Audion Keeps The Out Sounds Way In 

Source: Bandcamp Daily.

When it first launched in 1986, Audion magazine filled an uncategorizable void in the musical underground, one where fans of far-out sounds like Faust, King Crimson, minimal composer Steve Reich, and the abstruse homespun recordings of Nurse With Wound all found common ground. Edited by brothers Steve and Alan Freeman, the magazine was the impetus for them to start their record label, Ultima Thule, as well as a record store of the same name. Although they’ve experienced many issues in keeping Audion afloat in the age of online publishing and music streaming, the Freemans remain determined in their eternal mission to hip the world to outlandish sounds.

Longform Editions Label Profiled

Source: Bandcamp Daily.

Unlike a conventional label, Longform Editions is not about singular releases, but prefers to present a broad group of artists and ideas alongside one another. Following the idea that “a rising tide lifts all boats,” they release four pieces at a time every other month, placing the music of more obscure composers alongside that of artists with more name recognition in the sonic equivalent of a gallery show. “Visibility for new artists and their work is important for the momentum and evolution of any art,” says Khedoori. “We’ve definitely seen some interesting connections made as a result and a lot of people who follow the project as a whole love that aspect of discovery it can create. Some pieces by these [lesser known] artists have proven really popular, so if Longform Editions can [be] an easier route to developing an audience, that’s great.”

David Grubbs on the Takuroku Label

Source: Cafe OTO.

Cafe OTO’s Takuroku label launched in May 2020, drawing upon a pool of artists that had some overlap with AMPLIFY 2020: quarantine (among the double-dippers: claire rousay, Derek Baron, Catherine Lamb, Taku Unami, Seymour Wright, myself), but quickly establishing its own parameters. One saw works by widely recognized figures (Maggie Nicols, Frederic Rzewski, Otomo Yoshihide, Eiko Ishibashi, Richard Youngs, Keiji Haino, Josephine Foster), important OTO regulars (Ashley Paul, David Toop, Ute Kanngiesser, Christabel Riley, Dominic Lash, Steve Noble, Paul Abbott), and a spate of folks whose work I was just beginning to discover and for which I was eager to hear more (Rosso Polare, Aisha Orazbayeva, Zach Rowden, Marja Ahti and Judith Hamann, Naima Karlsson). I was delighted to encounter a number of text-based pieces that operate outside the economy even of most experimental music: Caroline Bergvall, Jean-Luc Gionnet (his nearly four-hour Totality), and Nour Mobarak. From where I stood (or sat, day after manifestly similar day), I understood the model of Takuroku as an outlet for artists making work during lockdown, one with a swift turnaround time—particularly as wait times at pressing plants became longer and longer—and a sense of shared purpose and community, however distant.

Cruel Nature Label Profiled

Source: The Wire.

The prolific UK DIY label Cruel Nature was founded by Steve Strode in 2013 and is run from his home in Morpeth, Northumberland. In eight years it has released over 150 recordings in cassette tape and digital download formats, ranging from avant punk and experimental sludge to industrial noise and lo-fi electronics. This selection of tracks – with annotations by Strode – serves as a companion to Joseph Stannard’s Unlimited Editions profile of the label in The Wire 451.

LOM is a Home for the Eastern European Avant-Garde 

Source: Bandcamp Daily.

A working class student from the former Eastern Bloc in The Hague, Netherlands, Jonáš Gruska quickly began to notice the lack of visibility for experimental artists from his region. “I was studying at the Institute of Sonology, which is this school for experimental electroacoustic music and suddenly I realized that there is no connection between what’s going on in my home country, Slovakia, and the broader experimental music scene,” he says. “I felt like it would be nice to export these musicians from Eastern Europe to the West, because I could still perceive this divide in terms of how much is covered in the international magazines. I saw this inequality and I thought it would be nice to have a label that is outside-facing.”

Thus was born LOM, a Bratislava-based experimental label. A composer, field-recordist, microphone designer, and amateur mycologist, Gruska started LOM as a netlabel in 2011 while studying abroad, together with two other friends. Inspired by Gruska’s left-leaning politics and in particular his time spent in antifascist groups, LOM evolved out of necessity rather than a romantic, abstract notion of community. This underlying materialism remains at the core of the label. Gruska may be the most visible person in the collective at the moment, but his current position is more of a choice dictated by circumstances. “We work in a kind of a meritocratic principle, so when you want to be active you are active and you decide on things, and for the moment most of the deciding power is delegated to me,” he says.

Pi Recordings Profiled

Source: Downbeat.

Pi Recordings is one of the most respected labels in jazz, routinely presenting innovative, challenging work from veterans like Henry Threadgill, Art Ensemble of Chicago and Wadada Leo Smith, as well as modern-day masters like Tyshawn Sorey and Vijay Iyer, and up-and-coming creators like saxophonist Anna Webber. The label’s catalog is tightly curated — fewer than 100 releases in two decades — but conceptually unified. Pi releases rigorous, pathbreaking music that stretches the boundaries of jazz while honoring its history.

OGUN Records Profiled

Source: Bandcamp Daily.

There’s a long history of musical conversation between the jazz musicians of the UK and South Africa. Back in the 1970s, the OGUN record label began to document the collaborations between South Africans in exile and some of the UK’s most fiery free jazz players.

During apartheid, while jazz became the music of resistance in South Africa (with the most radical music recorded for the As-Shams label), many musicians fled to Europe. The exodus followed the 1960 Sharpeville Massacre where 69 protesters were shot dead at a peaceful Pan African Congress demonstration against the pass laws. “The state’s attempted silencing took many forms,” wrote Gwen Ansell of the post-Sharpeville clampdowns in her seminal book Soweto Blues: Jazz, Popular Music, and Politics in South Africa. “The closing down of the last spaces for expression; the attempt to replace urban and politically aware discourses with synthetic, tribal substitutes; the creation of distractions; and the driving of increasing numbers of artists into exile.”

Full Spectrum Records Profiled

Source: Bandcamp Daily.

Full Spectrum Records is a growing experimental label dedicated to releasing, in their own words, “the works of experimental musicians and sound artists, with an ear towards idiosyncratic tones, extended time frames, and unique compositional approaches.”

But when Andrew Weathers and Andrew Marino first launched the label in Greensboro, North Carolina in 2008, they were essentially using it as a way to put out their own music on CD-Rs. Full Spectrum began to expand the following year, when Carl Ritger came into the fold during the process of piecing together his first solo work as Radere, A Process in the Weather of the Heart.

20 Years of MoonJune Records

Source: Bandcamp Daily.

Keeping things lean and mean is key to the label’s survival. “I’m one guy,” Pavkovic says, “I don’t have an office on 57th St. with a concierge and an accountant and a lawyer that charges $450 an hour.” But incredibly for a one-man show currently operating out of Pavkovic’s Queens home, MoonJune has been near the top of jazz bible Downbeat Magazine‘s annual Best Labels poll the last several years in a row, ahead of giants like Verve and Nonesuch.