he 12k label is probably the most consistent, and consistently excellent, record companies in the electronic music world. Taylor Deupree founded the label in 1997, after another label backed out of a commitment to release one of Deupree's own works. The label's early releases were in the Mille Plateaux/Chain Reaction school of minimal techno. This focus began to change with the release of .aiff, a compilation featuring work by some of the more experimental artists working in the electronic music world, including *0, Goem, and Shuttle358. Today, 12k is known as the foremost home of experimental, "clicks & cuts," "glitch" music in the United States. It is a reputation built on two things: great artists and uncompromising music.
Each work on the label is released in small quantities—usually 500 or 1,000 units (though sometimes a particularly popular work will be re-released). This ensures two things: scarcity and economy. If you want a 12k release, then you'd better grab one while they're available, as most releases sell out within a few short months. Further, these small pressings allow Deupree to take chances on unknown artists or "difficult music" that other labels, because they are burdened with having to sell a lot of records, would otherwise ignore.
True, 12k has released works from more well-known electronic artists like Komet, Richard Chartier, Kim Cascone, and, of course, Deupree himself. But the real appeal of this label is the consistently interesting work released by relative unknowns. One of these unknown was Shuttle358, aka Dan Abrams, a Los Angeles-based artist whose two releases on 12k, Optimal and Frame, are routinely cited among the finest works in the "glitch" school of electronic music, and who has gone on to release some notable works on other labels. Another is Sogar, a French artists whose debut, Basal, was one of the best albums of 2001. Each of these artists have managed to take glitch noises and transform these into truly beautiful, evocative soundscapes, fused with emotions and bubbling over with joy. It's not often that you find words like "joy" and "beauty" associated with experimental, minimalist electronic music, but these words are routinely used to describe the music on this label. That, more than anything else, is what sets 12k apart from other labels.
How do gauge the importance of a record label? Let me put it this way. Whenever a new record is released on the 12k label, I buy it. It doesn't matter whether the artist is familiar to me or not—the fact that the work is released on 12k is good enough for me. I'm not alone in this, either. Why do you think the releases sell out so quickly?
Five Essential Releases:
Taylor Deupree- Occur
V/A- Between Two Points
By: Michael Heumann
Published on: 2003-09-01