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Label Feature: Sedimental

Since 1993, the Sedimental imprint out of Western Massachusetts, has released an extraordinary array of experimental, improvised, and new music by artists, such as Stars of the Lid, Francisco Lopez, Olivia Block, and Riccardo Dillon Wanke. The label is run by Rob Forman, a longtime concert curator and former writer for the influential experimental music magazine N D, as well as a longtime DJ at WZBC, where he hosted the Continuous Drift program for many years. He’ll be my guest on the program to talk about the label on July 28. Beforehand he answered a few questions about the label and its history.

First release:

First official release was the “Town & Country” double 7” compilation in 1993 (Azalia, Snail, Crawling with Tarts, etc). The original idea was to do a series of these, but here we are almost twenty years later and still no second volume! First regular release was Music for Nitrous Oxide from Stars of the Lid in 1994. Put us and them on the map.

Most recent release:

Recent releases include Riccardo Dillon Wanke’s second Sedimental document called to r.s. (a real master of of elegance and understatement and should be more widely know imo), Byron Westbrook’s Corridors project, a collection of electronic pieces of Boston based Linda Aubry Bullock and her various collaborators, an Area C double cd and Alessandro Bosetti’s radio work called Zwolfzungen.

How did you first become interested in experimental music?

When I first heard Zoviet France’s Mohnamishe in 1984. I had no idea who or what I was listening to at the time but the atmosphere was what really seduced me. Around that time in Dallas, where I grew up we had two very cool radio shows on the community station called KNON. One was hosted by the late Scott Edgerton that played basically 70s and early 80s bleak industrial stuff like p16d4, NWW, etc, the other was a more 70s , 80s electronics focused show hosted by Steve Stokes with lots of Ralph Records, Heldon, Tangerine Dream. I listened to these shows religiously and both were inspirations for my own radio programs down the road. Steve also had a store called the Record Gallery that was a hub for the arty weirdos to hang out at who were not in explicitly into punk or hardcore. He had shows there and would screen Derek Jarman and Keneth Anger films, Cabaret Voltaire video collections, etc. I ended up working there for a while too. Needless to say very formative times(‘84-‘86).

What, in turn, prompted you to start Sedimental?

I was writing for Dan Plunkett’s N D magazine based in Austin. It was one of the few publications on a global level that reviewed and kept a close eye on the inudstrial/post-industrial, experimental and cassette underground so we would receive insane amounts of recordings. Dan’s goal was to review everything if possible. So basically, the idea was to create a label that could respond, on a very personal level for me, with a platform for some of this material.

Rob Forman (on the right) in his other guise, as wine expert

What is the significance of the name?

The label name works on a number of levels, the idea of alluvial sediment filtering out underneath a river baisn, a metaphor for the underground in relation to the mainstream music biz. Also, being involved in the wine world for my work, a reference to the sediment that filters out in wine as it ages. Also a little bit of a play on the idea that the “cream always rises to the top”…sort of a contrarian notion to that.

How would you describe Sedimental’s musical aesthetic and how has it changed over the years?

There is no overriding aesthetic sonically, it is much more a personal selection based on a number of factors. This has been seen as both a positive over the years and also a negative in that the label has no specific niche musically to hang its hat on. The catalog reflects the diversity for sure.

Is there a release that you consider the quintessential Sedimental album?

Very tough question. I would say Olivia Block’s Pure Gaze from 1999. It set the tone for what we do today for the most part. It was a debut by a young and unknown composer (something we focus on in general). It was the first release that did not use a plastic jewel case (there’s a no plastic preference in general, unless the artist insists on a jewel case). And the recording has stood the test of time; it’s still a remarkable listen.

Is there an album that you wish Sedimental had released, but didn’t?

Every demo I have received that I really liked that I never ended up putting out (see below).

What’s been the biggest change since you began the label?

For me personally, I have more financial resources to release material than I used to, on the downside I have much less time to actually do anything about it! From a broader perspective the digital and internet revolutions, which I essentially insulate myself and the label from for better or worse.

I know that one of your goals with Sedimental is to release music by new, relatively unknown artists. Is there any artists whose caught your attention recently?

I would say starting around seven years a ago I really started to get a startling amount of demos. It is both an honor and daunting. I would say, to the credit of creative people everywhere that at least half of this material pasts personal muster to be released, yet there is no way I can do it. The reality is that of our catalog there are very few unsolicited demos that get released. Usually we end up releasing works by artists that I have a connection to in some tangential way. The Gabriel Paiuk, the first Wanke and Kyle Bobby Dunn are the exceptions.

What releases do you currently have in the pipeline?

We don’t release many documents in general, less is more is the approach which has also allowed us to still keep going all this time. So upcoming for Sedimental at the moment is the new Olivia Block orchestral work (probably due in early 2012) and nothing confirmed beyond that. I am also starting a new sister label called Ramekin in 2012. These will be small edition vinyl only releases featuring solo works/compositions by artists based in and around New England. The first two releases will be from Mike Bullock and Tim Feeney. Stay tuned.


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