RSS feed RSS Twitter Twitter Facebook Facebook 15 Questions 15 Questions

V.A.: "Erased Tapes Collection II"

img  Tobias

One must make hay when the sun shines. And the sun is certainly shining for Robert Raths and his Erased Tapes collective. Over the course of just three years, Raths has managed to win the support of both mainstream- and underground media, engaged in inspiring digital projects, established an international distribution network and built a roster of artists few others could keep together. In short: He has impressively defied the notion that, at the end of the day, in a world dominated by bit torrents and file sharing, record companies are doomed to turn into compartmentalised niche-outfits catering to tiny fan-groups and working with ultra-limited print runs. Most astonishingly, he has achieved all of this by relying on the most fundamental and traditional of tools available to a label: Endless touring, tons of phone calls, tireless promotion and carefully layouted physical products. Today, Erased Tapes is much more than an economic success-story. It is a veritable family, with Raths caring for his artists like a father.

With Erased Tapes fanning out into a plethora of different styles and gaining recognition within a cornucopia of scenes, it is easy to see why some people could get confused about their intentions and aesthetics. A recent article in a leading German Jazz-magazine referred to the label as „Arvo Pärt's children“, which was naturally intended as a compliment, but doesn't even make sense with regards to the two most obviously neoclassical composers on his roster, Olafur Arnalds and Nils Frahm. As „Erased Tapes Collection II“ proves, already a mere three years into the journey, the vocabulary of the outfit extends far beyond the devout, meditative and sacral. In fact, one should never forget that it was electronic producer Ryan L. West of Rival Consoles who signed responsible for their debut album, then released under his then-moniker Aparatec. It initially branded Rath's brainchild as a highly ambitious neo-Warp collective, well before Arnalds was even invited on board – the first of a string of refreshingly unpredictable stylistic swings.

Since then, Erased Tapes has dabbled in euphoric Post-Rock, brittle minimalism, elegiac Folk, sensitive Pop, romantic Electronica and even, on Arnalds' latest work „dyad 1909“, a blend between expressive ballet score, delicate soundscapes and harsh industrial distortion. Some of the most representative moments have now been compiled on this collection, which goes all quiet in Frahm's solitary sketch „Ambre“, bursts out into hopeful fireworks of bliss and happiness on „Don't go awash in this digital landscape“ by Codes in the Clouds and ends with Rival Consoles remixing contemporary composer and long-time label-friend Nico Muhly and a neoclassical poet (Nils Frahm) electronically processing Peter Broderick's „And it's alright“. This absence of any kind of musical haptophobia is of seminal importance, as it points to the shared preference by all artists represented here for a particular, inexplicable essence of music over clear-cut genre-definitions: Olafur Arnalds' take on Minimal Techno under the duo-disguise of Kiasmos, as just one example among many, is just as convincing as his ethereal solo-contributions „Til-Enda“ and „Ljósið“.

With this epic diversity in terms of sound and compositional approach, it is next to inconceivable that „Erased Tapes Collection II“ could possibly work as a record one can enjoy from the beginning to end without having to skip every second track. The reason that it does is that Erased Tapes isn't about cross-over, but about uncovering true, tangible tangents between acts from the most diverse genres. And as cliched as it may sound, their common denominator is translating emotion into sound. Even in their most experimental, extravagant, eccentric moments or, vice versa, at their most grounded, bands like Finn or Codes in the Clouds share the same passion as their neoclassical or electronic counterparts.

Which is why it would be simplifying things to state that this label is about eclecticism, juxtaposition, contrast and quietude. Within their respective territories, all artists here are searching for a voice which is distinctly their own and defies comparison. As long as they can can churn out compilations like this one every two or three years, there will be plenty of hay to make for Erased Tapes for some time to come.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Erased Tapes Records

Related articles

Vital Weekly 728
Frans de Waard presents the ...
The Green Kingdom: "Twig & Twine"
Twists and turns: Introduces Folk ...
Vital Weekly 727
Frans de Waard presents the ...
Radian: "Chimeric"
Reconciling the contradictions: Epic microtonal ...
Aaron Martin: "Worried About the Fire"
A textural world: Experiences as ...
Jack Rose: "Luck In The Valley"
Antiquated colors: A late-day front ...
Nils Frahm: "Wintermusik"
Glacially unfolding minimalist Piano figures: ...
Ólafur Arnalds: "Dyad 1909"
Still growing: An utterly hypnotic ...
Olafur Arnalds: "Found Songs"
Cliches can't harm him: Arnalds' ...
Review/ Kiasmos & Rival Consoles: "65/Milo"
Highly insightful and stimulatingly contageous: ...

Partner sites