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Time-Lag Records

I discovered Time-Lag Records not all that long ago, whilst searching for a suitable introduction to the much-praised work of Six Organs of Admittance, as well as something by Charalambides that was actually in print and available (the majority of their releases have been CDRs). Lo and behold, I was lucky enough to find a label that had been savvy enough to bring these two artists together onto one record, and it was amazing. The music on it was incredible, and so too was the presentation – all 180 gram vinyl, and heavyweight three-colour custom letterpressed sleeve.

Stumbling onto Time-Lag’s website, I excitedly found that they were the label behind the T5 set of five 7″s that commemorated the Terrastock 5 festival and featured exclusive tracks by The Itarod, Stone Breath, Charalambides (again), Bardo Pond and the mighty Sonic Youth. Unsurprisingly, that particular beauty was long out of print, but I couldn’t resist the temptation of some of Time-Lag’s other comely delights – all with unique and sumptuous packaging+presentation, and all in limited editions that demanded to be bought before they sold out.

Time-Lag Records is based in Portland, Maine, USA, and is quite possibly the greatest supplier of joy to vinyl fetishists in the world. Every release is pressed to ensure maximum quality of sound, and the packaging for each is just as carefully put together to create some of the most sumptuous records I have seen. Plus, it always helps that the music on the records is some of the best being made in the world right now, in my humbler-than-thou opinion. Time-Lag seems to specialise in music that inevitably will get bracketed as ‘psychedelic’ purely because there are not enough words bandied about that can adequately describe music as free-flowing and openly experimental yet completely melodic and tuneful as this.

Nemo, the man behind all of this inexhaustible genius, was kind enough to take time out from his hectic schedule shortly after the incredible success of his latest release, Fursaxa’s Madigals in Duos LP, to answer some of our mundane questions.

As an introduction, could you tell us a little about the origins and history of the label? And why ‘Time-Lag’ as a name?
The first release came out in august 2001, so things have been active for about 2.5 years. the label existed conceptually for about a year before that, though… the name comes from a few ideas at once I guess. Certainly Terry Riley’s time-lag accumulator… the idea of ‘echo’ on a spiritual/metaphysical plane… but really it’s all just about the synchronicities of life/music…

Have you been inspired by any labels in terms of style/ambition/enthusiasm?
Sure. As a kid, all the Factory LPs really intrigued me. Still, really, they’re a big inspiration. The way they brought the packaging/art/music together is really rare & wonderful. More recently some of the little labels like Majora, Siltbreeze, Drunken Fish, etc. were really exciting to me when I was opening up to a lot of new sounds a while back. Of course, 60s labels like ESP, Takoma, Folkways… and especially all the non-labels. I definitely try and keep a bit of that private press feel.

What kind of a role has the internet played regarding your label? Some people these days operate exclusively via the ‘net, whilst others are still very much mail order based. What’s your stance?
The whole cyberworld is something that holds very little interest for me, so the web presence is pretty minimal I guess. Or at least it’s not a big priority. I can dig e-mail though. Things would be rough without it.

Is downloading killing music? Do you harbour any strong feelings sympathetic to or against the RIAA?
Well, it’s killing art & sound, but at the same time I’m all for less laws/more music. Digital culture in general, though… it’s getting scary.

You also act as distributor for records by other labels and bands that are associated with the records you have released. Is there any kind of community or ‘scene’ that you feel linked to?
Community, definitely. Scene, not so much.

What do you do with the rest of your time?
Yeah, there’s not really much ‘rest of my time’. Things are pretty full on these days… but my work & pleasure overlap substantially.

Has there ever been a time when you felt like calling it a day, that the label was too much trouble?
It’s always been too much trouble, but that’s really the aesthetic I guess. It’s probably a bit masochistic… I love the all trouble & challenges. That’s what makes it interesting.

Where have you found bands and people you’ve released stuff by so far?
A big part of the label philosophy is just to go with the energy flow and see where it takes things… and then let random cosmic synchronicities take care of the rest.

The artwork and packaging for Time-Lag’s releases is nothing short of stunningly luxurious. Who designs such sumptuous work? Do they decide on the art work for all your releases?
Wow, thanks. The label’s a one-man operation at the moment, so I’m doing pretty much everything. In the extreme, I’m doing the art/design/printing/fabrication myself. More often I’ll get at least some artwork from the band, and then we’ll collaborate to some degree on the design. I try and keep a certain feel to all the releases, but at the same time I try to make each project a unique experiment.

What’s your opinion on the importance of press and media coverage? Do you have any particular policies on how to get it?
On a basic level, it’s pretty important, just to get the name out there. I’m much more interested to let the releases speak for themselves, though. If people discover a record that sorta blows them away, they’ll spread the word. That’s the kind of promotion I dig, and it seems to be working just fine. I don’t really do promos, ads, or anything like that…

Do you have any Grand World Domination plans for Time-Lag, or is it a case of natural evolvement? What’s next?
It’s all about natural evolvement. It just seems to move ahead by it own momentum… flowing with the waves. Certainly at a point of limitation right now though, as I could really use some serious space & and a couple of employees… that’s what’s next, I hope.

Finally, do you have any advice for the prospective new label mogul?
Please make records. The world has enough CDs. Do something interesting. Make it something that feels real. Don’t think about the money and ignore the advice of any label that tells you to think about the money…

* * *

TIME-LAG001 – Songs from the Entropic Garden Vol.1: Drona Parva/Ultrasound split LP
‘In tribute to Popol Vuh’, a side each courtesy of Nemo himself and the American Ultrasound (who have nothing in common with their grubby glam-rock UK equivalent). One side of beautiful Hammond organ drones, and one of piano, bass, gong, viola musings with a guitar drone coda. Meditative & mesmerising.

TIME-LAG002 – Songs from the Entropic Garden Vol. 2: Six Organs of Admittance/ Charalambides split LP
This second tribute features two of the most significant artists operating in ‘experimental folk’ or whatever The Wire calls it. Each side is astonishing in mood and execution. SOOA contribute the best shamanic guitar ramblings Ben Chasny’s done to date, and Charalambides produce my favourite of their masterful exercises in haunting bliss.

TIME-LAG005 – The Ponys A Hilly Town 7″
Presented in a sublime tri-fold sleeve of heavy art paper, this is a taster for The Ponys’ album on Time-Lag – surprisingly energetic and traditional poppy songs that hide a darker edge of ’60s psychedelia that really emerges in the A-side’s forlorn bridge. Somehow wonderfully naïve sounding, yet also minor hints of something disturbing in the background.

TIME-LAG012 – Fursaxa Madrigals in Duos LP
The latest release by Time-Lag, and its 300 copies sold out in barely a couple of weeks! Kawabata from Acid Mothers Temple produced Tara Burke’s last album, but this one is entirely her own work: all lo-fi minor freak-outs passing through uneasy dreams like greying clouds over a pastoral landscape.

TIME-LAG013 – Six Organs of Admittance Nightly Trembling LP
A reissue of an ‘anti-sorcery’ lathe-cut that was given to 30 friends, this is probably SOOA’s trippiest set of guitar pluckings, wranglings and some out-and-out noise, backing himself with mesmeric chanting to add to the surreality. All grittily recorded to cassette four-track, and somehow authentically far-out and haunting at the same time.

TIME-LAG014 – Six Organs of Admittance For Octavio Paz LP
Released as a sister to Nightly Trembling (inverting its colour-scheme but matching its screen-printed gorgeousness), this is Ben Chasny’s first all-acoustic album, featuring nylon-strung guitar, voice and the occasional bells. A completely different yet totally complementary mood invoked, with some really beautifully sorrowful sounds.