Label spotlight: Pan Y Rosas Discos
Netlabels tend to be the unsung heroes of the musical underground. Because of their purely digital nature and the fact that releases from most netlabels are available for completely free they are inherently considered “inferior” to labels releasing music on tangible formats. This may be due to misguided and ignorant perception of digital-only releases as unworthy of being released on cassette, CD or vinyl. If that’s what you think about netlabels (just a small time venues for beginner musicians that don’t deserve wider recognition), Pan Y Rosas Discos (abbreviated as PYR) are more than ready to verify your opinions. And to change them for the better.
Founded in Chicago in 2008, the ideology behind PYR revolved around few basic, almost utopian points: 1) Music should be available to all people for free, 2) It is a platform for often overlooked or ignored musicians and bands to present their work, 3) Open-mindedness is the key and all e-mails and demos are very welcome (though, as the label’s “About" page states, their output mainly focuses on experimental, noise, free improvisation and "weirdo rock" music), and finally, 4) Everything is released on mp3, because it’s the most widely used and easiest format of digital music. With this last point they appear to be going against the grain, and especially against various music snobs and elitist who refuse to listen to anything not released on 180g vinyl or, at the very least, lossless FLAC. The Pan Y Rosas label are not going for the best possible quality, they just want to release good music that can easily fit on your phone or mp3 player as you go.
Aditionally to this musical manifesto, the PYR founders also call their listeners/followers for more direct and face-to-face action under their Plans For Action! manifesto. In a few simple points the founders criticize unlimited consumption in the USA, call to reach out and organize protests and actions to change the situation in their closest neighborhood (in their case, the city of Chicago), to educate and improve one’s life. These simple ideas appear to be very bold in the times when human interaction is getting gradually computerized, shallowed and widespread slacktivism - they simply say: instead of clicking “Like” on some charity organization Facebook fanpage and feel good with your illusion of helping, just turn off your computer and find out about the recycling program in your own town (by the way, Sweden’s UNICEF ran a biting ad campain against FB slacktivism some time ago).
So what about the music released by Pan Y Rosas? Where to start? Since the label’s catalog is nearing it’s 100th release, browsing through 99 albums might get a little confusing. The best answer might be: look by yourself! Every album released by PYR is a different musical world, ranging from lengthy free jazz jams to radical cut-ups and electroacoustics. Thankfully, there is a media player built into the website which allows you to stream all tracks before hitting the “download” button. Personally, I might recommend starting with Nappy Hair’s Best Friend by Chicago Modern Orchestra Project, consisting of two loooooong jazz improv burners (the first track is 45 minutes long, but doesn’t feel it at all!) showing a huge ensemble understanding and interplaying with each other perfectly. What a great jam.
Pan Y Rosas Discos don’t seek fame. They don’t want to storm Facebook or taste-making blogs and magazines with their stuff. They’re just doing their own thing since 2008 knowing that the right people will find their music by themselves - sooner or later. I did that too. And I fell in love.