Inyrdisk Death Match CD RIP label

CD-RIP: Is it possible to run a label selling CDs anymore?

What can future Canadian indie labels learn from the legacy of boutique Toronto imprint Inyrdisk?

- Mar 3, 2016

Leslie Predy is dangling a microphone in front of her face, mouth open, gargling water from a cup in her other hand. In front of her, a sampler is looping growls, grunts and other garbled guttural noises over a coarse industrial beat. Off to the side, Inyrdisk labelmates from acts like Bile Sister, Brigitte Bardon’t, Brothers in Milk, Fleshtone Aura, and Not the Wind, Not the Flag are watching Predy round out a Doom Tickler set.

This is also a wake.

After 10 years and nearly 130 releases, Toronto-based underground label Inyrdisk is dead, and last Thursday (Feb. 25), friends, fans, musicians, and well-wishers gathered at the Endless City gallery space at Dundas and Ossington to pay their respects at a launch party for its final, 129th release, Death Match. Across its four discs, it’s a catalogue-celebrating boxset compiling 72 (nearly all exclusive) recordings from label veterans as well as new signees.

The brainchild of label owner Kevin Hainey, Inyrdisk was formed in 2005 as a means to release a solo noise recording Hainey assumed no one else would release, but the catalogue went on to document an extensive list of adventurous music ranging from out-jazz and weirdo rock to more extreme sound experiments carried out not just in bedrooms and basements, but in backyards and alleyways, too. There are albums involving music made with guitars and synthesizers, and many involving no instruments at all: found sounds happily sourcing whatever detritus happens to be available – garbage, meat grilling on a barbecue, antique calculators.

Doom Tickler Inyrdisk Death Match

Doom Tickler performing at the Inyrdisk Death Match release party. Photo by Tom Beedham.

I burned 400 discs, and then out of them, a hundred of them were duds, so I had to burn over a hundred more.

Kevin Hainey, Inyrdisk

With Inyrdisk, those diverse sounds were collected across a catalogue built on limited-run physical releases, almost always CD-Rs. All highly curious, highly collectible artifacts in their own right, they’re all housed in hand-printed and hand-crafted artwork, incorporating everything from ripped, paint-splattered jeans to Canadian-minted pennies and matchstick inserts (no jewel cases here). If only modestly, Inyrdisk’s focus on physical releases served to literally increase the visibility and accessibility of explicitly non-recreational listening experiences that are often condemned to obscurity in our culture of earworm celebration. But it also unified an intercontinental community of noisemakers. So when Hainey was preparing the release of If, Bwana’s triple CD-R Thirty in 2014 and he started noticing a decline in the format’s quality, it raised a flag.

“That was the biggest disappointment. I have these CD-Rs that I used, they had the white tops so I could stamp them, they were totally dependable. It’s this brand called RiDATA. They were always dependable for me, and then I started noticing that I would have a dud here and there,” Hainey tells Chart Attack. By the time he was assembling the label’s final release, the problem was out of control. “For the Death Match box, I made a hundred copies. There’s four discs, so I burned 400 discs, and then out of them, a hundred of them were duds, so I had to burn over a hundred more.”

Combined with a lack of desire to compete with what he identifies as an industry-wide label explosion, a weakened Canadian dollar, as well as other creative interests (a published author, Hainey has two novels in the hopper and other literary works he wants to focus on getting published), it was all enough to precipitate putting an expiry date on the project.

For Hainey, RiDATA’s white labels served as the perfect blank canvases for the DIY, craft nature of Inyrdisk’s releases, while also providing a format that was critically cheaper than the newly re-popularized vinyl format – a subject that earned a lot of attention at a panel discussion between local label representatives from DIY imprints Arachnidiscs Recordings, Beniffer Editions, Inyrdisk, Pleasence Records, and Telephone Explosion preceding the concert portion of last Thursday’s release party. For many of these boutiques, the costs involved in manufacturing the weighty records, combined with the requisite shipping fees (Canada only has one plant for pressing vinyl, so most pressing gets outsourced to the U.S.) make the format untenable.

Inyrdisk Death Match private press labels panel

A panel discussion at Endless City Gallery about being a DIY label in 2016. Photo by Tom Beedham.

When we remember cultural moments and products, we often default to romanticizing their most outwardly nostalgic details. But while the objects Inyrdisk spent 10 years crafting will continue to represent the artists they documented in the physical world long past the label's demise, unfortunately, the technology itself hasn't been granted the same care. With vinyl out of the question, too, Hainey imagines an opportunity for cassettes to pick up where CD-Rs left off, and he encourages labels and listeners looking to support outsider art consider them before dumping everything on Bandcamp.

“I would really like to see people cherishing the physicality of music releases in the future rather than just throwing everything on the Internet and hoping people find it,” Hainey says. “Inyrdisk was all about uniting everyone through this catalogue, right? Being like, ‘There’s a whole world of music going on here and you can discover it.’ So I should hope people don’t forget that approach.”

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