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L.A.-based noise metal label Hydra Head to close

September 11, 2012|By Randall Roberts | Los Angeles Times Pop Music Critic
  • Hydra Head Records has announced that it's closing.
Hydra Head Records has announced that it's closing. (Hydra Head )

Think all that song swapping and free downloading doesn't have real world effects? Think again.

Hydra Head Records, the Los Angeles-based experimental metal label founded by Vacation Vinyl co-owner and Isis founder Aaron Turner, is shutting down, the label announced through its blog Tuesday. The label is best known for its deep, dark excursions into various scary-sounding subgenres such as drone and noise metal. In the 19 years since it was founded (in Boston, when Turner was a teenager), the labelĀ  has released esssential music by Big Business, Torche, Lustmord, Boris, Sunn O))) and many others.

HH, in general, offers some of the most extreme and uncompromising guitar-based music around, which made it difficult to count on sales to make ends meet, as Turner said in an announcement on Hydra Head's blog.

The simple fact of the matter is we've been running on empty for a while now and cannot afford to keep our doors open for much longer. Years of imbalance between creative ideals and financial realities, personal problems amongst the label operators, an unwillingness to compromise our aesthetic standards, a tendency towards releasing challenging (i.e. unmarketable) artists, and the steady decline of the music industry in general, are amongst the chief reasons for our inability to continue. It is a harsh but undeniable reality, and one which we are attempting to confront with as much integrity and grace as is afforded by the circumstances.

In addition to serving as a label, Hydra Head ran an influential distributorship featuring avant metal releases from around the world. Turner says that in order to reduce stock and earn money to pay labels, Hydra Head is initiating "a massive sell-off of everything we can dig up and produce for the next six to 12 months. This will include discounted bundles of CDs/LPs/posters/etc., represses of certain titles for which we still have parts, test pressings and whatever worthwhile items we can pull together."

There is some context to the news: Turner launched another label, Sige Records, in 2011, with his wife, Faith Collocia. In addition to releasing music by Turner and Collocia's project Mamiffer, Sige has recently put out music by Menace Ruine and Jodis.

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Follow Randall Roberts on Twitter: @liledit

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