Categories
Features

FEATURE: “What Statement?” – A Profile of Alien8 Records

Article by Richard Capener.

In my day, I say in an old man’s voice, there was a teenage ‘war’ around Gloucester: the individuals snobbily referred to as ‘chavs’ verses the punks and grebos. Verbal abuse and muggings ensued on both sides and blah blah blah.

Moral:

Musical communities, usually based on the clothes people wear and cliques, seem silly to me, who opts for a “Lets create whatever the hell we want, respect it and lend each other a helping hand” kinda mentality: communities defined by genre borders augment segregation.

What if a community was defined by its differences? What if viewpoints shifted from class ethics, clothes and cliques to what each individual believes to be music?

Montreal based label Alien8 Recordings “was founded in 1996 by Sean O’Hara and Gary Worsley, under whose operation the label continues to this day,” (www.alien8recordings.com/info). While their original focus was Montreal’s vangard, they’ve more or less dipped into every genre. And my oh my, I’m going to babble on for bit about some of their releases.

Far from the structureless jibberjabber (not that it’s bad – more on this later) most experimental communities offer, the last five years have seen Alien8 put out rock and roll. More or less. Take Anthologie Des 3 Perchoirs, the debut by the now defunct Duchess Says, and its rather indescribable track, AEAE (open.spotify.com/track/5MujNpEpKEfRrVBAfS7Bre). It’s made all the more exciting because the band believed, “Their goal was to insure a faithful representation of the message of the Duchess (or spiritual budgie) through a precise artistic dialog”. I don’t know what it means either but budgie-message sure makes for good tunage.

As far as England’s independent music scene goes, Canada itself is best known for Godspeed You! Black Emperor (in fact, the label have released records by Godspeed’s side project, Set Fire to Flames). Ask for other bands under the post-rock rubric and you’d get Tortoise and/or Explosions in the Sky, who’re very good, but try Torngat, who take post-rock’s format and rehash it into something special. The trio have two albums on Alien8: You Could Be (2007) and La Petite Nicole (2009). You really should listen to their debut’s title track (open.spotify.com/track/2zCT4GCgxiIN1iXg6BByNo), then the whole album.

With the aforementioned tunes in mind, opposite to the rock (whatever that is) spectrum, consider Molasses, a collective headed by singer/songwriter Scott Chernoff. Described “[A]s the only band in a musical genre […] dubbed folk-actuelle — a genre fusing traditional North American folk aesthetics with the free ethos of musique actuelle. Molasses’ influences include electro acoustics, rural country and blues, hobo composition, contemporary noise, trash punk, abstract jazz and street poetry” (www.alien8recordings.com/releases/youll-never-be-well-no-more). While it sounds like it should be a mighty mess of a thing, Molasses’ work is surely the most beautiful music I’ve ever heard. Listen to their first record, You’ll Never Be Well No More, via the aforementioned link then start a petition to get it on Spotify. Or listen to the one album they do have on Spotify, their fourth, Trouble At Jinx Hotel (open.spotify.com/track/5lBvFpo5Rb7ln0CChd2yg8).

Now to return to that jibberjabber. Alien8 have released CDs from innovative radio artist Christof Migone, an extraordinary record by Japanese noise musician Masonna and genre redefining free improv from three piece, Shalabi Effect, all of whom you should go and buy. If the very apres garde isn’t your cup of coco, then try Tim Hecker‘s Haunt Me (open.spotify.com track/7jqYqSG31k4vnbJtAo8un5). Using the ideas of sound art/contemporary electronic music, Hecker creates textured experiments which can be approuched by both art students and whatever the opposite is.

Devotees of conceptual electronica often legislate against the dance aspect of the genre, deeming it too pop or not difficult enough. Not so with Alien8, whose artist Books on Tape‘s record, Dinosaur Dinosaur (open.spotify.com/track/47HpkdQIUXGVKd3aofO7tJ), is closer to the laptop punk of Kid606 than its Apollonian other.

It’s this generous, all inclusive ideology that makes Alien8 Records such a delicious dish, fueling Montreal’s vibrant and diverse collaborative atmosphere. Check out their website for news updates and free streaming of practically all their artists. Your life will be better. Honest.

Richard Capener

By Richard Capener

Richard Capener is a writer living in Gloucestershire, UK, with a background in live/audio art. He's collaborated on installation pieces for festivals and exhibitions around Gloucester.

Comments are closed.