Saturday, 24 December 2011
Blood & star dust
As noted, we share our recognition of a 2011 label of the year across two great decade-long curatorial efforts linked by this year's unmatched Lawrence English release, The Peregrine (below hear an exclusive stream of its Heavy Breath of Silence). Following a memorable exchange with English about Room40 just before Christmas, here is a companion interview with Experimedia guiding light Jeremy Bible - a diverting, challenging set of reflections as the label considers its future.
That's a sad outcome after a particularly memorable year - & with fine releases from Celer, From The Mouth Of The Sun (Jasper TX & Aaron Martin) & Sean McCann soon to come. But the label has only "about 4 other commitments left in the pipe", according to Bible - who has "been quietly running several other imprints.... which we would like to give more attention to".
If so, 2011 will end up the high water mark of the label's breadth, its richness & an aesthetic distinctive enough to be immediately recognisable - dense, languid, reflective - but not so rigid that it can't accommodate interesting exceptions too (Charles-Eric Charrier's & Lüüp's spacey post-jazz, for example). This was embodied in Experimedia's outstanding label sampler earlier this year & is captured too in a hand-crafted (sic) Spotify playlist of its 2011 releases (plus an older Bible...).
Besides English's peregrinations, the year's highlights include Black Swan's wispily playful but more often saturnine 8 Movements (a movie score playing through a murky, gritty fog...); Jannick Schou's thundering, monolithic Act of Shimmering; Aaron Martin's richly textured Worried About The Fire, which summons unexpected intensities from its traditional palette; Keith Freund's sweetly bucolic Constant Comments (though its darker later pieces appeal more to these ears); & Charrier's alarmingly twangy but also richly 'post-everything' Silver.
Plus, of course, the dense poetics of Piipttjilling's exceptional Wurdskrieme - one of LMYE's Festive 50 of 2010 releases that particularly mattered to us, but out so late in the year it counts as an honorary member of the label's 2011 rollcall...
Lawrence English - Heavy Breath of Silence (radio promo edit)
How has Experimedia developed this year (has this been your biggest year for new releases)? Have you done anything different in 2011? Anything new you want to keep doing now it's started?
She became a monster and took on a life of her own. She is now devouring me. Yes, it has been the biggest year for new physical releases... quite a bit of vinyl, as I am sure you have noticed... which has always been the goal due to personal and early obsessions with the format... I started with vinyl 10 years ago (under a different name funded by student loans which we just finally paid off this year) but couldn't afford to sustain it financially despite the fact that it started off very well... as I wasn't in the right place.... poorer than poor... (from birth on up.... actually spent a couple periods of my childhood homeless.. I'm lucky I'm still alive)... then struggling to support myself through college... if I did have a vehicle it was a piece of junk.... getting screwed by roommates... floundering from shitty job to shitty job... from bowling alley to porn shop... in part due to unreliable transportation and proximity. So when the distributor checks came in rent needed paying and I was left with nothing towards the next release, unfortunately. Bad timing and over-enthusiasm/ambition, which has always been my curse. Persistence is key... and the more we are pushed down the harder we push forward. This is a stream of consciousness with no regard to time. What is time?... what is a year?... everything is evolving in a very organic manner... nothing is forced... I evolve with her and she evolves with me. In part I am simply along for the ride. We want to do everything differently.
Celer - Bedded In Shallow Blades (Excerpt)
Is being a US label significant for Experimedia? How do you assess the state of US 'experimental' music currently?
No. Borders have become an abstract concept. Irrelevant really from where we sit. I am not as concerned with 'scenes' as I am with community... and the community is global... it is too small and too wide spread not to be. A global ecosystem. Governmental borders only create challenges for us who prefer to deal in physical sound objects... passing something that I touched into the hands of another across to globe... customs... shipping costs. We are living in what I refer to as a cultureless sub-culture culture. So over saturated with sub-cultures that we have no culture. What has become of culture? Culture is rarely something we born into now... it is something we choose as individuals. We search the internet and select a culture that fits the identity we want to create for ourselves. Culture is becoming further fragmented and diluted as global communications technology progresses. In the long run... if this is a good or bad thing... is yet unseen. What will the global community look like decades from now? For now... it is very awkward. Due to this it is difficult to comment on 'US experimental music'. It's all so fragmented.
A great deal of modest genius is outspoken by a vast ocean of pompous mediocrity, pretension, and unwarranted elitism. Everyone seems to think they are better than the next person. Letting the smallest amount of approval go to their heads resulting in an avalanche of attitude and over-saturation. More time is spent by too many pandering to the press and seeking approval than spending the time creating anything truly thoughtful and original.... countless black round sound objects spewing single weekend recorded thoughtless synth meddlings.... wasteful and environmentally irresponsible. Western media supported by technology has created a culture of attention hungry children... and we all buy into it without thinking about it... nearly uncontrollably... the progression and availability of technology and the influence of the media further enables these deep-seeded habits. Those with the money get to the technology first and exploit us all before we even have a chance.... and even through acts of rejection and rebellion to these overpowering influences we are altering the curves of time and culture. The past half-decade we have witnessed pop punk dweeds jamming green day covers in their grandma's garage drop their guitars for synthesizers and become embraced by the mainstream-indie press.... who in turn assign new and daft hype stoking classifications.... so the future is unpredictable. What underground movements will the current mainstream trends influence twenty years from now? Images of modern technology meet J Geils Band nostalgia covering a nearly unlistenable album of mediocre rubbish seems to excite the press... so things could go either way at this point. We are teetering. Idiocrity or enlightenment? There are few borders left when it comes to these issues.
Do you see yourself & the other Experimedia artists as working in any kind of tradition? Is there a Experimedia sound or typical artist?
We are all related by blood and star dust. There is no sound. We follow what genuinely moves us over the course of time.
From The Mouth Of The Sun - Like Shadows In An Empty Cathedral
Any Experimedia artists you believe merit more attention than they've had so far? Is there one Experimedia release you're particularly proud of?
All of them of course. Exactly the reason they are released by Experimedia. For the most part you will notice that our releases do not follow trends. We follow our heart.. our taste... our ears... strictly... by releasing artists who have never had a release before... or who have been abandoned by other labels for more hype friendly artists. We could just as well run a label which sold out titles over night.. running a distro, we have a bird's-eye view of what is "popular"... but we refuse to allow that knowledge to influence the path of the label.. as we know that these statistics are irrelevant to what is truly relevant and important.
How do you see Experimedia developing in the future? Any new artists you can mention &/or forthcoming new releases from established Experimedia artists?
The future of Experimedia as a label is undecided. Regardless it is due for a nap ... we aren't looking to ride on any momentum... and its almost become too big... fanatics camping on our lawn, harassing our family, and other such absurdities. Besides that we have been quietly running several other imprints.... which we would like to give more attention to. Experimedia does have about 4 other commitments left in the pipe.
Best thing anyone's said/written about Experimedia's music? Worst?
1. We have been told "Experimedia has change the way I see the world". 2. No one has ever said anything negative to our face... and if they did it would be irrelevant.
Jannick Schou - Then Filling Your Pockets With Stones
How challenging a time is this for labels? Are you tempted to go digital-only? Or the opposite?
Very challenging... but this depends on intentions and expectations. Unless you're a wealthy trust fund baby and can afford a massive marketing budget on top of manufacturing cost right out of the door your in for some frustration. Its all undecided really. We are blindly in love with the physical format... grasping on for nostalgia's sake... although we know it is environmentally irresponsible. We are amidst the last deep breath of the physical format... enjoy it while it lasts. The next couple of decades will certainly see the near-extinction of physical media ... except in very elite and wealthy circles.... unless we further develop environmentally-friendly energy sources. Time, technology, the media, and most importantly energy sources will determine the future.
NB: images by Jeremy Bible. Important: LMYE only makes music available that artists/labels have chosen to share freely. Let us know if something here shouldn't be.