Sept 21st Reviews / Your favorite labels...

The usual batch this week. Feel free to discuss any or none of them or tell me what I'm doing wrong or what I should be reviewing instead. Whoot.

I was recently talking with a friend about favorite labels. He stated that it's hard to choose a favorite label, because there are usually inevitably some things that you just don't like. That said, what are your favorite labels in terms of consistency and your level of enjoyment of their output?

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sebastien
A lot of my favorite labels were already mentioned:
- Domino, for sure, cause some of my fave artists were released on it (Hood, The third eye foundation, Four tet, Smog)
- Leaf, with so much quality music, Murcof, Colleen, Manitoba, and a gem to come, ie David Sheppard and Keiron Phelan...
- Kranky
- Intr version (and its friend, the Belgian label Stilll)
- Type
- Warp (i'm a Broadcast and BoC massive fan)
- Fat cat
- Rune grammofon
- City centre offices
- Melodic
all these labels are reliable value, but there are some growing ones and "hidden" ones i really appreciate, for instance:
In Japan, Plop and Noble that are both consistent in term of quality.
In France, Autres directions in music, Active suspension, herzfeld, arbouse recordings.

Thanks to apestaartje for releasing loveliness such as Mountains

And amongst my favorite ones in the frame of acoustic and organic electronica or electro-pop: moteer (i love this one !!), static caravan, karaoke kalk (with highly recommended artists like Marz, Hauschka, Donna Regina), Tomlab (cheer The books, Flim, CFTPA, Niobe).

Eoin
Domino. I know that's an obvious choice but my affection stems from a compilation called Worlds of Possibility that I picked up a few years back. It was cheap, it had 2 cds and it had a lot of head-the-balls I'd heard of.

That lovely lovely compilation introduced me to Silver Jews, Jim O'Rourke, Sebadoh and Smog. Imagine discovering all those artists on the back of a 4 pound cd. Silver Jews and Smog quickly became roaring favourites and I didn't sleep properly until I had all their albums. I even got the title of a Silver Jews song tattooed on my back in appreciation.Thank you Domino.

steph
Graveface and Kranky! GF has The Octopus Project and BMSR, and Kranky's always been a staple.

// gg
asaurus records!

Neil
in no particular order:

Constellation;
Rock Action;
Resonant;
4AD (80s to mid-90s);
Heavy Blossom (Matthew Bower/Marcia Bassett CDR label);
Unlabel (their Series52 collection is quite a task - planning to release a ltd one-off album each week for the whole of this year - some really good stuff, especially Drumm Chimp's debut)

Bubbachups
My all-time favourite Time-Lag releases would be the "Our Bed is Green" Charalambides double lp and the Satwa release.

One of my current favourites is Good Stuff House on cdr. Great project of Zelienople with Scott Tuma. Beautiful atmospheric combination of drones and strings and percussion with lots of details including a very nice harmonica. You can hear two tracks on the Zelienople website.
http://www.zelienoplemusic.com/music_gsh.html#

My favourite track that has been released on a Time-Lag album this year though is “For Good” from the self titles Death Chants cdr. I just love the melancholic way of how this song progresses. You can hear this song and some others on their website:
http://www.smcm.edu/users/aastout/deathchants/welcome.html

Another current favourite is the Cursillistas release. “Breezy porch folk psych” according to Time-Lag. There are four songs on their myspace page:
http://www.myspace.com/cursillistas

I haven't picked up the Raccoo-oo-oon album yet but I do have their Mythos Folkways record which is excellent! There is some stuff for download on their website but maybe this youtube video tells you a little bit more about what to expect from them.
http://www.raccoo-oo-oon.org/
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hyWcRrOoskk

scott
I'm glad someone mentioned Last Visible Dog because they consistently put out great music yet seem really unknown. I agree with the recommendation for Kranky fans, plus their site has sound samples. Stephan Pilio is my favorite release from them so far this year (RIYL 1 Mile North and Stars of the Lid)

loosey
Jon, I know what your talking about with labels having shitty web-sites with no sound samples. Time-lag is a little frustrating because of this and also for the fact that if you don't act quick the release will sell out. That being said, my favorite Time-lag (a perhaps favorite of the year in general) release is GHQ. There's some sound samples on the Aquarius Records site... http://aquariusrecords.org/bin/search.cgi
That Galbraith/Neilson/Youngs LP is incredible too. It's very soulful and uplifting. Gospel for the avant-garde.
Time-lag has also released some amazing cd-r's this year but I think they've come and gone already. One that comes to mind is Ilyas Ahmed. Here's a good store site for pics and descriptions... http://www.tomentosarecords.com/timelag.html

Jon
I really have been growing more fond of Time-Lag...but it's so hard to think of buying stuff when there's just the description available; and of course most of them are even hard to find on soulseek to sample.

Does anyone have any particularly favorite albums off of time-lag? I really have thoroughly enjoyed that ponys release.

almostcool
That's excellent about Type putting out a 7" by your band, Sam. I've been a fan of that track since you sent it to me awhile back. Keep me informed as you guys keep making stuff...

Jon
I really have been growing more fond of Time-Lag...but it's so hard to think of buying stuff when there's just the description available; and of course most of them are even hard to find on soulseek to sample.

Does anyone have any particularly favorite albums off of time-lag? I really have thoroughly enjoyed that ponys release.

Sam
Oh and my band for people interested is called Our Sleepless Forest and you can hear it at www.myspace.com/oursleeplessforest. The tinderbox is track being released!
Cheers

Sam
I'd say so far that the most enjoyable labels would have to be leaf, type, warp and anticon really... With anticon just about being my favourite, including all the works of anticon artists put on other labels really. Also I couldn't be more ecstatic to see so many people say Type on here. My band is going to put out a 7" from there scheduled for Jan/Feb, and I met the guys working there yesterday who are all amazing guys. Get ready for Xela's - The Dead Sea. Absolutely blew me away, and I just got it yesterday!

condoleeza rice
Yeah, I agree with Bubbachups...Time-Lag is the shit!!!
I use to be a Kranky fiend (still am), but I've found other labels to supplement my ambient/drone diet. If you're a fan of Kranky, I recommend the following...
Last Visible Dog (they've got some wacky folk and noise on there but some quality ambient stuff like Peter Wright, My Cat is an Alien, Stefano Pilia, Uton, Seht, tc.)
PseudoArcana - fine quality limited cd-r's from New Zealand
Root Strata - a newish label from the Tarentel dude
Hapna - from Sweden
Rebis - deep drones from the Number None guys

(I'm drawing a blank now, I'll think of some more)

Bubbachups
There are two of labels of which I know for sure I can buy every release without any research whatsoever. These labels are near perfection:

Time-Lag
Eclipse

Time-Lag has been extraordinary over the last two years. Add to that the beautiful handmade packaging and you have the best label around these days.

After that comes a whole bunch of quality labels who are near consistently great:

Holy Mountain
Three Lobed
Last Visible Dog
Important Records
Kranky
VHF
Digitalis
Pseudo Arcana
Destijl
Alien8
Type
Noble

Michael
n5md - "Sea2 / Last Days
Warp - too many to mention
Invada- "Derwent Water's Saint" /Joe Volk

Chris G
I agree 100% with Type Records. Have loved every single thing I have heard from them.

I tend to like everything Morr Music puts out. Sure some of it can be a little derivative of their other artists and bedroom electronic stuff in general, but I enjoy it anyway.

I pretty much enjoy everything I hear from FatCat. And I agree with all that has been said here about Constellation and Kranky.

I tend to think everything from Temporary Residence is either good to great (Mono, EITS, Eluvium)

I use to religously follow Warp, but they have seemed to go in a different direction with the exception of BOC. In Warp's place I think I find myself the last couple years follwing Highpoint Lowlife and Ghostly International closely.

And I tend to try and give a listen to any release coming from these labels as they are almost all consistently good: Leaf, Touch, City Centre Offices, Plug Research, Arts & Crafts and Hapna.

peter
oh, yes, mille plateaux as well.

Jon
I also do enjoy some stuff on Anticon now that I think about it.

And though I really haven't delved very deep into the actual music overall, I've been happy with Time-Lag's absolutely awesome packaging. And that ponys album shishimumu is really quite happy-inducing too.

Alex
Well, I'll echo the praise for Constellation. I have every release on that label since I got into GYBE and DMST in 98 or so, and I love almost everything they put out. Plus, the CD packaging is always top-notch, and eco-friendly. More importantly, they release everything on very high quality, 180 gram or better vinyl, even eps.

Presentation-wise, Lex records puts out some really nice packaging.

I'd say I love about 75% of everything on Anticon, so I'll include them as well.

I will also include Robotic Empire, just because they are always releasing extremely limited edition vinyl, which I have lots of fun keeping tabs on to snatch them up.

A couple of years ago, I would have included Kranky and Thrill Jockey, but I've really fallen out of touch with those labels lately.

peter
while loving an entire's label output is pretty difficult at times, i enjoy places like alien8, basic channel, kranky, sonig, intr_version, def jux, eastern developments, hydrahead, lex, warp, ninjatune, quannum/solesides, surgery and touch, to name a few here and there.

loosey
I consider a label to be great when they've established a consistent interesting string of releases along with quality packaging. Bonus if the artwork is handmade.

Time-Lag www.time-lag www.time-lagrecords.com/
Kranky www.kranky.net
Digitalis www.digitalisindustries.com/
Important www.importantrecords.com
Root Strata www.rootstrata.com
PseudoArcana www.pseudoarcana.com
Celebrate Psi Phenomenon www.cpsip.co.nz/
MusicYourMindWillLoveYou http://mymwly.blogspot.com/
Soft Abuse www.softabuse.com/
Free Porcupine Society

Jon
Besides I suppose the ones you reviewed...haha.

Jon
I think everytime I've said something on these boards I've mentioned Constellation, but I don't think there's ever been a more appropriate time to say something.

I have an obvious fondness to Cst since godspeed and others changed the way I looked at music; and from that many things followed. I feel that they are extremely consistent and do always bring something interesting to the table. Though I know many members are in several of the bands, and those bands having similar sounds at points because of the common parts, I always feel satisfied. Which is usually an understatement...though I'm not sure how I feel about the Eric Chenaux release yet.

Having verbosely said that, I think that new Sandro Perri album is really something special. I adored Like Hearts Swelling, so a different take on it and some new stuff was right up my alley. That might be a good canidate for an upcoming review.

And almostcool, what particular releases would you recommend from those labels you mentioned? Or why doesn't everyone mention a release or two they really like off the labels they mention?

I think I've said enough...

Having said that

Michael
I didn't realise just how cheaply North Americans can buy music for. I went to order the Relay album from the UK amazon at £11.99. After that I just happened to look at the US site, which is retailing at $13.99. That makes it around the £6/7 mark. You guys are so lucky!

Michael
I like all of the labels below, especially Type. But, Constellation, n5md and Warp have all put out great releases.

Another one you should check out is Invada Records, which is run by members of Portishead

almostcool
I'd have to say that a couple of my favorite labels right now in terms of sheer consistency are Rune Grammofon and Kranky.

I've been a hit-or-miss fan of Rune Grammofon for some time, but it seems like this year has really been a banner one for them, with a very minimum of every release being good, and several outstanding efforts.

Kranky is a long-time favorite of mine, and although they seem to have went through a period a couple years back where I wasn't as high on them, they've put out some great stuff in the past two years.

Another small label that really seems to have made a great run lately (with consistently great artwork as well) is Type Records.