It must be a sign of a great cultural shift when you can put a record label in a box and sell it for profit. This is what it must have felt like when your local general store moved their products from behind the counter, put them on shelves and let customers pick what they wanted. Freedom! Choice! Self-empowerment!
The concept isn’t that revolutionary, but it does beg the question: what makes a record label in 2016? I suggest that the idea of a music-releasing business died years ago (although ‘died’ feels too light of a word. Would ‘vapourized’ be better?), and what we have now are communities gathered around a hub, like Montreal’s Kinnta Records. Sound and visual artist Christian Richer started the label as a way to release music he and his friends were making in various guises, often session playing on each others’ projects. Stumbling upon a community like Kinnta is akin to discovering a civilization of magical elves living in your basement’s crawl space. A new world living right under your very nose.
Over the years as a music blogger, I’ve written about many of Kinnta’s kin (Expwy, King Fang, Galaxius Mons, and Chairs) but never about The Haiduks, Richer’s own swirly, psychedelic pop project. His last Haiduks album, 2015’s Lazy Sundays rockets from your speakers. “Hidden Windows” is an intergalactic orgasm of squelching analogue synths and impossible-to-ignore percussions. “Morning Pages”, “All Those Long Years”, and “On Air” are filled with flashes of brilliance: a tightly wound guitar lick here; a perfectly timed stab of synths there; and the sweet purr of male harmonies (provided by Richer and frequent collaborator Einar Jullum) everywhere. There’s just as much musicianship and songcraft on other releases in Kinnta’s catalogue, but both Lazy Sundays and The Haiduks’ 2012 album, 1968 possess an undeniable sparkle and charm; they shine brightly in a constellation of already brilliant stars.
You may be able to order a music business in the mail these days, but money can’t buy you talent and passion or the good people with whom to share them with. Christian Richer and Kinnta Records may never sell a million records, or make the holy grail of year-end best-of lists, but they make the indisputable argument that in 2016, making records is less about retail sales and more about relationship-building.