For the fourth month in a row, Bandcamp has elected to waive administration fees (typically 15% of digital sales) on the first Friday of the month. This has provided a huge lift to artists and labels; the trial run of the program in March resulted in $3 million worth of downloads in a 24 hour period. It’s also a kick in the pants for labels to dust off (and in some cases remaster) treasures from the archives that have never been available online. Today we’re highlighting SKiN GRAFT Records, which has been putting out boundary-pushing noise rock and avant releases for nearly 30 (!!) years.
SKiN GRAFT’s original vision was to fuse experimental music with experimental art. A lot of the label’s early 7-inches releases came bound with comics and illustrations from label founder Mark Fischer and Rob Syers inspired by the San Francisco underground comix scene of the ’60s and ’70s. The illustrations in the sleeves were every bit as weird and challenging as the label’s music output, but both were intended to be consumed hand-in-hand, like a warped version of the “record and story book” collections marked to Gen Xer kids.
Today’s releases include single and book sets from Chicago-based noise rock mavericks U.S. Maple and the noise rock “supergroup” Brise-Glace, featuring Jim O’Rourke plus Darin Gray from Decibel faves Dazzling Killmen. SKiN GRAFT is also posting “Sides 1-4,” which features tracks from both of those bands, plus short-lived Chicago noise rock band Big’n and Steve Albini’s Shellac. All have been remastered.
On deck below is “Shock Shoppers,” the a-side from a 1994 single by Boredoms side project UFO or Die, featuring Boredoms stalwarts Yamatsuka Eye and Yoshimi P-We joining with a revolving door of bass players. ’94 was prime Chocolate Synthesizer-era Boredoms, but “Shock Shoppers” evokes some of the more skeletal compositions on the Super Roots series. If you dig what you hear, hustle over to Bandcamp, where you can access the b-side (“Zombie Tube”) and the original comic insert, featuring perplexing scribbles from Fischer, Syers, Mark Shippy of US Maple and Eye himself.