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Daniel Miller Discusses Mute's Introduction Series
The Quietus , August 25th, 2011 04:13

Plus Balanescu Quartet footage and exciting Can news

One of the most tiresome aspects of reissue culture is the endless firing out of greatest hits albums with the same songs by the same bands in the same desperate attempt to rescue the last few quid before all CDs are used as ale coasters. Not Mute, though. The newly independent label are putting together a fascinating series of compilations under the title 'An Introduction To...', with the first two collections focussing on the work of Komputer and The Balanescu Quartet - you can see footage from their Short Circuit performance below. Mute have long excelled at hosting compilations, or releasing those by others – we're thinking the brilliant Mute Audio Documents box set, Einsturzende Neubauten's Strategies Against Architecture series, the Erasure Total Pop! Box set, and this new series looks set to follow in this fine tradition.

Speaking to The Quietus, Mute boss Daniel Miller explained the reasons for delving back into the Mute archive: "In theory it's all available somewhere, legally or illegally in the bowels of Amazon or iTunes or whatever, so you'd think people would go and get it, but they don't necessarily. There's so much stuff out there now that I think people need a light shining on it," he explains. What makes the albums extra special is that they've been put together with curatorial interference from the label themselves. "We've left it up to the artist," says Miller. "They're not 'Best Ofs' or anything like that in terms of their best known tracks. We've asked the artist to put together what they thought would make a good introduction to what they've done. It's really more of a focussing of the artists work rather than focussing on the commercial."

Are we likely to see any of Miller's own music appearing? "It'd be difficult to do The Normal as we only ever released two tracks, and there's not really anything lying around, so that's probably not for this series, but maybe for something in the future, depending on how much time I have." Other releases forthcoming in the Introduction series will include Fad Gadget (with the late and much missed Frank Tovey's family putting together the tracklist) and Slovenian titans Laibach. What on earth might they muster? "I haven't got a clue what they'll come up with, but I expect it'll be suitably Laibach-esque," says Miller. "Maybe they'll release an album of cover versions of their own stuff." There'll also be An Introduction To... Anita Lane and ADD N To (X). "It's easier to do when a band are still together, but when they're not any more, like with ADD N to (X), it can be a bit more difficult to do, when people are discussing what should go on it. But that's one of the challenges, and that's what makes these worth doing."

Aside from the compilations, it's a busy autumn ahead for Mute with new albums from Big Deal, Apparat, SCUM and Simon Fisher Turner. And then next year there's a massively exciting series of entirely unheard new music by Can, the first piece of which came out on the Vorwarts compilation released for Record Store Day. "We've got some amazing material from the Can archives," Miller enthuses, "Why it's been stuck in the archives is a mystery but it's really not outtakes, well they are outtakes, but they really sound like they could have appeared on the actual albums throughout the history of Can. That's really exciting, and it's going to come out some time next year."

Fans of what Mute gets up to in the live realm will also be interested to know that there might be another big event akin to May's Short Circuit Festival, which took place at the London Roundhouse and featured performances by the likes of Erasure, Liars and Laibach, along with collaborations between Carter Tutti and Nik Void of Factory Floor. "I was really pleased with how Short Circuit went, it was a busy time for me, catching up with people I'd not seen for ages, and darting around trying to see a bit of anything. All the artists involved really put a lot into it, the audience was great and everyone was really friendly, there was a very international feel to it too, which was really great. We've been quite consistent with what we do overseas, and I think people really appreciate that."

After the recent SCUM, Big Deal and Beth Jeans Houghton new-Mute showcase dates in Berlin, Paris and Amsterdam, Mute are already planning for the future: "we are talking about doing not a similar but another one to Short Circuit," says Daniel. "It's under discussion at the moment. We put a lot of work into it and it was all worthwhile, so we're thinking of doing something at the Roundhouse again in the future, and then maybe one or two overseas. They're great things to do but they do take a lot of setting up. We set quite a high benchmark for ourselves with Short Circuit, so we need to make sure any future ones are on that scale."

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