Warp's exuberant 20th birthday celebrations bring home the realisation that the same landmark is looming for another venerable independent. But while Thrill Jockey may date all the way back to Bettina Richards' bedroom launch in 1992, it's hardly showing its age - indeed, to these ears the Chicago label's hit a particularly rich, vigorous vein of form lately.
Perhaps that has something to do with Tortoise's emergence from hibernation. Certainly, the post-rock leviathan's first proper album in five years (see here) has added to the label's recent momentum.
Besides the many pleasures of Beacons of Ancestorship itself (interview & performance here), Tortoise have also revived the former glory of their remix encounters with the likes of Oval & Autechre. Most notably, Mark Ernestus (Basic Channel) has fermented a slowly decaying version of the zithery Gigantes - sold out on 12", but available on US iTunes & released in Europe next month...
At the other end of the band's spectrum, Doug McCombs' collaboration with David Daniell has also budded into a release (Sycamore). No accident, perhaps, that the wonderfully sustained 15-minute post-jazz/rock epic Vejer de la Frontera features Tortoise's John Herndon too.
With their unashamed lap-steel & accumulated hours of improvising, you could see the Daniell & McCombs duo as deconstructor-editors of a guitar-led American tradition.
David Daniell & Douglas McCombs > F# Song (from Sycamore)
As ever, there are also compelling things happening on the label away from Tortoise's orbit. Take Lokai & Jason Urik.
There may be a few cheap points to be scored by claiming Lokai as a European version of Daniell & McCombs. But a closer model for the pair is probably something like Eno's Music for Films - rewardingly moody sketches, often brisk or even curt by the standards of Thrill Jockey peers & with a portentous, clangy quality recognisable from sister/cousin incarnations Nemeth & Radian (previously featured here).
Meanwhile, Urik's forthcoming Husbands & remix (with Joe Williams) of Thank You's Pathetic Magic pick up the brilliant mantle of Mountains (featured here previously) - dense, elongated, immensely textured droney vamps. Ironically, the twinkling, slurred remix is the shortest of these lovely pieces: pretty perfect in its own right, but due a further reworking/stretching, perhaps?
Jason Urik > The Eternal Return (from Husbands - vinyl-only!)