This message has three discrete purposes that, taken together, I feel justify a dedicated thread. However I won’t dispute disagreement, and accept and agree to cooperate with the splitting of the thread if it’s deemed necessary.
Here are the three points I shall address in turn.
- Summary of Bivalve
- Announcement of the first Bivalve release
- Invitation to involvement in Bivalve by members of the lines community
Bivalve is a microlabel that I (an English immigrant in Finland) just started and manage alone.
Bivalve: The Origin Story
One day in early 2021 I contemplated the (extremely tenuous) figurative similarity between split-release cassette tapes and bivalve molluscs: a shell in two distinct halves yet with a co-operative purpose, etc. This linkage is too arbitrary to withstand much scrutiny, but I couldn’t drop the name ‘Bivalve’ once I’d thought of it. I set about designing a simple, minimal presentational style that represented the two hinged shell-halves (and many eyes) of scallops as well as conveying the musical/sonic nature of the label project (sine waves). I came up with this:
The release format is cassette tape plus the usual Bandcamp digital options. Each release is an edition of 50. I plan to put out four releases each year for as long as it remains economically feasible to do so. Each tape, along with a folded insert with text and cover art, is housed in a custom folding box (in essence a variation of the Maltese box design). Tape and sleeve duplication and printing are handled by a company just a few kilometres from my home, which is nice.
The presentational design of the label had three objectives.
- Aesthetically appealing
- As restrained as possible
- Inexpensive to post
I am at least satisfied with the third point. Neat and lacking plastic cases, each Bivalve tape can be sent safely as a letter.
2. bvlv1 (the first Bivalve release)
Now that I’ve received the materials, the first Bivalve release is now available to pre-order (with audio excerpts). It will release on 10 January 2022. Titled L’ombra del giardino, it is a split between Italian artists Carlo Giustini and Banished Pills. If you must, file under drone, field recordings, ambient, minimalism. If I may, I quote here my own press release:
This release follows Bilocazioni (Hemisphäreの空虚, 2019) as another split between Italian artists Carlo Giustini and Banished Pills. Composed in summer 2020, each of the two pieces here comprises recontextualised field recordings and original instrumentation. Yet in mood they differ just as their titles imply: as the warm chords, hiss and sustained bell timbres of Giustini’s Il giorno largely evoke restful, bright summery calm, Banished Pills’ La notte treads broodingly through great cold wafts of droning machinery and summer-night gardens peripherally voiced by nocturnal wildlife.
And again regarding the artists themselves:
Carlo Giustini lives in Treviso, Italy. His music arranges microsounds, including the imperfect textures of ʻprecariousʼ instruments and equipment, alongside field recordings to achieve handsome, fragile and intimate ambient compositions. carlogiustini.bandcamp.com
Banished Pills (Edoardo Cammisa) lives in north-west Italy where he composes with often conceptual restraint and a strong interest in silence. He characterises his Banished Pills project as studying ʻthe complex relationship between sound and emotionsʼ. He runs the label Sounds Against Humanity. banishedpills.bandcamp.com
I’m very pleased to be releasing this work and hope it will interest some of you here.
It’s been a long process of mostly voice messages with the artists as we discussed formats and presentation and as they waited patiently for me to sort out the material side of things. They offered me responsibility for the cover art, an honour about which I was apprehensive because of the disjoint between their summery Italian sounds and my suburban Finnish existence. We laughed about that and finished up with what you see here. I photographed a Finnish forest in summer on my phone, printed out the photo and then photographed the photo itself submerged momentarily in a mucky stream in the sunlight.
3. Inviting involvement
Although nominally a microlabel manager, I’m far behind with the task of shortlisting artists to invite to Bivalve. I’ve contacted a few artists but not many. I need two for each release - that’s eight artists per year to sort out! And I would love to receive material from some of the artists here on lines. I’m cautious about and uncertain of how much interest this project may (or may not) generate, and thus am beginning slowly and quietly by announcing this project here, a place I trust. So: if you would like to be involved with Bivalve by submitting material amounting to one side of a split-release tape, please check these points.
- Four releases yearly is sadly not a lot, and if I receive many demos I will have to decline most of them. I lack the time, the resources and indeed the desire to run Bivalve with a heavy release schedule.
- I really do mean splits, not collaborations. I mean totally discrete works related only by whatever coincidence or other circumstances that make appropriate their pairing. Such pairing is a matter of careful and considerate discussion, and I always welcome suggestions.
- Although the first release linked above falls into drone/ambient categories, Bivalve is not intended as an Ambient Label and I welcome and encourage and possibly (for the sake of variety) even prefer other stuff. For instance, there will be songs on one forthcoming tape.
- Sadly I can’t pay artists directly for their contributions. My budget reserves ten of the fifty copies of a tape for artists, meaning that each side’s corresponding artist is entitled to five copies of their tape.
- I think there was something else, something important. But I’m drunk and TIRED and I forgot. I will edit/update if it comes to me later.
Edit: The following bullet points are later additions that did indeed occur to me.
- First of all, thanks to everyone who responded and sent me PMs. I’m so happy people are interested in being involved! At time of writing I have not yet read any of them. I am getting to it; it’s not far down the list after posting this edit. I get to do this stuff in usually only a short window each day, which is very frustrating, but I’ll respond before long!
- Side length: just about anything goes, eh? We can do C20s, C60s… we can do lots of Cs.
- The first release need not be a template for the whole series, by which I mean splits need not be prepared and proposed in advance. Part of my interest in the split format is the novel pairing of otherwise unrelated works. With bvlv1 the two sides shared a concept, and that oughtn’t apply in every case; I think it’ll be fun having chats with artists figuring out possible pairings
- I forgot to mention that I consider it important that artists are free to list their material themselves on bandcamp (or wherever), and that I would impose no arbitrary restrictions on what they do with the music they provide for this project
Thanks for checking out Bivalve!