Albums Features

Label Watch: Cruel Nature Records

We take a look at the latest releases from the fantastic Newcastle label.

Frequent readers of ours will be no strangers to Cruel Nature Records.

Since the publication’s inception in 2020, it wouldn’t be a stretch to claim that the Newcastle label has been our greatest find.

Without rehashing too much, for a brief history of the label, check out our 2021 feature with label founder, Steve Strode in the link below.

Coming into the new year, and with the cost of living exploding, not to mention the arts continuing their fight against all odds, running a label probably hasn’t been tougher.

Like always, though, Cruel Nature remain up to the challenge, with 2022 welcoming in some of our favourite releases from the label and their artists, including Irish duo, Whirling Hall Of Knives, U.K. drone scuzzer, Charlie Butler, U.S. outfit, Salisman & His Hermetic Order and the reissue of Newcastle post-hardcore legends, End Now, adding to the incredible CN catalogue that now boasts over 200 releases.

In summary, there is no other label in the world right now releasing such an eclectic mix of esoteric sounds, with Cruel Nature possessing a constant hunger in providing a gateway for the weird and wonderful sounds from artists all over the world.

Releasing several cassettes each month, and Cruel Nature’s June releases encapsulate their ethos. There are no limits for extremity, with everything from noise, metal, ambient, folk and spoken word artists featuring.

There’s a bit of everything for people to sink their fangs into, and while we continue to be wowed at the volume of new releases from the label, this month’s is arguably their finest so far this year.

And on that note, our latest Label Watch feature sees us looking at all of Cruel Nature’s releases for the month of June.

2021 with Cruel Nature Records’ Steve Strode

Dybbuk: Dybbuk

Anyone for a some lo-fi metal? Dybbuk have you covered.

Consisting of vocalist, James Watts (founder of Tyneside, Panurus Productions, frequent art work design collaborator with CN, Plague Rider, Lovely Wife, Friend, Lump Hammer and Möbius) and guitarist/programmer, Jake Bielby (Plague Rider, Live Burial), Dybbuk dispense two 30 minute tracks that take us through the origins of metal, grindcore, death metal, speed meta… hell, basically anything you can imagine with riffs.

This isn’t some Guitar Hero nonsense, though. Just think of a soundtrack of being hurled into hell, and if Uniform did metal then it’d sound something like this. It’s out there, but what Cruel Nature release isn’t? Dybbuk are yet another perfect fit for the label.

Kitchen Cynics: Strange Acrobats

As Kitchen Cynics, prolific Aberdeen songwriter, Alan Davidson arrives on Cruel Nature in what is arguably one of the label’s greatest boons so far.

With over a hundred releases under his belt, Davidson brings us his latest, Strange Acrobats – an atmospheric series of highland folk. With luscious arrangements and haunting lo-fi qualities, Strange Acrobats further exemplifies why Kitchen Cynics is one of the most important voices to come out of Scotland over the past four decades.

Essentially this is escapism etched to tape, as Davidson’s songs – tenderly mysterious and undoubtedly heartfelt – steer you into stress free zones. It’s yet another beautiful release from an artist who has produced many.

Label Watch: Waxing Crescent Records

Plattenbau: (= 2021)

Aleksandr Chiesa is no stranger to Cruel Nature, with the label releasing two albums from her Moscow-based post-punk band, Glasnost (Pietà – 2019 and House Of Culture – 2020).

Chiesa returns to the fold with her new solo project, Plattenbau, and in particular her latest LP (= 2021). Suffice to say, it’s a fucking beauty.

Now residing in Berlin, Chiesa opens the curtains, revealing a path that leads to the dance floor. With acidic flashes and stripping post-punk to its bare bones, Chiesa creates a shimmering version of tech-house circa 2022 with (= 2021); one of the finest electronic releases so far this year.

Cruel Nature going all Kompakt. They’ve done everything else, so why not?

Video by Jason Kester

Poundland: Pound Plus

Pardon the crassness, but honesty is the best policy. We fucking love Pound Lound.

Having featured throughout these pages earlier this year following the release of their fantastic second LP, Can’t Be Arsed, Adam Stone (Future Bomb, Holy Ghost People and frequent collaborator with Dead Sea Apes) and multi-instrumentalist, Nick Harris (Reverends of Destruction, ex-Dead Sea Apes) once again lock horns with Cruel Nature with a repackaged version of their self-titled debut album.

And the ‘Plus’, you ask? This release includes new track, Bunker, which was recorded this year as well Mutated, consisting of remixed tracks from Pound Land and Can’t Be Arsed.

Those who missed the fun the first time around, here’s your chance to delve in and get acquainted with the world of Pound Land.

Video by Jason Kester

Label Watch: Trouble In Mind Records

United Bible Studies: The Return of the Rivers

David Colohan is a favourite of ours here at Sun 13, and having recently released his latest solo album, A Map Where the Leaves Fall First (also on CN), he returns alongside Dom Cooper (voice, piano), Matt Leivers (soprano saxophone) and Gayle Brogan (violin) as United Bible Studies with The Return of the Rivers.

With United Bible Studies, Colohan gets closer to the core of drone, and on The Return of the Rivers we are met with two compositions that mix elements of jazz and fractured folk into something protracted and forlorn.

Brimming with locality that pays homage to wide open spaces, The Return of the Rivers is pastoral folk-drone as its finest, and yet another fine release from one of Ireland’s great underground purveyors of experimentation.

St James Infirmary: Archioelago

As St. James Infirmary, Ashington, Northumberland’s multi- instrumentalist G.W. Lang has been going strong since 1985, with a revolving cast of members that exceeds 40 (not quite The Fall standards, but still). Over the last decade, he has produced an array of experimental noisescapes, ranging from protracted drone to gliding ambience.

On his latest LP and second for Cruel Nature, Archipelago, Lang produces the kind of haunting cinematic soundscapes that melt the heart à la Fennesz, Loscil and Tim Hecker. These are exquisite sounds that form the kind of backdrop to mediating on a the edge of cliff as the sun appears over the horizon.

There have been many fine ambient electronic albums this year, with the likes of Raum, cinchel and Kenneth James Gibson leading the way. Now we can add St. James Infirmary’s Archioelago to the list.

Video by Skip Doncaster

For the full catalogue, visit the Cruel Nature Records Bandcamp page.

By Simon Kirk

Product from the happy generation. Proud purple bin owner surviving on music, books and LFC. New book, Welcome To Charmsville, available from all major vendors.

12 replies on “Label Watch: Cruel Nature Records”

[…] The release? A split single between Dublin’s Le Gateaux Bateaux (also of Irish underground post-rock odyssey, Rollers/Sparkers) and The Last Sound who – for those not yet acquainted – is Barry Murphy, also one half of the withering force that is Whirling Hall Of Knives, who came to our attention earlier this year with their brilliant LP, Blown Vestige (via Cruel Nature Records). […]


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