Dallas' Pour le Corps Mines Texas' Experimental Underside, Via Vinyl and Cassette
Pour le Corps label has been on my radar for a few months now, mainly because of their limited-edition theory and vinyl/cassette format. I appreciate that approach, as someone who often feels beat down by the fleeting nature of mp3s, and misses the tactile experience of listening to music: opening an album, smelling the vinyl, reading the liner notes, taking in the art.
The label just released Napalm Beach, the latest LP from Dallas' Eyes, Wings and Many Other Things, and Chrysalid, a new tape-only platter from Austin's Xander Harris. The former stretches out bits of warm guitar and synth steadily, rather than peaking and receding. The latter drips with more of the cold, dark liquid of '80s synth groups like Cabaret Voltaire (check out the track "Cabaret Voltage" for further proof).
They've also released tapes from North Texas' Water Falls and Spacebeach, whose December 2011 split with Denton's Eccotone was described on their Bandcamp page as "a musical portrait of a fictional contest between John Lithgow and Michael Jordan to see who would look weirder with a full head of hair."
As their 2012 release schedule starts to warm up, I asked Marjorie Owens and Sean French, who run the label, a little about their mission and history. You can find the releases locally at Doc's Records in Fort Worth and Good Records in Dallas.
What's the history of the label?
Sean French: It started as [French's group] Eyes, Wings and Many Other Things began recording material faster than anyone interested in putting it out could keep up with. Rather than just keep compiling music without putting it out, we tried to figure out the easiest way of sharing. First, we started the website, and began just putting everything up for free download. Then Marjorie and I joined forces with her graphical interests and my obsession with making music. We just decided we would put it out ourselves, and that she would design all the artwork. So, originally we just planned to release all of the projects I was working on, but then we realized we had lots of friends in the same boat, always creating with no outlet of getting it out.
The label has also pushed me to take my recording to the next stage, and work with mastering. Mastering can be rather expensive, and is often essential in making something sound complete. So, rather than digging a financial hole we couldn't fill, I took it upon myself for releases that weren't already mastered. Since then, I have mastered all but two of our releases (Spacebeach, Xander Harris), as well as some of our friends' releases at Complicated Dance Steps, most recently Ryan McGregor's Orange Confusion, as well as Sneaky Snake and Oedipa Maas.
What does the rest of your 2012 release schedule looks like?
French: So far, we have plans to release cassettes by Diamond Age, and a new one by Water Falls, mine and John Barker's dreamy ambient project. Sneaky Snake is making plans to come visit for a few days and record with me for their next one. My friend Nathan Johnson and I are also planning to release our long-awaited "ambient-metal" project, CHUDS. Not to mention, Eyes, Wings and Many Other Things has already amassed two more albums worth of material we'd like to get out there. However, making a record is expensive, so everything is released as we can afford them.
Marjorie Owens: It isn't a coincidence that we released a lot of music at tax-return time.
How do you choose what acts you release?
Owens: Being surrounded by musicians, you are constantly hearing their music or being introduced to new groups that they've played with or recently discovered. While the genres we put out range from electronic to psych to punk, the one thing I've noticed all our artists have in common is their constant desire to make music and be inspired. Most of the artists we work with have an unbelievable back catalog of music that may never see the light of day, but they don't mind. They're making the music for themselves and for fun, which attracts us because it keeps the sound fresh. While some people go home and turn on the television, these guys go home and break out their guitars and keyboards.
It's a similar story for L.A.-based Complicated Dance Steps, which we lovingly call our sister label. We kind of go back and forth with artists sometimes, and they operate on a similar level. T A S S E L S was a little different. We found him through the music he submitted to my blog. But in that same vein, he was sending songs left and right to my inbox, so I knew he operated in that same way.
Why go the vinyl and tape route over CD?
Owens: To be honest, we became attracted to tapes through their affordability at first. We realize most people listen to music digitally, so why not give them something to put on their shelves and then provide a free download? However, once we found the place that duplicates the tapes, we soon grew to fall in love with tapes once again. They have kept up-to-date with the latest tape-duplicating technology, which creates a great sound. The nostalgia that comes with opening the cassette and looking at the cover is pretty nice, as is designing the cassettes. It just feels right for a DIY label.
As for vinyl, I think everything sounds better on vinyl. I can't help it. I love getting up, looking through our shelves, picking out an album and placing the vinyl on the record player. So being able to pick up Napalm Beach, put the record on and listen to music that has filled our living room (otherwise known as "The Cat House") for months, it's pretty amazing. I'm lucky to know all the people who have contributed and let us release their music.