The Echo Park, CA based independent record label & management company, Sargent House has added another instrumental band to their growing roster of (mostly) instrumental bands. This time it’s the celebrated Irish band And So I Watch You From Afar.
According to the press release Sargent House partnered with Dublin label Richter Collective to announce the forthcoming North American release of the group’s sophomore album, Gangs. A pair of MP3s from the album are available today: opener, “BEAUTIFULUNIVERSEMASTERCHAMPION” is available for download HERE and the brilliantly titled “Search:Party:Animal” can be downloaded HERE.
Let’s admit that we aren’t aficionados of the Irish music scene, like, at all, and our only references are U2, The Cranberries and The Corrs. Oh yeah, and how can we forget Enya or, god forbid, Sinèad O’Connor – all of whom have wrung the fuck out of life’s pathos with their baleful tomes to love and war – Irish style, of course. I can’t imagine Sargent House would have signed anyone of those acts (well, maybe Sinèad circa The Lion and The Cobra, but forget about it after that.), especially in light of the current roster which features Fang Island, Red Sparowes, Adebisi Shank, Russian Circles, Zechs Marquise (on imprint Rodriguez Lopez Productions), Tera Melos, Hella, etc. — all bands with epic instrumentation and minimal, if any, (mercifully) lyrical content. Each band has its own unique voice on a roster filled with like-minded musicians, and while some stand out more boldly than others, it is the diversity and plurality of the instrumental approach that makes this supposed non-genre a boon, if not calling card, for the label.
I think they’re on to something here even if instrumental bands are neither marketable nor apparent cash cows. There is something to be said for the artistry and intellect involved in creating music that pushes far beyond the standard 4/4 song structure, creating challenging, but more often than not, rewarding listening experiences. In fact, those that have mastered their instruments, and are willing and open collaborators with their fellow band mates, have created soundscapes that are interactive and experiential on the psychic/emotional plane, rather than passive listening experiences.
Zechs Marquise, whose recent release, Getting Paid, flirts with lyrical content, but ultimately excels where their psychic and groove heavy instrumentation takes center stage, is a fine example of an instrumental band that uplifts the genre to high art yet grounds it on the basic human interactive level. But it was their debut album, Our Delicate Stranded Nightmare that makes the case for Sargent House leader, Cathy Pellow’s apparent penchant for finely crafted instrumental music. Coupled with Red Sparowes, Fang Island (also flirty with the lyrics but excelling at morphing vocal harmony into vocal instrumentation) Russian Circles and “Math” rockers Hella, Tera Melos, et al., you come to view the label’s roster as a curatorial practice in which the genre of “instrumental music” comes into its own paradigm, albeit one with heretofore limited marketing appeal, but one that stakes its own claims and makes it own case – music critics need not weigh in.
In light of this latest edition to their line-up the argument could be made that Pellow is more than a savvy music (art) collector. She could very well be the savviest businesswoman in the music biz. If her eclectic roster reaches commercial success, there will be no doubts.
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