World 

Source: Bandcamp Daily.

Few record labels are as difficult to categorize as Belgium’s Crammed Discs, which is exactly the way founder Marc Hollander likes it. Over the small imprint’s nearly 40 years in business, the label has amassed a catalogue consisting of cult post-punk releases by Tuxedomoon and The Honeymoon Killers, a soundtrack for TV commercials by Japanese composer Yasuaki Shimizu, and countless other genre-busting releases—expanding beyond the confines of experimental, pop, and electronic—from around the world. Hollander and his longtime co-conspirators, Hanna Gorjaczkowska and producer Vincent Kenis, have forged a singular identity out of strenuously avoiding any easy file-unders.

Review Page for Cuneiform Records

We recently added a new page that aggregates our reviews of Cuneiform Records releases over the last several years.  While far from comprehensive (we’ve only reviewed 18 releases out of about 50 since 2013), it does provide a reasonable overview of some of the label’s recent high points.

Take a look here when you can:

Tom Steenland of Starkland Interviewed

Source: Houston Public Media.

It all started because Tom Steenland really dug the music of composer Tod Dockstader. He wanted the rest of the world to hear it, too. And so began the (thus far) 25-year DIY project born out of Steenland’s passion for innovative sound that is Starkland Records, a label that specializes in experimental music, alternative classical, and the avant-garde. Since the label started in 1991 (AKA, the Year Punk Broke), Steenland has almost single-handedly propelled Starkland’s motor, doing the bulk of the work for the label himself, including the minutiae like graphic design. And, to top all of that, Starkland is a non-profit label and has worked directly with nearly 100 composers.

Setola di Maiale Label Profiled

Source: Jazzword.

When things become negative, it’s time to invent other stuff,” declares drummer Stefano Giust, explaining why and how Setola di Maiale (SdM), his Bologna, Italy-based label, was founded in 1993, and is still going strong 322 releases later. He elaborates: “In the beginning possibilities for all the talented musicians weren’t available, for obvious reasons, including economic strategies. How many people love free improvisation, free jazz and experimental music anyways?” he asks.