Archive for December, 2007

I wrote this around the time of the end of Merck in the interest of explaining a little bit about Merck and the state of electronic music/IDM that you all may not have known before. I hope that you all can understand better the industry side of why we have decided to end the label, and what is going on behind the scenes with a lot of record labels. There are still a fair amount of personal reasons on top of these that have caused us to decide to move on to something else, but at the end of the day you run a record label to sell music, so thats #1 priority.

Merck Records does make money, I’ve paid out over $40,000 in cash to artists since the label started, as well as providing artists with hundreds of copies of releases to sell and give away.

We released 12 cds and 12 vinyls for each calender year 2003 and 2004, the same as much bigger labels than us were doing. For 2005 we decided to slow it down to roughly half that and do 6 cds and 10 vinyls to make things a little easier on us. We did roughly the same for 2006, our final year.

Before 2004 most all of our releases were pressed in quantities of 1000 and most are still in print. In 2004 we started to get better distribution and began pressing 2000 of most new cds and ALL of those cds are still in print (though we have sold more than 1000 of some of them).

Based on those figures you can understand that the income from running a small record label is not large enough to support personal housing, food, etc., much less a label office and staff expenses. On top of that I drive a crappy car and have crappy insurance, so if i break my leg, somebody’s album isn’t coming out.

Around %50 of our releases were sold in Japan, so the size of the scene you think the U.S./Europe has, divide that in half, the US is only buying 100-250 copies of our cds at most, same for Europe. The rest are going to Japan. The Japanese have the highest per square foot real estate costs, but yet they are the ones buying the most physical copies of music releases (vinyl on top of that!). So the big secret you all don’t know, is that without Japan, a lot of the indie labels you know and love, would be a lot worse off or not exist. So thank Japan for helping keep a lot of the music you love, coming out. There’s a reason every Warp album comes out in Japan 3 weeks before the rest of the world and has a bonus track on it.

In recent times, the European music market, that was the birthplace and incubator of a lot of electronic music, has taken a decent sized downturn and a lot of distributors are focusing more on pushing a lot of copies of one release or focusing only on more profitable genres, instead of actually doing the job of a distributor, which is to supply a lot of copies of a lot of releases.

MP3’s have definitely had a good and bad effect on the label, of course they help to spread our music around to people who haven’t heard it before. The problem comes when people use it as a substitute for a real copy of the cd or a legitimate mp3 purchase. As Machinedrum said in a recent interview and as I’ve experienced personally multiple times, we meet many people who swear Merck is one of their favorite labels and they love all our stuff, then when asked what cds/vinyls they own, they either own NOTHING or only a couple releases. Thats not support, and although we appreciate their enthusiasm, they are not the kind of fans that breed a healthy scene. Take this
excerpt below that was actually said in an IRC chat channel as a perfect example:

<instlr> guys does anyone has these or some of these albums: ?
<HomX> new merck out -> Blamstrain_-_Blamstrain_Remixed_(Merck)-CD-2005
<HomX> instlr, i have the tribe called quest albums on that list
<HomX> i’d be interested in getting all the other classics.. some of which i have on TAPE.. baha
<instlr> i did a quick listen to that blamstrain, didnt sound super hot tbh
<HomX> no? man i love it, sometimes you need to listen to an album a 2nd time to really feel it, or you just
weren’t in the right mood for it
<instlr> yeah thats true, ill give it some more time
<HomX> the merck album i’m totally immersed in at the moment is -> MD-Appelsap-2000
<instlr> ym2……… Kkowboy! or is that track on the other md?
<todo> kkowboy is on between gaps i think, thats one with the face on it
<instlr> yeah thats the one, i love that album
<todo> i like the half the battle remix cd a ton, that ones great
<HomX> totally, i honestly adore every single merck release ever put out
<todo> yea they do some pretty wicked shit overall
<instlr> ym2, thats why i wanted to download that list with their influences
<todo> do you own any of the cds? they do some real quality printing
<HomX> the only merck cd i own is the new blamstrain

Thanks for reading this, and supporting Merck over the years….the true fans who are buying music, going out to shows, and telling their friends about good music….are keeping this going.

This was originally posted on the IDM Mailing list back around 1999 as well. I don’t remember who made it, but its yet another clipping (and list), cracks me up every time I read it. First, an explanation of the word trainspotter. It was originally coined for these guys who would hang around train yards, watching trains, and looking for numbers they had seen before and the like. Not a very social, but nonetheless intelligent pursuit. It eventually got co-opted for use for hardcore music fans of the same nature, who know all the records, stand and watch the DJ play, and generally obsess over a genre of music (usually either IDM or DnB).

10 ways to know if you’re a trainspotter:

1. You know all the Warp catalogue numbers off by

2. You find yourself chatting up a girl at a club and
saying ‘…this record is using the Apache break. You
know what the difference between the Apache and the
Amen is don’t you? Well, let me explain….’ and then
being surprised when you see her walking out with your
best mate 5 minutes later.

3. You have the Skam frisbee

4. You were in the front row next to the speaker when
Aphex Twin played the Sandpaper disc at Disobey.

5. You get a black eye after spilling your pint on the
deck’s at Metalheadz trying to sneak a look at that
dub plate Grooverider’s dropping.

6. You boast to your mates about being onstage in the
Aphex Teddy Bear suit.

7. You wake up in a cold sweat after a nightmare about
Skam re-issues.

8. The guy in the local record shop knows you by your
first name and stops talking mid-sentence to other
customers to serve you.

9. You agonise about indexing your singles by label or
by artist.

10. Your name is Lance (sorry Lance!)

*a bit of explanation about #10, there used to be this guy on the IDM list named Lance McGannon, he basically owned every IDM record (amongst a dozen other genres as well) ever released, and was basically like a human version of Whenever people would bring up obscure release reference questions and such on the mailing list, Lance would answer them like an encyclopedia. A true trainspotter.

December seems to be turning out to be a very ‘listy’ month, so I will continue the fun. This was a list I clipped from the Ambient Mailing list back in 1999. They did a top ambient albums (by vote) list at the time, and it turned out to be quite the shopping list. I’ll pass along the top vote getters here, and then I have provided a link to a text file of all the results here.

Biosphere: “Substrata”

Aphex Twin: “Selected Ambient Works 2”

Brian Eno: “Music For Airports”
Robert Rich & B. Lustmord “Stalker”

Brian Eno: “On Land (Ambient 4)”
Global Communication: “76:14”

Thomas Koner: “Kaamos”

Brian Eno: “Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks”
KLF: “Chill Out”
Vidna Obmana: “The River of Appearance”
Woob: “1194”

Autechre: “Amber”
Future Sounds Of London: “Life Forms”
Tetsu Inoue: “Ambient Otaku”
Lustmord: “The Place Where The Black Stars Hang”
Pete Namlook & Tetsu Inoue: “Shades of Orion 2”
Robert Rich: “Trances/Drones”

Brian Eno: “Neroli”
The Orb: “Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld”
Steve Roach: “Magnificent Void”

Boards Of Canada: “Music Has The Rights To Children”
Global Communication: “Pentamerous Metamorphosis”
Tetsu Inoue: “Organic Cloud”
The Orb: “Orbvs Terrarvm”
O Yuki Congugate: “Equator”

I originally posted this on a few years back, but figured I would relay it along here as it seems appropriate now.

Gabe’s top 10 most influential hiphop albums to him (chronologically):

1. A Tribe Called Quest* – Peoples Instinctive.. (1990), Low End Theory (1991), Midnight Marauders(1993), Beats, Rhymes and Life (1996)
2. Wu-tang Clan – Enter the Wu-Tang (36 chambers) (1993)
3. Nas – Illmatic (1994)
4. Mobb Deep – The Infamous (1995)
5. Smif-n-Wessun – Dah Shinin’ (1995)
6. Raekwon – Only Built 4 Cuban Linx (1995)
7. The Roots – Illadelph Halflife (1996)
8. Dj Premier – Haze Presents : New York Reality Check 101 (1997)
9. Company Flow – Funcrusher Plus (1997)
10. Aesop Rock – Float (2000)
*one slot cause they could take up half the list, always way head of the curve, the afx/ae of hiphop

Heres a list of my top 10 techno tracks for the fall (though most of them are from earlier times). Perfect for windy and cold winter evenings, or curling up by the fire.

* Tinkertoy – I Understand Why You Want To Move To Montreal (Lautmaschine) : Beautiful and melancholy Canadian techno.
* Anders Ilar – Gramineous Glow (Echochord) : Typically awesome Anders combo of melody and deep clicky techno.
* Polmo Polpo – Acqua (Substractif) : More Canadianism, but this time its like Chain Reaction on PCP.
* Mathew Jonson – Marionette (Wagon Repair) : I heard this track in a mix at a Disc Union in Tokyo while digging through records and about shit myself at its beauty and depth.
* Insufficient Talk Auth – Have 10, Need 20 (Unreleased) : Twerk’s dub-techno noodlings.
* Krill.minima – Kronen Dab (Native State) : Admittedly more on the dub side than techno side, still great.
* Signer – Grosse Strasse (Involve) : One of the most underrated dark melodic techno artists, doing his sad, moody best.
* Dapayk – Songs Make Money (Orac) : Classic San Francisco type sound perfectly done (by a German!), with vocals to make you smile.
* Arovane – Plnt (FWD) : Uwe doing his thing over a nicely piercing techno beat, guaranteed to cause a head nod.
* Pub – Summer (Vertical Form) : I had to put this on here because it should be in every techno top 10, such a fantastic track. I’ve listened to it for hours on end on multiple days since it came out.

Since techno albums that are solid and listenable all the way through, are few are far between, I figure this is the best way to recommend some 4/4 gems gracing my ears (though I’m gonna have to review that Signer album at some point, cause its fucking amazing).