Obsessed with experimentation: Richard Sanderson’s LinOb label
Posted on: Friday 19th of July 2019
Dave Robinson talks to the accordionist and innovator behind a world of drone, noise and weird audio – all out of south-east London: what is a record label in 2019?
Richard Sanderson runs the Linear Obsessional label. Originally from Middlesbrough, he is an active improvising improvising and experimental musician with a background in post-punk bands. “I am also a stay-at-home dad – and a morris dancer!”
LinOb aims to bring listeners ‘sound from the edges of culture and between the cracks of category’; in other words, field recordings, modern composition, noise, drone and folk: music with “lots of space, music of extraordinary density”, encourages Sanderson. He’s released hours and hours of music over the last few years – just check out the huge bandcamp back catalogue. (https://linearobsessional.bandcamp.com/) He also organises and participates in gigs in an unusual cafe setting in a park in south-east London.
Richard, what are you doing right now?
I’ve just sold enough copies of the last two releases (Sonance, a CD by Stephen Shiell, and The Visit of the Stranger, a cassette by Paco Rossique to put out the next two (Ergot in the Wine by Kassia Flux and Sowari Modular by Phil Durrant). Phil’s album has a painting by [former bassist for 1980s experimental rock combo Stump] Kev Hopper on the front, which is nice as the three of us were all in the same band 20 odd years ago…
What is a ‘record label’ in 2019?
It’s absolute madness, that’s what it is. It’s something I always wanted to do: to inflict my tastes on others, and build up a catalogue which is hugely varied but, with luck, always interesting and surprising. There are some pop releases amongst all the avant garde – not many, but they are there!
Your formats include tape cassettes and ‘alternative media’. Expand please!
The label actually started as a ‘netlabel’ seven years ago, but I always wanted to be more than just a collection of files on line, so I started adding PDF booklets, then very limited CD-Rs with hand stamped covers; it was very labour intensive. I’ve gradually moved into paying other people to do the work: a lovely man in Scotland prints up my CDs whilst a woman called Lisa looks after my cassettes. It’s actually really satisfying to get a box of product arriving at the door. And, yes, people seem to like having them.
Your engagement with local artists in south-east London: how does that work?
The cassette thing is weird, but there seems to be a mix of nostalgia and, for the young, a genuine interest in having something physical.
I’ve been in south-east London for some 25 years, and Hither Green (SE13) for 20, so I’ve become increasingly aware of the very healthy experimental scene here: there are about five great regular events for very leftfield music in Lewisham [borough] alone.
Three years ago I was chatting to the man who runs the cafe in the local park, and I suggested to him that he might let me put on ‘weird shit’ music there. Happily he agreed and now we get a good local crowd (and people who travel from afar – Sheffield!) who come every month. I also organise an annual festival in May which includes the open access alfresco ensemble (the Hither Green Drone Orchestra) consisting largely of local people plus sound sculptures and workshops etc.
Name three artists on Linear Obsessional we should listen to…
Obviously I like them all, so there is no hierarchy…. But if pushed, I would suggest:
Kev Hopper: An old friend and one time member of Stump. His album Corbyn Sceptic Club (take what you want from that title!) is just wonderful. Kev’s a real craftsman, full of strange electronics, splanged out melodies and, on the title track, twangy guitar and vocoder. He’s a genius. His other album for me, Tonka Beano, is brill too.
Viv Corringham: She is a vocalist, currently based in New York, who has the most extraordinary voice. Whilst she does all the experimental extended technique stuff, she also has a voice trained in folk and world music and has a fantastic sense of melody and can be very moving. Her cassette Until I Learn the Language of Vegetable Mineralis reassuringly bonkers.
Smallhaus: This is the solo project of guitarist/electronicist David Little. His music to an extent harks back to spaced out German music of the 1970s as well as soundtrack music and even shoe-gaze. It’s very beautiful widescreen stuff. His album Lutra has done very well.
…OK, you can have another three.
Thanks! Right, then:
Steven Ball: Steven is a member of the post punk duo Storm Bugs, but records solo stuff for me. Steven writes very clever conceptual songs – in a way akin the later work of Scott Walker and David Sylvian – very abstract music, but with wonderful crooning vocals. Check out any of his albums, but his recent Bastard Islandis probably the most prescient.
Me, Claudius: An anonymous female musician who produces an amazing kind of glitch dub created from skipping CDs, field recordings and samples from the car radio. It’s magical and weirdly funny.
Kassia Flux: One of my discoveries! A musician, singer and scientist, she produces a wonderful flurry of interesting ideas, field recordings, musique concretesongs, noise, lush ambience – you’ll get all in one of her albums. Oh, and I must mention David Little does the graphic design for LinOb.
How should artists/musicians one get involved with LinOb?
Write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org via the website www.linearobsessional.org or turn up at a gig and help me put the chairs out! Always keen to hear new stuff, but have amassed a bit of a backlog, a drawback of liking all kinds of music.
David Bloor and his machines (you need to see him in action: ths picture shows a recent ‘event’ in the Deptford Albany Theare ): what the hell…?
Cia-Lonbarde handmade weird instruments: aren’t they astonishing, beautiful things?!
What’s the label’s ‘mission statement’?
“Take a line and follow it.”