quarta-feira, 16 de junho de 2010

Before I post tonight’s mini-reviews of two recent Creative Sources releases I thought I would share a few thoughts on the label that I have had today. CS gets a lot of stick, unlike that received by any other label operating today bar maybe Leo. There seems to be two main threads to the criticism. The first seems to be aimed at CS’s “pay to play” policy of releasing albums. In short, the discs that come out on the label are often (not always) part-funded by the musicians that appear on them, with much larger than normal amounts of the final product going to the musicians for them to sell at gigs, or use as calling cards to try and obtain more paid work. Just this fact alone seems to rile a few people. I have no idea why. As I see it the label remains solvent, the musicians get the benefit of professional advice, support, design etc… and a large number of CDs on a professional label that they can try and eke out a living from. I have no idea what is wrong with that.
More often though the accusation thrown at CS is that the pay-to-play policy results in poor quality control, and that the releases are of low quality, maybe music that could not find a home anywhere else. This attitude of course assumes that there is any quality control applied at all. I am guessing that Ernesto Rodrigues, the label owner does have some input into what gets released and what does not, but maybe he doesn’t. I don’t think anything has ever been said officially on this one way or the other. Either way, poor quality control (If indeed this accusation can be made) does not necessarily mean that all CS releases are below par. Past listening has shown me that in fact this is certainly not the case. There have been some really good ones. As for the releases only really being cast-offs unwanted by other labels well I can only say that of the 150+ Creative Sources releases so far, with around a hundred of them since I began running a label myself, only one of them ever came to me at Cathnor as a demo. What is more I don’t think I ever actually got around to listening to the music in question, so I didn’t even turn it down. So why does CS continue to get unparalleled abuse from people?
Part of the answer lies in the response to another question again - Why did I stop buying and therefore listening to the Creative Sources catalogue in its entirety after the first thirty or so releases? Simply, as a paying customer I could not keep up. Over the past few years the output of the label seems to have risen to some thirty-odd discs a year. Many of the musicians (certainly far from all of them though) are also unknown to me. So why would I spend a lot of money trying to keep pace with that kind of a release schedule when I have no past experience of the musicians involved? In short, there is no reason why I would.
So what I have tended to do over recent years is keep an eye intermittently on the catalogue, and pick up discs every so often that involve musicians I like the work of. It was in fact after putting together a list of half or dozen or so CS discs that had attracted my interest over the last year that I contacted Ernesto to get a price to purchase them. As I had recently spent some time reviewing a couple of CS discs here that had been given to me independently by the musicians he very kindly sent me a large bundle that included the discs I was interested in for free. So now, having not had to pay for them, I can listen to each disc with an unbiased ear and decide for myself if the standard is indeed low or not, and hopefully provide the readers here with some background info with which to make their own decisions.
However, dismissing the label out of hand as a waste of time, without having heard a good portion of the music is misguided, rude and potentially quite arrogant. There seems to be very few commentators out there that have heard the bulk of the catalogue, just a very small handful of reviewers it seems. (this is the first time I have been sent a bundle of discs to review) When I have read extensive writing on large numbers of the releases there seems to be a definite spilt, maybe as high as 50/50 over whether the reviewer in question liked the CDs or not. So why would those that have not heard anything like as many be so damningly critical of the label as a whole? I can fully understand that people do not want to take a 50/50 risk on a purchase, which is why reviews are very important for CS, and I intend to do my bit and write something eventually on every disc I’ve been sent, but just dismissing the label out of hand is misguided in my opinion. Maybe I have been slightly guiltly of this in the past, but as this year has been very much a year of re-evaluation of the musical prejudices I have held it is definitely time to wipe that slate clean and let the music speak for itself. Or not. Time will tell.
Richard Pinnell (The Watchful Ear)

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