An independent record label, based in Montréal, Quebec, Canada. Their "signings" (not that they sign any sort of contract) are generally of the experimental "post-rock" variety, and include God Speed You Black Emperor, A Silver Mt. Zion and Do Make Say Think.
Constellation are a perfect example of what "Corporate Social Responsibility" should mean. This is a business that reviles business, an anti-corporate corporation. To quote their manifesto (yes, this is a record label with a manifesto) -
"The capitalist system of exchange is at a certain level
inescapable - it takes money to make records and money to buy them - but the worst traits and tendencies of this system must be resisted, not just in spirit, but in practice." - http://www.cstrecords.com/html/manifesto.html
By releasing genuinely different
and often overtly (if generally wordlessly
music they see themselves as not only providing an alternative to the bland, inoffensive, self-referential outpourings of the behomoth
s of music production which mass capitalism
has resulted in, but also by extension an alternative to that system itself. This shows in its distribution methods - the preferred method of purchasing a Constellation record is by mail order
direct from them, dispensing altogether with the corrupt
ing influence of chains of supply and reducing the cost to US$9 per album, or through small independent
record stores. Although you can find their records in HMV
, it won't have been their idea directly (though nor will they have done enough to prevent it - this, I suppose, is an example of the "inescapable" realities of capitalism overcoming ideological attempts to resist).
Similarly, they sidestep conventional methods of publicity. Their bands get known almost exclusively through word-of-mouth and radio play - God Speed You Black Emperor! in particular are notorious for never having accepted an interview or made a television appearence. Nor do Constellation bind their bands with a contract - trying to be their fwiends, not big nasty boss people.
And perhaps most importantly, they take an original approach to packaging, foregoing the standard cd jewel case in preference of hand-made, individually designed cardboard packages. They see a record and its packaging as together comprising an "item of culture", and certainly the unique nature of their often beautifully crafted cases and inlays stand in marked contrast to the mass-produced plastic containers that turn your average CD rack into something from Brave New World's nightmare of mass-production. Producing these items, for which no standard process and machinery exists, has required them to use and encourage the growth of "a grassroots economy of small-scale artisans, technicians and suppliers", quite distant from the factories and production lines of EMI and associates.
"Our aim is for each release to resonate as an integrated art object, where the sensibility of the music is reflected in and reinforced by the tactility of the package that contains it. Record-making as vocation and craft, as far removed from "product" as we are able to get." (quotes from http://www.cstrecords.com/html/pckg.html)
Constellation are a new label, formed in 1997 and having released 20 records so far, but they have a fair few bands with them. Here they are, with hard-links to related nodes where they exist, an occasional * by a band's name to indicate nodedness, and writings from me where I have writings to write. Please /msg with updates.
- Sofa - now defunct
- *Godspeed You Black Emperor! - brilliant, instrumental, post-everything, full of doubt&worry+hope&joy. See Slow Riot For New Zero Kanada E.P., Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven, Levez Vos Skinny Fists Comme Antennas To Heaven, Godspeed You Black Emperor! Montreal, 1998, The Dead Flag Blues.
- *Do Make Say Think - funk/psych/electronic oddities : their latest album & yet & yet is well noded.
- fly pan am - repetitive, almost minimilalist, "very French", pretty cool.
- *A Silver Mt. Zion - featuring a load of people from GYBE and a more gentle, melancholic aesthetic. Achingly beautiful, as they say. Noded - He Has Left Us Alone But Shafts of Light Sometimes Grace the Corners of Our Rooms, Born into trouble as the sparks fly upward, We were all waiting to hear those words (and no one ever said them) and The Triumph of Our Tired Eyes.
- Frankie Sparo - just some bloke what makes music.
- 1-speed bike - aka Aidan Girt, drummer from GYBE.
Web links -
- Constellation's site : www.cstrecords.com
- GYBE's site : http://www.brainwashed.com/godspeed/main.html