Last week was filled to the brim, and indeed, overflowing with praise for Sockets Records as they celebrated five successful years and pushed on into the future. Even I took a moment to sit down and explore this District aural victor.
But stepping back, and simply allowing your head to swivel, just a bit, in either direction, will yield a harvest of other, in many different ways, equally deserving labels. The first of which popped into my brain was Fan Death, a young outfit that already has several quality releases, and holds an uncompromised promise as a merchant to constantly look to for new and rich trends.
The sinister brainchild of Sean Gray and Christopher Berry, it started as little more than a joke, but has since blossomed into a very serious vehicle for music that might not otherwise see the light of day.
As I stepped into Sean’s apartment with Chris in tow, the first thing I noticed was that these were two individuals whom I could have a very deep and limitless conversation about music with. Sitting down on a cream white couch next to a cage that housed two active rabbits, my mention of a single record, scooped up off of the floor, spread the talk in all directions like a wildfire.
A deity-esque My Bloody Valentine poster looked over all as we went back and forth about the difficulties of DC nightlife, the quirky politics of power electronics, and, of course, Puerto Rico Flowers. Especially for those of us who loom in the dark and complex basements of the music world, Berry and Gray gratefully come across as two people who absolutely know what they are talking about, from rich threads of musical history, to the quintessential pulse of what is going on today. In fact, the only problem with this mesmerizing encounter was to stop the two at some point, so we could actually film some of this as the interview.
Even after an eternity of engrossed pre-interview conversation, I still walked away with well over an hour’s worth of footage. The fight was on to scale back for time, but cut out as little content as possible. The duo talked excitedly about both how the label started, and what it’s growing into today.
However, they could not hold back a visceral frustration with the District of Columbia, and, somewhat refreshingly, had no qualms about being bluntly honest on the subject. For some, this interview will seem not for the faint of heart, but for others, it will offer an opportunity to hear a far different opinion than is normally thrown between the hotspots of NW.
They queried why, what in the area, would pass for “difficult music,” would be received with open arms, from their label, into distros as far flung as Japan and Australia (and apparently vacuumed up by France).
The topic that received the most fervent attention, however (outside of DNA Test Fest), was Puerto Rico Flowers. Dark Synth-pop seemed like a strange bed-fellow for the limit pushing punk group, Clockcleaner, but this was exactly the case. An odd experiment that crossed from the fingers of Clockcleaner’s John Sharkey III’s hands into Sean Gray’s ears, PRF was finally breathed life by the Fan Death label. The debut release, 4, has barely seen the light of day, and already has been praised by the likes of The Fader:
“It’s all very serious and very dramatic and very moody, and it is all very good….I love this record.”
Not to mention, Dusted Magazine:
“Unsettled, stern dark rock bands like the Comsat Angels and Crispy Ambulance factor greatly into this product, one among many in the Great Coldwave Freezeout of 2010, but certainly one of the most memorable.”
And even personally, I’d have to say it’s a very captivating album, that will definitely make my top ten list for the year.
Fan Death Records has thrown down their own special type of gauntlet, that for them is fingered by honesty, hard work, a foray into the grim, and a constant stream of releases they would be proud to have in their own personal record collections. At the very least, they are something, maybe not new, but by trend standards, different. And from speaking to them, Fan Death Records is a tossed rope to help climb out of some of these current mires.