ACL 2012: The Year’s Best Labels

TRSIt seems only a year ago that I wrote an article on another site about the wonderful new label Time Released Sound.  Oh wait ~ it was a year ago!  In only a short span, TRS has risen to the very top.  In 2012, the label went from strength to strength, producing stellar releases by Fescal, Joe Frawley, Night Shift, Plinth, Stray Ghost, Strië and Wil Bolton, as well as a chocolate box series of CD3″s and the compilation album Trust, which was born of a mistake and turned out to be one of the label’s finest releases to date.  Add the packaging – personalized music boxes and punch cards, old library books, braille covers, toy spinning wheels and other hand-stressed artifacts – and one can see why the label’s limited editions have become collector’s items.

It all starts with one man: Colin Herrick.  A Closer Listen caught up with him to share the good news.

Congratulations, Colin, Time Released Sound has been voted A Closer Listen’s Label of the Year, and four of your releases have made it onto our year-end charts!

A profuse thanks to A Closer Listen for voting us their “label of the year”, …that’s extremely gratifying, and is a large token of validation for us, which really helps to strengthen the feeling that what we are doing actually makes sense…and is quite appreciated as well. Thanks too for all the other small hard working music labels like mine, that inspired me originally, and still do so now. What more can one ask for!

What TRS release are you proudest of, and why?

PlinthIt’s difficult to pick a favorite release…for the most part they all feel as though they are my current favorite, while I am working on them. There is both the music and the packaging to consider, as well…neither aspect of a particular release is more or less important, so on which do I base any opinion such as that? As an all around favorite of mine though, I would have to choose the Plinth, “Collected Machine Music” release, and it’s seriously time released and all consuming, over the top Victorian music box. In a way it is my most interactive release, involving some sort of audience participation through the playing of the music box…and that is a direction that I will be heading in down the road. The idea of a third party or parties involved in this madness, besides the musicians and I, ie. the buyer/supporter, seems to really set my mind to work..which is a good thing!

Do you listen to your releases while you put the packaging together?  If not, what do you listen to?

Shaula (1st Release!)After two years of working on these releases, it seems now that I listen to nothing but the two or three releases I am generally working on at the same time, while I am working on them. I listen to less and less “other” music while working on the releases now…for whatever reason. It generally seems too distracting. Obviously the particular music itself,  and the visions and feelings that it arouses in me while I listen and work, plays a large part in the design and concept of a  particular package. Really…I am particularly happy when I love a theme and concept!

What have you learned about the industry since you started?  Any lessons you’d like to share with those who are thinking of launching their own labels?

I haven’t learned nearly as much about the “industry”, in two years as I had hoped, or thought I might. And I’m afraid that there is a lot about the industry I don’t really want to know…or deal with as well. It’s a thin line between learning and ignoring! I suppose I look at my releases as works of art, as well as beautifully sounding music releases. And there is also a lot about the art “industry” that I could never really deal with as well, and still can’t be bothered to involve myself in. But the bottom line is that the reason I don’t really ether find the time to  learn more about the industry, or promote my releases as well as I should , or get my Etsy page together, or actually send a tweet (and to my evidently 100 followers I do apologize)….is that it just takes me too long to make these things….a vacation would be nice as well!

What releases can you tell us about for 2013?

Inner Art from Strie's Ohtul

Thanks for asking!  I’m already starting to get overextended into 2013 with the next releases. Which seems easy to do due to all the fine music I’ve been hearing. But coming in just a week or so is the last release of 2012, a 10″ 45rpm lathe cut record from Fabio Orsi, entitled “High On Shards”. Two long, beautifully grandiose and melancholic drone excursions that will move you and lift you up! Each in the edition of 70 copies of this will come in a hand altered, stenciled or collaged, 60 year old vintage 10″ picture sleeve. High on flat black autobody primer is more like it! This should be available in mid December.

The first release of 2013, in early January, will be a full length from the wondrously evocative soundscaper Phil Tomsett…aka The Inventors Of Aircraft, entitled “When The Light Stops”. This is a melodic and melancholy, audio homage to the drastic decline of the railway systems of the UK, and the consequently many abandoned railway stations all about the country….each with it’s unheard history and tale to tell. Each copy of this atmospheric beauty will come in a stiff, folded, collaged and handworked  sleeve made in part from an ornate 100 year old stock certificate from the always punctual Time Released Sound Railways. Each of these will contain vintage gravure views from out the passing trains, original train signal diagrams and directions, with a piece of railway track to tie it all together. It also involves an original antique train postcard that will be mailed to each buyer separately, to become part of the package later. And each will have a little red light bulb in it as well…signaling you to stop looking… and listen!

At risk of boring you good folks, I’ll leave it at January. Suffice to say, there is more insanity in the making….including an antique bird mobile made from the innards of a grand piano, in it’s strange nest….and consequently, even less may be learned about the industry in the coming year, then in the last! But hopefully promotion and distribution will improve!

Has your overall experience with Trust (from beginning to end) made you a more trusting person, or less?

TrustI love the TRUST release….I was so exceedingly pleased when I finally heard this compilation, about the same time everyone else did. Huge thanks again to all parties involved…for really coming up with something special, in every case. And in a strange way, this release as it stands now is also partly the release that it was to originally be. And the original artist involved is also a part of TRUST, the concept…for without all the original problematic and fitful beginnings, there would not have been this fantastic an ending. I prefer to wax poetic in cases such as this…and to thank everyone, that was ultimately involved! And the experience that was TRS023 has not left me less trustful…just more careful and aware!

How does the concept of time related to the label, and why did you choose a clock as the logo?

The first and foremost reason I chose the clock is that it is round! Like a CD and record…and I therefore thought that it’s inherent roundness it lent itself perfectly to an overall design element. But I actually chose the clock without hands…which I personally find more interesting. For when the hands on a clock are removed, what has gone missing is more than the hands, it is time itself. For a clock without it’s hands is of no more use as a timekeeper. And I am most interested in the sounds made when the time is released….both the time of day, which like everyone I spend too much time worrying about, and the “time” of the music itself. We are a beatless label, after all!  

Thanks again to the fine folks at, for their thoughtful nomination. And thanks also,and most importantly to all those that listen to TRS, and support our endeavors…to keep the art, beauty and physicality of the musical package alive! Thanks too for caring enough to read this! 

Thanks Colin ~ best of luck to you and the label in the new year!

Time Released Sound website

The Next Five
The following labels, presented in alphabetical order, are also recognized for their outstanding efforts this year.

DenovaliDenovali stepped up in a big way this year, with an expanded roster representing a huge expansion of genre and sound.  The label placed four releases on our year-end charts this year in three different categories, but they released music that could have landed in every category except field recording.  (We expect that may happen soon!)  In addition to releasing a line of unrelenting quality, the label also went into back catalogs to present a number of worthy re-releases, many of which were in need of greater distribution.  A late season surge saw releases from Blueneck, Lento, Talvihorros, Poppy Ackroyd and The Alvaret Ensemble, among others; next up will be releases from Field Rotation and Saffronkeira.

Editions MEGO
Editions MEGOEditions MEGO seemed to corner the electronic market in 2012, with a steady stream of releases that threatened to overwhelm us by sheer force of numbers.  Fortunately these releases were of high quality, and many of them ended up on our year-end list.  To name 2012’s releases would be exhaustive, but to provide a starting point, we reviewed Raglani, Robert Hampson, BJ Nilsen & Stilluppsteypa, Kassel Jaeger, Mark Fell, Nick Edwards and more.  And those are just the ones we liked the best.  With so many releases to choose from, it’s stunning to realize that the label doesn’t even seem to take a year-end break; new releases from Hecker and Jessika Kenney & Eyvind Kang are currently vying for attention.  We don’t know how they do it; we’re just glad they do.

Flaming Pines
Flaming PinesKate Carr’s young label may have made a name for itself with the Rivers Home series, but this year’s follow-up, Birds of a Feather, put it over the top.  The first four entries are already here, with eight more to come, guaranteeing a strong 2013.  But Flaming Pines did more than produce CD3″s in 2012; the label also released strong entries from Seth Chrisman, Darren Harper & Jared Smyth, Michael Terran, and Carr herself (both solo and with Gail Priest).  This was the label’s most active year yet, and the hard work paid off.  The Field Recording and Soundscape genre has a new champion in Carr, as do the rivers and birds.

Sonic Pieces
Sonic PiecesSometimes all it takes to be recognized is to continue doing a good thing well, and that’s exactly what Monique Recknagel’s stellar label continued to do in 2012.  A steady stream of worthwhile releases – Dictaphone, Moon Ate the Dark, Insa Donja Kai – was augmented by new entries in the Seven Pieces 7″ series.  As always, every release was of high quality.  Sonic Pieces won’t run out of colors anytime soon; next up is F.S. Blumm & Nils Frahm’s Music for wobbling ~ Music versus gravity, slated for February 2013.  The Pan Tone choice this season:  light aqua!

12kNow distinct from Line, Taylor Deupree’s 12k label released a select string of quality albums in 2012.  Steve Peters + Steve Roden, Gareth Dickson, Kane Ikin, Stephan Mathieu and Deupree himself produced works of great tenderness and subtle beauty.  But it was Simon Scott’s Below Sea Level that impressed most of all.  Keen attention to packaging – many albums are available in special boxed editions – helped this Hudson Valley favorite to make our chart.  Sneaking out at year’s end:  the self-titled album from Between, a collaborative effort teaming Scott and Deupree with Marcus Fischer, Corey Fuller and Iluha (12/12/12).

Richard Allen


  1. Pingback: The Inventors Of Aircraft ~ Where The Light Stops « a closer listen

  2. Pingback: ACL 2014: The Year’s Best Labels | a closer listen

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