n artist-run record label is always a tricky proposition. Taking off the hat of musician and becoming businessman immediately is something that many artists have had to deal with- and have failed at. Fortunately, the band Born Against never really made that far into mainstream consciousness, as the particularly vitriolic AllMusic.com biography will tell you. And it was this lack of popularity- but immense influence- that has allowed the ex-members of the group to go off in increasingly disparate directions, meanwhile maintaining a label devoted to failed experiments and general nonsense because, hey, theyre just a (self admitted) crappy hardcore punk label, right?
Well, the label started that way in 1990 under the direction of Sam McPheeters and Adam Nathanson, but over the course of 58 records and numerous headquarters changes, the label has gradually moved from hardcore punk to something else entirely. With spirit intact.
Witness Amps for Christ. Mixing free jazz, home made instruments, poems, and classic rock bombast; the group is perhaps the most varied- and most normal- band on the roster of Vermiform. Over the course of two records for Vermiform, Harry Barnes (the artist mostly responsible for this project) has probed the interior of outsider art and come back with stellar results in hand. Its generally a chore to listen to for the first ten times, but that eleventh listen yields massive rewards.
Talking about Vermiform, however, necessitates talking about the stark madness that is Mens Recovery Project. Um. Points of reference: The Residents, Atari Teenage Riot, Ravi Shankar, Captain Beefheart, Frank Zappa, Anal Cunt, Big Black, Stereolab, Magazine, Throbbing Gristle, Aphe- OK, you get the idea. I think. Well, the point being this band needs to be listened to and experienced if you count yourself as a music fan.
These two bands are a few small reasons why its rather unfortunate that the label is now on a semi-permanent hiatus. Certain titles on the label are due to be re-released, while others still remain on the market available for mail order. It is certainly a testament to the labels creativity and wherewithal that it lasted as long as it did and will probably only be able to be revived through a large interest in its back catalog (let it start here!).
Five Essential Releases:
Bastard Noise- Throne is Melting
Mens Recovery Project- Resist the New Way
Amps for Christ- Thorny Path
Mr. Brinkman- Transmitens
Hail Mary- All Aboard the Sinking Ship