12k Records Profiled

Source: Bandcamp Daily.

In 1997, Taylor Deupree, frustrated by his own experiences with record labels as an artist, penned 12 principles that would become the pillars of 12k, a New York-based label that has lasted over 20 years. The 12 principles are straight-forward and testimonial, and you can hear each of them play out in each of 100-plus releases on 12k, from artists like Ryuichi Sakamoto, Simon Scott of Slowdive and Marcus Fischer.

12k releases are carefully made, often glacially paced, and full of crackling textures and minute details—Deupree also runs a mastering business, 12k Mastering—and are musically bound together by principles like “Evolve constantly, but slowly,” and “Don’t tell listeners what they want to hear, let them discover that for themselves.” The releases are quiet, sometimes in a traditionally ambient manner, sometimes neoclassical, sometimes neither.

Dark Ambient Label Cryo Chamber Profiled

Source: Bandcamp Daily.

“I have a quite visual relationship with music, and I tend to close my eyes when listening,” says Simon Heath. “When I listen to black metal, it takes me to abandoned castles and deep northern forests where I can visualize every cracked stone or broken twig. When listening to techno, I visualise the bass pulsating through interdimensional space. I don’t love music for just the sounds. Sounds are just a means to help transport me somewhere interesting beyond the mundane.”

Heath makes music under a few guises—including Atrium Carceri, Sabled Sun, and Krusseldorf—and since 2012, he’s been the proprietor of the dark ambient label Cryo Chamber. But the idea that sound can create a rich, detailed space in the imagination is one that has inspired him since his earliest creative excursions.

The Intakt Label Profiled

Source: Bandcamp Daily.

Over the course of the label’s 30-year history, Landolt has cultivated relationships with notable artists in America and Europe. One such artist is Cuban pianist and composer Aruán Ortiz, who puts it, “It is incredible how iconic figures of avant-garde jazz such as Anthony Braxton, Cecil Taylor, Andrew Cyrille, Oliver Lake, Reggie Workman, Aki Takase, Evan Parker, and others co-habit [on the label] with the names of young and adventurous musicians from Europe and the U.S. that are having an impact, such as Kris Davis, Ingrid Laubrock, Tim Berne, Sylvie Courvoisier, Jim Black, and Alexander Hawkins.”

Astral Spirits Label Profiled

Source: Bandcamp Daily. Great label with an incredible set of releases.

The Austin label Astral Spirits takes its name from a recording by trumpet player Joe McPhee, whose ’70s albums redefined free jazz by incorporating electronic sounds and free-roaming tempos. Those recordings set the stage for much of what the label releases: Astral Spirits specializes in improvised music of every variety and form, from wild skronk and flailing drums, to abstract electronics and the sound of strings being scraped raw. The artists that label manager Nathan Cross pursues are all intrepid explorers and restless innovators; the music they make is united in its desire to reach beyond, to imagine new futures and possibilities, to seek tenaciously and without compromise. “It’s the thrill of trying something new,” Cross says.

International Anthem Profiled

Source: Pitchfork.

Ever since Scottie McNiece and David Allen co-founded International Anthem in 2014, they’ve pushed back against easy categorization and joined a proud hometown tradition in the process. The Chicago label documents a community that is greatly informed by the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, the influential jazz nonprofit whose members’ relationship to genre is so uneasy, they’ve opted for terms like “jazz and its offshoots,” “jazz-identified music,” and “post-jazz” instead. “Everyone always calls us a jazz label,” McNiece says. “We’ve never exclusively been a jazz label, and we’ve always been trying to blur those lines. ‘Boundary-defying music,’ that’s maybe a better genre name for us.”

Plus Timbre Overview Page

We have compiled reviews from the last several years of releases on the Plus Timbre label. These are now published on a separate page (the original versions are still available as well). As stated by the label, “Plus Timbre is a netlabel dedicated to experimental and improvisational music, aiming to foster and promote material in the widest possible variety of relevant musical styles.”


The Pristine Empire of ECM Records 

Source: The New Yorker.

he German record label Edition of Contemporary Music, or ECM, which recently celebrated its fiftieth anniversary, first made its name with elegant, atmospheric jazz albums that turned away from the melee of the post-bop avant-garde. Its most famous product, from 1974, was Keith Jarrett’s “The Köln Concert,” which, to its creator’s chagrin, became a mellow soundtrack to innumerable make-out sessions and coffeehouse transactions. ECM also established itself as a purveyor of classical minimalism, with best-selling disks devoted to Steve Reich and Arvo Pärt. The label’s austere design aesthetic—block letters, black-and-white photography, sparse notes—was consistent to the point of self-parody. Circa 1999, no sophisticated stereo stand was complete without an ECM CD showing, say, a picture of a collapsed stone wall.

Another Timbre New Releases Profiled

Source: The Wire.

“Early CDs concentrated primarily on improvisation,” declares Another Timbre founder Simon Reynell, “but over the years the label’s focus has shifted more towards compositions, in a journey from timbre to pitch.” The Sheffield based imprint adds five more releases to its vast back catalogue this month. Reynell talks us through the label’s most recent output

Pi Recordings Profiled

Source: Bandcamp Daily.

Pi Recordings’s Seth Rosner and Yulun Wang will never forget the day they called Henry Threadgill to tell him he had won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Music; he was only the third jazz artist to do so.

“We were so excited, we were tripping over each other trying to tell him about it,” laughs Wang. “And Henry was getting madder and madder, because he had no idea what we were talking about!”

Once all became clear, the mood was jubilant. “He’s really trying to invent his own musical language,” says Rosner of the master composer, saxophonist, and flutist. “For the Pulitzer people to finally recognize him for tackling this challenge—it’s definitely one of the prouder moments of my life.”

The Boundary-Pushing Music of 577 Records 

Source: Bandcamp Daily.

“I’m always surprised when someone pays attention,” says Federico Ughi, co-founder of 577 Records, “because we’re the underground of the underground!” The self-appointed title is a joke, but it hints at both the label’s relatively low profile and—inadvertently—at the unifying sound running through all of their releases. The label, which is nearly two decades old, evades easy definition, producing experimental jazz that pushes beyond traditional boundaries.

577 Records was born from a series of house shows in Brooklyn’s Park Slope neighborhood in 2000, part of a shared project between Ughi and his friend and label co-founder, NYC jazz legend Daniel Carter. The pair hosted small monthly shows in Ughi’s apartment—not because they lacked venues, but as a way “to create a DIY space we could manage, a safe place for musicians. Instead of going somewhere else, it was something we could do for ourselves. That’s still the platform we have: musicians come first,” says Ughi. In the following year, Ughi and Carter founded their label, which they named after their apartment number.