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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Friday, September 22

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Feature Thu May 17 2007

CIP Records: Chicago's Industrial Ambassador to the World

Just like you, me, and most people we know, Blake Edwards wakes at the break of dawn, works a 9 to 5, skateboards, bikes, and bowls for pleasure once weekly in the early morning (that's when lane fees are cheapest). However, this straight-ahead routine belies his life's true passion — the creation, production, and distribution of edgy experimental sound. Blake's label, Crippled Intellect Productions (he prefers to use the acronym CIP), is a smorgasbord of musical styles featuring artists from beyond the fringe. His own musical project, Vertonen, has released a bewildering array of CDs, CDrs, tapes, 7" records, and split releases on labels based in all corners of the globe.


In addition to funding CIP with his own discretionary income, Blake has received several funding grants from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, and the Illinois Arts Council.

Blake took a few minutes from preparing for his spring tour with Boston's turntable manipulator par excellence Jason Talbot to tell us about his favorite releases, the benefits of being a good grant writer, and the effect that living in Chicago has had on his label.

Gapers Block: In one word (or five, or ten, or a paragraph if you must), what is the thread that ties all CIP releases together?

Blake Edwards: I'd say artistic integrity. All the artists I have had the privilege to release works by have demonstrated both an integrity in their work and a commitment to their artistic evolution. There's a lot of back-end conversation that goes on before I propose a release to an artist; if I don't already know them to some extent, it's critical that we both get to know one another and see how our ideas align. If I do already know them, it's an opportunity to bounce ideas.

GB: Could you give uninitiated listeners the tour of CIP? What's it all about, Alfie?

BE: The most succinct summary is that I'm aiming to release material I enjoy. To expand on that, I'd say I'm hoping to provide a platform—in whatever small way I can—to artists I respect and whose work I admire. I'm also interested in the idea of documentation. Whether it's the first release by someone or bringing a long unavailable release back into circulation, I'd like to—again, in whatever small way I can—help document the audio I'm interested in.

GB: Imagine that you're new to this thing called "experimental music." You've put aside $30-$40 to assemble a CIP "starter kit," just a few releases to provide a taste of the label's many styles. What would you pick? (extra credit: imagine that said $40 investor has the means to play all formats [vinyl OK], and then re-imagine the situation for a person that can only play CDs!)

BE: For those who enjoy both vinyl and CDs, I'd say:
Spider Compass Good Crime Band: "The Carrion Luggage Organ" 7"
Spider Compass is a duo (or trio, on occasion) of vultures that make their nest in the San Francisco Bay Area. They play organs and electronics, creating a sound that's a cross between Martin Denny and damaged merry-go-rounds in a decrepit amusement park.

Joe Colley: "No" one-sided 7"
Joe is one of my favorite people experimenting with sound. "No" is an audio document of two reel-to-reels playing; the tape of one runs through a path that forms the letter "N" and the other the letter "O." Each tape has a recording of someone speaking the letter it shapes, and at some point the word "no" almost creeps through.

Leticia Castaneda: On the Verge of Redundance CD
I heard this as a CDR release that Leticia brought to Chicago several years ago and it completely flattened me; delicate microtonal work, dying machines, and the shadow of the 1960/70s European avant-garde inform Leticia's aesthetic.

Vertonen: Stations CD
This is a collection of live recordings that run the gamut from abrasive noise to turntable choking to rhythmic lurches and sound abstraction. It's a good sampler plate of my interest in sound.

Alu: Autismenschen CD
The previously unreleased first LP by this 1980s German synth-punk band. Driving rhythmics and barked (or otherwise delivered) vocals. Think Suicide or Wolf Eyes and that's a good ballpark to start in.

Z'EV: an uns momento CD
Two long out of print cassettes by Z'EV's "uns" project, based around electronic swamps and vocal / text permutations. Sound poetry and electronic disorientation join up and produce a unique take on the potential of language and sound.


If folks only wanted to buy CDs: I would recommend, in addition to the aforementioned CDs by Leticia, Alu, and Z'EV:
Joe Colley: Anthem 3" CD
Another piece by Joe that is a masterpiece of pacing and evolution.


Deluxe Incinerator triple 3" CD set
A fever dream of harsh electronic noise by three giants who each have a different take on how to deliver audio abrasion: Xome, Goat, and SIXES. It's a buffet of brutality.

GB: How many CIP releases have been funded by Illinois Arts Council grants? What first put you down the path of grant-writing? At the risk of flooding the market with "competition," could you give our readers a quick-and-dirty guide to trying this in your own home?

BE: Three Vertonen CDs were funded by this fantastic opportunity. As you can only apply for the grant (CAAP Grant) three years sequentially, I'm aiming for a different grant in 2008. As for sashaying down the path of writing grant applications—aside from generally keeping an ear cocked for external fundingmdash;I've almost always worked in not-for-profit and/or higher education environments. Both, especially the not-for-profit world, are rife with material of the same flavor as grant application writing; writing solicitations to companies, donors, and sending proposals to external funding organizations. The long and short is that I've worked more often than not in places where knowing how to present an idea to someone with the goal of getting financial support from them exists. As for advice, I'd say download and complete a few grant applications, just for the practice. Writing about your art is a good exercise; it's definitely helped me make concise summaries of what I'm doing and why—that's the sort of stuff these folks want.


GB: How has living in Chicago helped (or hindered) the production schedule of CIP releases?

BE: Moving to Chicago was probably the best spontaneous decision I've made. There are a plenty of great and committed people doing interesting art and audio here, and the cost of living is a comfortable balance between some of the more expensive (NYC) and less expensive (Providence, RI) places I've lived. Plus, since I have a decent job I enjoy that affords me the luxury of running my label (and pursuing artistic interests in general) without having to make any extreme sacrifices in other facets of my life, I'd have to say it's been conducive to keeping the label thriving.


GB: Tell us a bit about your musical and personal connection to the musician Z'EV. You've released several things by him (the "uns" project CD, a live 3" CD, and a live 10" vinyl EP in a metal cover, as well as a collaboration CD with KK Null), and you helped facilitate his recent (incredible) live shows here in Chicago (Enemy performance space and the Empty Bottle, April 17-18). What does Z'EV represent for music now, as well as for your musical development?

BE: Z'EV is definitely an "inspirational figure" for the evolution of the label and for how I think about my own work. When I first heard Z'EV some 20 years ago, it quite simply stood out. I was literally swimming in punk and the seminal experimental artists (Throbbing Gristle, NON, SPK, Hafler Trio) and then my friend played some Z'EV and I was like: wait; he's generating that just by banging on metals? It was totally captivating. No layers of electronics or vocals, just resonance. As I began acquiring more of his work (notably the uns material) I recognized Z'EV's audio as an incredible representation of an individual person's take on what sound can accomplish. Plus, he's an extremely down to earth person—humble and brimming with insight. As for what he represents in music, that's hard for me to pinpoint since I don't really think of him in that sort of light. I will say that I think he definitely embodies the value of sticking to what you believe works while having a willingness to tackle new ideas / angles of soundmdash;and that's probably something that can apply to the music world at any time, really...

GB: You have a reputation for releasing the "debut" release in a proper format (usually pro-pressed CD) for musicians that haven't otherwise had that opportunity — examples include Leticia Castaneda, Nuisance Beacon, Jason Talbot, Brutum Fulmen, PCRV, etc. Any other featured debutantes on the horizon?

BE: I'm really excited at the prospect of two upcoming "debut" releases. One is a CD by Jason Zeh, a cassette-machine-and-tape-permutation spark of brilliance from Ohio. He pulls some amazing sounds not only from the mechanics of cassette players and the playback mechanism, but has evolved some amazing recording techniques / concepts that definitely take what he does to the next level. I'm also awaiting the master for a CD by Klowd, a gentleman from northern California who uses metals, lo-fi gut cleansing electronics, and home-built machines to deliver some serious wind shear.

GB: Tell me a bit about the Demons/Vertonen split LP, which appears to be the highlight of your summer line in 2007?

BE: Ah yes, the summer line; accessories for all... Demons is the subterranean horn o' plenty synth beast manned by Nate Young [Wolf Eyes] and Steve Kenney [Isis, Werewolves]. Upon hearing who was involved, I, like most folks I know, thought, "this could be really cool." When I finally heard their LP, Frozen Fog, I thought "holy crap, I need to release something by these guys." As fortune would have it, I had been working on a one-sided LP-length piece, so I asked Nate if they'd be down for a split; he said yep, so I asked Pat from SNSE (an upstanding label in MI) if he'd want to co-release it. With all parties in agreement, we put the pedal to the metal in mid-March and we're aiming to have copies in time for both Demons' performance at No Fun Fest in New York (they play May 19) and the tour Jason Talbot and I are doing back east (May 24 to June 3).

Find CIP on the web at www.cipsite.net.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

Read this feature »


  Chicago Music Media

Alarm Magazine
Big Rock Candy Mountain
Boxx Magazine
Brooklyn Vegan Chicago
Can You See The Sunset From The Southside
Chicago Reader Music
Chicagoist Arts & Events
Chicago Music Guide
Chicago Singles Club
Country Music Chicago
Cream Team
Dark Jive
The Deli Chicago
Jim DeRogatis
Fake Shore Drive
Gowhere Hip Hop
The Hood Internet
Jaded in Chicago
Largehearted Boy
Little White Earbuds
Live Fix Blog
Live Music Blog
Loud Loop Press
Oh My Rockness
Pop 'stache
Pop Matters
Resident Advisor
Sound Opinions
Sun-Times Music Blog
Theft Liable to Prosecution
Tribune Music
UR Chicago
Victim Of Time
WFMU's Beware of the Blog
Windy City Rock


Abbey Pub
Andy's Jazz Club
Aragon Ballroom
Auditorium Theatre
Beat Kitchen
Bottom Lounge
Buddy Guy's Legends
The Burlington
California Clipper
Concord Music Hall
Congress Theater
Cubby Bear
Double Door
Elbo Room
Empty Bottle
Green Mill
The Hideout
Honky Tonk BBQ
House of Blues
Kingston Mines
Lincoln Hall
Logan Square Auditorium
Mayne Stage
The Mutiny
Old Town School of Folk Music
Park West
The Promontory
Red Line Tap
Reggie's Rock Club & Music Joint
The Riviera
Thalia Hall
The Shrine
Symphony Center
Tonic Room
Uncommon Ground
The Vic
The Whistler

  Labels, Promoters
  & Shops:

Alligator Records
Beverly Records
Bloodshot Records
Dave's Records
Delmark Records
Drag City
Dusty Groove
Flameshovel Records
Groove Distribution
He Who Corrupts
Jam Productions
Jazz Record Mart
Kranky Records
Laurie's Planet of Sound
Minty Fresh
Numero Group
mP Shows
Permanent Records
Reckless Records
Smog Veil Records
Southport & Northport Records
Thick Records
Thrill Jockey Records Touch & Go/Quarterstick Records
Victory Records

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Transmission is the music section of Gapers Block. It aims to highlight Chicago music in its many varied forms, as well as cover touring acts performing in the city. More...
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