There’s something inherently exciting about a new label. It’s a clean slate, a leaf turned, maybe the next one to fall head over heels for as it mines hitherto unknown seams of music or brings together a selection of excellent artists under one banner. They’re a fresh chance to stamp music with a signature visual identity and play with the more physical and visual elements of an otherwise pretty abstract medium. There’s a romance to it, not least for those drawn to doing it; being there for every step of the process from conception to pressing to distribution, the ability to draw out the entire blueprint and have total control over every aspect of the design must be pretty appealing. Maybe there’s the thrill of the risk of it too, you wouldn’t guess from the glut of Monday morning press releases announcing another artist-run venture, but these things are pretty tricky to get right and balance books with. But maybe, with the right care and attention it can be something to get people talking, listening and buying.
There’s a sense from Stephen Bishop (also known as Basic House) that his new found label Opal Tapes is founded to give something back. It seems built to draw in and concentrate a diverse range of styles he’s drawn to into a connected present sound, a love for any and all experimentalism coupled with dance music all emulsified into new and strange compelling mixtures. His music as Basic House indicates his love of the sound; crusty amalgamations that constantly interplay the abstract with hints of the dance. There’s a kind of medial point honed in upon between several influences.
The first wave of releases are exclusively on cassette, which takes a certain boldness in this day and age. We’ve chatted over the last couple of weeks and discussed a similar enthusiasm for the ‘tape scene’, and his only physical release so far has been a limited cassette on Koppklys, so there’s obviously a long term association with the template there, but it all really falls into place when listening to the music he’s championing. Dro Carey (one of the first presentations of his singular sound under the ‘housier’ Tuff Sherm moniker ahead of a Trilogy Tapes 12”), M. Geddes Gangres (or PERSONABLE here) and Huerco S. all feel at home on the spools of a cassette. With each showcasing around about an album’s worth of material Opal Tapes is getting a pretty strong foot in the door.
Mama Geedee – Intro
Steve Peters & Steve Roden – Winds Through Bleak Timber
o?? ?o? – Indastrial Terminals (Reworking Best Available Technology)
Jason Crumer – IV. Sault Ste. Marie Mi
Basic House – Canc
Smackos – The Unbearable Sadness of Dimensions
Tuff Sherm & PMM – Obelisk Mumble
YYU – Toastoven (Huerco S. Mix)
Huerco S. – Elma (ruff rub)
Tuff Sherm & PMM – Lances Rompues
Best Available Technology – Sound 37
Basic House – 64 Bummer
Tuff Sherm & PMM – The Pagan Cinema, PERSONABLE – Alternate/Other and Huerco S. – Untitled are all available from Opal Tapes now. You can also buy them from Boomkat.