Tag Archives: Ramzi

Musical World-Building: Albums Set in Lands of the Artists’ Own Creation


Illustration by Patrick Saville

During the boom in science fiction and fantasy literature that hit during the middle of the 20th century, writers began exploring in greater depth and detail the worlds in which their stories took place. From the exotic interstellar cultures of Frank Herbert and Ursula K. Le Guin to the high lore of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth and the swords-and-sorcery epics of Robert E. Howard’s Conan The Barbarian novels, these meticulously mapped worlds were more than literary backdrops—they were living, breathing characters in their own right.

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A Walk Through Label 1080p’s Blissful Haze

Selections from the 1080p catalogue
“I wish I had a clear aesthetic in mind when I first started, but I think it was important to just get it going and see how it went from there.” —Richard McFarlane

I grew up in the Midwest, in the country. In the late 1980s and early ‘90s, people threw raves in the surrounding farmland; in the summer, I’d have my windows open and wake up in the middle of the night to the sounds of Detroit techno and Chicago house coming off cornfields.

Vancouver tape label 1080p takes me back to that time, back to the blurred nostalgia and blissful haze. The label name is a sly joke, referencing a former co-worker of label head Richard McFarlane’s, who was obsessed with digital resolution. The music isn’t exactly lo-fi, but there’s a gauzy, surreal quality to it, recalling the space funk of the early ‘90s liquid house group Dream 2 Science, and the globalist “fourth world” sound of Brian Eno’s EG label. McFarlane has dropped a new release every two weeks for the last few years, which makes 1080p remarkably prolific. The quality is consistent; the music is always forward-thinking and wistful. Powered by McFarlane’s refined tastes, the label is full of sonically kaleidoscopic albums that feel both familiar and far away. He’s a voracious consumer, gliding through different sounds and aesthetics.

The label also thrives on strong visuals and album art that are equally baffling and murky. Crude black and white scrawls of hoops and balls sit alongside grotesque 3D animated tableaus and pitch-perfect new-age design. “It definitely developed over time naturally,” McFarlane says. “I wish I had a clear aesthetic in mind when I first started, but I think it was important to just get it going and see how it went from there.”

1080p mostly distributes its physical releases via cassette (some of the newer 12 inch” releases have vinyl pressing in partnership with Rub a Dub), usually a medium now associated with low quality DIY dubs. 1080p tapes sound smooth and crisp (McFarlane uses a church cassette press in the Midwest). Below is a selection of memorable 1080p tracks.

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