Sacred Bones is a young label, a label which through a choice few records has blossomed into a force to be reckoned with. 2009 sees a series of absolutely crucial blasts from the label, which will establish them as an outlet on par with underground post punk giants including Siltbreeze and Not Not Fun. Originally meant as a reissue label, SB soon took a sidestep and released new music by artists personally associated with label boss Caleb Braaten. This evolved as artists from varying abodes joined the roster. The current line up has seen incredible records and singles from Zola Jesus, Max Elliot, Blank Dogs and Gary War. Many of these outfits live in collective harmony, lending their talents to each others works and forging a movement of exciting referential pop-focussed music. 2009 finally sees the realisation of Braaten’s original plan to let loose some criminally abandoned sounds from the early 80’s including two post-punk acts, UK’s 13th Chime and Belgian rockers The Cultural Decay.
Current artists due for release this year include the amazing Factums with a second LP on SB; (the first followed the huge vinyl S/T album on Siltbreeze). The French Canadian guitar and electronics duo, The Pink Noise have a full-length LP due, as well as several 7” singles from artists including Naked on the Vague and Nice Face. And also much anticipated full-lengths from Zola Jesus and Gary War. Zola Jesus’ striking vocalist Nika has been gaining momentum through various EP/singles and live albums that have captured a religious following. She has been a staple figure on the Sacred Bones label, as well as having a 12” EP on the reliable Troubleman Unlimited.
I asked Caleb Braaten what artists he’d most like to work with and he replied with certain directness, “Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds”. This comment is a good guide to the aspirations of this label - an ear firmly grounded in the post-punk aesthetic of the 1980’s, accompanied with fervour for underground collectives and new voices. With 8 releases already this year, and a plethora of possibilities for the coming 9 months, SB’s momentum is quite extraordinary. The various formats, predominantly 7” and 12” have an urgency and antiquity that suit the referential sounds within. Braaten is a fan of the 30minute record (15min/side). This ephemeral pop consumption feels simply refreshing in the often strangled epics of current popular music. The brevity of enjoyment, and the fleeting climax is what gives the sound such sweet disposition.
I asked Braaten about his earliest memories of sound and he replied; “When I was 3 years old I lived in Bend, OR. On May 18th 1980, Mount St. Helens erupted. You could hear it from where we lived.” This explosive resonance seems to have etched itself firmly into the artistic aural appreciation of Braaten’s brain. The fuzzed, decayed memory of analogue formats versus crude and post-punk interpretations of modern rock form the epoch of selection. The various movements through underground post-punk has always simmered in the near distance, but with the current rise of labels, such as, Woodsist, Paw Tracks, Night People and Shdwply; the force is bubbling with an inevitable eruption.
Culturally we seem reliant of affirmation of our western postmodern existence, constantly seeking comfort in rose-tinted mirrors of recent history. Through an active interest in learning from the faults, as well as the achievements of peoples past, I often try to separate myself from this preposterous looped regression, even in music. Yet this is seemingly the outcome of any such ‘post’ genre, and one I would imagine to feel a slight revulsion to. However, I found myself drawn to the underground for a raw, unique and private view of a mass condition, unable to escape the need for youth and rebellious simulacrum. These avenues of unwanted desire led me to the synth tones of Wet Hair, the lo-fi R&B of Sic Alps and the wailing banshee rock desire of Zola Jesus. All these acts have carved their own formations from a long history of regurgitated sounds. Whether they dissolve with ephemeral fleeting, or party till decay – I am simply happy to lend my ears in helpless submission.
-- Peter Taylor (27 May, 2009)