March 22, 2012

L.I.E.S. and the Fake Flamingo

Chris Miller of Little White Earbuds recently sat down with Ron Morelli of avant-punk electronica label Long Island Electrical Systems - L.I.E.S. for short - for the latest installment of their recurring "Talking Shopcast" series, an occasional podcast that focuses on the owners of small record labels. Over the last year, L.I.E.S. has acquired a bit of a reputation for minimalism; releasing all white label vinyl sometimes with stamps and maintaining a positive external image. Their roster holds a lot of up and comers - our perennial favorite Maxmillion Dunbar comes to mind - but the kaleidoscopic personality cults that tend to be constructed around some DJs and dance musicians is entirely absent. The interview covered a lot of ground and drew a tighter rein on exactly what Morelli's had in mind for the operation. According to him...
"I was just going to put it out. You know, a name, no artist information or nothing, no stamp. I was going to do it and have the music exist as it is with nothing behind it, no preconceived notions, no one knows where it comes from. Obviously when you put a label on it, and it’s associated with a label and artists’ names and everything like that, it’s perceived in a certain way. Eventually it becomes what it becomes. I didn’t want it to get it’s own stigma behind it."
Miller makes an interesting observation: "...while L.I.E.S. has hosted a range of techno and house aesthetics, an overarching punk ethos . . . unites its first 12 records". For us here at Decoder, the extension of some aspects of the traditional "punk ethos" to other aspects of an individual, band, or label is a critical goal, particularly in running our own imprint. As the commodification of networking relationships approaches its most shameless form, promotion of a "punk ethos" could not be more important. In order to escape that commodification some labels like L.I.E.S. and dark horse semi-art projects like Fake Flamingo Recordings, whose artists all release under anonymous pseudonyms, admirably attempt to break the cycle and remove the necessity of an "exchange" from their promotional relationships and their public images. Although most of us will probably not conceptualize this attitude as being by necessity a "punk" ethos, the desires that expressed themselves in the DIY punk scene bear numerous similarities to our contemporary situation, spanning genre after genre. I think arguably the most significant form of this phenomenon is happening in the world of electronic music, at its most broad, and enterprising labels across the globe are using their identities to synthesize a larger community out of their desperate catalogs. Or maybe that's just our ambition for them. Catalogs, that is.

Read Miller's interview with Morelli and listen to a L.I.E.S. mix here.

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