When 130701 quietly stopped putting out records and updating its website back in 2012, followed by most of its talent signing deals with other labels, most people who had been following the imprint assumed that it signalled the demise of what had been a pioneering record label.
A subsidiary of the Brighton based Fatcat Records, in the eleven-years that 130701 had been active it had both spearheaded the now ubiquitous “post-classical” genre and been responsible for discovering many of the artists associated with that sound: Max Richter, Hauschka and Jóhann Jóhannsson, to name but three.
So when it was announced last year that the label was being relaunched with a roster of fresh talent there was a sense, as label manager Dave Howell emphasised in his interview with us last year, that the imprint was ready to reclaim their spot in what had become in the interim years an incredibly popular genre. Now, as if to underscore this transitional moment in the label’s history, comes “Eleven Into Fifteen“, a compilation marking fifteen years of the label with 11 new tracks from their artists past and present.
For those who followed 130701 back in the ‘00s, the fresh material from the now established names will be an obvious draw, especially the two 10-minute plus tracks from Set Fire To Flames and Jóhann Jóhannsson. It’s not only the epic length of these two contributions that make them the standout tracks. SFTF’s ‘Barn Levitate’ is the thirteen-piece’ group’s first new material to be released in more than a decade, which is all the more fitting given that 130701 was originally launched as a platform for the band’s debut album, a side project of Godspeed’s David Byrant.
Moreover, the ten-minute-long atonal piece is exactly the kind of nerve-shattering, discomforting listen that the band excels at making. Similarly, the live version of Jóhannsson’s ‘They Being Dead Yet Speaketh’ from ‘The Miners’ Hymns’ project, recorded with the Wordless Music Orchestra and conductor Gudni Franzson in NYC in 2012, provides a commanding concluding track. The smouldering twelve-minute piece, slow and spacious, occupies that musical space between rich grandeur and dour understatement that post- classical cultivates so well.
The other contributions from the label’s well-known signees of the past are good, but less dazzling. The pieces from Max Richter, Hauschka and Dustin O’Halloran play out in exactly the fashion you would expect from such names, and perhaps it is because these three artists have respectively established such a strong signatory body of music that their contributions here sound safe and, indeed, almost predictable in places. Rather, it is the new names, 130701’s roster of young talent, that provide the album’s other highlights.
After his brilliant debut album last year, Dmitry Evgrafov’s ‘Anthem’ is a tender and sparse piano composition. Newcomer Resina contributes ‘June’, a jittery cello piece that gives a taste of her forthcoming work. Similarly, Ian William Craig’s fleeting ‘Tender Fire’ plays with distortion, weaving multiple tape recordings of his voice to produce an estranged harmony.
In some respects, “Eleven Into Fifteen” feels torn between being a sampler for the label’s new talent and a timely retrospective of the musical sensibility they carved out in the 00’s. And whilst the compilation’s two most remarkable moments come from artists no longer associated with the label, it is in the former category that the record works best.
If the pieces from Richter et al, sound at times perhaps too familiar and a little too supplementary to what has come before, the cuts from Evgrafov, Resina and William Craig feel as if they are poised on the cusp of breaking fresh ground. In many ways, that is exactly what you’d hope for from a compilation like this. The tracks that glance backwards remind the listener of the now familiar sounds that the label helped to invent. But it is the pieces that look forward, which sound new and exciting, that gesture towards the roads yet to be travelled.
Eleven Into Fifteen is out now, order a copy from FatCat Records.
1. Olivier Alary – Yangtze
2. Dustin O’Halloran – Constreaux No.2
3. Dmitry Evgrafov – Anthem
4. Set Fire To Flames – barn levitate
5. Resina – June
6. Hauschka – Quiet
7. Sylvain Chauveau – N B
8. Emilie Levienaise-Farrouch – Aletheia
9. Max Richter – Bach Study
10. Ian William Craig – Tender Fire
11. Jóhann Jóhannsson – They Being Dead Yet Speaketh (live at World Financial Center Winter Garden, New York)
Photography by Kamila Chomicz and Sarah Howe
Discover more about 130701 on Inverted Audio.