January 18, 2019:
Sixteen years ago, living in NYC, dedicated to improvised and unusual approaches to music, and feeling the excitement of the relatively new public internet and web, I made a leap and started Squidco. Having little idea what I was doing and what I was getting myself into! With a background in database and programming, and having worked for a variety of businesses, I launched our first shopping cart in 2003 with a handful of albums representing key labels and artists that I had personally collected in earnest. My concept was to sell physical media only, the tangible art objects that musicians release, which to my mind is their real recorded legacy.
Those first years are a haze of relentless activity, attempting to improve a very simplistic store, launching our magazine The Squid's Ear, reaching out to labels, artist and distributors, and dragging boxes of albums to record shows and concerts in the hope of becoming recognized and known. At the time we worked out of a space in upper Manhattan, but at the 7 year mark family reasons prompted me pick up the business and move it to the beautiful city of Wilmington, NC. This freed us from the expenses of Manhattan rent, allowing us to move into a larger space, and to find opportunities to present music in our own and in local venues. We've moved three times in Wilmington, each to better spaces more suited to our needs, allowing us to organize and expand our catalog, and giving us a better working environment to develop new features for our online store.
Our initial website storefront was, frankly speaking, an eyesore of ideas with little grace, but surprisingly similar in function and layout to the website we still present — see the image below to confirm what I write! Still, we offered reasonable prices and worked as hard as possible to provide excellent customer service, which is simply the same level of service I expect from any store I do business with. Over the years we've improved the site, increasing the amount of information we provide for each album — images, samples, biographical data, links to related albums — and reorganized the website to make it (hopefully) much simpler to use and learn from.
Running Squidco has taught me more about music than I ever expected to learn. I have so much more to learn, and a strong desire to share what I learn with our customers. I humbly hope that we've improved and expanded on what we done over the years, that we've shared what we've learned in useful ways. I know that we've spread amazing music around the globe, and I hope its been done reliably and in friendly ways. I dedicate our store to continuing to improve and expand, and look forward to the years that come.
We have only been able to accomplish what we've done because of our customers, and over the years we've worked with some of the nicest, most knowledgeable, articulate, and interesting customers that anyone could hope to find. The incredible thing to me is the number of customers who took a chance on us in 2003, and who are still buying albums from us 16 years later! I can never thank those people enough, and they continue to give me faith in the future. In sincerity, I want to tell all of our customers, old, new, and those we will meet in the future, that I can never thank you enough for making Squidco possible!
Squidco's Homepage in 2003
January 16, 2019:
Today's update on the website includes four new albums on Another Timbre, the forward-thinking UK label presenting modern compositional music, often bridging the worlds of improvisation or experimental music. From the standpoint of our catalog, the label fits in neatly between Edition Wandelweiser and Creative Sources, and in fact, share many of the same artists in their catalogs. Label leader Simon Reynell has charted an interesting course, and the consistency of his recordings is often a result of his own engineering skills. It's this hands-on approach that makes the label so interesting to me, and I've listened to a number of thought-provoking albums from the label that have enlightened my understanding of modern compositional approaches. Typically each album is accompanied by an interview with the artist(s) involved, which we duplicate in our own descriptions of those albums. Those interviews provide great insight into the artists, and help to give perspective to each album and the composer's intent.
Of the four new releases, I found the Ferran Fages album the most interesting, a beautiful and haunting album developed over an extended period. It's also part of a trilogy of releases, and coincidentally we received the 2nd part of the trilogy from Edition Wandelweiser this week, Detuning Series For Guitar (2016-18).
The album lines and tracings from Morgan Evans-Weiler and Michael Pisaro is also of great interest: Evans-Weiler is the glue that holds this album together, having formed an electro-acoustic ensemble, Ordinary Affects, to perform his own compositions and to commission other composers like Michael Pisaro. The Pisaro composition was one of the first his ensemble requested, the 6th in Pisaro's "Grey Series", and is a beautifully unfolding work with a Morton Feldman-esque pacing. Interestingly and in contrast, the second work is an acoustic composition from Evans-Weiler using violin, cello, clarinet, piano and harpsichord. Remarkably the two works have a similar feeling, pacing and aesthetic, and the inclusion or lack of electronics does not impart a significant difference to my ears, an illusory trick in tone and timing.
The other two albums are Viola Torros and Mark R. Taylor Aftermaths. The former explores fragment of work from the somewhat mysterious Arabic composer and musician Viola Torros, in compositions written by Catherine Lamb & Johnny Chang, alongside a second CD with one composition from each composer. The history of Torros is fascinating and worth exploring, and I can think of few other historic women composers whose work still inspires artists to this day. For more information search Wikipedia, or read Edition Wandelweiser's interesting page regarding the composer.
To round out the new releases, Mark R Taylor's Aftermaths is a beautiful album of solo piano compositions, performed by Serbian pianist Teodora Stepancic; if I were to sequence the four new releases I would end with this peacefully paced yet harmonically interesting album.
Fages, Ferran : Un lloc entre dos records (Another Timbre)
Submerging the listener into the immediacy of pure perception through the economy of materials and atemporality, Catalan guitarist Ferran Fages presents the 3rd piece of his trilogy for guitar and sinteones, referencing Feldman, Lucier and Szlavnics as he specific tunings for the guitar accompanied by pure resonating sinetones used as memory vehicles or shadows.
Evans-Weiler, Morgan / Michael Pisaro: Lines And Tracings (Another Timbre)
Two compositions, one by composer Michael Pisaro and performed by the electroacoustic ensemble "Ordinary Affects" including violinist Morgan Evans-Weiler, then an acoustic composition from Evans-Weiler himself performed with violin, clarinet, cello, harpsichord and piano; both exquisite works that draw out tone and time in patiently unfolding fluidity.
Taylor, Mark R. : Aftermaths (Another Timbre)
Works for solo piano by Mark R Taylor, beautifully played by Teodora Stepancic, the first CD release by a remarkable but neglected English composer whose piano works present a metrically rhythmicized exploration of a generative spectrum, here featuring works dating between 1979 and 2018 and performed by Serbian pianist Teodora Stepancic.
Viola Torros: Catherine Lamb & Johnny Chang: Viola Torros / Catherine Lamb / Johnny Chang [2 CDs] (Another Timbre)
4 compositions from violist/composers Catherine Lamb & Johnny Chang, the 1st focusing on the mysterious compositions of Vedic-era composer Viola Torros, exploring monady, melody and harmony; the second, one composition each from Chang performed with the Suidobashi Chamber Ensemble, and from Lamb using the secondary rainbow synthesizer she developed with Bryan Eubanks.
A new addition from Fou Records, Jean Marc Foussat's impressive imprint releasing his own work in a variety of settings, and the work of great improvisers including Derek Bailey, Willem Breuker, Joëlle Léandre, George Lewis, &c. The new album is a solo CD of French improvising trombonist Christiane Bopp, an incredible album of unusual approach that is undeniably presented with confidence and conviction. As is sometimes the case, there is no English review or description of the album to be found, and the label itself provided no editorial text. Below is what I wrote about the album, along with a link into our store. Anyone interested in the trombone, or looking for something different in a solo album, would do well to pick up a copy of this one.
Christiane Bopp plays trombone, but unlike any other's. Her playing, close-up or in the background, with mute or without, is gloriously unique to the instrument: always confident in the most private and most proclaiming moments. She approaches the instrument through technical skill, lyrical ability, and unusual technique, transforming the instrument in diverse and surprising ways. At times she creates furtive expression, evasive and environmental, whispering and cajoling. At other times she thunders, emotes, cries out in assertive ways that are undeniable. Her own, human voice, sometimes joins the playing. At times the trombone becomes a percussive instrument to which she accompanies. At points she carries on a virtual duet with herself, an illusion no doubt aided by the impressive work of engineer and improviser himself, Jean Marc Foussat.
Bopp's improvisations grab the listener's ears and don't let go. Her playing demands to be heard, and in its unique qualities and approaches, in her unusual and creative instant narratives, she does not disappoint. She might startle you, you might lean in to hear something intimate only to be thrown back by her abrupt and meaningful changes in direction. But regardless of what point in her story you start, you will find yourself spellbound, mesmerized and curious what will come next. Absolutely impressive.