Welcome To Music Town, May I Service You?
Welcome to part three of our ongoing series of favorite labels. Hope you enjoy.
For a label that has prided itself for almost fifteen years on giving such a consistent home to artists who eschew vocals for epic instrumental soundscapes, their moniker seems inappropriate. And yet, like founder Jeremy DeVine's original apartment-hopping lifestyle that inspired the name (starting in Baltimore, migrating to Portland, and then finally settling in Brooklyn), Temporary Residence does aptly describe the kind of meandering restlessness that many of the label's artists embody. And after six years of low-key releases (seven inches, split EPs, albeit with artists like Bonnie 'Prince' Billy and Mogwai in tow), they hit the big time with a then-completely unknown band from Austin, Texas that called themselves Explosions In The Sky. Friend Andrew Kenny (then of the adored slowcore band American Analog Set) delivered a tape of the band to DeVine with a note that said "this fucking destroys" and the rest is history.
The quartet's first two albums, 2001's Those Who Tell The Truth Shall Die Those Who Tell The Truth Shall Live Forever and 2003's The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place rightfully helped spark a post-rock frenzy around the world. A marriage between classical, prog, and pop had officially been made and possibly most notably, bands that couldn't sing didn't have to strain to meet indie or mainstream conventions anymore. Getting a gig to score a major motion picture that was subsequently turned into a critically acclaimed TV show ("Friday Night Lights") featuring their music sure didn't hurt either. This ultimately paved the way for Temporary Residence to later put out some equally (if not as well known) mesmerizing records chock full of devastating guitars and thundering percussion such as 2004's Walking Cloud And Deep Red Sky, Flag Fluttered And The Sun Shined by Japan's Mono and 2007's Inventions For The New Season by Georgia's Maserati.
But going back to the idea of meandering restlessness, this wasn't the only instrumental sound emanating from the Temporary Residence headquarters. Two San Francisco bands, The Drift and Tarentel, both led by Danny Grody, put out monumentally beautiful records and each had a distinctly different feel than the purveyors of post-rock could have ever imagined. 2002's Ephemera (Tarentel) spilled out canvases of experimental meditations that were too noisy to be called ambient and too serene to be called noise. Likewise, 2005's Noumena (The Drift) was a caressing lightning bolt to the jazz game, bubbling majestically with reverbed horns and bass lines that are as playful as they are chill. Speaking of, it would be remiss to discuss Temporary Residence's offerings to the world without mentioning the masterpiece that was 2006's Copia by Portland's Eluvium, aka Matthew Robert Cooper, which in like fashion keeps things solemnly quiet while also exhibiting a cherubic youthfulness that proves music can be mature and aesthetically blissful to the ears. With Temporary Residence's releases, "growing up" no longer means having to revert to acoustic singer-songwriters when you get out of college.
And now with the demise of the legendary Touch & Go record label, at least two from the infamous company's roster have seen the brilliance in Temporary Residence. Rob Crow of Pinback has already given releases through his solo name and his side project The Ladies (featuring Zach Hill of Hella) and now the twisty-turny pop outfit Pinback will be joining the ranks as well. Also, just announced, piano-heavy sadcore greats The Black Heart Procession will finally follow up 2006's The Spell with a Temporary Residence release later this year. And while vocals aren't necessarily a new addition to the lineup (check out solid releases from Caroline and Young Widows), I think we can both expect Temporary Residence to become even more of a household name throughout the years to come as well as sticking to its roots as a longtime proponent of musicians who prove their strengths through gorgeous melodies and atypical arrangements rather than how catchy their choruses are.
Frontman: DJ Hell
Notable artists: How much time you got?
Over the years, Gigolo has had more notable artists in its stable than any other independent record label I can think of. Part of that stems from the fact that Gigolo wasn't just the epicenter of the electroclash sensation, it was the electroclash sensation. (Note: don't even bother thinking about of the name Larry Tee -- that musical hack that should be purged from any historical note regarding the abovementioned genre of music. Trademarking the name electroclash? Ugh, the horror.) The dirty synth, the androgynous and overt sexual aesthetic and the strong fashion influence are all a product of mind of DJ Hell. These were all things that were eventually absorbed into the culture of electroclash.
DJ Hell, himself, has been around for a long time; he had the honor of getting a serious shout-out from Daft Punk in their song "Teachers". Yet Gigolo's huge success came in 2000 when the electroclash motor really revved up. Suddenly, Gigolo had everyone who was anyone in that "genre": Miss Kittin & The Hacker, Fischerspooner, Zombie Nation, Mount Sims and even P. Diddy have released tracks under the guise of Gigolo. It should be noted, however, that Gigolo wasn't making the right music at the right time, it had been releasing like tracks for years.
The amazing thing about Gigolo is that they are able to consistently release tracks that are fresh, yet when you hear them there is no doubt that they are from Gigolo. While some artists (Crossover) only release under the Gigolo label, others spread themselves wide but save their best stuff for Gigolo: singles like Tiefschwarz's Blow, Mount Sims' No Yellow Lines, DJ Hell's NY Muscle are some of the best in their discography (P. Diddy's releases on Gigolo are also the best in his discography, but that's like a sprint race between an average athletic person and a group of slightly retarded versions of famous people from yesteryear... with no legs). In my opinion Tiga's best work has been done under Gigolo.
The other thing that always impressed me about Gigolo was their ability to get there first. Fischerspooner's "Emerge" and Zombie Nation's "Kernkraft 400" were first released by Gigolo records; they were later picked up by more commercial and more mainstream record labels. Justice & Simian's We Are Your Friends was released by Gigolo two years before the song became a massive hit (though it was released first by the then-relatively unknown Ed Banger Records). Finally, Vitalic started his career with Gigolo by releasing the seminal Poney EP. In essence, Gigolo has a proven track record of releasing groundbreaking tracks first: DJ Hell and company don't follow trends, they set them.
However, I don't get the impression that Gigolo's raison d'etre is to be the guys who set the trends. DJ Hell has always done exactly what he wants to do, and nothing more. This is shown by the continuity between 1997's release of I'm a Disco Dancer (And a Sweet Romancer) and March 2009's Teufelswerk from DJ Hell. So while the more mainstream crowd cherry-picks what they think to be the cream of the Gigolo crop possibly years after they are first released, those who follow Gigolo more closely are rewarded with gem after gem of original, independent, cutting edge electronic music.
(DJ Hell - "Copa")
For a guided tour of Gigolo's discography, check out any of their American Gigolo compilations or, for a more recent (and free) edition, download The New Megachurch of Gigolo Megamix done by DJ Hell and Joel Alter (a.k.a,. Jor-El).
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