BlackJack Illuminist interactive tour: follow the guide!
Blackjack Illuminist Records was founded in 2007 in order to release the first two records of indie rock act Leonard Las Vegas.
From the beginning the German label laid a focus on physical releases where each CD sleeve was handmade and therefore unique. A DIY work ethic that hasn't changed since.
This year, Blackjack Illuminist turns 10 years old and a lot has happened. The label has grown in many ways: there are more artists, more listeners, more formats (cassettes, vinyl, even a book) and more variety. A really good 10th anniversary album with artists from the label and with friends (Beatastic, City Gates, ...) was released this September.
We wanted you to discover this label, that is close to its artists, has not only good music but create great graphics and handmade merchandise. We asked the label creator, manager and artist, Alexander Leonard Donat, if he would be up to a famous 5 playlists as a base to present his label. We were so honoured by his enthusiasm and the kindness him and the artists showed for the project.
Follow us in an interactive tour of the label, through 5 songs by 5 different artists, with artists audio comments (audio or written) for each song, to get an impression on what the label has to offer in terms of Ambient, Drone, Dark Electro, Indie Rock, Postrock and Dream Pop. You will not be disappointed.
Alexander Donat: ... And Then It Materialized
Leonard Donat creates ambient soundscapes based on loops, drones and subtle noise. On his debut album "Deer Traps" he places one half of his layered, slowly evolving tracks in a natural, arboreous surrounding while the other half is attached to the stillness of a city at night.
Leonard introduces you to his song with a great audio comment:
Sana Obruent: II
Everybody who got scarred listening to Sana Obruent’s incredibly dark and terrifying predecessor album “Dyatlov” must feel like being taken back to life from the dead listening to the opening track of the new album “August”, simply entitled “I”.
It is a heavy album that Paul Lopez who is the sole member of Sana Obruent created. As if he wanted to imitate the sound of icebergs floating by or massive mountain ranges scraping the earth, it is intense Drone, bulldozer-like, heavy Drone that shakes the listener’s living room walls. This can best be felt in “II” which sounds like the field recording of a giant spaceship which is passing through an alien portal heading for planet earth with dubious intentions on their minds. (Are those noises of aliens dragging human bodies over the ground in the second part of the track?).
Apart from this gigantic introduction, Paul will reveal some of the more intimate inspirations behind this superb work:
The piano of Oneechan Nanashi is out of tune and broken, and if you have a look at the title of her debut album, you might wonder whether her instrument fell out of a container ship into the water to the bottom of the sea where she decided to record 10 instrumental tracks that don’t need any singing: "Ghost Ship Cargo".
Nanashi adds post rock guitars and occasional violins to create a lo-fi version of modern classical music that sounds like a slowed down walk through an enchanted, yet destroyed Atlantis where the poor souls of a dozen of sunken passenger ships wander about trying to find a home.
These 40 minutes are accompanied by gloomy sprinkles of sound, tape hiss (or waves?), creaking wood, a love for the sea which is mostly dark and mysterious. This ghost feels very much alive.
"Portal" opens the second half like bubbles are longing for the surface of the sea. Nanashi even dances a little waltz with a creature from the sea only to lose her partner to the promising beacon in the distance which turns out to be nothing but a hallucination. You are stuck here on the open water which turns out to be an open grave.
Oneechan Nanashi opens here heart to you, very kindly, to explain where the inspiration for this beautiful piece comes from:
"Although my music is fully instrumental itís infiltrated with motifs and stories from the sea. One of my favourite mythological characters is the siren. They lure sailors with their stunning voice into a trap, and the end of their song is death. So for me the siren is an allusion for ending a life. My father was a lighthouse keeper in one of Japanís highest lighthouses. He loved tending and caring for it, he could stare at the sea for hours.
One day he decided to melt with the ocean and committed suicide jumping from a cliff. I was a young teenager when it happened, it totally crushed my world. As I could never understand why he left us I began to think of stories that would explain his doing. Maybe it was a siren that called him. Maybe he was sadder than I thought he was. As for the French writing, I chose it because my dad loved France. He always wanted to go to Marseille one day. A wish he could never fulfil. "
Leonard Las Vegas: Through the dark of the atmosphere
Leonard Las Vegas is an Indie/Dream Pop band with a love for catchy songs, reverbed guitars, driven drums and storytelling. Music you can listen to, dance to, cry to - or read the accompanying book: their latest album "Jagmoor Cynewulf" was also published as an 18-chapter narrative.
Vlimmer is a Darkgaze project with motoric beats, washed out synthesizers, atmospheric guitars and a morbid vibe. For those who like their Shoegaze dark, melancholic, electronic, retro and futurisic at the same time this one-man project is worth a shot.
Before listening to the song, let Alexander tells you the story behind the music and the sequence of Vlimmer's work:
And then it was!
There are other artists on the label that doing great music too. They are:
- Fire Con children
- Flight Recorder
- Jet Pilots
We hope you enjoyed this tour as much as we enjoyed preparing it for you (speaking both for BlackJack Illuminist Records and Artists).
We will bring you more of these projects in the future as we plan to stay in touch with this record label made by artists, for artists.
If you are an artist, looking for small and tasteful label, with a very human and approachable manager, contact Alexander. You will not be disappointed.