Archives: Superior Viaduct

Depending on the disposition one can say that we are quite lucky to live at the time when any imaginable and most obscure cultural artifact is readily available or has been assigned imminent resurrection. That is especially true when it comes to uncovering dormant, unheard or insufficiently loved music of the yesteryear.

Welcome to the golden age of recollections and reminiscences. Even 10-15 years ago it would be hard to imagine that we could ever expect re-release of such "specialist" album as proto-techno epic "Monotonproduk07" by Austrian multimedia artist Konrad Becker, realized by the small label from Montréal. Even more unlikely would be to fantasize that it would coincide with the unexpected revival of vinyl.

Nevertheless here we are in 2013 with the reports on how Q2 ended up in vinyl sales growing at the rate comparable to digital and coming back to levels last seen in the early 90's. Quite a big part of this sudden uprise can be assigned to another lame attempt by major labels to capitalize on the phenomenon and flood the market with yet another set of deluxe editions of their exhausted back-catalogues with overpriced vinyl box-sets of usual suspects like Beatles, Rolling Stones, U2, big pop-acts of 70's and 80's.

Still, vinyl comeback can be considered a good news for micro-ecology of independent labels and artists, since that is the best chance for marginal music to regain its value and meaning in the times when hoarding eclectic collection of stolen mp3's is the norm.

In contrast to major label reissue market (which is one of the few things that keeps them afloat), reprint of old records by small operations is almost always constitutes a labor of love and genuine passion towards the works that has been either unjustly overlooked in its own time or disappeared from the face of the earth and Discogs Marketplace.

One of the most impressive instances of such boutique label is Steve Wascovich' Superior Viaduct based out of San Francisco.  Since the time of its first release in 2011 it has attained quite an enviable reputation even in the climate of abundant presence of masterfully assembled collections of Numero Group, Soul Jazz, Finders Keepers, Strut and other similarly past-obsessed imprints.

It is likely that the reason for such speedy and wide recognition could be an unexpected and eclectic approach to curation. Where other labels primarily concentrate on few chosen genres or fields of research and run style or geography-oriented series, Superior Viaduct favours eclecticism and unpredictability.

Mid-70s haughty free improvisation experiments of Gruppo Di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza (includes such titans as Ennio Morricone and Egisto Macchi on various duties) rubs shoulders with punk-nihilism of Devo and The Urinals, industrial and noise of Factrix and Monte Cazazza is grouped together with avantgarde ruminations on country blues and hillbilly of North Carolina by The Velvet Underground and Fluxus-affiliated violinist and Pandit Pran Nath student Henry Flynt.

My personal favourites from Superior Viaduct catalogue so far are debut album of heavenly synth-sketches by militant Suicide keyboardist Martin Rev and recent glorious reissue of "Nommos", the first record by post-punk era mega producer Craig Leon. Both of them furiously expressionist and ahead of anything else recorded at the time.

 

Upcoming release schedule promises more of the schizophrenic jumps in time, geography and genres. Some of the highlights worth special mention... Continuation of Spectrum Spools spearheaded re-appraisal of works by italian prog-rock guru Franco Falsini under his Sensations' Fix moniker, Phill Niblock's famed, but rarely heard drone works and soundtrack for Tarkovsky's masterpiece "Solaris", recorded by Soviet electronic music composer Eduard Artemiev.