"An arbitrary succession of more or less irritating sounds"

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Reversion to type

In an exclusive interview, John Twells reveals that
2010 will see Fennesz follow Svarte Greiner in reworking On for Type - LMYE's label of the year after an astounding run of releases across 2009. The new year should also bring a new album from Sylvain Chauveau away from On, as well as the final release from Yellow Swans.

Twells explains Type as an expression of his broad taste ("If I released the same records all year, every year I'd get fed up very quickly...").

From the definitively modern Highpoint Lowlife (showing its
modest excellence with this, for example) to the venerable-but-still-innovating Thrill Jockey & kranky, plenty of labels have had outstanding 2009s. But none has had a deeper impact on LMYE this year than Type.

As noted recently, the label’s huge care over its releases, so obvious in the quality of their sound & artwork, is complemented by its exemplary use of Soundcloud streams – every album, in full, online. That’s confidence in your music – to set it before the world this boldly & unapologetically, with the message that if you want to own it that’s fine: but it’ll be here anyway...

Of course, Type was an exceptional curator of exceptional music long before 2009. But this year it elevated to a new level. In particular, its releases hit a vein of accelerating, cumulative form with Mokira's densely satisfying, underrated Persona (to these ears, the year's definitive kraut infusion - superior to/subtler & more developed than Oneohtrix or Subway, likeable as they are...) that never lessened.

On the contrary. Richard Skelton's Marking Time, On's Your Naked Ghost Comes Back At Night, Rameses III's I Could Not Love You More, Black To Comm's Alphabet 1968 & Seasons (pre-din)'s Your Eyes The Stars and Your Hands The Sea form a sequence of rare depth & intensity.

Johann Johannson's And In The Endless Pause There Came The Sound Of Bees should probably be cited too at this point - but it's quite rare & I've yet to track it down. City Center & William Fowler Collins' releases, which pre-date the run from Persona, also call for recognition, as does Kappe by Svarte Greiner (remixer of the On project).

In any case, a veneration of texture & space links much of this output - regardless of its stylistic branding. A reflective, melancholy sensibility also often flavours the work: everywhere from Rameses's shimmering, beatific All Shall Be Well, the cosmic build of Mokira's
Lord, Am I Going Down? & Zelienople's still more wacked-out Can't Stop to On's ravishing speed-drone Your Naked Ghost Comes Back At Night and Flies Around My Bed, BTC's resonant, cinematic Hotel Freund & the fading bliss of City Center's Killer Whale.

Zelienople > Can't Stop (from Give It Up)

Mokira > Lord, Am I Going Down? (from Persona)

Black To Comm > Hotel Freund (from Alphabet 1968)

City Center > Killer Whale (from
City Center)

On >
Your Naked Ghost Comes Back At Night and Flies Around My Bed (from Your Naked Ghost Comes Back At Night)

Previous Type-related coverage on LMYE here, here, here, here & here...

Below an interview with John Twells, Type founder & artist (as Xela): many thanks to John for participating!

How has Type developed this year (is this your biggest year for new releases)? Have you done anything different in 2009? Anything new you want to keep doing now it's been introduced?
2009 was a big year for us. It wasn't that we were doing anything particularly new, but the swell of support we saw in 2008 with the Grouper album certainly carried over. I've never really done much that 'different' in terms of what I do with the label - I always pick music that excites me and try to get it out in the best way possible. I just had some good people helping me in the last couple of years!

What's the thinking behind your use of full Soundcloud streams for all Type albums?
This is really important for me - basically I'm very aware that some people are going to download the albums for free, where some people will want the physical object. If you type in the name of an album into Google, the chances are you're going to find a 'free download'. So I figured, why not give people the option to hear the records straight from the site? The reason I started a record label was to allow people to hear music they might not otherwise have heard, not to keep it all for myself... so there is definitely a philosophy behind it.

When I was growing up it was very difficult for me to hear 'alternative' music. Giving people the option to 'try' an album I think should encourage people to listen to things they might not have expected to like - and that's what Type is all about.

How important is artwork to Type releases?

Being an ex-art student, the artwork is crucial to the releases. I'm quite hard on the artists in this way and try to make sure that we always end up with a very high quality package at the end of it all. There are a few designers and photographers that I work with and they never let me down, but the artwork often takes a very long time - a few months of drafts and reworks before it's absolutely right.

Is there a Type sound or typical Type artist?

I don't think so, but then I would say that. I think that people always 'think' there's a Type sound - a couple of years ago that might have been Deaf Center, now it might be Grouper, or Black To Comm. The music certainly has connecting threads, but it's nice to be able to release something like the City Center record next to a Svarte Greiner album - that's just how my music taste works really. If I released the same records all year, every year I'd get fed up very quickly.

Any Type artists you believe merit more attention than they've had so far?
I think Zelienople are one of the greatest bands in the world right now, and in a fairer place they would be extremely well known. Most people that have seen the band perform live agree with me on this one too. They are criminally underrated, but continue to churn out astonishing records.

How do you see Type developing in the future? Any new artists you can mention &/or forthcoming new releases from established Type artists?
2010 is going to be a very big year for us! We have the final album from Portland's Yellow Swans, a new album from Sylvain Chauveau, an album from On reworked by Fennesz, and a LOT more. Some of it I'd like to keep under wraps for the time being but I'm very excited.

More/less vinyl? Cassettes?
I'll always say more vinyl - I'm a huge, huge fan of the format and spend a good proportion of my life fondling wax. I wouldn't say cassettes are totally off the menu though. You heard it here first!

How challenging a time is this for labels?

It's challenging for sure, to keep going and keep afloat is harder than ever but I think if people stopped moaning and started putting more thought into music it would be less of a problem. I'm still enjoying it, and I can't really forsee a time when I'm not excited by getting new music out there - it's a life-long passion (or obsession).

Are we due a Typecast from you?
Yeah, I'm truly sorry for dropping the ball on this one - I've just finished a giant move from England to the USA so my life's been a bit topsy turvy. It's been hard to find the time to sit and make a show, but there's a new one in the works, I promise. I was thinking of doing a 'best of '09' show but that would be too easy, wouldn't it? The biggest problem when I take a hiatus is that the records I want to play just pile up to ridiculous levels.

Important: LMYE only makes music available that artists/labels have chosen to share freely. Let us know if something here shouldn't be.

No comments:

Go to Beatport.comGet These TracksAdd This Player