release culture

"The rise of CD-R culture has created a new aesthetic imperative among its listeners. The album is no longer to be perceived as a definitive statement, a honing down or summing up of an artist's concerns over a period of time. The notion that an album is a real-time snapshot, with its ephemerality deemed a plus point, is becoming more prevalent. Obviously, this makes financial sense; with recording and production costs so low, artists can't be blamed for cashing in by releasing everything they do. In any case, there's a hunger for these artefacts - though one imagines a substantial proportion of the audience are at it themselves - a need for something rough and real in an age of glossy cultural surfaces."

Keith Moline
in a review of releases by Ilyas Ahmed
Wire magazine
September 2008

i've become fairly enamoured of the d.i.y. approach to many things over the last few years. what has always bothered me a little, however, is that there is a d.i.y. aesthetic as well as a d.i.y. attitude. i generally subscribe to the d.i.y. attitude, but generally wouldn't immerse myself (though i have a passing interest in) the d.i.y. aesthetic, which often falls into the anti-music end of the spectrum. for me, i want to use the attitude but make things i personally love. i remember when we were planning artwork for the morpheme album, david saying that he liked the tension of being handmade without being nihilistic. i think that sums it up really well and it has actually grown into something of a manifesto for me.

but i also think that digital music distribution, in whatever form, is basically killing the album format. now i love albums more than anybody, but there are realities to face and the best way forward is to figure out solutions for the new paradigms, rather than try to fly in thier face, which is ultimately pretty futile. if you are an established artist, i think the album will still be around for you for a few years yet. but we are not that, and there's other options.

at this stage for us in the current landscape, i think steady streams of less work are more useful than big statements. i'm currently really liking the idea of short runs of things to sell at gigs etc, being sold very cheaply, and then maybe getting them online for free a year or so down the track. realistically, not many people are any longer going to shell out $30 or $20 for an album if they have a passing interest in you. however, there's a reasonable chance they might give you $5 for a 4 or 5 track ep if they have a passing interest in you. for my own satisfaction, the key is to still make that ep aesthetically pleasing, and an object in and of itself, while maintaining a budget just above zero. i'd really be happy to have a release every few months which, over time, would plot a progression. that paradigm also gives much more scope for diversification. for example, i love pop music, but i also love minimal electronic music. i can kill myself trying to work out how to mix the two across 12 tracks that can sit together on an album, or i can do a handful of each and get them out as separately released entities (though i'm not a fan of infinite aliases, i'm much more than happy for acoustic pop and minimal electronics to all be telafonica). and with people now drafted into our little collective (steve, blake, eliza) who all do their own things outside as well, i have to say i'm quite excited by the prospect of what the telafonica family could end up producing. and i do think the sheer weight of numbers of good quality stuff (because i think all the things the different people do are of good quality) will eventually create its own momentum, as it's already beginning to do.

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