Get yer music: Cuneiform Records turns 30


Cuneiform RecordsEclectic record label Cuneiform Records has added a thirtieth birthday candle to their anniversary cake.  In celebration, they’re offering a Name Your Own Price compilation of twenty tracks, one from each of the twenty albums they released in 2014.

Cuneiform is not a “jazz label.”  While some of their albums certainly get filed under Jazz in the retail section, there are many that do not.  What typifies the music they release is that the artist is pushing the envelope of the particular genre they most closely resemble.

Many of the albums in the playlist have been written up on this site or, at least, received a recommendation synopsis on my Wondering Sound Jazz Picks weekly column.  In particular, the Rob Mazurek & Black Cube SP track was slotted as the Bird is the Worm #2 album of the year for 2014.

Below the embedded player, I provide some guidance to many of the compilation tracks and some links to more information on this site.  Of course, there’s nothing wrong with simply hitting the play button and listening to the playlist straight through.  It’s completely up to you.

Here it is… (hitting the Download button will open a page that begins the “purchase” process)

Speaking of guidance, let me state my personal beliefs on Name Your Own Price etiquette:

The price of “free” is an option.  You don’t have to pay anything for the download.  Cuneiform Records (and other labels that offer up NYOP compilations) do so for listeners to have a route to discovery of the music on their label, so feel free to enter “$0.00” (zero) in the pay box when you download the compilation.  However:

1.  If you don’t plan on buying any Cuneiform Records albums as a result of this download and just wish to have this music in your iTunes library, it would be appropriate to throw a few bucks Cuneiform’s way.  They’re not a big money-making operation, so everything helps.  Besides, it’s a nice gesture to say thanks for the music.  We’re talking about two hours of quality music here.  Do the right thing.

2.  If you buy one (or more) Cuneiform Records albums as a result of this purchase, or if you’ve purchased Cuneiform Records music previously, then pay nothing (if you choose).  Congratulations.  You’re a Cuneiform Records customer.  They appreciate your past (and current) purchases and look forward to your future support.

3.  If you’re unsure whether downloading the compilation will lead to a purchase or not, it’s okay to pay nothing now.  If you decide later that you like the compilation but not enough to buy any actual albums, you can always return to the Bandcamp page and purchase the compilation again, this time adding a dollar amount in the pay box (and then deleting the additional download file, since you don’t need it twice).

That was meant to be helpful.  You are welcome to do what you like.  This isn’t meant to be a pressure situation.  The internet has presented new ways of music retailing and promotion, and that typically leads to uncertainty and questions.  I believe my experience allows me to provide some helpful guidance.

I know some people aren’t familiar with the Bandcamp site and may not understand all of its vagaries.  For those of you who have never seen the Bandcamp site before, let me vouch that it’s a legit music retail site and that you should feel as comfortable making a purchase from there as you would iTunes or Amazon.  Worth mentioning that Bandcamp offers many different file formats on downloads, including some high quality lossless, at no extra cost.  But for those of you whose eyes glaze over when that subject comes up, no worries, the default file format setting when you make a purchase is the “normal” kind and you won’t have any decisions to make.

Now, about the music…

I link to a recommendation to the Mazurek album earlier in this column.  Another album I highly recommend is that Cellar & Point recording.  I’ll be posting my Best Non-Jazz by Jazz Artists column this month, and their album Ambit will be appearing on it.  It’s chamber-fusion-jazz-soundtrack-ambient kind of music (heh, hell of a hyphenated description).  Or, said differently, curious & beautiful music.  Here’s a LINK to my recommendation.

The tracks for the Microscopic Septet and the Ed Palermo Big Band are the closest thing to straight-ahead jazz on the compilation.  They’re also excellent recordings.  Both received a recommendation on my Wondering Sound Jazz Picks column.

Lots of guitar-led albums on the compilation.  The Anthony Pirog album has a striking sound to it, very swirling, ambient, volatile music.  The Dylan Ryan Sand is a rocking guitar trio.  The Mary Halvorson is an edgy, ramshackle affair (Halvorson definitely has a singular sound unlike anyone else on the scene).

That Sonar album is some seriously meditative drone.  The Ideal Bread is at the other end of the spectrum with a sharp, angular, avant-garde(ish) sound.  The Led Bib music falls into territory where modern jazz and indie rock become indistinguishable from one another.  The Joel Harrison takes the same approach, but applies it to rock (and R&B) from a past era.  The Jonathan Badger Verse is an old folk album shot into space and remastered by aliens.

The other recordings pretty much fall under the category of Experimental and are too strange to even begin trying to encapsulate.  I’ll let your ears sort it out for themselves.

Here’s a LINK to the compilation’s Bandcamp page.  As I mention above, hitting the Download button on the embedded player above will also get you there.

Happy exploring!  And remember, the only thing that matters is you like what you like and you pass on what you don’t.

Happy birthday, Cuneiform!