The story behind the records auralgamiSOUNDS released during its first year

It’s hard to imagine, in the age of downloads and streams, that anyone would start a label. Not only has auralgamiSOUNDS done so, but they’ve flourished. Started by JC Denison and Matt Dodds, both formerly of the band Lucky Pineapple, the label, in some ways, is a manifestation of the community that they have come up with. The pair has released a number of albums by peers, coworkers and friends. But they do so in a way that archives what may otherwise go undocumented. It’s that which informs their business model, such as it is, underscoring their love of music in all shapes and sizes. We recently sat down with Denison and Dodds to discuss the albums that they have released so far.

Dominic Republic – “Black Blizzard”

Denison: That was me finding out how to put together and learn to manufacture a tape.

Dodds: It’s been like two decades since I’ve tried that. It was in high school.

Denison: We’ve been using the same process since then, just learning as we go along.

Dodds: That was good because it was already done and there wasn’t a deadline.

Denison: It was a good first offense. And it does sound good. I think it turned out really well.

Dodds: Me too.

The Wrists – “The Wrists”

Denison: The Wrists are friends of ours. I definitely just told Ken that we would just do it before I even heard it.

Dodds: I do a radio show with Ken, and I just told him I would put it out.

Denison: I used to be in a band with Matt. It was a safe bet that it was going to be awesome, and it was awesome. That was exciting because that was our first non-me release. It seemed official then.

Insect Policy – “A Contention of Creep Fists”

Denison: I remember talking to Brian Manley and he was like, ‘We’ve got some music,’ and I was like, ‘We’ll put it out.’ We used to play with The Smacks back in the day. It was a safe bet that whatever he did was going to be interesting.

Dodds: I think that’s going to be most of these.

Denison: It was a sound art thing. We told Brian that we were doing a record release show, and he didn’t have a band, so it seemed like a nice catalyst.

Dodds: It’s one of the things that I want to help people do. If someone needs a little bit more support — it’s one thing if you just make some recordings and put them up on Bandcamp — but if someone is making you play a record release show, then you have to have a band.

Watter – “This World” (cassette release)

Denison: That one was already released on Temporary Residence on vinyl and CD. Tyler is a really good friend of mine, and he asked us. It was really organic. Temporary Residence was really cool with it.

Cher Von – “Kuhh Duhh”

Dodds: We met and had coffee with her and kind of mildly tried to pretend that we knew what we were doing.

Denison: She called our bluff.

Dodds: Her music seemed like exactly the kind of thing that I wanted to make a physical object.

Denison: She recorded all that herself. So, that took some time, but it happened really organically.

Dodds: She didn’t have any of it recorded or any set plan, so we just kind of kept in touch, and as it got closer to something she thought was going to be done, we just got the details together.

Denison: I think we told her what we enjoyed about her music, but that was basically it.

Dodds: I don’t think that had any impact.

Denison: She mostly just did her own thing.

Atomo – “The Evaporated Life”

Dodds: Atomo sent us an unsolicited email and asked if we took submissions. As you’ve learned so far, we just put out our friends stuff. We listened to his music, and it is very much of the type of music that we are interested in right now. And I didn’t know anything about him either.

Denison: The first time I met him, I had no clue how old he was. He said he would be the one with the BOC shirt and I was convinced that it would be the Blue Oyster Cult, and I listen to Boards of Canada, but it just slipped right past me.

Dodds: I thought it was Brothers of Conquest.

Denison: He recorded a whole new album for the release.

Dodds: Yeah, we told him we wanted a new album. I like it a lot. It was nice to make a friend. He was real cool. We see him a lot.

Cereal Glyphs – “Cereal Glyphs”

Denison: I work with Andy [Myers] at Gralehaus. That’s another thing where he just approached us casually and he was thinking about sending it off to have someone out west put it out. And I was like, ‘Let us hear it,’ and … I say a lot, that ‘You might want us to put it out, but you might not, because you might find someone better.’

Dodds: I’m really surprised that everyone’s been really enthusiastic about putting out tapes. Everyone has been into it.

Denison: With that too, that got them to be a band.

Dodds: Their recordings are great. They’re great live.

Denison: That was one of our first really great fun release shows. We did a brunch show and put it out in cereal boxes. It kind of turned a corner for us.

Insect Policy – “Wolf Brick River Dirt Train Moon”

Dodds: The lineup that was the live band after the first tape came out, they recorded half of the songs. That first tape was so good, and they wanted us to put it out. We felt really fortunate that they would want to keep working with us.

Denison: They kind of assumed that we wouldn’t want to do it.

Dodds: We should just start giving people notes, ‘Do you want to work with us? Check yes or no.’

Curio Key Club – “Curio Key Club”

Dodds: That is our friend Drew Miller.

Denison: He was in Lucky Pineapple with us. He plays with everyone. They used to be called D’Arkestra. They professionally recorded this with Kevin Ratterman.

Dodds: I think, again, this was something they had finished, and it just kind of fell into our lap. This will be our first CD.

Bodycocktail – “Audiobiographical Dynasty 1996-2015”

Denison: Yeah … that’s a long time coming. I see Zan [Hoffman] like three or four times a week.

Dodds: I don’t really know him. I saw him perform at Cropped Out, and it was bizarre, like nothing else. After seeing him I was like, ‘It would be cool to put out one of his tapes.’

Denison: He wanted to put out something with us, and I was like, ‘You have so many songs that no one has ever heard. Why don’t we try to condense some of that.’ The songs span 20 years. He let me curate them with him, and that was really cool, like he had another ear on that. A lot of people in town don’t know him, but his music is really special.

Dodds: He tours in Spain, I think. As far as live acts around here, I think there is nothing around here like that. Like with Cher Von, there is nothing else around here like that. Same thing with Atomo. I don’t know of a lot of stuff around here like that.

What Comes Next?

Dodds: The Softcheque record is still too far off, but we’re putting it out as soon as the plant can press it.

Denison: That’ll be our first vinyl record.

Dodds: We’re talking to Douglas Lucas about making lathe cuts.

Denison: Hopefully an Atomo 12-inch. There is a new Dominic Republic cassette that’s coming out this year.

Dodds: Who else … the Pleasure Boys.

Denison: Tony Robot.

Dodds: Shit! We’re working with a lot of people that make a lot of stuff.

Denison: And yeah, anything that Zan wants to make.

Dodds: I’m trying to get a Danica Ransom tape made. I’m trying to talk her into doing that.

The auralgamiSOUNDS one-year anniversary party is this weekend from Feb. 4-6 at Kaiju, Zanzabar, Dreamland, Nachbar and Decca and features every band past or present, plus some. •