This week on the Upstate Soundscape, Michael Vitrano, head of Buffalo-based record label Desire Path Recordings, is stopping by to discuss his label, experimental music, and some upcoming releases on the DPR imprint.
Its only been a little over a year since DPR emerged on the international experimental scene with the release of Ritual by Solo Andata, a well-respected Australian duo known for interweaving inventive field recordings with stark neo-classical, ambient soundscapes.
While Ritual may have flown slightly under the radar after its initial release in the fall of 2010, the album, which was beautifully packaged by DPR Art Director Chris Koelle, has since been critically hailed around the web as a mesmerizing record with a disquieting, even nightmarish quality.
Anti-Gravity Bunny aptly describing Ritual as “eerie as fuck,” claiming the album contained sounds that “If I were to hear alone in the woods, regardless if the sun was up, I would immediately call the cops and start walking in the opposite direction.”
With its masterfully crafted sound and its meticulously designed vinyl packaging, including a special $60 special art edition (sold out, unfortunately), Ritual would set a high bar for DPR’s future releases. And with two more well-received releases under its belt, Kyle Bobby Dunn’s Ways of Meaning and Benoît Honoré Pioulard Plays Thelma, DPR has begun to solidify its reputation within the hierarchy of experimental labels alongside 12k, Experimedia, Under the Spire, and Type.
Things have moved fast in the past year for Vitrano and DPR so make sure to tune in Wednesday night at 10pm to hear more about it, along with some choice cuts from the Desire Path Recordings catalog.
We’ll also get an exclusive preview of some yet-to-be released material from Charlemagne Palestine and Janek Schaefer. For now, check out the interview below that Vitrano was kind enough to provide.
The Upstate Soundscape: What is the story behind Desire Path Recordings? How/when did it get started? What was the motivation behind the label’s creation?
Michael Vitrano: Ever since I can remember I’ve always had a passion for music, in some genre or another, and yet I never got involved as a musician or artist. Whether this stems from an innate feeling that I want to be removed from the creation of music yet embrace the result, I am unsure.
The only way I saw to contribute to the experimental music community was to release music that is singular and unique on a format that I love dearly.
Desire Path Recordings was borne out of the need to help further the home listening experience, where vinyl is the ideal format, to allow listeners to become absorbed in the music without the constraints and distractions of listening to music outside of a homogenized personal space.
It started, in theory, in early 2009, when I decided I could no longer sit idly by and not get great music out into the world.
Is there anyone else involved in running the label or is this essentially a ‘solo project’?
While I am the owner and curator of the label, Desire Path Recordings wouldn’t exist without the art direction and guidance of Chris Koelle. I consider this endeavor his as much as it is mine.
Are there any labels out there that you patterned DPR after or strove to emulate? What labels, past or present, do you admire?
Well, this could prove to be a very long list but I admire labels that strive to release unique music and are not beholden to one particular genre. When I first started the label, I wanted to focus on modern classical works, field recordings, and microambience, but I’ve since evolved in my thinking and created the vague description of “distinct pathways” to cover what we’re after.
At the top of the list are Experimedia, Type, Kranky as well as Stunned Records, ECM, and Miasmah.
What’s your take on the current state of experimental music? Is this a good or bad time to be an experimental artist/fan?
This is absolutely a great time for experimental music and the only problem is that there’s just so much of it. It’s never-ending.
Any releases from the past year that really stand out to you?
Plenty. The Peregrine by Lawrence English on Experimedia, Mooncusser by High Aura’d on Yldmier, Language by Ekin-Fil on Root Strata, and Haeligewielle by Petrels on Tartaruga.
Tell us about some of DPR’s upcoming releases.
DPR’s next release is a collaboration between Charlemagne Palestine and Janek Schaefer called Day of the Demons. I imagine this will appear in the New Year. After that, I don’t think I’d like to say too much.
Tell us about some past DPR releases that you think deserve some special attention.
Well, the first release by Solo Andata, Ritual, seemed to be overlooked quite a bit. I think that given the fact it’s very dark and scary, it seemed to only appeal to a niche audience. I think, though, if people get past the uneasy exterior, they’d find an intricate world in there ready to be explored.
Any advice for aspiring label owners?
Just go ahead and do it. I knew absolutely nothing and I’ve had to piece things together on my own. Also, you have to expect to lose a lot of money at first. In fact, depending on the music you’d like to release, this is not a profitable endeavor. It’s a break-even endeavor.
Any Upstate artists/labels you are really into at the moment? Any one we should look out for?
House of Alchemy, which I see you’ve featured recently.
How does somebody get a hold of DPR’s stuff?
I keep some stock at Spiral Scratch Records, so locally that’s an option. Our website, of course, and Experimedia, Forced Exposure, Boomkat, etc. for all mail-order inquiries.
Michael Vitrano will be an in-studio guest on the Upstate Soundscape this Wednesday night (11/23) at 10pm. Tune in to 91.3FM WBNY or stream at WBNY.org.