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Friday, February 23, 2018

Feature Friday: Bearsuit Records

Today is the first of our semi-regular Feature Fridays, where we will will focus on independent record labels and PR firms, that bring the best of emerging music to FZB's readers.  They'll tell us about their business, artists and the challenges of recording and delivering emerging music artists in the ever changing music industry landscape of streaming and illegal downloading . This first Feature Friday we bring you the thoughts and story of Scottish indie Bearsuit Records. We regularly feature their artists here on FZB and the label never fails to serve up some of the most imaginative emerging artists in the world today.

FZB: How did Bearsuit get started?
BR: Bearsuit Records was established in Edinburgh in 2006 – with the initial aim of promoting local artists working loosely in the area of left-field electonica. Artists that we thought did not get enough exposure in the media or in mainstream local or national/international radio. This idea developed when we started looking at the wealth of unsigned and unrepresented talent worldwide we found on the likes of Myspace...

FZB: Where do you find your artists?

BR: Artists are discovered from all kinds of sources – from word of mouth to chance discoveries on sites like Soundcloud and Bandcamp. There is no one dominant style or genre Bearsuit adhere to. If it sounds unusual, stimulating, challenging, entertaining and/or ridiculous – or all of the of the above  - then it may possibly fit the Bearsuit criteria...

FZB: Do you record the artists yourselves, or license finished albums and EPs from them?

BR: We don't record the artist's material insitu at Bearsuit, but we do master all material and then go on to promote the work nationally and internationally. Each artist receives individual, specific contracts drawn out according to their specifications, desires and preferences...

FZB: What are the main challenges you fave as an emerging music label?
BR: As of challenges in today's market for labels – there's always been challenges in trying to make people part with their money. The digital age has helped the small business in some respects (reducing costs etc.) – but has also,  thanks to some “generous” (and successful) bands/artists – has led some to believe that music is or should be free... A problem the  age is still coming to terms with  - why pay for something you can't physically hold in your hand... and is sitting there on an illegal site waiting to be downloaded?

Let's take a look at five Bearsuit artists:

Ippu Mitsui – Is a Japanese musician/producer from Tokyo who works loosely in an electronic dance-oriented field. His highly charged breakbeat sounds are at once experimental and accessible. His most recent release for Bearsuit being the “L & R” album of 2017. Aural Aggravation Zine said : “this is an album that pushes into myriad electronic territories. Throughout, Mitsui keeps one eye on groove and the other on confounding expectations.” 

Harold Nono – Is Bearsuit's longest standing musician/artist on their roster - from their first release of his, “To The River Lounge” in 2006 to his most recent, “Ideeit” in 2016. His work mixes abstract experimentation with a playful and melodic sensibility, often combining acoustic based instruments with more electronic elements. Aural Aggravation said of the “Ideeit” : “Bearsuit mainstay Harold Nono returns – and once again, he’s come up trumps. Nono’s latest effort is as inventive as ever. An intriguing album that is – difficult to place, but a lot easier to dig.” He's currently working on a new solo album as yet untitled.

Swamp Sounds – Is the work of electronic/experimental musician, Yuuya Kuno, an artist based in Nagoya, Japan. He also records as House Of Tapes for the Japanese label, Tanukineiri Records. Swamp Sounds constructs a kind of fast and furious apocalyptic, psychedelic electronica. The Sunday Expeince Zine said of his split album with Uncle Pops & The Dumbloods : “a kind of skittering post-apocalyptic technoid sore thumb with Wagon Christ workings powered by a frantically animated Aphex industry. An impishly wiring cornucopia of fracturing nanobot sound engineering.”

Bunny & The Invalid Singers - Is the work of Edinburgh based solo musician, Alex Nielsen. Bunny was once member of bands, Idiot Half Brother and Scout-Master General and is current member of  AWSTS. Although Bunny's work has more of an indie pop edge than most of his label mates there are still many experimental elements within his work which may, sometimes, catch the listener off guard. He has a new album near completion which will be out on Bearsuit this year. Chain D.L.K Zine said of his 2015 album : “References to [artists] such as Robert Wyatt, Piero Umiliani, Ennio Morricone, Galaxie 500 and even The Carpenters pop out of the release like mushrooms.”

Hayato Takeuchi  - Is a Tokyo based musician who has previously recorded as Bubbly Folks. His debut album as Hayato Takeuchi titled, “L.S.F” was released on the Cafe O Label in 2013. Hayato employs a mixture of dance, minimalism and pop in his work and is not adverse to playing the guitar  - which he does, it has to be said, extremely well. He released “EP” on Bearsuit in September last year to favourable reviews. Unwashed Territories Zine said of “EP” : “blending delightful pop melodies with departures into the bizarre over five tracks of some of the most engaging music you'll hear this year. It's great!”

Besides their artists being featured regularly here on FZB, Bearsuit enjoys a wide acceptance by the indie music press. here are some things that have been written about them and their artists:

If you're not familiar with the label, get familiar with it! If you're into esoteric electronica everything they're putting out seems to be really, really cool. It's a cool label! Bearsuit Records – a brilliant, independent label based in Edinburgh. I highly recommend them!
[Mathew Baty – Amazing Radio, Richard Dawson, Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs]

A label whose work in the experimental, electronica and pop music scene has helped to develop it's own distinctive sounds that has gained much attention and praise - making this group of artists and their label owner a cornerstone in their genres. On tonights “Labels” we celebrate 10 years of Bearsuit Records. An incredible experimental label.
[Tom Byrne - “Labels”, Radio RKC]

Leaning towards electronica and mostly instrumental Рbut it's diverse enough for there to be something for everyone, if you scurry away from the clich̩. The fantastic stable that is Edinburgh based, Bearsuit Records. Bearsuit Records Рsuch amazing artists, such amazing sounds. The wonky, the weird, the wired, the wayward! Go invest in these artists futures! Go buy!

[Craig Adams – New Weird Planet Radio Show, Sine FM]

The fearlessly inventive and always exciting Bearsuit label returns with a collection of experimental electronic works [V/A : "Run Over By An Elevator"] spotlighting the best and brightest of the (predominantly) Scottish and Japanese electronics scene.

Bearsuit Records, a label that scurries away from cliché and stereotypes like silverfish from sunshine. [Bunny & The Electric Horsemen - "Fall Apart In My Backyard"] Like the other albums I have heard on this label (Harold Nono/AWSTS) this is f****** brilliant. Baffling, surreal and totally idiosyncratic...
[Sitting Now]
The skewed brilliance of Bearsuit Records [have] recently brought us the likes of Bunny and the Electric Horsemen, Jimmy Rosso and Haq, among a whole load of other creative and brilliant artists.
[Amazing Radio]
The label that is the beginning and end in eclectic electronica, Bearsuit Records.
[Phil Vickery - “In-Tune”]
Purveyors of the weird, the wired, the wayward and quite frankly wonky, this collective prides itself on scouring the global airwaves for strange sonic communications and offering safe haven to those aural alchemists operating on the distant outer post markers of pops cosmos.
[God Is In The TV]
The quality is altogether excellent, reflecting the great skills of the people involved... It is great to notice there are fresh labels who can compete in quality with well-known labels such as Ninja Tune or Warp Records.
[Adornments Of The King Magazine]
The amazingly brilliant Bearsuit Records - everything they release is either totally fantastic or ass-shakingly wonderful - depending on your choice of improvised adjective...
[Behind Closed Doors]
Scottish indie company who specialise in experimental music from all over the world …that there are many trans-national collaborations is another asset of a small yet fine indie label that does its best to present original music to the world. Experimentalists will have a field day!
Having for my sins not heard of Bearsuit Records before, I can safely say they’re a jolly good record label. This sampler [V/A : Captain Woof Woofs Guitar] showcases the real creativity of what they have to offer, and experimental it most certainly is.
It’s another winner from Bearsuit Records who seem to have a never-ending supply of wayward geniuses on their roster.
[Leonards’ Lair]

Thursday, February 22, 2018

ShapeShiftingAliens: ShapeShiftingAliens

Swedish band ShapeShiftingAliens have released a new S/T album. The duo of Niklas Rundquist and J.P. Cleve make stylish synth pop anthems with the flair of David Bowie, Trent Rezner and Brian Eno. The twelve tracks weave and swirl through forests of reverb, with towering lyrical themes, terse music minimalism and an inert power that compels the album forward. This is prog rock at its finest. Watch the video for album track Just A Boy, then stream and buy ShapeShiftingAliens at the link below.

ShapeShiftingAliens: Just A Boy from The Sublunar Society on Vimeo.

The Cavemen: The Cavemen

UK indie label Dirty Water Records is known for delivering savage punk bands and one of the best is Auckland's The Cavemen. The label has reissued the bands S/T debut album in a variety of formats, including vinyl. The fifteen tracks are short, spiteful, raw, brutal and perfect. Punk at its core has always been pure raw energy and The Cavemen deliver at a primal level. Hardcore to remind us of society as a scum bag. Stream and buy The Cavemen at the link below.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Digster Wednesday Playlists

This week's Digster Wednesday Playlists invites you to time travel back in time with Digster's Decades Playlists. Celebrate 50 years since the summer of love with the 60's playlist, over 3 hours of the trippiest music from when psychedelics ruled and tie dye was a fashion statement. There's the Hella Good New Millenia Hits playlist for those who love the 00s, with 56 songs by the artists that shaped the early years of the 21st Century. Try the new Wave Hits of the 80s, almost 4 hours of songs that showed us the way with new synthy sounds and reverby guitars. Or, you can get down with the Motown playlist, 74 hits from the artists that defined an era. Listen to these and all of the other Decades playlists at the link below.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Spice Breather: Crawling Planetary Being

Crawling Planetary Being is the new album from Spice Breather, aka artist producer Matthew Schotte. The 5 tracks, covering almost 50 minutes of music, is a post-metal, post-otherworldly collage of industrial synth pads, noise woven fabric, sinister ambiance and at times, almost extreme rave, while at other times dark foreboding and sensual. The soundscapes are dissonant, yet compelling. Metal redefined as space jams. Stream and buy Crawling Planetary Being at the link below.

Bed Scene: Bed Scene

Miami based Bed Scene have released their S/T debut EP. The project of composer/producer Nicolas Aponte, the six tracks are reverby pop, with a twangy sheen and an indie rock sensibility. The songs are dapper gems, with a bit of The Jam's mod and a bit of Weezer's cliche, blended together to deliver a debut that will turn heads. Sterling production, tight arrangements and strong performances abound on this must have EP. Watch the video for EP track Day In A dream and then stream and buy Bed Scene at the link below.

Monday, February 19, 2018

We Are Temporary: Embers

Embers is the sophomore full length album from Brooklyn based FZB favorite We Are Temporary, aka artist/producer Mark V. Roberts. It seems fitting for there to be a mountain on the cover of this album, as with Embers, Roberts has reached a pinnacle of a career arc that has seen him climb his own inner mountain, from the head of former label Stars and Letters Records, to an emerging artist crafting his own sound, to now having delivered an album that is the culmination of all that has gone before. The eleven tracks are pristine works of synthpop, full of emotional depth, personal demons, virtuoso synth lines, imaginative phrasing and vocal shading, and an authentic artistic honesty rarely achieved by any artist.  The album has both a dark feel and a hopeful vibe. It is work of sublime beauty, lyrical trepidation  and transcendent finality. This album is an absolute must have. Stream and buy Embers at the link below.

The Dround Hounds: Broken Hearts & Drunken Feet

Broken Hearts & Drunken Feet is the sophomore release and debut full length from Atlanta based husband and wife duo The Dround Hounds. The ten tracks deliver straight up, no pretense rock and roll. Think Black Keys during their early touring years or Japandroids without the over produced indie chic. This is a duo that delivers with a bit of southern charm and a lot of cajones. What you get is the rock, the whole rock and nothing but the rock, with a sound that is crisp and compelling. Stream and buy Broken Hearts & Drunken Feet at the link below.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Date Month Year: March

March is the latest in a long line of singles from New Zealand band Date Month Year. The track features tight harmonies in a catchy pop assemblage of stylish indie rock. With a stunning vocal lead and strong guitar drive, this is a single that will keep your head in the game and leave you wanting a proper album release to satiate your desires. Stream and buy March at the link below.

Mary and The Ram: The Cross

UK duo Mary and The Ram, aka Kiran Tanna and Dom Smith, have released their debut single The Cross b/w The Dream. The two tracks are produced by the legendary John Fryer (NIN, Depeche Mode), and have a dark sinister feel, where one expects to encounter devilish images in a sex drenched haze of abandon. Having an industrial sheen and ample amounts of originality, the songs play out as theatrical poems across the cerebral senses. Heavy, commanding and intense, these tracks are a must have. Stream and buy The Cross at the link below.