WHAMO 001 : Orbits – Tunguska

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Tunguska by Melbourne three piece Orbits is the first release on my new label Whalesmouth.

Recorded over two nights at The Catfish in Fitzroy (the venue that also hosts Formless Mondays, the ongoing gig series that I organise), Tunguska captures the live dynamic of the Orbits sound – opening wormholes of psychedelic sound through organic improvisation and the subversion of sonic structures. I’m thrilled to have it as my first release on Whalesmouth. Edition of 100 cassettes and full album stream will be available Tuesday 9.6.2014, Australian standard eastern time.
Photos below from the recording sessions, with thanks to Josh Kenk.

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2014 : Formless horizons

Formless Fields is not dead, it has only been sleeping.

Since my last post I’ve been adjusting to changes that have both limited opportunities to post and drained me of energy to put one word after another. Taking up extra hours at my place of employment (fine Fitzroy North watering hole The Pinnacle) and additional band booking roles have claimed much of my spare time. Such a precious, fleeting thing.

I’ve continued to keep an eye on my goal of releasing some tapes this year and I’ll have some news on that very soon. This post however will mainly concern my experiences in booking Monday nights at refurbished Fitzroy venue The Catfish, with a regular gig series we call Formless Mondays.

Booking bands is often challenging, sometimes frustrating, and always rewarding. The focus of the Formless Monday gigs is to provide a different live music experience for punters and performers alike, through longer set times and an emphasis on improvisation and collaboration. Sometimes this happens, sometimes it doesn’t, but always the gigs vary from the norm. What we’re trying to provide is an unpredictable series of gigs from each week to the next; gigs that are lively, challenging and stimulating. Gigs that reflect the great diversity of musical artists on Melbourne.

So far, so good, and below are samples from some of my favourite Formless Mondays thus far.

Vacant Lake and Purr

 

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Purr and Vacant Lake. Photo : Jade Cantwell

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Purr. Photo : Jade Cantwell


One of our best attended gigs that best captured the spirit of the night – Purr and Vacant Lake are brilliant musicians who wholly embraced the spirit of improvisation and collaboration. Fantastic visuals were provided by Mr Robbie Pitts.

Batpiss

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Mind melting jams from Collingwood kings. All in attendance had their insides goopified. A stunning psychedelic experience. Said it was one of their funnest sets. I believe them. I was there.

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Batpiss. Photos: Joshy Kenk

Ryan Edwards

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Ryan is one of my favourite local guitarists and it was wonderful to see him playing an extended improvised set before making some spectacular racket with Conatus.

Orbits

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An inspiring set of improvised drone and psychedelic soundscapes from three blokes I’ll be working with real soon, in some capacity. A large portion of this set was captured rather well by Orbits dude Warwick Smith:

Cool Soundscoolsounds1

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I didn’t know much about Cool Sounds before their gig but they put on a killer show. A tight band with a great psychedelic pop sound who have a lot of fun while they play. That’s important. Nice guys too. Also important.  Already booked more shows with them. A rough bootleg of one of their jams:

 

There’s been plenty of other fantastic shows but I don’t have photos or recordings of them all unfortunately! Thanks so much to all the bands that have played gigs and to the good folk of The Catfish for being so supportive. It’s a real thrill to become a more active participant in a music scene that I love so dearly. I hope that booking bands will continue to be one of the many things that I dabble in well into the future. Finally, our Formless Mondays for April:

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FAVOURITE TAPES OF 2013

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If my vinyl collection expanded last year then my tape collection exploded. I heartily got aboard the tape resurgence, purchasing many cassettes through Bandcamp and label home pages. People buy tapes for different reasons. I’m sure some people do it for nostalgia but that’s not important to me, as a youth most of my pocket money was spent purchasing CDs. For me it’s really nice to receive a physical product to accompany a digital purchase. I get the digital album immediately from Bandcamp then a couple of weeks later I get a package in the mail with a beautifully packaged tape, often accompanied by a personal note and assorted paraphernalia from the sender (stickers, zines, badges, tea…). Having a decent tape deck helps too and I’ve been listening to a lot more of my cassettes since picking up a nice Technics deck on the cheap. Like listening to vinyl, I find it to be a nice escape from the digital realm and I do enjoy the aural textures of cassettes, particularly in more experimental recordings. Here’s the ten tapes that I cherish most from last year then, in no particular order.

Sparkling Wide Pressure
Little Shrine
No Kings

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A remarkable year for Sparkling Wide Pressure with a load of great releases across multiple labels on a variety of formats. This tape on No Kings was particularly strong; indeed No Kings boss Lee Noble (who designed the brilliant art work) described it thus : “The best tape ever. End of tapes”. Frank Baugh’s explorations of noise, drone, folk psychedelic, and everything in between have developed a universe wholly of their own; each new release a startling addition to a deep, deep well of music that will reward for years to come. I talk about the futility of describing music a lot but it’s especially relevant when writing about Sparkling Wide Pressure’s music. It is dense art that you must experience on your own, and draw your own experiences from. I will say however that there is a sadness and beauty to Little Shrine that captures the sensation of melancholia unlike any other music that I’m aware of. I gain solace from this tape as I do from all of Sparking Wide Pressure’s music, but mostly I find it extremely interesting. Baugh’s music engages parts of my brain – and soul – like no other music does. I can only hope he is equally productive in 2014.

Bruff Superior
Bruff Superior
Major Crimes

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Released on top Adelaide label Major Crimes, this tape from Bruff Superior stood tall from the masses of other releases from slacker Australian guitar pop bands in 2013. I think to stand out in such a scene the personality of the band needs to come through, and it’s the friendly yet diffident attitude of Bruff Superior that provides their charm. The five tunes are repeated on both sides and it’s a pleasure to flip the tape after an initial run through but be warned: ear worms lurk within. All Alone gets you in off the bat with the its affected guitars and sweet harmonies, while the swaggering pulse of In The Dark recalls Melbourne guitar pop greats The Stevens. The sludgey oof of Can’t Explain is probably my favourite here, a rough edged thumper that nails that don’t-give-a-fuck demeanour of the band in the most delightful way. Bruff Superior aren’t out to reinvent anything – they’re taking their tools, getting to work and having a damn good time while they’re at it. Sounds that way, anyhow.

Cousins
Bathhouse
Bridgetown Records

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As thrilling as it is to listen to this tape from Cousins it’s a little sad to think this was their final release. The Milwaukee three piece called it a day back in August, leaving behind the magnificent epitaph of Bathhouses. A superbly recorded collection of post-punk infused rock songs that crackle with hope and defiance, Bathhouses absolutely must be played loud in order to experience to experience the concussive effect of those drums, to be overwhelmed by the maelstrom created by those guitars. I dig every moment of this tape but opener Abdicator is the track that still gives me goosebumps on every listen. Behind jet exhaust guitars and the sucking undertow of the killer rhythm section, frontman J. Wyatt intones my heart as simple as your heart,my heart as simple as your heart, my heart as simple as your heart and the effect is dizzying, disarming and a total thrill. Wyatt’s voice is central to the appeal of the Cousins sound – droning indifference at times, raw corrosive power at others – though it’s clear Cousins were very much a cohesive whole, three musicians combining to create a highly combustible sound that was well and truly ablaze on Bathhouses. Unfortunate that they are no more, but it really is better to burn out than to fade away.

FWY!
No Exit
Moon Glyph

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What an intriguing project FWY! is. In creating these pulsating electronic soundscapes, San Francisco’s Edmund Xavier seeks to capture the essence of movement, the sensation of being transported. As Steve of Moon Glyph discussed with me, Xavier creates these works based on his own visual compositions (that double as the tapes artwork). Drawing on krautorck grooves and blissful layers of ambient sound, Xavier paints beautiful sonic vistas on No Exit that do indeed evoke slow moving landscapes and the gentle receding of a highway into the horizon. Pair it with twin Moon Glyph release HWY Trust you have your essential soundtrack to your next psychedelic adventure, on earth or beyond.

Circuit Rider
Unit Holds
Jehu and Chinaman

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One of the most anticipated tapes of 2013 became one of the most celebrated once these baby blue numbers made their way out into the world. The collaboration between Lee Noble and Derek Rogers is a beguiling set of analogue synthesiser improvisations, conjuring up atmospheric visions of alternate dimensions. There’s a tension in these pieces that suggests the paranoia of altered states; disorienting passages lead to glimpses of clarity before you are once again led down winding rabbit holes of sound. A potent concoction cooked up by two most adventurous artists, and a follow up is on it’s way in 2014. Clamp on a quality set of cans and choose your own adventure in this dazzling electronic cosmos.

Julie’s Haircut
Ashram Equinox
Crash Symbols

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Ashram Equinox was my introduction to Italian band Julie’s Haricut and I was smitten with the expansive psychedelic visions of this tape. Released on ace US label Crash Symbols, Ashram Equinox is a lush listening experience that revels more on each listen. This is dense psychedelic music that incorporates a myriad of genres into its swirling sound, drawing on krautrock and prog influences to shape these superb songs. Their winding maze-like structures create a feeling that the music is pushing beyond the limits of their time frame – engage with a song like Sator or the magnificent Tarazed and once you have returned from the voyage that they take you on I guarantee you will gaze upon the time passed with incredulity. It seems like so much more than mere minutes have passed. That, friends, is escapism. Beautiful escapism.

Former Selves | Aloonaluna
Our Air | Visitors 
Cosmic Winnetou

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An ingenious pairing of two artists at the forefront of modern experimental music, this soul soothing tape was released on German label Cosmic Winnetou. The Former Selves side continues the amazing output of Paul Skomsvold, who released other fine tapes in 2013 on Patient Sounds, Lillerne Tapes and SicSic. All were great though the music on this tape is particularly beautiful, a set of transcendent electronic soundscapes that evoke the gentle passing of time amongst tranquil surrounds. Skomsvold uses field recordings to good effect on our air, infusing the warm pulse of the piece with recordings taken from Joshua Tree National Park. Aloonaluna has also been prolific over the last year and her side is an intriguing set of distorted electronic sounds. Disjointed drum machines crackle beneath layers of ghostly vocals while sparse electronics colour the canvas. It’s strange and slightly eerie stuff, though the atmosphere created is reassuring, not fearful. A gorgeous auditory experience, greatly enhanced by cassette listening.

Eyes, Wings and Many Other Things
Rural Pain
Pour Le Corps Records

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Perfectly suited to cassette, this hazed out album of psychedelic bliss was reviewed by yours truly just a little while back. Here’s an excerpt:

It’s an enigmatic and beautiful album, constructed not with thick outlines but composed of many blurred musical shapes. EWAMOT are the sort of band that may be unfairly labelled a “jam band” and those unwilling to engage may find this music meandering, too unstructured. The rest of us have an album to become submerged within, to be taken downstream by. Keep breathing.

The Kevin Costner Suicide Pact
Container Ship
Patient Sounds

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Released on Colorado’s Patient Sounds, this sounded very much like the grand opus of drone masters The Kevin Costner Suicide Pact. The incredible cover art (probably my favourite of the year) perfectly captures the glacial power of this music – slow moving, icy and carrying a great weight beneath its berth. I was struck by the additional instrumentation on this KCSP release, there seems to be more of a focus on acoustic instruments and melodies compared to the other drone heavy releases of theirs I was familiar with. “Drone” is still what Container Ship is best described as however, and the slightly warped soundscapes offer the discovery of many beautiful sonic textures for the devoted listener. It really is a brilliantly composed tape. Iceberg. Dead ahead. A titanic album.

Mirror Parties
Bear Vomit
United Trash Records

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I remember discovering Bear Vomit on Bandcamp not long after I recommenced blogging earlier in the year and being really taken with the Mirror Parties sound – noise rock tinged with pop smarts and plenty of weird shit going on. Bear Vomit gave me the buzz of excitement that I look for as a person who searches for music day in, day out. The Glasgow band sometimes remind me of Velvet Undergorund, sometimes of King Missile, sometimes of The Butthole Surfers, though these songs are so vital sounding that to mull over influences is an awful waste of time. Get your kool thing on with Cherry Pie. Get proper spooked out by Where Is Judy? Lose yourself in the inverted fuckery of Bodies. It’s mad dirty fun.

FAVOURITE VINYL OF 2013

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My vinyl collection expanded considerably in 2013; it remains my format of choice for the music that means the most to me. Many of these records were acquired through mail order, I find it to be the most convenient way of sourcing my music. I’ll always love hitting record shops however and want to give a shout out to Tommy Gun Records (where the Native Cats album was purchased), Polyester, Round and Round, and my local store Thornbury Records for providing excellent service and superior product range in 2013. Drop that needle…

Dirty Beaches
Drifters / Love Is The Devil
Zoo Music

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Alex Zhang Hungtai’s triumphant nocturnal opus earned plenty of accolades in 2013 and rightfully so. Drifters / Love Is The Devil sounded like both an arrival and a departure for Dirty Beaches, taking the no-wave noise of previous releases to a more expansive, unsettling realm. From the distorted groove of opener Night Walk through to intense sonic saturation of Mirage Halls, first half Drifters makes for gripping listening. These are distinctly cinematic songs, suggesting seedy noir action and tragic love stories mixed up with deals gone wrong. The minimal atmospherics of second half Love Is The Devil were also stirring but in quite a different way. If Drifters is the whiplash motorbike ride through downtown Bangkok at 2am then Love Is The Devil is watching the sun bleed out of the Mekong through an amphetamine come-down haze, a slightly concussed set of instrumental pieces that explore murky depths greater than any lyrics can hope to describe. It’s wonderful when an album not only surpasses your expectations but offers a totally unexpected and challenging listening experience. Drifters / Love Is The Devil shattered all expectations, in the most thrilling of ways.

Ensemble Economique / Heroin in Tahiti
No Highway – Black Vacation
Sound of Cobra Records

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What a pairing. Italian label Sound of Cobra Records did a great service to the world of music when they combined the talents of Ensemble Economique and Heroin in Tahiti, artists who share a flare for the sinister and surreal. Brian Pyle continues to astound with his output as Ensemble Economique, and while I also thoroughly enjoyed his release with Not Not Fun, this was my favourite release of his for 2013. Opener I light my cigarette, I see YOU there is, as I will blog about elsewhere, the best song I heard all year. I was instantly hooked by the combination of sexy rhythms and dread filled drones that characterise this track, as was everyone else I played it for. A big sauntering beast of a song. EE’s remaining tracks on this side are great too, sitting together cohesively with the opener to create a troubling, magnificent whole. I wasn’t familiar with Heroin In Tahiti before listening to this record but am very glad to be have been taken on their Black Vacation, a terrific expedition into pulverising “death surf”, as they call it. A great achievement, issued with an apt note of caution by Sound of Cobra: The music that springs from having experienced these horror trips is as seductive as Lisa Bonet drinking a little red rooster’s blood! Be warned: This is a one-way ticket, no refunds, no exorcism included. 

Sonny and The Sunsets
Antenna To The Afterworld
Polyvinyl

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Ah Sonny. I’ve got so much affection for your music, it fills me with such giddy joy. I’ve been aboard the good ship Sonny and The Sunset since the get-go though I did feel previous album Longtime Companion slightly missed the mark with it’s existential country ramblings. It was good, but Antenna To The Afterworld was great. It’s a record that’s got everything I dig so much about Sonny’s music – warped humour, subtle shadings of darkness, tears-streaming-down-your-cheeks love songs and straight up good time party tunes. It’s really hard for me to single out highlights, I just adore this whole album so much, but MutilatorPath of Orbit and the interstellar romance of Green Blood seem to be thesongs that plant the biggest grins on my face. It was a total gas to see Sonny perform these songs and older hits as part of Melbourne Music Week earlier in the year, he’s a fantastic performer with a super tight band backing him. If I could see him every night, I would.

The Native Cats
Dallas
R.I.P. Society / Ride The Snake

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Native Cats were a band that I was only vaguely aware of before this year. I found their oblique synth pop somewhat evasive, I just never had that moment of clarity with their sound. Dallas provided me with a full album of clarity. Julian Teakle and Peter Escott achieve innovation through minimalism in their music, combining spare electronics and insistent bass lines with non-suquitor lyrics to create a compelling, singular sound. I Remember Everyone is one of my favourite Australian songs of 2013, an uncompromising reflection on existence that crackles with a defiant post punk attitude. Like all of Dallas, it’s a tense listening experience that disorientates in the unexpected twists and turns it takes, both lyrically and sonically. The production is superb and with a final sheen applied by the omnipresent Mikey Young, Dallas is an aural treat to listen to on vinyl nice and loud. There’s a terrific sense of space to these songs; though minimal they achieve great weight in the precision of the performances and in the power of the lyrics. Sure to linger long on the Australian musical landscape, and beyond.

Kevin Greenspon / Former Selves
Betrayed by the Angels / Apropos of Golden Dreams
Bridgetown Records

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Release #100 for the great Bridgetown Records was a superb split between label founder Kevin Greenspon and the prolific Paul Skomsvold, aka Former Selves. I regularly took to playing this record in the mornings as I started my day, I found the serene synthesizers of most tracks to be a fine way to settle my mind for the coming day. As such the album has grown to have a reassuring power over me, and I’m still discovering its subtleties. Betrayed by the Angels / Apropos of Golden Dreams could lazily be slotted in the “ambient” genre but it’s not all blissful minimalism, with some of the Greenspon tracks (From Concrete to CarelessnessTruth and Falling) exploring more abrasive sonic textures. The tone of the Former Selves tracks is well described by song titles Watercourse Way and Golden Dreams. With it’s graceful piano part and gentle layers of synth, the latter is simply immaculate. A transfixing piece of music that ranks with Skomsvold’s finest achievements, and that’s saying something. As a whole the album works brilliantly, an ingenious paring of two artists gifted in crafting sounds to drift away with. An album that has become a fine friend of mine.

Lee Noble
Ruiner
Bathetic

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I remember receiving this LP on a wet Melbourne night earlier in the year. I remember listening to it for the first time. That sort of record. To say I’d been looking forward to Ruiner is an understatement, in recent years I’ve become slightly obsessed with the music of Lee Noble. Listening to his music remains for me a deeply personal experience. Mostly I listen at night and on my own, mostly with headphones. Often while walking through empty streets. Ruiner is instantly identifiable as a Noble record in the slow melt of Covers and the disconnected haze of December ∞. However each album from Noble is markedly different, each has it’s own character, and this is true of Ruiner. Noble’s vocals are sometimes much more coherent on this album than previous releases, with the less emphasis on noise. The largely acoustic Wring the Rag is disarmingly spare – it’s both pleasant and somewhat jolting to be hearing Noble’s voice so clearly. This said there are still dense sonic textures at work in every moment of Ruiner, it’s a beautiful headphone experience. Centrepiece Demon Pond traverses a great expanse of musical styles in it’s fascinating nine minutes, while Disintegrate Ideas provides perhaps the most beautiful song on the album with its combining of other worldly organ, ghostly voices and shimmering beats. I could go on forever but I will not. Another triumph from one of my favourite music makers.

Michael Beach
Golden Theft
Twin Lake Records

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It was wonderful to sit back and absorb this full length from Michael Beach after closely following his progress in recent times. Here were songs that I had grown deeply fond of from previous EPs and 7 inches (There Is No Edge Of The World To Run To, Straight Spines, Mountains + Valleys) placed alongside several new exciting songs. Along with Chad VanGaalen, Beach is one of my absolute favourite modern songwriters. As a lyricist he is a craftsman – able to tell a compelling tale while slowly building tension in his words that often muse on love, sometimes evoke biblical beings and always resonate with honesty. There’s great variety in these songs too, whether it be the jolting punk mayhem of Straight Spines or the bluesy grit of Dirt or the west coast feel of Static, Golden Theft is a surprising and constantly engaging rock and roll album. It ends on a grand note with the epic Eve, an unholy vaunt along the highways of America with Jesus and a whole cast of misfits in tow. It’s great ride, right through to to the bitter end.

Parading
Swallowing A Sunflower
Birds Love Fighting

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Just recently I took a detailed look at this album from Melbourne’s Parading, a fine record that I’m obviously very fond of. Not much I can add to what I’ve already said really, you can read the review here. An excerpt:

Heartache and hardships come and go in this town, just like any other place. The Great Constant in Melbourne is the music – guitars to get lost in. Noise that bleeds the pain away. Great bands releasing great albums that become your closest of friends. Parading are a Melbourne band.

Mountains
Centralia
Thrill Jockey

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Experimental overlords return with their finest hour (and a bit). Is Centralia a place? A mystical land that this album explores? Perhaps. I certainly felt as if I was leaving this dimension as this album resonated throughout my home. The transcendent soundscapes of Centralia do indeed seem to suggest geological formations though not through brute force, rather these pieces evoke the subtle processes of nature – the gradual corrosion of rock by water, the shaping of land by wind, the complex contours of – yes – mountains. Processes of great power of course, though you cannot see them happening. They are subtle. For me this is what Mountains achieved on the grand Centralia – earth shifting power through restrained and supremely skilled music making. Synthesisers feature heavily throughout but so does acoustic instrumentation – to label Centralia electroacoustic seems woefully inadequate. It defies description. A deep listening experience, and a beautiful place to visit.

Trouble Books
Love At Dusk
MIE Records

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Another superb album of pristine, slightly disconnected electronic pop from Trouble Books, released on UK label MIE. What I’ve always liked about the Ohio duo is their ability to elicit a certain natural warmth from cold, synthetic sources, and Love At Dusk was perhaps their most coherent realisation of this sound. It’s also a fine advertisement for the album as an art form. Stacking Spheres is a wonderful song but being paired alongside the off-kilter piano paean of Unfolded results in both songs becoming imbued with a great lasting resonance. The contrast between the cacophonous conclusion of Fake Fern Shadows and the heart melting The Very End, Again is also genius, I recall being profoundly moved when I first heard it. Love At Dusk is that kind of listening experience. A brilliantly arranged album, best experienced by listening devotedly from beginning to end. Trouble Books are the pulsing electric flame. They are lovely lost moments in the analogue/digital divide. They’re a thousand beautiful moments beneath the shimmering pixelated sunset.

FAVOURITE LABELS OF 2013

I continued to be amazed by the output of independent labels in 2013, many of which I’ve become acquainted with through my work on Bandcamp Hunter. Below are the ten whose work I most admired this year, in no particular order. The emphasis here is on smaller, less established labels that have inspired me with their productivity and imagination, as well as with the quality and variety of their releases. Important to me also is the creation a distinct identity, through both strong design and the personality of the operators.

You may recognise a few of these labels from my interview series here on Formless Fields and I make no apology for that – I admired these labels greatly before speaking with them about their work. Keep up the fine work you good, good people.

Patient Sounds

Stand out releases: The Kevin Costner Suicide Pact – Container ShipCuddle Formation / The Spookfish – EarthboundWellington Downs – The WestersFoothills – New World

Colorado based Patient Sounds released an impressive nineteen tapes in 2013, a great achievement for such a small label. Run my Matthew Sage (aka M.Sage) and his fiance, the label prides itself on releasing diverse styles of music that push the boundaries of what experimental music can be. I’d been familiar with their work for a while but taking the time to explore their catalogue further revealed many gems, in particular I fell pretty hard for the Wellington Downs album The Westers (another project of Sage’s) and the magnificent Container Ship from The Kevin Costner Suicide Pact is one of the finest things I heard all year. Each release from Patient is surprising and worthy of devoted listening, it’s an exciting label to follow. Add to this beautiful packaging, a strong identity and personal service and you’ve got yourself a label that embodies all that is good about DIY labels. With their first vinyl release on the horizon and more great tapes in the pipeline, 2014 looks very promising for Patient sounds.

Read my interview with Matthew Sage

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Moon Glyph

Stand out releases: The New Lines – Fall in Line, FWY! – Any ExitHenry the Rabbit – Earthen Birth ByThe Non Travellin’ Band -Never Prayed Once

I was very excited for Steve Rosborough of Moon Glyph to be my first interview subject here on Formless Fields after admiring the output of the label for some time. I’ve learned this year that running a small label is all about musical taste – the owner/operator of an independent label is also a curator – and Steve has great taste. From groovy krautrock to rampant psychedelic rock to warped pastural folk, Moon Glyph has had an outstanding year of releasing innovative music, complimented always with gorgeous packing. The San Fransciso label has grown from focusing on primarily local music to releasing international sounds, with the lovely album from Copenhagen’s Henry the Rabbit becoming a personal favourite of mine. The New Lines album was also brilliant and the twin releases from FWY! were both indispensable. A red letter year for a class act label.

Read my interview with Steve Rosborough

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Milk! Records

Standout releases: Jen Cloher – In Blood MemoryCourtney Barnett – The Double EP: A Sea Of Split PeasFraser A. Gorman – Fraser A. GormanTanah Merah – Royston Vasie

With the year Courtney Barnett had it’s remarkable her label Milk! Records released any music at all but nay, they managed to release some outstanding records from several Melbourne artists. The centrepieces were certainly the mighty In Blood Money Memory by Jen Cloher and the celebrated double EP from Courtney, A Sea Of Split Peas. These were world beating albums featuring songwriting that’s as good as anything going ’round – Jen’s an emotional and stoic masterpiece of smouldering rock songs and Courtney’s a great round up of the two EPs that have propelled her to international acclaim. On top of this Milk released killer records from Melbourne locals Roysyton Vasie, a live album from The Finks and a sterling CD from the irrepressible Fraser A. Gorman, all packaged with tender loving care and distributed from lounge rooms in Melbourne’s north. Live music is a big a part of the Milk identity too, and their Xmas shindig at The Tote was one of the highlights of my gig going year.
Good music, good friends, good times. It’s what Milk is all about.


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Major Crimes

Stand out releases: Bruff Superior – s​/​tOld Mate – s​/​t 7”Multiple Man – s​/​tBig Richard Insect – s/t

After just a couple of initial releases in 2012, Adelaide label Major Crimes upped the ante in 2013 and released a slew of killer music. Much of this music was guitar-centric – from the loose jangle pop of Bruff Superior to the bruising, brilliant album from Big Richard Insect – though the label also released two electro-mindfuckers from Brisbane based Multiple Man. The Wireheads release was most enjoyable too, pulsating noise rock that could emanate from nowhere but the gritty underbelly of the Australian musical underground. And indeed this is what Major Crimes trades in – transmitting the rough edged, vital music from the fringes of our musical scenes to those who are wise and willing. A year of essential releases from a label that’s in it for all the right reasons, I can’t wait to see what they come up with in 2014.


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Carpi Records

Standout releases: Sunny Dunes – Wash, then Dance/Never SoonMagnétophonique – Lush Islands/Illusion of ParadiseAltar Image / The Inverted Orange – SplitCasino Hearts-Lonesome Island

Carpi Records are one of those labels I have to stop myself from featuring constantly on Badncamp Hunter, everything they released this year was gold.  Based in France, the label primarily releases music that errs on the side on “hypnagogic” – electronic based music that explores alternate dimensions through sonic innovation and experimentation. They’ve done a great job of carving a strong identity through their classy design and consistently strong releases, largely on cassette. Delving through their Bandcamp page is a languid journey into the sound of a dream world, beautifully crafted music borne of exceptionally talented musicians from around the globe. The Sunny Dunes release stood out to me as one of the French artists finest efforts yet, while the Ki Choquette album was a masterpiece of graceful, understated beauty. Also noteworthy was the sublime album of distorted guitar ruminations from Casino Hearts, the work of a young man from Reno. Follow this label, and infuse the wonderful music they release into both your waking and sleeping hours.


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Furious Hooves

Standout releases: You Won (or, We Have All Lost) – Blood CousinOmphalos – BlackruneStay Rad Vol​.​01 compilationOnline Birthday – Hallucinex

“Stay Rad”. That’s the simple catch cry for Furious Hooves, a label run by two childhood friends living in two separate cities in the American east. Positivity comes through in all that Ryan and TJ do with “Fur Hoof”, it’s a label that’s fuelled by love of good music and strong binds to family and friends. It was great to chat with them back in September and gain inspiration from their creative approach to running the label, they’re a great DIY story who are doing things exactly how they want to. Their a label that make me want to get out there and make stickers and start slicing up old magazines and dubbing tapes to send to kids in Japan. The music they release is great too – that’s important – and I recommend checking out their compilation Stay Rad Vol​.​01 for a satisfying ear-full of Fur Hoof sounds. Stay Rad in 2014 Fur Hoof, and keep gettin’ them buckets.

Read my interview with Ryan and TJ


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Fire Talk

Standout releases: Baby Birds Don’t Drink Milk -Think ToneTjutjuna – WesternerCampfires – Tomorrow, TomorrowOrchard Thief – Professional Textures

Denver based Fire Talk had a stellar 2013, surpassing the lofty standards set by their releases of 2012. Fire Talk were responsible for releasing one of my very favourite albums of the year, the revelatory album from Baby Birds Don’t Drink Milk. A remarkable album that saw the Brooklyn band transition from subversive noise to a blissful psychedelic sound, very much taking me by surprise. Also somewhat surprising was the release of the Campfires LP, Tomorrow, Tomorrow. I had been a fan of the Portland band for a while and didn’t expect a new release to come via a label that until then I had pegged as dealing in louder, more psychedelic sounds (the label is run by Woodsman guitarist Trevor Peterson). And that’s a great thing about following a label like Fire Talk – their taste is expansive and not confined to one genre or style, they’ll push your own musical tastes while also releasing gems from more accessible artists. The important thing is that it’s music they like. The Tjutjuna release was a barnstormer too, surely one of the most underrated albums of the year. Acquaint yourself with it ASAP if you haven’t already, and sample the rest of the fantastic Fire Talk catalogue while you’re at it.


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Jehu and Chinaman

Stand out releases: Circuit Rider – Unit HoldsAdderall Canyonly – Between The Rays Lies Fear But Also Joy.​.​. and yet it moves – Roadside PicnicThe Vertical City EP – Rejections

Jehu and Chinaman caught my attention with the release of the Circuit Rider tape, a beguiling collaboration between Derek Rogers and Lee Noble. The UK label released another ten fantastic tapes in addition to Unit Holds, putting together a roster that now includes some of the worlds finest experimental artists. The Adderall Canyonly tape was utterly masterful and came with a great presser –
Imagine your favourite soap opera. Imagine your favourite soap opera’s gone wrong. Like, seriously wrong. Like, Ring wrong; tanned hunks and buxom babes crawling out of your TV with their eyes spurting cheap ice cream all over your sta-prest chinos and really fucking up your new cat.
Adderall Canyonly’s Between The Rays Lies Fear But Also Joy improves on all your favourite soap operas by making this highly erotic vision a reality…
So refreshing in comparison to the usual cliched marketing gump served up by bigger labels. Much of the music JAC release is of a darker nature but there’s a sense of fun and inventiveness in what they do that earns my allegiance. They’ve also got a distinct sci-fi vibe going on that really appeals to me, plus their packaging is gorgeous. Gold stars all round, then.


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Crash Symbols

Stand out releases: Emily Reo, Yohuna, Brown Bread, MoonLasso – Clubhouse Split, Julie’s Haircut – Ashram EquinoxZen Mantra – How Many Padmes Hum?Halasan Bazar – Space Junk

Crash Symbols seeks to release “left-field production and electronic music, psychedelia, abstract pop, as well as more bluntly experimental releases”. A mission statement that really presses my buttons. It was a mammoth year for the West Virginia based label, releasing no less than eighteen albums from a dazzling array of international artists. The Julie’s Haircut album was perhaps my favourite of all, a splendid expedition into deep psychedelic sounds from the Italian band. I also loved the Zen Mantra album and the split between Emily Reo, Yohuna, Brown Bread and MoonLasso was a genius grouping of three artists whose music meshed together beautifully. It’s a great thing when labels pull of successful collaborations. Crash Symbols did this in 2013 and much, much more. A truly vital label.


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Data Garden

Standout releases: Moan (Shinji Masuko) – Bookshelf SanctuaryThe THANGS – WedodoLive at The Switched​-​On Garden 002

A late inclusion in my top ten, Philadelphia’s Data Garden grabbed me with their re-imagining of what the modern record label can be. After discovering their musical component through Bandcamp and the stunning album by Moan, I spent the good part of a day on their site exploring the lush expanse of art that they have on display. Data Garden strike me as a label with a lucid vision of what they are seeking to achieve – not only do they release impeccable electronic music but they also act as an archive, promoting art both old and new questions, provokes and inspires. They too have a sci-fi mystique going on in their beautifully designed site and their approach to packaging is, as far as I know, totally unique. Purchase a digital album and receive a “plantable” postcard – nestle it in some soil and wait for the flowers to bloom. What a wonderful concept. What a wonderful label.

Honourable mentions: Birds Love Fighting, Aguirre Records, Orchid Tapes, Melted Icecream, Unknown Tone Records

 

2013

Over the next couple of weeks I’ll be looking back on the music that inspired and moved me in 2013. I’ll do this by posting on my favourite vinyl, favourite tapes and favourite labels. Over at Bandcamp Hunter I’ll be reviewing my favourite music that I found on the blog for the year, so in between the two sites I hope to provide you with a fairly comprehensive take on what I consider the best music of 2013. This post concerns reflections on other musical events of 2013, as well as taking stock of where I’m at with this whole caper.

Formless Fields and The Record Label

I haven’t posted on Formless Fields as much as I would have liked. This is mainly due to laziness, straight up. My lifestyle is quite conducive to more frequent postings but the extra time that I’ve afforded myself is often given to less energetic endeavours, or being unconscious altogether. Discipline and motivation are things I’ve always struggled with and I don’t exactly have a healthy lifestyle. I hope to be more productive in 2014.

This said I am happy with how Formless Fields has developed, in particular the regular interviews with the good souls who run independent labels have been the source of much inspiration. As nice as it is to get positive feedback online, blogging is a very solitary practice so it’s been a pleasure to talk with people who I admire, to learn more about them and to share in their passion for music. Thanks again to everyone I spoke to this year. I know how valuable your time is.

I still want to start a record label in 2014. I hoped to be further along in the planning process by now but it is still something I have a strong desire to do and the interview series has only motivated me to do it further. I’ve gotten a lot more interested in tapes this year and this is how I see the label beginning. I’d like to release local music then branch further afield, much like my first interview subject Steve did with Moon Glyph. The combination of music and design is something that greatly interests me and I hope to make beautiful packaging to accompany whatever music I push into the world.I feel as if I’ve grown as a designer over the year and I also hope to collaborate with some of my absurdly talented friends. I also still intend on going to the USA in 2014 and experiencing different music scenes while meeting some of these people I’ve interviewed and, I’m sure, some new folks. 2014 then – the year of getting busier, making things and going places.

2013 has been pretty great, here are some reflections of my musical year in Melbourne.

Good Things

A highlight of 2013 for me has been seeing musical friends gain success and recognition. I’m not a musician myself though I understand the difficulties that come with being a full time musician – the strain it puts on time, money and relationships. It warms my heart no end to see people I know and respect achieve success while continuing to smile and grow musically, seemingly unhindered by the pressures of musician life. Specifically I’m talking about two acts – Courtney Barnett and Batpiss.

The success Courtney has gained this year isn’t surprising at all. I’ve said for a while now that she’s the hardest working musician I know and certainly this is central to her gaining such a devoted following, however there’s more to her success than just gigging and gigging (Courtney also runs her own label, the terrific Milk! Records). You can play thousands of shows, but at the end of the day you’ve gotta have the songs, man. Personal, odd and utterly infectious, Courtney’s songs have always been very likeable and this year she wrote some her finest tunes, with Avant Gardener and History Eraser being the arrowheads that hit the bullseye with many respectable music publications and sites. Her live shows are always fantastic fun and Courtney has a great damn band (enthusiastic tip of the hat to Messrs Sloane, Luscombe and Mudie) to compliment her own brilliant guitar playing. It was awesome to see her so rapturously received in the US and in Europe, and she’s returning in 2014 to conquer even bigger and brighter stages. 

The combination of clever, honest lyrics with hook filled jams is no musical revelation but in this day and age of musical saturation I think we all respond to music that feels like it comes from a real place, a real human being. Music from a person that we feel like is doing it for the right reasons, making music that’s devoid of pretension. A person who is doing it because they dig it. This is what I get from Court’s music. It’s really nice to see that a whole lot of other people get it too.

A disclaimer on the following – Marty from Batpiss is my younger brother. These words are entirely non-nepotistic.

Having built a strong rep as an incinerating live act by the end of 2012, Collingwood’s Batpiss had nothing but scorched earth before coming into their wildfire 2013. With the release of the magnificent Nuclear Winter and a live show that intensified with every performance, their following grew from word of mouth buzz to fervent cult status as the three piece maimed and slayed all that came before them. Their music is violence, it is catharsis, and it is great fucking fun. It’s three young guys expressing themselves through a relentless strain of sludge punk that is of their guts, of their place, of who they are. They’re a true band, in that each member in utterly indispensable – Pirie’s psychedelic mind molesting guitar work (plus his unmistakeable artwork that has given the band it’s distinct identity), Thomy’s roaring vocals and pulverising bass, and Marty’s intense, super tight drumming. Replace one of these guys and they are not the ‘Piss.

Batpiss are a creative melding of these three musicians, yes, but the strength of their music comes from the combining of their personalities. This is true of many bands but it’s absolutely vital to Batpiss, and it has a lot to do why so many people got aboard the searing musical juggernaut that they let loose in 2013. So much sweat and blood was shed seeing them play in 2013, with the album launch of back in May at The Tote standing out as one of my gigs of the year. An unbelievably caustic punk rock show that may well have permanently damaged my neck. But that’s what you do for the music you love. You hurt yourself for it.

2013 was a year I drew a line in the sand on seeing bigger bands in larger venues. I’ve found that in bigger venues the crowd is mostly disinterested, the sound poor and the performance lacking. I’d much rather see a band perform in a smaller space, with better sound and greater comfort. Yep I’m getting real old. So this year it was wonderful to see two of my favourite international artists Mark McGuire, Dirty Beaches and Barn Owl perform in smaller venues, at the (sadly defunct) Gasometer, The Tote and Northcote Social Club respectably. I’d had a deeply solitary relationship with the music of these artists up until seeing them perform so it was a great thrill to be immersed in their music in a more expansive environment, alongside people who also appreciated the music.

It’s difficult for me to pinpoint a list of gigs by local artists that I enjoyed the most, my memory also fails me in my latter years. However I can say that gigs by The Ocean Party, Michael Beach and a very recent show by The Stevens stand out as some of the best I saw. Then of course there was the Formless Fields launch party, a great day of music and sunshine held at my own house. Events like those are what I enjoy the most, in getting to see bands perform and meet a whole lot of folks that I’d only had online contact with up until then. I’ll be organising more shows in 2014, starting with a new series of nights that I’m organising called Formless Mondays. More about those gigs soon.

One of the great musical moments of the year was seeing one of my favourite bands of all time You Am I perform their two classic albums Hourly, Daily and Hi Fi Way at The Forum. I was wary going into this gig as I’ve become very anti-reunion/album performance shows. I’d attended a few fizzers and dislike the exploitative nature of some of these gigs, they prey on nostalgia (like much of the music industry does) and often don’t do the band justice. My apprehension was misplaced for this show however, as You Am I delivered a blinding gig and upheld their title as The Greatest Rock and Roll Band I Ever Did See. I hurt myself at this show too – strained my face from smiling too damn hard.

Sad Things

Continuing the local slant of this post and it was saddening to lose two of our best music venues in melbourne this year, The Gasometer and, just recently The Empress. The Gasso had established itself as one of Melbourne’s best local venues, hosting an amazingly diverse range of music across its two stages every night of the week. As a venue it sometimes lacked in atmosphere however I always enjoyed the gigs held within the walls of this beautiful old pub and will miss it greatly.

The Empress shut its doors just this month amid an outpouring of public grief. It’s a grand pub that had become a strong part of Melbourne’s culture, both musically and socially. People held this place dearly in their hearts, something I have not really understood until taking up employment in a similarly beloved pub in the same area. These buildings are not just about booze and bands, for many people they are central to their day to day lives and social interactions. Places to meet, talk and laugh. I had many fond memories of nights spent at the the Empress and will miss it’s red interiors, that lovely little stage and the personality of publican Sandra.

As glum as all this I have great faith in the ability of Melbourne’s live music scene to rebound from such losses. In my time spent in Melbourne I’ve seen many a venue close, only for another to rise elsewhere. These are not fatal blows. Mourn their loss but let us move on. The best way to do this is by getting out and see as much music as we can in the new venues that will inevitably take their place.

Not to long ago I was disappointed to learn that favourite local band Sandcastle had called it a day. Those who have followed my blogging for a while will know that the psychedelic marauders were a favourite band of mine, having impressed me greatly with their stunning debut EP and consistently gripping live shows. With their rhythm section dispersing across Australia the band called it quits, though frontman Max and guitarist Ryan continue to work on their own projects. The two have an intriguing new project named Conatus while Max continues in his sonic alchemist guise as Nothinge. Fruitful times ahead for them I’m sure but vale Sandcastle, and thanks for all the good times.

A Good Thing and A Sad Thing

Back in March I was fortunate enough to witness a remarkable performance by my chief musical hero, Neil Young, held as one of these “Day On the Green” type deals out on a winery near Geelong. The weather was foul that day my friends. Neil and Crazy Horse’s set was gloriously defiant in the face of howling gales and torrential rain, a stunning display of stoicism that encapsulated all I love about Neil and the music that he’s given us. His performance of Like A Hurricane during the most intense period of the storm was one of those moments that cannot be described, it was truly magical. You just had to be there.

While I was witnessing this spectacle another musical hero of mine was leaving this mortal realm. Jason Molina died that night. Molina and Young are often linked and while I feel this comparison is not always appropriate from a musical view point (I consider Jason a superior lyricist), I do consider them to be similar in being defined by their great artistic integrity. On this night we drove back to Melbourne listening to my favourite Songs:Ohia album Didn’t It Rain. I looked at factories in the moonlight, saw wires swaying in the rain and wondered how Jason was doing. Little did I know that he was dying. I’ve never been so saddened by a musicians death. I miss him every day but will always be grateful for what he gave, and am thankful that I’ll always have his music. I plan on writing a more in depth tribute to Jason, hopefully in time for the anniversary of his death in March.

I appreciate all the support you’ve given me in my blogging endeavours this year. I look forward to continuing to bring you new music and articles in 2014 while also embarking on new adventures. In closing I’ll invoke Molina and use the words he would say at the end of nearly every song he performed live : “Thank you kindly.”

CONVERSATION : PATIENT SOUNDS

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Interview with Matthew Sage of Patient Sounds


To begin with could you tell me about the various musical projects that you’re associated with?

I primarily just record and perform sound collage and ambient music as my first initial (M. Sage). Currently I am playing live with The Continent Strings — Allison Sheldon plays cello, Chris Jusell plays violin. They are featured on my new record, a 2xLP coming this winter. I also do Wellington Downs, which is my studio rock band hobby. I love multitracking rock tunes in the basement with little intention of playing said tunes live. That is fun for me. I have played in tons of projects and stuff throughout the years, but I am kinda keeping it simple these days with just these two things.

I also love recording, and pitch in on a lot of friends recordings when possible. I tracked parts on and engineered on the latest Nate Henricks tape Horseradish, and the Wylee Zephyr tape with my old roommate Alex Runge (he wrote those tunes). Both of those tapes came out on Patient Sounds.

 

How did Patient Sounds get started?

It started as a few friends working together to self-release the music we were working on in various groups and stuff. Basically it was just like me and roommates making tunes. I have always kind of driven the project and organized things, but it was more like a collective at first. Now, four years later, it is just me in a home office…me and a dachshund and a sheep dog. My fiance helps me on really hairy packing and shipping days (we share an office, she is a designer at Bonnie & Caprice) and she has a great eye for design, so she offers advice on printing and layouts. She’s the best.

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PS043 The Kevin Costner Suicide Pact – Container Ship
Limited edition of 50 double cassettes

You’re based in Fort Collins right? It seems like there’s a very strong experimental scene in Colorado, can you tell me a bit about your experience with this scene and it’s growth?

Fort Collins is secretly like a little punk rock / bar rock coven. A lot of classic 90s pop punk music was recorded here at this revered studio, The Blasting Room. There is a lot of like alt. country punk here. I made Karl Alvarez (of Black Flag, All, Descendants…) americanos when I was a barista. So, I had a lot of that influence growing up. That whole punk thing effected the ethos for sure.

Now a lot of that fuels the experimental scene, at least that’s how it feels here. There was a space in Colorado for music like this, and it naturally kind of unfolded in its own way here. I mean…I live a few-hundred yards from the high school that Aaron Warren from Black Dice went to. Goldrush Festival is kind of the long-awaited realization for the rest of the world that Colorado has good weird stuff happening, and has for a while.

The label has been around since 2009, in which time Bandcamp and Soundcloud have become very popular. Can you tell me about your experiences with these platforms?

We started primarily using Myspace, so the social media aspect has always kind of been present. I am a huge advocate for both platforms because they make sharing sounds, and hearing sounds, incredibly easy. Having said that, we are NOT a digital label. We oblige our customers for buying our limited edition tapes by providing mp3s and streaming sounds, because we know not everyone has access to cassette players or turn tables.

The digital thing is convenient, but making the objects is what matters most to us. We are glad that the artists whose work we publish can share and profit from using platforms like these to share their sounds after our editions run out. Soundcloud and Bandcamp are great, but physical media is priority to me.

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PS010 Kites Sail High – Motivated / Unmovitated

Any thoughts on how streaming sites such as this affect listeners relationship with music?

I know personally it has affected how I listen to music, and not necessarily in a good way. I think it wouldn’t hurt people to reconsider their physical relationships to the media they consume. Listening to a tape, putting on an LP, those sensory experiences are treasurable, fleeting. Alternatively, digging up some obscure mp3 and looping it on your phone for a day and then never listening to it again has a value too. It just seems like two very different ways to encounter music to me. Patient Sounds longs to provide quality physical media, which is available on the internet to facilitate awareness.

On your site you’re very clear about your label not being heavily into PR and not being all about signing and pushing bands. As someone who runs a blog and is constantly being sent lengthy, overly descriptive emails about bands I find this refreshing. Could you expand on this, perhaps by offering some insight into how you run the label and manage releases?

We are a label focused on facilitating a relationship between our artists–most of which are home recording young people with interests in both folk-way and experimentation–and our listeners. The internet’s reception of our work is pretty secondary to how we work at this point. I feel a lot of labels in this current “indie” scene are unknowingly generating content for the blogs/websites that profit from “discovering” something new every ten minutes.

Also, there are countless labels out there that are claiming DIY, or “indie” or whatever, but pay press agents to do their PR. Sorry, but you aren’t DIY or “indie” if you pay a press agent to propagate your work for you, filling email inboxes world wide with junk. We don’t want to ask blogs to write about something they don’t connect with personally… Not to say we haven’t done this; we have never payed for press, but we used to send out your typical email press release bombs, up until a year ago. But we no longer do this, because ultimately, we make things, that is what we do. If you want to write about the things we make, contact us and we will gladly and cordially facilitate a dialog. We are friendly and slightly hermetic. Email us.

 

What would you say the Patient Sounds philosophy is?

Renegade Spirit. Wonder. Anxiety.

You’ve been primarily a tape label with your first vinyl release on it’s way. What appeals to you about tapes? / Do you produce all your tapes yourself? If so can you tell me about this process?

Ultimately, making tapes is cheap, and being a believer in utility, that makes the most sense to me. I am willing to put the time in for tapes, especially when you take the labor intensive approach like I do. I order blanks, and print all our liners and j-cards at a local print shop. I cut and fold all the inserts and dub all the tapes in the office on my tweaked pile of dubbers. Every tape is a hand-crafted object in this way. That is better than a CDr and more cost-effective than a vinyl record. That benefits everyone, including me, because I get the satisfaction of pursuing my craft.

We are excited to move into vinyl…it is ultimately the medium we envisioned working with, and have waited years to manifest. This winter is the winter for records. We will of course continue to do tapes, because they are fun, and cheap, and those things are important in when the world is half-toast how it is.

You touched on the “weird” music to come out of Colorado – what do you think fosters this creativity? Cold climate? Drugs? Community? All of the above?

I definitely think the kind of ruggedness of Colorado–the weather, the landscape, the geographic isolation–has an effect on people’s psyche, and that comes through in our art. The recent legal cannabis situation has played into the image I’m sure, but I think people anywhere do the same drugs Coloradoans do, so I wouldn’t really say that is a factor in what really makes Colorado “weird.” I mean, Boulder is a weird place. The kind of detoxified hippy aura, as funded by largely wealthy upper-class consumer cesspool. BMW yoga moms. That is a huge part of what our markedly “weird” culture is. Existential confusion in the face of privilege and wilderness.

I am a proud citizen of Colorado, but ultimately most of my community for my work exists on the internet. Some of those people on the internet live in Colorado, so there is a bond there, but some live in Japan, or wherever. That idea of a community, an international and largely digital one (focused on the sharing of tangible media), is where I think “weird” music thrives. Just GO and let place be an influence, but not a defining feature.

Are there any obscure local artists (past or present) we may not have heard of that you can recommend?

Erik Wangsvick, whom I played with in Kick Majestic, is an off the map musical wonder that I think the world of weirdos is really missing out on. Erik’s music would be perfectly at home in the online noise scene, but he doesn’t have a Facebook, and only had an email address through the university here because he had to. He makes music as Wrecked, and performs in several other groups, as well as creating visual art. I put out pretty much any Wrecked material he passes to me because it is so fascinating and bizarre to me. He is an analog sound collage master. He uses hand-wired PAs and all sorts of broken electronics and stuff to generate sounds, then he makes these massive performance pieces using recordings of all this source material, as well as field recordings. When he performs them live, he plays percussion (ERIK IS A REMARKABLE DRUMMER). It is really hard to explain, and I think that suits the work. It is complicated.

Another of my favourites is Christina the Hun. She is no longer performing, but she was kind of a local legend here in Fort Collins for a few years. She was a singer-songwriter that played drums and yelped and hollered. I saw my high school physics teacher at a show of hers once and he leaned over to me and said, “She’s like Patti Smith with drum sticks!” He nailed it.

Lastly, there is this shadowy group of avant-garde folk musicians, a collective kind of, called Biota. They are based here in the Fort Collins area. I don’t really know a enough about this band to explain, but just google “biota” and learn about this group and listen. Their latest record, “Cape Flyaway” really floored me. Seriously, heads out there, just google and explore Biota stuff. I can’t vouch for all of it, but they are certainly obscure and fascinating.

 

Can you talk a little about the process of organising a release with an artist – from the initial of contact through to working with them on the release?

It is kind of different with every release. Sometimes I will pester a friend for months, in a few cases years, to release something. Other times I will just surf Bandcamp. This is a hobby of mine, surfing Bandcamp and kind of scouting for tunes, then finding something and asking the artist to make something in the future. We have only released maybe five tapes that were unsolicited demo material. It happens, but it isn’t our primary way to find material. Once we start a project with someone, I kind of outline our platform to the artist if they haven’t heard of the label. I remind them they need to have balanced side lengths on their cassette, I send them a link to a page to pick the color of their cassette shell, I ask them for album art, and then I wait for it all to pour back in. Basically, I pick an artist and kind of assign them the homework of making a release for me. Generally tons of emailing and Google chat ensues, and within anywhere from a few weeks to a few months the tape will be out.

The Kevin Costner Suicide Pact release is amazing, certainly one of my favourite albums of the year. Can you tell me a bit more about that release and your experience with the band?

I know the guys from KCSP pretty well just from being fellow Coloradoans. We spoke at Goldrush, and they informed me they had an album on the shelf at home they wanted me to listen to. We had talked about it working together before, but I could tell right away this was the one I was gonna put out. They told me it was designed as a double LP, but understood if the format was too expensive, so, I listened to it, and loved it. I felt it was really well-constructed as a 4-sided thing, so that is why we went with the double c44. They are really great guys to work with because it is just working with friends. They had it all recorded, so we just worked with the visual artist, George Ferris, to make the artwork and got it ready to release. The album is just so great, such a huge space to explore. I was really glad to add it to the canon.

 

What about the Foothills tape? I really like the music Chase Hudson makes music with 2PPM, I think he’s a really interesting musician. How did the release come about?

I started talking with Chase via a demo submission actually. I really love both the fundamentals of the Foothills project, the concerns of the project, and also the recordings are just so lush and beautiful, so it was a natural fit. Chase leads a very incredibly enriched lifestyle, and works hard for it, and I am so happy to be able to present artists’ like Chase. Melodically I think NEW WORLD is one of the most accomplished PS tapes. It is so tactile, so easy to listen to, but the compositions are challenging! I am pleased to share that there will definitely be a Foothills LP on Patient Sounds in the 2014 future.

 

Can you tell me more about Goldrush Festival? Will it be on in 2014 and if so when? I’ll need to book flights. The lineup this year was incredible.

Goldrush has really evolved. 2014 is probably definitely happening. I wasn’t involved in the first year, but 2012 was great, and this past year was really incredible. The atmosphere was really great, so friendly, really open. Ridiculous merch booth scenarios. Crawford is the man, and does so much work to make it something truly special. Lake Mary was my personal highlight this year. Also, Giant Claw was insane.

 

It seems like there’s a really strong community between many independent labels – what are some of the labels that you admire?

I feel like I find out about a new label every day, but here is a list of what I have been into lately

BATHETIC – EARN – Hell on Earth
ORANGE MILK – JERRY PAPER – International Man of Misery
SCISSOR TAIL – Bruce Langhorne – Music from ‘The Hired Hand’
CONSTELLATION TATSU – FLUORESCENT HEIGHTS – Tidal Motion
UNKNOWN TONE – DYLAN GOLDEN AYCOCK – The Blindfold

 

So more vinyl to come – what else is on the horizon for Patient Sounds?

Well, there is a move in my future (I am applying for grad schools right now, to get an MFA in creative writing & poetry). So there will be a lot of work going into that, but I plan on letting work in the grad school program influence what the label is doing, so we are expecting more poetry books, more printed matter. Of course more tapes, always tapes.

The big thing on the PS horizon; we have 3 LPs locked and on their way this winter, and 3 more to follow in the spring. Without divulging too much, the first release is a double LP of material I have been working on with the string duo. There is a huge list of collaborators on this record too, it was kind of a group project. I built all the arrangements with electronics, and then invited friends to contribute parts to songs. They sent me pieces and I edited it back together and re-arranged it into the album. There will be a deluxe version of the record that comes with a beautiful book of printed collage (by Nathaniel Whitcomb) and poetry (by Grant Souders). These editions will truly be something to behold.

 

Patient Sounds home

Patient Sounds Bandcamp

Patient Sounds Soundcloud