The death of the album’s nearly as old a music journalism saw as circular debates about piracy, but some weeks the shifted realities of releases seem more apparent than others. This week at the HQ we have nearly a dozen tabs open with one track cuts or other very short releases with no clear connection to a larger album as such. As we’ve said on the podcast plenty of times, we’re appreciating EPs and shorter records more and more as we age (and don’t forget that for their first twenty years LPs barely scraped the 40 minute mark). We know this isn’t anything new, but we’re curious as to how both artists and listeners feel about the current landscape ten years or so since “death of the LP” thinkpieces first started circulating. Holler at us in the comments or on Twitter, and check out this week’s new tunes.
Forma Tadre, “Here We Are Again”
More new Forma Tadre! Or old Forma Tadre we’ve never heard before, complete with brand new video. As much as we love hearing some vintage material (this one was recorded in 1992) from one of our longtime favourite electro-industrial projects, we’re still hoping to get some news on brand new recordings from Andreas Meyer. Guess we’ll just refresh FM’s dope website over and over again while we wait, and listen to Navigator for the millionth time.
VALIS, “The Cant”
So our understanding is that Chicago’s VALIS disbanded roughly half a year before their debut LP The Demolished Man was released by the fine folks at DKA in 2014. Major downer considering we had been tracking the project for a couple years at that point, and they seemed to be on the vanguard of the funky body music movement we’re just now seeing blossom. At any rate, Oraculo Records is releasing a limited to 100 pieces 12″ of the band’s fantastic “Cold Hands” and filling it out with some other unreleased stuff, which we’re happy to hear. Get on it though, this is strictly a physical affair, digital for vinyl purchasers only!
Front 242, “Take One (Kant Kino Remix)
It looks at though the recent hum of activity around 242 in the form of contemporary remixes is meant to presage a batch of reissues. Without knowing the full details, we’d say that a proper and legible re-presentation of one of the most important back catalogs this side of Puppy’s is well due. As for this taster, yeah, you’d have to have your shoelaces tied together to fuck up a tune as classic as “Take One”, but we were super excited to hear our pals in Kant Kino ease off the modern dancefloor gas and find some space in which to rediscover how big and otherworldly the classic 242 sound is.
Constance Chlore, “Dignité”
Gonna level with you friend reader, no idea where we came across this number or who Constance Chlore is. Well, we know who the Roman Emperor Constance Chlore is, but we got to assume that if he somehow was reincarnated with his full memory in the present day, his first act wouldn’t be to bang out some nice punky EBM a la DAF. Love to say we’ll be tracking this project based on how much we dig this song, but that might prove challenging without any means of identifying them. Anybody out there wanna drop us a link?
r.roo, “Light-Emitting Diode (Frank Baker Remix)”
Among the innumerable 2015 releases which slipped through our fingers was r.roo’s Autistic Dance. The Ukrainian producer has an established yen for combining classical elements with smooth and sparse IDM touches, and his new remix release Train is reminding us of why we shouldn’t have been sleeping on him earlier this year. We can only assume that the slowly stacking percussion on this remix comes from the German IDM producer named Frank Baker and not the O.G. Yankee slugger of the same name.
Manunkind, “The Grave For 500,000 Soldiers”
Finally, some brand-spanking new, granite-drab bleakness out of Moscow. Riding the power electronics/death industrial neutral zone, we can’t tell you much of anything about Manunkind yet, but they’ve got a good feel for the tension between texture and intensity, and anyone willing to put Ammit the Devourer on the cover of their first release is okay by us.
while maybe not the intended effect, i thank you for reminding me to listen to Navigator. it’s been far too long…such an incredible album.
I have mixed feelings about the whole “Death of the LP” phenomenon, probably because it’s a mixed reality. Regardless of what trends end up becoming dominant in the next decade or so, I think what’s becoming undeniably clear is that artists now have more options regarding how they present their material. Instead of feeling forced to pad a release out to “album length”, it’s now perfectly acceptable (if not preferable) to leave a release at 10 or 20 or 30 minutes, or just let the tracks trickle out one at a time on soundcloud. At the same time, artists like Dead When I Found Her, Lycia and Prurient are busy reminding us exactly how incredible a complete, seventy to ninety minute musical experience can be.
I think it would quite sad if, with so many options available, the album was simply replaced by whatever new meta ends up being the most popular in the years to come. Personally, I’d prefer if instead this unprecedented set of options could become a new dimension in which artists could be creative with the presentation of their material. Whether songs should be released individually, on a ten, 20, or 30 minute “album”, on a more traditional 45 minute album, or a two-hour monster release really depends on what makes the most sense FOR THOSE SONGS. As a consumer of music, I think that some songs benefit from being in a full length album (being part of a larger concept or theme or just having sounds that work really well together), while others might actually suffer from it (getting buried in filler to the point of invisibility or becoming repetitive 2/3 of the ways of the way through).
If I had to settle on a single meta for music releases in 2016, it would be as follows. Artists would rely on 10 to 30 minute sets of songs as their primary means of releasing material. That way they have a more constant presence in their fans’ minds while still not having to make every last song a single that has to stand completely on its own. In my perfect world, we’d get a new short release every three to twelve months. Some artists, if they so choose, might also release more traditional full-length pieces on a significantly reduced schedule (say, every five years on average) if/when they felt inspired to make something really special (and that needs the better part of an hour to be special. “All The Way Down” and “Psychogenesis” are excellent recent examples of what I’m talking about).
I would be much more excited however to see individual artists coming up with entirely new release schemes tailored to their individual aspirations. Take for instance 3TEETH’s decision to make their first release a 15 track, 51 minute album, while High-Functioning Flesh and Youth Code both had debuts clocking in under 30 minutes (I still don’t know whether to call AUoM;AMoU an album or an EP). These releases all felt completely natural for the bands that released them, and really that’s what I’d like to see more of more than anything else: artists putting thought into their release formats so it feels right FOR THAT BAND AND FOR THOSE SONGS. Really that’s all there is to it in my view. Don’t let increased freedom just bring about a new universal master format. Get creative, people.