Insights into music/vinyl, listening and buying behavior - ASIP reader survey

Thank you to everyone who completed our reader survey recently. We put it out there to help us get feedback, in order to help us improve the site, label and iPhone app whilst also taking a moment to hear from you. It was also fun to get some general insight into music listening and buying behavior along the way. Here's some selected results we discovered, that we thought you might enjoy.

Over 160 people answered the survey, so while not representative of everyone in the world, it provides a good overview of everyone here reading and listening to ASIP.

Thanks again to everyone who took the time. If you found this useful or interesting, let us know in the comments below and we'll look to do another soon to see how things might have changed in a year or so!

 
Despite our love for it here at ASIP, vinyl isn’t your your primary way to listen… but hey, we think listening to vinyl is always a special, cherished (and often rare) moment…

 
Bandcamp rules (!) when your wallet comes out, and rightly so (out of all these platforms, it undoubtedly gives more back to the artists and labels)

 
It’s pretty great to see you’re still a bunch of crate diggers at heart...

 
A good chunk of you are keeping a steady 2-5 per month cadence when it comes to buying vinyl (maybe we need to release more!?)

 
I had a hunch this would be the case... That’s a whole lot of vinyl patiently awaiting the next spin, gathering dust!

 
Digital is evidently the convenience, and vinyl is all about the experience.

 
Very happy to see some big collections! (Let’s do this again next year and see if we’ve managed to boost that number!)

 
Album art is an important factor when buying vinyl records (thankfully, given how much time we put into ours!)

 
The majority of you still see the digital equivalent a valuable inclusion with any vinyl purchase. (All you other labels better be listening!)

 
But colored vinyl or special edition isn’t always so hot…

 
I blame the USPS postage costs for this one, but you’re happy to buy elsewhere other than direct from ASIP….

 
We are however hitting the sweet-spot when it comes to the pricing of a double LP

 
And lastly, if (a big if) we were to repress a specific sold-out ASIP vinyl release, it looks like our very first, Uncharted Places is top of the want list.
 
 

isolatedmix 69 - Bersarin Quartett

 

One of the joys of being nearly 70 mixes into the isolatedmix series, is reflecting upon the many styles of mixes that artists have contributed. Straight-up playlist style curations, conceptual approaches, perfectly key-matched transitions, DJ mixes, genre or style showcases, or in the following instance, extensive, thoughtful journeys into a wide spectrum of influences.

Thomas Bücker aka Bersarin Quartett is likely a recognizable name to anyone who has dipped their toe into the modern classical world. Releasing primarily on the impeccable Denovali Records, his output has been modest, and yet extremely well respected under the Bersarin Quartett name, with many years of production prior under different names such as Jean Michel (if you choose to dig deeper).

His most infamous piece to date however, is undoubtedly his self-titled album released on German label, Lidar. Drawing comparisons with pretty much every beloved modern, neo, classical and ambient producer of our age in some shape or form with any review written so far, it's hard not to enjoy Thomas' approach. From downtempo, and jazz infused constructions, to experimental drone infused pieces, cinematic scores, and more intelligent electronic programming, Thomas has expressed himself through every potential connotation of ambient music across his modest catalog over the past few years. 

Originally aired earlier this year on Barfly Radio, Thomas' mix was deserved of another platform given its carefully considered track listing, slowly shifting sections and unearthing of many beautiful pieces. I had to bring it to a wider audience. Clocking in at 2-hours long, this is one of those life-affirming mixes - the kind of mix you remember exactly what you was doing when you first heard it, and the kind of journey any potential mix-curator longs to put together. 

We spoke as Thomas prepared for two upcoming festival dates (June 2nd, Bielefeld, Germany, and July 6th, Tolmin, Sajeta Festival, Slovenia) and he had this short and sweet intro to the mix:

"Hi, I´m Thomas from the Bersarin Quartett, and I´m glad to share with you a new mixtape at this beautiful strangely isolated place. This mix takes 2 hours and it contains some of my favorite film scores and other cinematic tracks I like a lot at the moment. So turn off the lights, take a deep breath and enjoy the ride ... "

Download

Tracklist

00:00:00 : Rupert Gregson-Williams -- Duck Shoot
00:03:56 : Brambles -- Pink and Golden Billows
00:06:15 : Donato Dozzy -- Vaporware 1
00:06:32 : Alexandre Desplat -- Girl With A Pearl Earring
00:08:39 : Deepchord presents Echospace -- Untitled 12
00:09:17 : Hans Zimmer & James Newton Howard -- A Little Push
00:11:24 : Andrea Belfi -- Roteano
00:18:54 : Cliff Martinez -- Death Shall Have No Dominion
00:19:48 : James Ginzburg & Yair Elizar Glotman -- Nimbes (Eric Holm's 1050 mix)
00:20:21 : Jóhann Jóhannsson -- Arrival
00:22:35 : Mica Levi -- Lipstick to Void
00:24:39 : Neel -- Storm in Stickney
00:27:18 : Akkord -- Greyscale
00:30:22 : Ancestral Voices -- Night of Visions [Snippet]
00:31:46 : Asche & Spencer -- Opening Title
00:34:12 : Deepchord presents Echospace -- Untitled 6
00:35:26 : New Rome -- Venus
00:38:02 : Rupert Gregson-Williams -- Dressing Down
00:40:51 : Rachel's -- A French Galleasse
00:46:52 : Lawrence English -- Forgiving Noir
00:49:30 : Mychael Danna -- The First Time
00:49:54 : Tropic of Cancer -- Stop Suffering
00:53:52 : Curter Burwell -- Canada
00:55:33 : Bohren & der Club of Gore -- Mitleid Lady
01:01:12 : Bersarin Quartett -- Die Nächte sind erfüllt von Maskenfesten
01:05:55 : Om Unit -- Le Singe
01:10:06 : Deepchord presents Echospace -- Untitled 5
01:12:05 : Voices from The Lake -- Drop 1
01:14:28 : Rachel Grimes -- The Herald
01:18:40 : Tim Hecker -- Radiance
01:20:43 : Antonio Sanchez -- Claustrophobia
01:21:50 : Brambles -- In the Androgynous Dark
01:26:05 : Duane Pitre -- Bridges CupAetherCrane
01:29:47 : Alexei Aigui -- Fall Of The Empire (prologue)
01:31:37 : Pedro Bronfman -- No Amnesty
01:33:08 : Jóhann Jóhannsson -- Hydraulic Lift
01:35:40 : James Newton Howard -- Hole In Shoe
01:37:31 : Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross -- What Have We Done to Each Other
01:39:37 : Shifted -- Untitled - B1
01:41:42 : Radian -- Codes and Sounds
01:44:09 : Asche & Spencer -- You're Real
01:46:10 : Elizabethan Collar -- 06
01:47:34 : Faures -- Orogenic Uplift
01:50:29 : Sophie Hutchings -- Half Hidden
01:52:55 : Tomáš Dvořák -- By The Wall
01:57:12 : Talk Talk -- New Grass
02:00:00 : End

Bersarin Quartett | Web | Facebook | Bandcamp

 

The Thesis Project: a lesson in craft

 

We're big fans of craft when it comes to physical releases. We've gone so far as creating custom wooden CD and vinyl cases for previous releases here at ASIP, and often spend more time discussing artwork than the actual music when it comes to each release. So to see Gregory Euclide pushing forward a truly custom take on physical vinyl releases, we wanted to find out more, especially given the music at hand. 

The Thesis Project was triggered by a deep desire to bring something valuable back into a world of fast consumption, as Gregory began during a recent twitter conversation: "music has always been an object and not just files on a device. I wanted to make music physical, unique and precious again". As an artist behind some well known releases from Erased Tapes and Lubomyr Melnyk, this was Gregory's chance to combine his passion for art and music: "I see the world in musical terms... everything has a sound. Colors, movements... every sound has an action... and that is where I worked for a long time. I was making music with my pencils and brushes. I think it is pretty common for artists to have this connection. I tried to play music when I was in high school and college. I'm not mathematically gifted. I really struggle with it. So, my college music theory class was really hard for me. I think I thought it was out of the picture for me... to be involved in music in any other capacity than a consumer. I did a few album covers for musicians I really respected, but I still felt outside of it all.

When I think about my practice as an artist, I often try to mirror that of the music world. I like how musicians can have different projects, with different names. Artists always seem to be... just them, their name and they have to be consistent. Basically, my move to music through Thesis Project was a move away from the traditional idea of being an artist".

As with all deep desires and ambitions, it took a couple of real-life moments to push Gregory to begin the Thesis Project. Whilst attending a Vic Chestnutt concert, Gregory started wondering how much it would cost to commission a song from such an artist, after which he received a grant from the McKnight Foundation for his artwork, and decided to take his work into a new direction:

"I decided I would start asking musicians that I know if they would like to work on a project. When I am listening to certain musicians I think 'this would be really cool with this or that.' I started thinking about the idea of collaboration as a way to push something forward".

The Thesis Project was born, with the premise to combine two artists who have never worked together before and create a beautifully packaged, and custom release, with each sleeve laser-cut and etched by Gregory himself. Whilst this may seem like a tall ambition, given each piece would be custom and limited to 300 pieces, Gregory knew this was the only way he would be able to fulfill his burning ambition for the project.

"I don't really like the idea of me being the only visual artist for the project. One goal of the project was to try and compensate the artists well. Pay them up front and then give whatever extra is left from sales. This seems to be a successful model as musicians I have spoken with like the arrangement. In order for me to do that I have to do much of the artwork. I make each jacket and sleeve from scratch as well as make each of the unique covers. If I had to pay another artist to do that it would not be possible. So, for now, I'm doing it. I hope people don't get sick of it or think it is an ego thing".

I asked Gregory why he feels each piece needs to be unique, after all, from my experience, a premium, differentiated and highly-considered piece of artwork is enough to make something much more valuable in today's world. But his desire to create something individual stemmed from a desire to go against today's mainstream approach to music. It's his way of giving back to the artists, and to the listener, and leaving something truly unique in the world. 

"Handmade is not a big deal to me in general. If something can be made better with a machine... I think, why not use that. When it comes to music it is different. Much of the project's concept comes as a reaction to my own life. I was eating up albums, buying them online, listening to them, buying more... downloading and downloading. I didn't even know what I had and what I didn't have. I wanted it everywhere. I wanted it free or cheep. It was gross. I wanted to pay attention again. To know the names of songs, to stop and listen, not just have it on as I was doing things. So, I decided it was going to be vinyl only. No streaming. No downloading. No on the go. The process of making the album covers takes over 2 hours a piece. I cut the paper, run the sleeve through the laser cutter, put a drawing on the sleeve, spray a stencil over the drawing, fold and glue the sleeve. I cut the paper, run the jacket through the laser cutter, put a unique painting on the cover, fold and glue the jacket. It is hard work. It is my way to make something that is the opposite of Spotify. It is my payment to the artists. To give them something unique. It is my payment to the music. Music can be turned into 10100001100010110101 and duplicated and deleted and downloaded again and so on. But I wanted to make something that people are careful with. I don't want it to be goofy or over the top. Just hand made because I care".

A wide spectrum of ambient, experimental and alternative stars have been a part of the project so far. Taylor Deupree and Sean Carey (of Bon Iver) graced the Thesis Project's first release, with Loscil & Seabuckthorn following, Sonic Pieces' Takeshi Nishimoto & City Centre Offices' Roger Döring (Dictaphone), Dustin O´Halloran* & Benoît Pioulard, gracing the catalog so far. As if that wasn't enough, the project has also announced collaborations between some ASIP favorites (and artists) including Rafael Anton Irisarri & Julianna Barwick, and Michael Price (Erased Tapes) & Christoph Berg and (it just keeps going), Eluvium & Marcus Fischer. If that list of artist collaborations isn't enough to persuade you of the project's ambition and curatorial skills, then I don't know what is. 

Gregory's curatorial process is based loosely on who he may see as an interesting fit, but mainly because he sees something greater coming from the two parts. As Gregory describes, "I ask these people to work together because I think it is going to be meaningful... to them, to us. When I hear it, it is like... "ok, I was right" Taylor and Sean's work - the first one I did... was over the top. It was so satisfying. They liked it. I liked it. It was a win win. Nothing beats that feeling". 

It's undoubtedly a challenge, defying the norms and akin to the format and approach, bringing something new to an otherwise fast-paced, ephemeral world, but these pairings aren't taken lightly and it takes Gregory a while to think of who would work well together. His dream pairing being Beth Gibbons and Justin Vernon, but until that works out, Gregory's trying to push the boundaries on a classic ambient approach that could quickly become a stale recipe: "I'm always hoping for musicians to take the opportunity to shed a skin, try something new, be totally open. I have a group of amazing musicians that I have not paired up yet, because I don't want the sound to be tired. I don't want to repeat the sound over and over again. I could do piano and ambient things till the end of time, but I'm looking for there to be a little something new in each of the releases."

Once he has decided on the duo, he'll make a graphic for each musician before they make the music: "It is kind of based on what I love about their work... how it makes me feel".  From that, he develops the cover, adding things to the mix based on what comes back music-wise.

The vinyl sleeve artwork is abstract enough, but if you look closely, you'll notice the ongoing theme between them all, with Gregory taking contour drawings of each musician's hand and the city where they reside into consideration. 

Gregory's ambition doesn't stop solely with the Thesis Project concept, with a similar but subtle concept Print/Track also gathering pace. Slightly different to the Thesis Project, Print/Track  features a musician completing one side of a 10" by themselves in response to a work by a visual artist. Or alternatively, a visual artist responds to the work of a musician. The first release out of the blocks comes from Ed Carlsen and Heather Woods Broderick

With two base-concepts, a host of amazing artists and all of the artwork falling on Gregory's lap, he's undoubtedly a busy man pushing through a very labor-intensive project. Thesis Project is a platform built entirely with the artists in mind. Funding is set-up to help everyone involved (you buy through a subscription), and Gregory is committed to doing most of the hard work to keep costs down.

It's projects like this that help push ambient and experimental music forward as a whole, whilst also raising awareness for lesser-known artists, now given an esteemed platform to express their works. It's a celebration of the format, showing the world what hard-graft, a focus and a passion for music and artwork can get you. And it's a big middle-finger to the way everyone thinks things should be done. You can move slowly. You can control it all yourself. You can spend more time on the artwork than the music if you wish. You can even fulfill dreams of seeing some of your musical heroes on the same record together. Thesis Project is proof. 

https://thesisproject.us/

 

ASIP - Formation

 

Mixes coming like buses from Camp ASIP!

This mix was originally put together for the Mysteries of the Deep podcast, but I decided on another route in the end. I can't let this one deteriorate on my hard drive though, so here we go! More techno focused, with many of my favorite releases of 2017 so far making an appearance that deserved to be heard. 

Tracklist:

01. Gonzalo F Cardoso - A Study Into 21st Century Drone Acoustics [Discrepant]
02. nthng - Touches [Lobster Theremin
03. Arovane - III_I [Éter Editions]
04. 36 - Further Room 4 [A Strangely Isolated Place]
05. Acronym - Final Descent [Auxiliary
06. ASC - Come To Ruin [Silent Season]
07. SVLBRD - Hvit [Faint
08. Claudio PRC - Plantae [TGP
09. Luigi Tozzi - Wadjet (Wa Wu We’s 4th Dimension) [Hypnus Records]
10. Artefakt - Entering The City [Delsin
11. Mind Over Midi - Soft Science [Rohs!
12. Steve Good - Mercury [MFYL]
13. Ishq - Knul […txt] + Tongues Of Light - Healing [Pre-cert]
14. Loess - Wrikken [n5MD]
15. Aukai - Snow Works (Abul Mogard Rework) [Self released]
16. Sebastian Paul - Zen Temple [Dewtone]

 

isolatedmix 68 - Christoph Berg

 

An understated producer and renowned collaborator, Christoph Berg has appeared under his Field Rotation moniker across many significant projects in recent years, with several noted here on ASIP. He featured on Hior Chronik's album Taking The Veil, and provided remixes for Benoit Pioulard's Hymnal, and Ocoeur, for example, but as well as being a go-to collaborator for many of the genre's best, Christoph is a sublime composer and producer in his own right. 

His last album under his own name, Paraphrases was a collection of chamber music compositions, embracing an enigmatic modern-classical vibe that veered on the edge of the most intriguing, experimental soundtracks. To quote from the release notes, "Christoph scores the history of eight narrow worlds, carved only from wood - violin, piano and double bass", and we've been waiting a full four years for the follow-up. In a fitting tribute to Christoph's instrumental prowess, the brilliant Berlin-based label Sonic Pieces (home to releases by Deaf Center, Nils Frahm, Otto A Totland) is set to release Conversations at the end of this month, affording Christoph the stature he deserves, as one of the most exciting composers around. 

It's been a busy month for Christoph. Not only did he spend weeks putting this beautiful vinyl-only mix together, finessing it based on permissions like a true gentlemen, but we've also been treated to a collaboration with pianist Henning Schmiedt for bei, released on Tokyo-based imprint flau records just last week. 

For his isolatedmix, Christoph has picked one of my favorite pieces of his to start (featured on the Reflection on 2016 mix); a beautiful rework of the dramatic Night Falls by Hecq. What follows, are carefully curated pieces that highlight the intricacies of Christoph's work and passion for complex, intriguing, yet romantic compositions. Fellow renowned instrumentalists Jacaszek, Celer, and Deaf Center make appearances, and a track from Christoph's new album provides the perfect curtain closer.

"It's been ages since I released my last record. And it's been a while since I created my last mixtape. Now, since I am proudly adding my second solo album Conversations to my discography this month, I have taken this opportunity to rummage through my record collection, select a couple of incredibly inspiring vinyls and play them for you. So, never mind if you happen to spot some crackles or dust. Perfectly suits the music, if you ask me...

Thanks to all the artists and record labels involved for giving their permission to make this mix available to the public as a vinyl-only mix. Since it is also containing works that have never been released digitally at all, please respect that this isolatedmix shall not be made available as a download". - Christoph Berg.

Tracklist:

01.  Hecq – Night Falls (reworked by Christoph Berg)
from the LP Night Falls (Hymen Records)

02.  Kreng – Untitled
from the 10“ Selfed (Substantia Innominata / Drone Records)

03.  Jacaszek & Kwartludium – Kingdom (Les chênes, les bouleaux)
from the LP Catalogue Des Arbres (Touch / Gusstaff Records)

04.  Simon Goff – Orange
from the LP HUE (Hiddenseer Records)

05.  Mico Nonet – Maloja Pass
from the 7“ Maloja Pass (Mico Nonet Records)

06.  Christoph Berg – Interlude
from the LP Paraphrases (Facture)

07.  Celer & Machinefabriek – Maastunnel
from the 7“ Maastunnel / Mt. Mitake (Machinefabriek)

08.  Deaf Center – End Station
from the LP Pale Ravine (Miasmah Recordings)

09.  Christoph Berg – Conversations
from the LP Conversations (Sonic Pieces) 

Christoph Berg/Field Rotation web | Bandcamp | SoundcloudFacebook | Twitter