Round Bale Recordings is a private press record label associated with the Free Form Freakout podcast series (a.k.a. The FFFoxy Podcast) that focuses on small edition releases across various physical formats.
RBR-007: øjeRum “Skygge” CD
Order a copy via Bandcamp
The past three years have seen a flurry of activity from øjeRum, the alias of Danish minimalist and collagist, Paw Grabowski. Over countless limited run releases and various series of visual artwork, øjeRum has produced one of the most consistently rewarding and singular bodies of work of recent vintage. Whether composing in long form glacial ambience or dream-like folk configurations, there is a cohesive vision to all of øjeRum’s material that plays on notions of fading memories and beatific solitude. As with Grabowski’s unique, hand-cut collages, that contain worlds within worlds, the stains and markings of the past often seep through and imbue the music he creates with a sense of unease and imprecision. On “Skygge” (which translates to “shadows” or “shade”), notes waver around ghostly rhythmic lines, chords reverberate with varied color and intensity, clicks appear in unintended negative spaces, and time itself is all but erased. Yet, there is a masterly exactness with how Grabowski arranges the three, lengthy compositions heard on “Skygge” to evoke a sense of profound mystery and mournful beauty. Round Bale Recordings is pleased to offer this latest øjeRum release on a proper glass-mastered CD housed in a full-color, six-panel digipak: a format suited for the sounds and visuals prepared by the artist. Mastered by Sean McCann for full audio immersion.
RBR-006: Termite Acropolis “S/T” CS
Order a copy via Bandcamp
When not capturing the sounds of everyday bric-a-brac for his tape collage duo Maths Balance Volumes or his solo project Termite Acropolis, Clay Kolbinger has been holed up in his Madison bunker for the past couple of years honing his personalized take on the rock idiom. Recording virtually every part on his own, Private Anarchy’s eponymous debut documents Kolbinger’s efforts in an 11-track, 25-minute blast of finely crafted, D.I.Y. art-punk precision that connects the dots of virtually every worthwhile sub-underground shakedown from Manchester to Madison of the past five decades. The release brings to mind The Fall in places with its cryptic lyrics and tautly rhythmic playing, and Swell Maps in others with its loose form and primitive experimentation. But, make no mistake; this is entirely Kolbinger’s contemporary loner vision devised outside of any pseudo social media posturing. It’s his Private Anarchy. And we don’t feel the least bit hyperbolic dubbing this a future D.I.Y. punk classic.
RBR-005: Russell Hoke “A Voice From the Lonesome Playground: An Anthology” 2xCS+lyrics booklet
Order a copy via Bandcamp
It was in the summer of 2011 that I first stumbled across a small stash of Russell Hoke albums while combing through the tastefully stocked bins of Chicago’s Dusty Groove Records, which I later learned was one of the very few places in the world to actually carry these. Tucked in their small “Folk & Country” section sat these intriguing looking hand-assembled, hand-scrawled record jackets with titles like Haunted Brain and If I Had Been the Universe that looked positively out of place amongst the more recognizable selections within that traditional-mind- ed genre. With no knowledge of what any of these would sound like, but lured by the cheap sticker price and curious song titles, I ended up purchasing a copy of Hoke’s He Would Have Been A Fine Young Man.
When I arrived back home and put the needle to the record for the first time, I was downright mesmerized by what I heard. The album was a haunting work of psych- tinged, outsider folk that sounded like a lost late-sixties/early-seventies artifact, adding a bit of mystery and confusion to the 2011 copyright date on the jacket. This, of course, immediately sent me on the hunt for any and all of the other Hoke recordings I could get my hands on and to seek out any further information I could about this elusive artist. There was, however, scant information to be found online about Hoke at the time (and to this day, in fact), with the exception of maybe a couple of mentions of his 2009 released double album, The Magic of My Youth. Fortunately, based on a slight hunch and a blind email inquiry, I was put in touch with Hoke directly, a connection that has provided me with years’ worth of enduring songs, poetry, and camaraderie, and which brings us to the present day and this collection in hand.
The bulk of the recordings featured on this anthology date back to the 1980’s and have been circulated amongst Hoke’s friends and supporters in various minuscule editions and under various titles for decades, from the “pizza box” cassette edition of Splashing Onto You, My Children in the late 80’s up through the more recent spat of limited vinyl editions on Hoke’s private label, Unheard-of Records. This anthology draws from the entirety of his archives and these later private press editions, including three previously unreleased tracks, to circulate a collection anew for the next generation of listeners and future fans of this under-appreciated, Texas-based songwriter and poet. With 38 songs spread out over two cassettes and a 16-page booklet of lyrics, A Voice From the Lonesome Playground presents a broad overview of Hoke’s work, providing what I consider more than ample evidence of his much-deserved place in that great conversation of notable left-of-center songwriters and wordsmiths, from Dylan to Johnston to Hazlewood to Hurley. Get in on the action, friends: the Cosmic Outlaw is back!
David Perron, November 2016