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.

New Label Spoonhunt Puts Out Its First Three Albums

Source: Dominic Lash.

The first three Spoonhunt CDs are now available – acoustic free improvisation, large ensemble noise, rockist free jazz, and a bit of Schubert. Also including one of the final live performances by guitarist and pioneering improviser John Russell.

All titles were recorded live at the legendary Cafe Oto in London by Shaun Crook, and feature graphic design by Matthew Grigg. The three albums are:

Limulus by the Dominic Lash Quartet (with Javier Carmona, Ricardo Tejero, and Alex Ward)

Distinctions by Consorts (Douglas Benford; Steve Beresford; Marjolaine Charbin; Chris Cundy; Seth Cooke; Angharad Davies; Phil Durrant; Matthew Grigg; Bruno Guastalla; Martin Hackett; Tim Hill; Tina Hitchens; Sarah Hughes; Mark Langford; Dominic Lash; Yvonna Magda; Hannah Marshall; Helen Papaioannou; Yoni Silver; Alex Ward)

Discernment by John Butcher / Dominic Lash / John Russell / Mark Sanders

Where to Begin With Important Records’ Genre-Defying Soundscapes 

Source: Bandcamp Daily.

When John Brien founded Important Records in 2001, he was determined to establish a curatorial vision that reflected his experience working in record stores, where every section could yield unexpected bounty. The enormous stylistic gulf between the label’s first two releases—a 7” of ramshackle pop songs by Daniel Johnston and a characteristically corrosive collection of looped noise by Merzbow—set a standard for the striking aesthetic curveballs that would become the label’s signature. Twenty years and 500 releases in, the label has emerged as a bastion of boundless exploration, spanning crushing doom (Ocean), makeshift experimental electronics (Jessica Rylan), archaic lute compositions (Jozef Van Wissem), wispy drone (Bitchin Baja), and more. “The goal,” Brien says, “was to be a genre and brand-free label that could really release anything.”

Oslo Label HUBRO Highlights Norway’s Progressive Jazz Scene

Source: Bandcamp Daily.

Launched in 2009, the Norwegian label HUBRO has quickly established itself as a champion of the country’s progressive jazz and improv scenes. The Oslo-based venture was founded by Andreas Meland, who was working as the Norwegian label manager for the iconic jazz label ECM (Edition of Contemporary Music) at the time. Meland founded HUBRO as a way to “pursue a desire to take part in nurturing the artistic process again,” and to rectify the fact that “there weren’t enough labels around putting love, money, and time into helping and nurturing all the great artists and musicians.”

HUBRO’s inaugural project was Arbor, the second album from acoustic doom-jazz trio Splashgirl. Since then, the label has built up a rich vault of over one hundred releases, all of which combine a forward-thinking compositional mentality with a strong sense of musical history. In the HUBRO discography, glass harmonicas and traditional Norwegian Hardanger fiddles mingle with modern digital sampling techniques and waves of vibrating drone-style synths, creating immersive ambient experiences that can feel both pastoral and futuristic at once.

New Focus Recordings Takes Classical Out of the Concert Hall

Source: Bandcamp Daily.

The New Focus Recordings catalog is a who’s who of modern composed and improvised music. Since its founding by guitarist Dan Lippel and composer Peter Gilbert in 2004, the label has released approximately 300 albums, representing everything from no-wave-style electric guitar quartets to reimagined recordings of romantic-era composers, electroacoustic experimentations to contemporary classical compositions. These days, New Focus adds a new album nearly every week under its main archive, or on one of its many sub-labels. “It really is about freedom to make the project you want to make,” says Lippel. “I don’t really buy into the idea that a label’s identity or brand would be tied necessarily to genre or style […] if it feels sincere, it feels genuine to me. I want the label to be a space for that kind of work.”