Two Hundred Pounds of Concrete
Jeopardy style, that is the answer. The question is, “what would it take to start a label?” Of course this is only single Jeopardy, and that answer is behind the $100 box under the ‘Music is Dying’ category. May sound snarky but in fact it is the answer – two hundred pounds of industrial grade concrete.
When I first approached Takuma about starting Concrète Sound System over two years ago now, it was all about doing live experimentation in the electronic realms. We had both played in more traditional bands prior to this, and both were very much believers in freer improvised forms. Bringing that to electronic realm was the challenge, but for a year and a half we went at it, bringing in Elucid to add a mangled vocal layer to the mix. Then after over 500 minutes of live recordings, the babies started coming, Takuma first (with his first) and then me (with my third).
This of course limited the amount of live work that we could put in, but for Concrète Sound System it still felt like the beginning. What we were trying to do with the live set was push the boundaries of where sound could go in a musical context, using live improvisation in a system of exploration. But we were hardly the only ones trying to push those sounds. As the live set went on hiatus my ears opened up to the peers around me working within their own systems to play with those sounds and I realized Concrète Sound System had a new challenge to step up to.
It was in that thought that CS² Recordings was born. I’d spend the next few months working the logistics of what it would take to turn Concrète Sound System into a label, not the least of which was coordinating with the artists. Thankfully there was plenty of receptivity to the vision and before I knew it the music was coming in. Up first was a small compilation which would work as a bit of a mission statement for the label. Not so much a sampler of the projects to come, but a project in and of itself that would collectively capture what the label would be about. Again I was blessed with a group of artists who could take that vision and help me realize it.
Then the first release is ready and I’m listening to it and everything has come together so perfectly, but one thing seems to be missing, an element which would ground both the project and the label in reality. So I load up the kids and head out to pick up two hundred pounds of concrete, because concrete would make it all real.
The next two weeks would be spent crafting the bricks for Schrödinger’s Cassette. It was the first time I had worked with concrete which, as a medium, has many challenges particularly when working by hand in small quantities. I couldn’t just mix all two hundred pounds and serve from it as needed. Unlike a cement mixer truck you can’t mix and pour at the same time, and without constant mixing you’ll lose out to the drying process. This means I frequently had to make new batches of wet cement, and naturally each of these came out in different consistencies, from perfectly smooth to rocky to crumbly. I also built my molds by hand so that between molds there were different shapes and sizes. All these things gave each brick its own individual character because the process itself was a modular system with numerous variables at play. The modular system which produces variable artifacts is the direct parallel in concrete to what CS² Recordings is trying to bring to music. Appreciable on the surface even if it is just a brick of concrete, but full of complexities that reveal themselves the more you dig into them.
With that I’m pleased to announce the pre-launch for CS² Recordings with the release of Schrödinger’s Cassette which is available now directly through the site. No details about the music to begin with. The full launch of CS² Recordings is June 5th at which time there will be music but for now if you want an early jump on what the label is about you must experience it. Hold the concrete in your hands as a musical object and devise your own system for accessing it.