I like an over-played popular Christmas song as much as the next secular Situationist but at this time of year I also need a bit of airbrushed, ambient analogue or some mellow winter melancholia to ease me through the maelstrom and help me engage with the seasonal changes (man). I discovered Under the Spire recordings a while ago and have been interested, intrigued and impressed by the experimental electronic, post-rock, folk, drone, dub, ambient, noise, sound-scapes and art, nurtured and distributed by this cool-ass independent Welsh label.
I’ve previously listened to Under The Spire’s output online but I recently took delivery of a couple of their CD’s and it was a proper joy. Opening the CDs I felt the long-lost thrill of pre-download music ‘ownership’ and respect. It rekindled that buzz of the unknown through not having heard all the music online beforehand and being thrilled by the forgotten pleasure of handling exquisitely-designed and beautifully-produced packaging and artwork.
I expected to enjoy Chicago-native Matt Christensen’s A Cradle in the Bowery as I’d liked what I’d heard of him before and his album of mesmeric, melancholic Americana doesn’t disappoint in any way. The real revelation was This Alone Above All Else In Spite Of Everything by Boduf Songs. It’s a disquieting yet warm album of exquisitely woven spiritual and psychedelic musical meanderings and it’s utterly beguiling. I sincerely hope the last track on the album I Am Going Away And I Am Never Coming Back simply isn’t true.
Under The Spire’s releases are strictly limited so you have to keep your ears open and move fast or lose out. I’m disappointed I missed out on Palimpsest for Strings by Peter Jorgensen, if only for the cover alone which is utterly beautiful in its style and simplicity. Hollywood by Zelienople is similarly-sleeved inside a beautiful photo worth the price of admission. There’s clearly a lot of love and effort gone into the nature of the artwork and presentation and that effort is rewarded, appreciated and admired.
Latest releases from Under The Spire include an a new album from the prolific Mike Shiflet, recordings from Seattle sonic-shimmerers Panabrite and blissful output from Black Eagle Child. For anyone with an interest in music and sound that dares to leave the highways and meander round the byways, Under The Spire recordings should be an essential stop on the journey.
To have a listen, find out more information and buy releases visit http://www.underthespire.co.uk immediately and while you’re at it follow them on Twitter at @underthespire.