Best of 2017: Andrew Lang

The next artist to contribute to our ‘best of 2017’ rundown is Andrew Lang who debuted with us with his piano compositions entitled ‘Burnt Shades’. We had a catch up with Andrew who also chose his five favourite records from this year, covering Ambient and Indie territory.


Gang Of Youths
Go Farther In Lightness
[Mosy Recordings]

“Sophomore record from an Australian indie rock band. I genuinely believe this is one of the best Australian albums ever released (easily the best in the last few years) – it’s a celebration of life and the darkness within it; in being hurt and becoming stronger from the experience. This one’s been on pretty much constant rotation since I discovered them a few months back.”


Phoebe Bridgers
Stranger In The Alps
[Shhpuma]

“Dark and melancholy indie folk in the vein of Carissa’s Wierd, amid moments of Twin Peaks-y ambience, Totally haunting stuff – strongly recommend listening to this one on a solitary late night walk.”



Slowdive

Slowdive
[Dead Oceans]

“None of Slowdive’s previous releases have ever grabbed me particularly, but this one is truly stunning. I don’t really know how to describe this record beyond just telling everyone to go listen to it – from the opening seconds of the opening track, you’ll understand.”


How To Disappear Completely
Mer de Revs I + II
[Self Released]

“(Technically two albums but…) Several hours of blissful ambient music that feels like entering a second womb. It’s music intended for sleep but I can’t bear to do it that injustice – I can only listen to this with my full attention, which in itself is pretty rare for ambient music. These records have genuinely been a huge inspiration on my own creative approach in recent months.”


The World Is A Beautiful Place and I Am No Longer Afraid To Die
Always Foreign
[Epitaph Records]

“I didn’t love this album at first compared to this band’s previous releases, but repeated listens uncover a really beautiful record documenting the band’s history over the past couple of years, cast against the US election and its effect on the members’ personal lives. It’s a bold new direction for the band, both stylistically and thematically, but one that’s worth many spins.”


What have you been up to Andrew?
“It’s been an eventful year personally so I haven’t released a huge amount, but things are settling down and slowly beginning to take shape. I’m starting to explore more in the way of effects processing and ambient experimentation, which has really shaken up my own process and the way that I’m approaching things. Something releasable is starting to form…


You can find out more/buy Andrew Lang’s music here:
http://music.andrewlang.net/
http://facebook.com/andrewlangmusician


Best of 2017: Ondrej Zajac

Our next ‘best of 2017’ feature sees us welcome back Ondrej Zajac who has been pretty busy since his debut ‘Monolith’ on Whitelabrecs. We caught up with Ondrej who put together a beautiful best of list as well as providing insight into his selections and spending some time updating us on his recent activity and plans.


Andrea Belfi
Alveare
[IIKKI]

“I consider this Italian wonder to be one of the most important musicians active today. He has released two albums this year and it seems to me that in the delirium caused by his latest record Ore, everyone tends to forget his earlier record Alveare, which comes with a book as part of IIKKI project. It much more resembles his 2014 record Natura Morta, since it was recorded during the period of 9 years. I like to think of it as a kind of “best of” compilation. You can see so much of his musical development in this lovely piece of work…”


Raphael Vanoli
Bibrax
[Shhpuma]

“I noticed Raphael thanks to the Knalpot band and in his solo work, I found something I haven’t heard anywhere else. I followed him for few years now and in Bibrax, you can hear an album full of unusual beauty. Nothing sounds like guitar on this guitar album. His playing technique is unheard of and there is probably not a single other guitarist today who is willing to be so different in pursuit of his beliefs.”



Diatribes

Sistere
[Mappa]

“Diatribes are Cyril Bondi and d’incise. This record was released by an amazing label from my country: mappa. It requires patience but it can pull you into the ocean of rhythms, repetition, dissonance and silence, where you will definitely lose sense of time. They just played in Prague and I was unable to attend the gig, so I am constantly crying since then!”


Tante Elze
Hmota
[slnko records]

“This duo from Slovakia came under my radar while it was still just a one person project. You may consider them to be too mainstream but the truth is that they are successfully doing everything they can to be as honest as possible, which is something I admire above all. Hmota means matter. And this album is some serious objectification of pure and innocent ideas.”


The Necks
Unfold
[Ideologic Organ]

“David Kollar, Mt Accord, Theydon Boys, Gosheven, Julian Sartorius, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Knivtid, José Soberanes, Jenny Berger Myhre, Tittingur… so many records I would like to place here. But this spot goes to The Necks, since Unfold is proof that you can always explore something new and still sound fantastic. I also went to their gig this year and it was a transcendental experience.”


What have you been up to Ondrej?
“After being yes man for two years and after a second year of compilations, solo releases, curation of my micro-label métóre, compositions for gallery exhibition, collaboration with filmmakers and constant gigging, I’ve been learning to actually say “no” lately. While it is true that I am currently booking gigs for 2018, I would like to hide in some deep cave and get some rest. That being said, I am working with Nicola Fornasari on some new music and I don’t plan to work on anything else before this is finished. I am extremely grateful for this because I kind of adore Nicola and his Whitelabrec’s album with Diego Balconi blew my mind. I also have some other future collaborations planned so I will just work in my new slower pace and do my best to deliver some honest music.


You can find out more/buy Ondrej Zajac’s music here:
https://www.facebook.com/thisisondrej
https://ondrejzajac.bandcamp.com


Best of 2017: Teamforest

We’ve a special new feature to close the year out: we decided to ask some of our artists for their 5 favourite records of 2017 as well as have a general catch up.

First up, we caught up with Philipp Buckle, one half of The Restless Fields who kicked everything off on the label in our inaugural release. Philipp records as Teamforest and provides a selection of lo-fi electronica, drone and African music:


Amadou Binta Konté & Tidiane Thiam
Waande Kadde
[Sahel Sounds]

“Is this African blues? Whatever it is, it’s highly addictive and didn’t leave my record player for quite some time.”

 

 


The Remote Viewer
Us. In Happier Times
[Other Ideas]

“This isn’t exactly new but released now for the first time which is good enough for me. The liner notes say it’s a “musical panic room” and this is true. Known sounds but very consoling in cold times.”

 



Brannten Schnüre

Muschelsammlung
[Vrystaete]

“Christian Schoppik never lets you down. Weird German music.”

 

 

 


BJ Nilsen
Massif Trophies
[Editions Mego]

“Atmospheres and stuff. I really like it because it somehow bends reality.”

 

 

 


Jaap Vink
Jaap Vink
[Recollection GRM]

“Also released on Archival Recordings but so stunning that it could have very well been brand new.”

 

 

 


What have you been up to Philipp?
“Last year I have released two cassette albums “Abendlieder” on Awkward Formats, which are evening drones coming in a nice wooden box. Then there is “They Never Got The Message”, a split tape with Michael Potter on Null/Zone. John Kiran Fernandes from Olivia Tremor Control played clarinet and Antony Ryan from ISAN mastered my side. Caro Mikalef provided us with a one of a kind riso printed cover. This is probably one of my favourite releases ever so I constantly rant and brag.
The new year will bring us a new CD album on a Swedish label and finally the release of my “Paintings” album as a vinyl LP in March. I’ll make updates of more details when they are available. Also my short film “The Craftsman” seems to draw some festival attention. This is something I am especially excited about.”


You can find out more/buy Teamforest music here:
www.facebook.com/teamforest
www.teamforest.bandcamp.com


Drifting, Almost Falling Interview

Harry Towell our label curator was fired a few questions by the Drifting, Almost Falling blog this month, focusing on all things Whitelabrecs. It’s been a while since we’ve done an interview so it’s always nice to check in, talk about how things have been going lately and maybe hint at the odd plan for the future.

You can listen read the interview on the Drifting, Almost Falling site by clicking HERE and perhaps read some of the other articles and musical recommendations whilst you’re at it?

Alternatively, the full interview is included below…

DAF: You record under the Spheruleus name (as well as Magnofon) and run the Tesselate, Audio Gourmet and Warehouse Decay labels while also writing for the Irregular Crates Blog. What was the impetus in starting another label? Are you a workaholic? Are Tesselate and Warehouse Decay still active?

HTI am indeed a workaholic. I have no idea how I find the time. But then I don’t truly see music as work so it’s not hard. With all the labels and pseudonyms, I guess like many artists, I have a habit of starting something new! Some creators end things by closing doors neatly behind them when they intend to open a new one. Others, like me, tend to leave doors open and chop and change between projects. Audio Gourmet for instance could have stopped a couple of years back when I was working more on Tesselate and Warehouse Decay, but I am glad I left the door ajar , as this year I’ve been putting out free EP’s again and really enjoyed it, with some great support.

Currently Warehouse Decay is inactive and I’ve no immediate plans to get it going again. I’ve always loved House music and wanted to be a part of the scene and use my experience running Ambient labels to make a go of it. Unfortunately it proved a tough nut to crack and apart from a few friends who supported it loyally, I felt pretty alone. It’s interesting that Ambient music fans, artists, labels etc have all taken different paths to stumble on the genre, many from Post Rock, Metal or IDM, many from the New Age or ethnic Ambient genres too. It seems that Deep House is not such a conventional route and so I didn’t have as many interested contacts or a connected audience.

Tessellate is not fully closed, despite being inactive of late. I always feel it could be another window if I felt like splashing the cash on some more luxurious packaging but the trouble is the risk as to whether I’d make enough back to justify a bigger release.

I launched Whitelabrecs after an idea which was the blueprint for the packaging and I recalled how well Under The Spire did as a label when starting out, when they released things in simple rubber stamped cardboard packages. I had also recently been reunited with my record collection and was feeling very nostalgic about the days when I’d visit local record stores, purchasing white label vinyl as I got to grips with DJing. Often records would have nothing other than a sticker or rubber stamp, sometimes even just an etching on the black plastic space near the label. So I did the usual, set up a website, a Bandcamp page and started asking around to see if anyone would want to release on this new label of mine. Thankfully there was a lot of interest and here we are today!

DAF: How important is the visual identity to the label? Compared to the Tesselate releases, Whitelabrec’s releases have the hand-made aesthetic. Was it important for the label to have an aesthetic to encompass a concept?

HTFor Whitelabrecs this has become crucially important – it was the idea behind the label and I’ll keep it going for as long as I can. I think this is also why I slowed down with Tessellate, as the packaging is different for pretty much every release and the label never truly found an identity. When the idea struck for Whitelabrecs, I truly connected with it and wanted this to be the plan for all releases on the label. I knew there’d be the odd detour but for general releases, I decided that it was very important to follow the pattern this time so I could build an identity.

DAF: Is the label genre bound or do the releases float over various genres?

HT: The label isn’t genre-bound as it will be rooted in my own music taste which is incredibly varied. So far releases have been generally within the modern Ambient scene, perhaps encompassing most of the sub-genres from floatier drone stuff, to glitch electronics and onto Modern Classical, Folk and even Jazz. This has generally gone down well with listeners. I’m open to pushing the boundaries in the future and taking one or two detours so watch this space! But generally, I’m looking at releasing introspective, thought-provoking music and can’t see that changing. In other words, I’m not likely to rekindle my failed dreams from Warehouse Decay by releasing dancefloor-ready Tech House!

DAF: A glance at the catalog reveals a mixture of familiar names with those that are new (or side projects). How important is it to you to expose people to new artists? Does this become a factor when deciding what to release?

HTI have always worked with both newer names to the scene and more established artists and in the Whitelabrecs catalog there is a blend. I don’t dwell too much on whether an artist has released before, how successful their other work was or how many Instagram followers they have. We’ve only got 50 copies to make and sell, of which the artist gets 10. So I only have to worry about those 40 copies and they tend to shift regardless of how well established an artist is. Sure, it certainly helps to have some familiar names –releases by Tsone, Steve Pacheco and Guy Gelem took little in the way of a push! I’m also delighted to give some other artists their first taste of releasing a physical album however, such as Sea Trials, Ludmila and Ben McElroy. I remember how exciting this felt when I first held a copy of ‘Frozen Quarters’ which I released as Spheruleus on Under The Spire.

Looking at the future of the label there are no plans to just attract well-known artists now it’s a bit more established. We have demos queued up until WLR043 and in that queue we’ve got some well-known artists as well as new comers so the blend will continue.

DAF: You’ve recently done a cassette release and the 20 cdr box set. What other plans do you have for the future? Do you plan quite far in advance?

HTThere’ll likely be another box set for those that don’t mind waiting a year or two to play catch up. I did this so that there’s a way for people new to the label to not miss out completely and also, because I was getting asked about out of print releases. I’ve always said I wouldn’t reissue anything individually, but since box set orders are always likely to be low due to the price tag, I took the decision to do this just so there is a way for new collectors to join in the fun.
I enjoyed making the mix tape too and was surprised at the level of interest having never worked with this format before. I’ll certainly be doing more mix tape releases in the future and perhaps get into the local fields and continue the photography theme for the artwork.

There are no other clear ideas just yet as I’m currently just getting my head down and working my way through the discography queue. I think another compilation could be in order at some point but there’s no overall rush on that. There will be new ideas though – with both the box set and the tape, the ideas struck me suddenly and it doesn’t take me long to pull it all together once ideas such as these set in.

With schedule, I’ll take in demos and add them to the back of the queue once approved. I’ll leave them until I get nearer – perhaps drop in with the artist and have a chat now and again. Some artists are very keen and understandably so, so we organise things well in advance so everything’s ready. Other artists are happy to leave it until the few weeks in the run up to the release and wait for me to get back in touch.

There is a lot to do for each release but we’ve followed a similar formula since the beginning, so I’m quite used to it now, 28 releases in – so the work isn’t too daunting. I guess burning the CDs is the most time-consuming thing but that gives me a chance to work on other things, listen to music and relax bit too.