Label spotlight: Sound & Fury
I first met Adam Mills, the dude behind Sound & Fury down in Australia, many moons ago before it ever was a label and was a brick & mortar shop specializing in the weirdest of the weird. He was one of a handful of people down with a store that tried to spread the gospel on the kind of stuff we’ve been involved in here at FD for years. Eventually, as most do these days, the shop was unable to stay open but luckily Mills turned his attention to the Sound & Fury label. He’s got a bunch of killer CDRs and is branching into vinyl and CDs now as well. With Musicyourmindwillloveyou giving up the ghost (though back in a new form), S&F is keeping Australia’s weirdos baked in the sun.
sound&fury was a record store I ran between 2004 and 2006. We used to host semi-regular instores there, inviting local and touring bands to play on a weekend afternoon. Largely due to my own personal penchant for archiving everything, I started recording these shows. After a little while, it became apparent that keeping these recordings to myself was pointless and kind of selfish, so after a few talks with some of the bands, the idea to release them on CD-R was hatched.
Due to a combination of lofty (read: unachievable) goals and the rapidly shifting landscape of musical retail, the store crashed and burned in spectacular fashion mid-2006. But I managed to drag the label from the flaming wreckage, shifting the focus from live recordings to studio works. Against all the odds, the label has not only survived but – if I may be so bold as to put it this way – flourished.
The name is a reference to two of my favourite Williams – Shakespeare and Faulkner. The original quote, which comes from Macbeth, is “Life… [i]s a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” Faulkner appropriated it for his stunning American Gothic novel The Sound and the Fury. Ever since reading that book, the name has been rattling around inside my head as something I’d like to one day borrow. So when the store was being planned, sound&fury was my first pick.
It might sound kinda cheesy, but the sheer volume of awesome music I hear on a regular basis keeps me inspired. I’ve actually closed the label down on a number of occasions, citing physical, emotional or financial exhaustion (or some combination of all three). But inevitably I’m drawn back to it, usually having heard something mindblowing that makes me exclaim “I must work with these guys!” I think at this point the label is such an indelible part of my life that I don’t know of any other way to be.
The financial side of it. I don’t so this for money – nobody who runs a label worth anything does, do they? – but records don’t press themselves. For the past four years, sound&fury has functioned as a very expensive hobby. Which is fine – I wouldn’t do this if I didn’t get enormous satisfaction from every stage of the process – but it means that I have a lot of ideas and plans that never come to fruition because I simply can’t afford them. Short of changing tack and chasing blindly after the almighty dollar, I don’t see an easy way around this problem. Money makes the world go round, right?
Unquestionably, the artist I’m been dying to work with is Grouper. There’s nothing I can say about Liz’s music that won’t come across as exceptionally hyperbolic – I’ve been a huge fan for years, and will gush at just about any given opportunity. Seeing her perform in Sydney earlier this year was a transformative experience. There’s nobody doing what Liz does; and I’ll guarantee that the inevitable wave of imitators that will follow her increased exposure (she’s all over Pitchfork these days – it’s fucking weird) won’t even come close.
As of right now, sound&fury isn’t actively seeking demo submissions. The release schedule is pretty much full for the next twelve to eighteen months, and like I mentioned before, there’s only so much we can afford to do. That said, though, as a massive consumer of music I’m always keen to hear new stuff, and if someone has something they think I might dig, then I’d encourage them to get in touch.
Beyond the label’s next batch of new releases (CD-Rs from Ajilvsga and Brian Grainger, and the debut CD from The Ghost of 29 Megacycles), the focus for the immediate future will be wrapping up the Passeridae subscription series. It got kind of waylaid over the course of the past year, so only two volumes have thus far surfaced. So the plan is to get the final ten records out as soon as possible, as well as working on a few surprise bonuses as a special “thank you / we’re sorry” to all those patient subscribers who’ve waited too long already for their records. sound&fury has also spawned a sister label called Foul is Fair, which is dedicated to the grim world of black metal. The first planned release is a 7” by Bleakwood, followed by a split CD-R of black ambience from Mistosorrow and Ein Skopudhr Galdra.
Probably Fauna’s “Rain.” More ritual than album, its single hour-long track effortlessly traverses territory as diverse as ashen anti-folk, desolate ambience and frostbitten black metal. Fauna are part of the current crop of what’s being touted as “Cascadian black metal”, alongside the likes of Wolves in the Throne Room, Leech and Skagos. Also worth investigating are Fauna’s myriad of associated projects, from Fearthainne and Alethes to Echtra and Threnos.
Given the tumultuous path the label has trod over the past five years or so, I’m the last person that should be handing out advice. What I will say is this: lead with your heart. Passion won’t pay the bills, but doing what you want to do for no other reason than because you want to will help you sleep at night.
-- Brad Rose (4 November, 2009)