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"Money Will Ruin Everything 2"

cover image Apparently the first time around just wasn't good enough. Rune Grammofon, in celebration of another five years of great music, has decided to rerelease another gorgeous hardcover art book with a two CD compilation for perusal accompaniment. Initially planned as a revision of the original and now legendarily hard to track down first edition, the second edition instead scrapes the palette clean and builds from the ground up with a new design layout and art by Kim Hiorthøy and 25 mostly exclusive tracks from many of the label's favorites.

 

Rune Grammofon

Great music and artwork aside, perhaps the most impressive facet of this collection is in its statement as a physical artifact. It is well recorded that as digitized music increases in accessibility, the market for musical objects diminishes, a trait which founder Rune Kristoffersen speaks to in one of the two interviews present within the book: "if we can't, or if labels, majors or indies, can't release products that people will pay for, we do have a problem." Rather than stand back and complain about it however, Kristoffersen stares the future down with product such as this, whose very tactility is one of its most rewarding aspects. In his own words, "try stealing this thieving bastards."

So just what is it that can't be stolen here? Well for starters, the two CDs are packed with Rune Grammofon allstars, each of which has shared in the creation of the label's legacy as one of the foremost purveyors of independently minded music today. Scorch Trio's "Hys," with its maniacally energized bass, drums and guitar lineup, continues to recast jazz improvisation into post-Hendrixian algorithms while Food and Nils Petter Molvær's "Tukpa," recasts Jon Hassell's treated trumpet environments as skittering washes of boreal light writhing above the arctic tundra. The stark, near ECM piano and drum interplay of In the Country's "Ashes to Ashes" glides gently along as it explores the spaces between Bill Evans, Paul Bley and Claude Debussy.

That each of these pieces can be so divergent in nature andcoexist so gracefully is testament to the label's strength of identity. Susanna and the Magical Orchestra's "When I Am Laid" takes eerily lulling vocals and melds them with spacious synthesizer melodies that are so engulfed in silence that it emerges out of the speakers light as air. That the claustrobic prog rock of Shining's cover of King Crimson's "21st Century Schizoid Man" somehow arrives fittingly is a feat achieved not through similarities of sound but of spirit. Supersilent's "C - 6.1" presents a nearly 15 minute excursion down pseudoindustrial back alleys and smoke laden clock towers as their textural layouts spread themselves outward with restrained improvisational depth.

Of course the music is only half of the picture here. The book that houses it is equally impressive, presenting an abundance of the label's geometrically colorful artwork that has become a signifier of quality for so many over the past ten years. Photographs of band members, interviews, video stills, sleeve art, discographical information and essays by senior Rolling Stone editor David Fricke and Rough Trade founder Geoff Travis all contribute to filling the book with enough informative eye candy to last far beyond the discs' combined two and a half hour. Which means this is going to require multiple listens, which I assure you will be no major sacrifice.

Ultimately, it is this kind of care that the industry needs to display more often, and the collection serves as an important reminder as to the vitality of independent music. It seems no detail was too small in this piece's production, and the result is a breathtaking whole that blurs the lines between music and medium, overview and summation, and manufacturer and artist. And that is quite the statement indeed.

samples:

  • Scorch Trio - Hys
  • Food and Nils Petter Molvær - Tukpa
  • Supersilent - C - 6.1

 

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