RareNoiseRecords a Crossroads of Style, Technology & Taste
Posted 5/21/2012

Founded in 2008 by guitarist/producer Eraldo Bernocchi and entrepreneur Giacomo Bruzzo, London-based RareNoiseRecords is the record label arm of RareNoise Ltd. Reflecting today’s potential for creative musical insurgencies, RareNoise is all about finding new music and supporting the people who play it. Names such as Bill Laswell, Bernie Worrell and Bob Belden’s Animation grace the label, as do other notables such as Nils Petter Molvær and the bands Brainkiller, Somma and The Mantra Above The Spotless Moon. Co-owner Bruzzo recently sat down with DownBeat for some label chat.

How did RareNoise come into being?

RareNoise Records is, in many ways, a child of chance—an apparently random chain of events and local causality blossomed over time into a retrospectively meaningful whole. If I were to try and trace the direct ancestry of events that led to the creation of RareNoise, I would probably have to say it comes from my fascination with artists featured in the late ’90s and beyond on the U.K. label Mo’ Wax from James Lavelle, and also DJ Shadow and DJ Krush, which led to the discovery of Japanese trumpet player Toshinori Kondo via the mesmerizing Krush-Kondo project KIOKU. That, in turn, led one step further to the magnificent Charged: a collaboration between Bill Laswell, Eraldo Bernocchi and Toshinori Kondo. I was already very aware of Bill Laswell’s colossal output—much of which I actually own—and wide-ranging influence, but Eraldo Bernocchi’s work was quite a discovery. I had also had quite a fascination with the Japanese radical music scene, with particular affection for the work of guitarist/DJ Otomo Yoshihide.

Somewhere in 1997, I started toying with the idea of producing a documentary focusing on the work of Laswell, Bernocchi and Yoshihide. Searching for a narrative context, I decided to approach one of them—in this case, Eraldo Bernocchi—and relied on the simplistic notion that we both were Italians and other such trivialities. I approached him on MySpace. And, to show purpose, I bought large quantities of stock of several great recordings Eraldo had been involved with—in particular, Somma Live In Trento, featuring Eraldo, Kondo, Laswell, Hamid Drake, Italian singer Raiz and a chorale of Tibetan singers/horn players performing in front of the Dalai Lama. I suggested we create a label-platform for the sake of diversification. In retrospect, I think Eraldo must have been completely insane to accept such a proposition. But he did, and I am eternally grateful to him for that. In 2008 he introduced me to Bill Laswell in Paris. By mid-2008, the label was born as a company, and by the last quarter of the same year we were already assembling the bare bones of the company and the first sequence of releases that started seeing the light in May 2009. 

Tell me about the catalog.

RareNoiseRecord’s catalog consists today of 28 entries, the last six of which are in the process of being released. Dare I say they are all equally important to myself and to my associate, Eraldo Bernocchi. They try to span all the genres we are fascinated by in a manner coherent with the themes discussed in the answer to the first question.

The first six releases included one by Meditronica. It’s a recording firmly anchored in Mediterranean trip-hop called Rooms. Then there was the first EP by the Neapolitan indie-rock band The Mantra Above The Spotless Melt Moon, a band I feel will one day be seen as the new Radiohead. Next, there’s Nihon, a double CD and DVD set by Bill Laswell’s outfit Method Of Defiance, with him on bass, Bernie Worrell on keyboards, Dr. Israel on vocals, Guy Licata on electronic drums and Toshinori Kondo on electrified trumpet as they tear the crowd apart at the UNIT in Tokyo. Another one is 23 Wheels Of Dharma, a live performance by Somma in Milan. It features Laswell, Nils Petter Molvær, Bernocchi, Hamid Drake, Raiz, Lorenzo Esposito Fornasari, the Faraualla trio and a large cohort of Tibetan singers; topped by Torn From Black Space, a dark ambient recording with guitar shredder Buckethead performing under his ambient moniker DeathCubeK. Finally, there’s Arc, by guitar duo Parched with Eraldo and Davide Tiso. It’s a foray into ambient guitar landscapes.

There are a couple of so-called borderline jazz recordings, an indie-rock recording, two ambient recordings and an electronica/trip-hop recording. That was our initial statement: to seek that which is at the crossroads of style, technology and taste. Music that always will be more than the sound of its constituent parts. A place where opposites meet and, for a fraction of a moment, are completely homogenous. Musicians who are concerned with the future, never the past, though have the greatest understanding of the past and of various traditions. And deeply, unmistakably passionate music. Music that evokes deep feelings, deep emotional responses. Overwhelming, oversaturating, all-consuming, always deeply moving. As Timothy Leary says in Live And Let Live, a surreal release from the early ’70s where he muses over a jam band featuring Jimi Hendrix on bass, “My family and I try to have a mind-blowing God experience at least once a week.” We would like to provide our listeners with such mind-blowing listening experiences. That was our line at the beginning, and we have tried to maintain it ever since.  

Please describe the RareNoise aesthetic.

What we try to do at RareNoise is to create bridges between communities of listeners that may be connected to a specific genre, and tell them, “Look here, all these recordings may seem different on the surface, but they are all sharing the same imprint of curiosity, experimentation and aural delight. Be bold, dare to cross these borders with us.”

How do things look for the rest of the year and beyond?

The year 2012 is our third year of existence, and we aim to start becoming recognized by media and potential fans alike. Our aim is to keep releasing about eight to 10 records per annum. The landscape is changing. Will CDs still be sold three or four years from now? Will there be a recording business left? We cannot answer those questions, so we will focus on the vision and the quality. What matters are not genres, but attitude.

John Ephland

For more information about the RareNoise label, visit the company website.

Nihon, a double CD and DVD set by Bill Laswell’s Method Of Defiance, was among RareNoiseRecords’ initial releases.


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