tQ Columnists Recommend Bandcamp Labels You Should Buy From Today
, February 3rd, 2017 10:37
With Bandcamp set to donate 100% of their share from sales made today in response to Donald Trump's Executive Order banning citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the US, tQ's columnists have got together to recommend labels you should be purchasing records from
Earlier this week, Bandcamp announced that they would be donating 100% of their share made from sales on the music-buying platform today to the American Civil Liberties Union as the organisation continues to look for donations to challenge the actions of US President Donald Trump.
This move has come as a direct response to Trump's recently signed Executive Order banning travel to the US by citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries for three months - it remains to be seen whether that time period will be extended.
"Like 98% of U.S. citizens (including the President), I am the descendant of immigrants—my great-grandparents came to America from Russia and Lithuania as teenagers and worked in sweatshops until they were able to afford to bring the rest of their families over," said a statement by Bandcamp founder and CEO Ethan Diamond.
He continued: "It is an unequivocal moral wrong, a cynical attempt to sow division among the American people, and is in direct opposition to the principles of a country where the tenet of religious freedom is written directly into the Constitution."
Bandcamp's donations will continue from sales made on the service until midnight Pacific Time tonight, and in light of that, we thought it would be a good opportunity to get the trusty tQ columnists' heads together to recommend some labels and releases within their fields of expertise from whom you can buy music today on Bandcamp. Read on for a healthy selection of recommendations - some that we hope you might not have yet discovered and will chance upon some gems as a result. Get buying and recommend any of your own favourite labels on Bandcamp in the comments too if you like - the more recommendations, the more purchases, and the more money donated to the ACLU. Happy listening!
Tara Joshi (Full Clip) picks Fresh Selects
This Portland label has a sublime array of polished soulful sounds, spanning both hip hop and R&B. There are the wavy, captivating beats of producers like MNDSGN and Knxledge, but the real gem is Kadhja Bonet's album The Visitor, with her voice smooth and intoxicating like plumes of smoke. Find them on Bandcamp here.
Kez Whelan (Columnus Metallicus) picks Vetala Productions
London-based Vetala Productions is a DIY label in the truest sense of the word, originating as a way to put out friend’s music on tape, and now co-releasing some of the UK’s finest grind, hardcore and sludge bands, like the recent Moloch / Lich split and crusty black metal trio Jøtnarr. There’s a wealth of great stuff to stream on their Bandcamp page, but point your attention to Lugubrious Children’s modern fastcore classic Lugubrious and Dysteria’s raging D-beat onslaught Fuck The Future first; both are available for name-your-price donations, and both are essential slabs of filth from the UK underground. Find them on Bandcamp here.
David McKenna (Rockfort) picks La Souterraine
La Souterraine is a French label, an archive and gateway to a teeming ecosystem that’s thriving away from the harsh glare of mainstream exposure. Ok, that’s not entirely true now as some associated artists (like Barbagallo, Aquaserge, Requin Chagrin and La Féline) are beginning to get their time in the sun but many remain microscopic relative to the country’s bestsellers. For this reason, La Souterraine’s Bandcamp page, with its regular compilations and artist-focused releases, remains an essential stopping-off point if you want to keep track of what’s happening in the lowest and most fascinating reaches of French-language song, with discoveries ranging from the intense drone-folk of the La Novia collective to Paris Metro busker Mohamed Lamouri.
Out just at the end of January, PoulainJar’s Cabaret Sous Mondain En Public is “un live”, (which as they put cutely on the album page, “is English for when a public concert has been recorded”) and follow up to last year’s studio album Sauvage Vacance. Savage is the word, savage like Ubu Roi as obliquely poetic. From ‘Ode à Thiers’ (“Chacun avec son petit couteau!” “Every one with their little knife!”) it’s furious, bare-bones rock, street theatre, carnival, ceremony, sometimes all at once.
All La Souterraine releases are ‘Name Your Price’ so in theory you could have the album for free, but obviously that would defeat the object somewhat. Find them on Bandcamp here.
John Doran (The Vinyl Staircase) picks Instant Classic
This Polish underground/leftfield indie label which runs along strict DIY lines always puts out some of the finest albums of any given year. 2016 was no exception with Innercity Ensemble's III; 2015 was no exception with Stara Rzeka's Zamknęłysię oczy ziemi; 2014 was no exception with Merkabah's Moloch etc. But when we come to compile the best albums we've covered in the decade we've been in existence in a year's time, Cień chmury nad ukrytym polem by Stara Rzeka will be somewhere near the top. Indulge yourself, if you haven't already. Find them on Bandcamp here.
John Doran (The Vinyl Staircase) picks Sahel Sounds
Christopher Kirkley started exploring the culture of the Sahel region of West Africa for international audiences in 2009 via field recordings, interviews, YouTube collections, mixtapes, cellphone MP3 trading... The label has been responsible for bringing the fantastic Mdou Moctar to a much wider audience not to mention the phenomena of the Balani mixtape. One of the label's most popular releases is the first volume in their Music For Saharan Cell Phones series. Find them on Bandcamp here.
John Doran (The Vinyl Staircase) picks The Yossarians
And now something completely unsigned... but hopefully not for long. Manchester's Yossarians sound, somehow, like Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Egon Schiele and Iggy Pop fronting the Bad Seeds or mid-period Swans. A mighty prospect and playing the Quietus stage at Fat Out Fest in April (we hope). Find them on Bandcamp here.
Noel Gardner (Straight Hedge) picks SuperFi Records
An endlessly great and open-eared UK label operated solely by Kunal Nandi (who also features on some of his own releases now and again, most recently math-metallers Art Of Burning Water and 'orrible death/crust sorts Savage Realm), Superfi has been going since 2000 and is teetering on the verge of its 100th release as I type. It operates on stoutly DIY principles, prices kept low as possible without sacrificing aesthetic pleasure and releases often split between one or more other labels.
Leaning towards the noisier and more abrasive end of the (often, but by no means always) British rock underground, a schlep round Superfi's Bandcamp will confirm just how varied that underground is. You can download pretty much all their previous releases for nowt or more, and the upcoming stuff (including great LPs by queer noiserockers Screen Wives and atmospheric sludge trio The Death Of Money) is there to stream in full. From Superfi's recent output, chuck some coin at end-of-days Scottish metallic hardcore brutes the Process, early-00s emo freaks Humans The Size Of Microphones or Iron Lung-ish tech-grind duo Beg. Find them on Bandcamp here.
Christian Eede (Hyperspecific) picks Power Vacuum
Milo Smee’s, otherwise known as Bintus, Power Vacuum label has been pushing an anarchic brand of industrial techno since its first release in 2012 taking in music from new and established producers, from Objekt to EDMX to Mark Broom to Pan Daijing. It’s given us the acidic storm of ‘Warwick Castle Meltdown’ from the label head in 2014 followed by the inimitable electro stomp of Objekt’s ‘Balloons’ later that year, and, more recently, a hip-hop-referencing thumper in Bintus’ reconstruction of ‘You In The Right Spot’ by Sensational & Kruton. If you really want to get your money’s worth though, draw for the just-released Vectors Vol. 3 compilation which gives you gnarly, system-punishing techno from producers such as Pan Daijing, Bleaching Agent and Beau Wanzer among others. Find them on Bandcamp here.
Christian Eede (Hyperspecific) picks Swing Ting
On a completely different tip, Manchester’s Swing Ting collective are exploring riotously fun dancehall, garage and grime across releases from their core collective of Florentino, Famous Eno, Murlo, Platt & Samrai and others, as well as looking further afield with music from Jamaica’s Equiknoxx and MC Fox. The pick of the bunch is most certainly Fox’s Musik EP, released last year. The EP sees the collective’s main mic-man and host step up as the focus for the core production team - featuring Florentino, Famous Eno, Samrai & Platt, Brackles, Murlo and Puppy Disco - to deliver some absolutely killer instrumentals, providing the basis for the MC’s characterful hooks. Find them on Bandcamp here.
Louise Brown (Columnus Metallicus) picks Riding Easy Records
It’s difficult to think about doom when the world is doomed, but Riding Easy Records from Hermosa Beach, Los Angeles are on a mission to fill the abyss with Sabbathian heft, desert-bleached riffs and psyched-out stoner jams. This woke-doom™ stable are as busy filling their Instagram account with Trump memes and calling out his horrific policies as they are churning out discs of plastic from rock’s out-there veterans like Brant Bjork, unearthing new species of acid freaks such as Electric Citizen and crate-rattling at garage sales to fill their rare ‘60s proto-rock <>Brown Acid compilations. Find them on Bandcamp here.
Formed in 2012, R.I.P, from Portland, Oregon, released their debut, In The Wind, last year and immediately conjured sepia-tinged biker gangs riding through dust storms, high on peyote and Lord Baltimore riffs. Black Sabbath R.I.P, long live R.I.P.
Hailing from Austin, Texas, The Well’s well of inspiration is that of the early days of hard rock and heavy metal - pulling from Pentagram, 13 Floor Elevators, The Sonics and Humble Pie as well as newer bands like Electric Wizard and Sleep. Last year’s Pagan Science full-length is doom gold.
Here Lies Man’s debut doesn’t come out until April, but it’s testament to Riding Easy’s keen ear that they’ve already picked up this newly-formed LA band and teased them on their Bandcamp page. They’re described as “what if Black Sabbath played Afrobeat?”, which is a question we’ve all asked at one point or another. Glad we finally have an answer. One of 2017’s bands to watch!
JR Moores (Columnfortably Numb) picks Three Lobed
Cory Rayborn's Three Lobed imprint is a one-man operation run out of his home in North Carolina. Since the year 2000, the list of artists who've released stuff through this label reads like a veritable who's who of the US psych-rock and freak-folk underground. Three Lobed's discography boasts "all flavors of psychedelia", from the blistering wig-outs of Philly legends Bardo Pond to the gentler acoustic meditations of the much-missed Jack Rose.
On the horizon is the first album in three years from the ever-reliable cult troubadour Wooden Wand but for the time being why not sink into Daniel Bachman's 2016 album of instrumental fingerpicking and swampy drone work? Find them on Bandcamp here.
Tristan Bath (Spool's Out) picks Allergy Season
Issued by wonderfully off-kilter label Allergy Season, this vast 42-track compilation is a charity compilation anyway, angled as an anti-fascist collection, contributing all profits to the ACLU, Callen-Lorde, The National Immigration Law Center, and Planned Parenthood. So effectively, any purchases of this one are going to be twice as nice! You're really getting a lot of bang for your buck too. Genius producers like Russell E.L. Butler, Umfang, Via App, Isabella, and Steven Warwick (aka Heatsick) provide a consistently groovy heap of funk, house, and techno. These musicians don't merely retain "dancefloor functionality" in their music, they re-envisage the dancefloor as a safe space for weirdos and futurist geeks. Find them on Bandcamp here.
Tristan Bath (Spool's Out) picks Boomarm Nation
Based out of Portland, Oregon - a spot destined to remain a veritable base of operations for the resistance against the new American fascism - Boomarm Nation has issued a range of vinyls and cassettes documenting forms of bass music and dancehall from around the world. It's an erratic persona, and the catalogue is partially shared with some other labels - most notably Sahel Sounds - but Boomarm Has the advantage of hosting many of its albums for 'Name Your Price' download. Notably this includes the recent Family Album and the older Music For Saharan Cellphones compilations. Dig deep into those virtual pockets! Contributing to the fight against evil has never been so easy - or come with a better soundtrack for that matter.
Producer El Mahdy Jr. has been assembling music from shards of grime and dub mixed with various local music traditions and samples from his native Algeria or his adopted home in Turkey. Past releases like Gasba Grime or The Spirit of Fucked Up Places were riddled with massive beat drops and haunted grooves, but this mixtape feels far more haunted. Passages of new music from El Mahdy Jr.'s upcoming album are stitched between collaged devotional folk songs, the effect somewhat akin to Sam Shalabi's collage works with hints of psychedelic rock swapped for bass and beats. Much of the mixtape is relatively peaceful, sadly beautiful even, and it provides a much needed space to reflect. There are however also a few diversions into heavier snippets from El Mahdy Jr.'s upcoming new album. The bleakly heavy Arabic rap banger starting two-and-a-half minutes into side two sounds relatively (and rightly) enraged to my ear. The ideal music to blast out your car and scare the living daylights out of some red cap wearing mouth breather. Find them on Bandcamp here.
Russell Cuzner (Rum Music) picks Kevin Drumm
Kevin Drumm's Bandcamp page offers a way to "Instantly get everything [he] make[s], and then some." Throughout last year, in exchange for $36, it furnished subscribers with over 20 documents of his distinct and intense audio interrogations. Although ostensibly hovering around minimal, ambient and noise quarters, Drumm's unique compositions consistently operate in a way that feels perpendicular to any established categories. Whether through rinsing distortion, pure tones or sheer unrecognisable sound matter he coaxes ghosts out of his machines whose presence - at times both eerie and elegant, beautiful or brutal - becomes palpable through focussed listening.
Here's just two examples, made available on Bandcamp just a day or two after recording. They demonstrate how Drumm's carefully suspended soundwaves coalesce in processes whose results can genuinely hypnotise under the right conditions - especially if you follow Irradiate's recommended listening mode: "Volume Advice: Medium to High. Lights off. Try to Relax. Sleep if you can."Find them on Bandcamp here.