Friday, February 03, 2012


The first release on new record label and publishing enterprise Baptists and Bootleggers is a limited edition, five track, white 12” vinyl (or CD) EP. But “...Of The Wolves” is part of a larger and very impressive assemblage – two short stories, four pieces of art, a CD EP from one of the musicians Vei plus a cloth checklist-cum-credits for all involved. And the price to own this handsome collection? Zilch. Because on Baptists and Bootleggers “everything released will be completely free. We are strong believers in the idea of free music and free art and feel it’s a fair way to give back to the people who support your work.”

The music on ““...Of The Wolves” is five instrumental pieces from different musicians sound-tracking an extract of a 1930s film of “Dante’s Inferno” (the stories and artwork are a response to this too). Sounds arcane but it makes for a cohesive listen: the five tracks are near-identical in length and though varied not dramatically so. Many of the pieces are largely digital creations but possess depth and richness; and although a creepy mood pervades the EP it never tips over into full-blown spook-out.

Borland’s ‘Nightmares’ alternates passages of tense, dark throbbing beats with drifting whirrs and whistles that effectively flips the mood of the piece at uniform intervals. The live improvisation ‘Decaying Bodice’ by Vei creates a more consistent and reflective mood: slowly drawn-out phrases with echoing string-like plucks that mimic gentle drops of water in an ornamental temple bowl. As it progresses the layers thicken and intensify but it remains serenely haunting.

A low droning foghorn creates an eerie undertow to Stagger’s ‘And The Flaw’ over which kettle drum-like beats and eerie swooshes of sound appear. ‘When The Game Is Over, The King And The Pawn Go Back In The Same Box’ by Daffyd Jones is not as ornate as its title – a distant female voice recites instructions just out of ear-shot over mechanical churning, like a looped air safety demonstration announcement stuck at the bottom of a ventilation shaft.

I’ve seen one live version of changing musical collective Go Lebanon indulge in noisy math-rock workout. Here with ‘Ishtar y Tammuz’ the nine musicians are all restraint for the first half before frantic distorted guitar is introduced but as quiet background texture rather than in the foreground. The guitar(s) build into louder, regular pulses which coalesce with anguished saxophone into an intense squawking conclusion.

Normally I’d link to where you can buy this release. But “...Of The Wolves” cannot be bought – it will be shared amongst these collaborators and their communities of supporters and fellow artists to distribute free of charge - and it will be given away at the label’s launch event at Islington Mill next week. Four illustrators, five bands and two writers plus the label all collaborated on this: a free physical release launched at a free-entry gig enabled by support from Umbro Industries. Great exposure but I hope that all the artists find financial reward for their creative endeavours at some point down the road. The political model behind the label’s name helps give an extra insight into this seemly contradictory stance for a publisher. I hope it pays dividends for all concerned – it richly deserves to.

Decaying Bodice - Vei by FollyOfYouth

No comments: