Label Profile
Kranky Records
Chicago

varied, yet held together by some invisible thread, the output of Kranky Records has been of landmark importance upon independent music since its formation in 1993 with the release of Labradford’s Prazision album. The group put together slow, drifting pieces of understated ambience, that nonetheless displayed an innate knack of melody. On tracks like “Soft Return” and “Skyward With Motion” the effect produced is luminious and fleeting, as though if you any noise comes in that doesn’t belong the whole structure of the song will immediately collapse.

It was the combined talents of Jessamine, Labradford, and the Spiny Anteaters that kept the label floating through the first few years until the arrival of some new bands, most notably in the form of Stars of the Lid. Perhaps one of the defining bands of the label for many people, SotL have released five releases, thus far- exploring droney ambience to its fullest extreme, consolidating into one package all of the interesting things about many of the early releases by artists such as Roy Montgomery and the James Plotkin/Mark Spybey collaboration (extraordinary records in their own right!).

Perhaps the other defining band of the label is the Minnesota group Low. The group constructs gently beautiful pop songs with a depressive tinge about them- drawing influence from Joy Division and the Beatles equally.

Along with these bands, and the licensing deal for Godspeed You Black Emperor!’s first two albums, Kranky has made enough money to stay true to their independent origins and stay profitable as a business entity.

In the future, it seems obvious that we can be assured that Stars of the Lid, Low, and Labradford will be continuing to work with the label. Looking up for the label, though, is the artists that are currently releasing their first and second releases for the label- Loscil (stunning ambient techno), Out Hud (funky acid techno), and the forthcoming Charlambides (perhaps they don’t even know what comes next).

Five Essential Releases:
Low – Secret Name
Godspeed You Black Emperor! – Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven
Labradford – fixed::context
Stars of the Lid – The Tired Sounds Of...
Keith Fullerton Whitman – Playthroughs


By: Todd Burns
Published on: 2003-09-01
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