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Clip: Mike Tamburo's New American Folk Hero label

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  • Carl Z.
    Mike s lurked on this list in the past and has made some of the best experimental music to come out of Pittsburgh in the last decade. Here s wishing the best
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 30, 2006
      Mike's lurked on this list in the past and has made some of the best
      experimental music to come out of Pittsburgh in the last decade.
      Here's wishing the best for his label.


      Mike Tamburo's International Label Roster


      There's a new record label in town: New American Folk Hero. Yet the
      label's already released over a dozen CDs in only two years, with a
      post-rock aesthetic similar to indie imprints Table of the Elements,
      Constellation, Revenant and Jim O'Rourke's Moikai.

      Heading up Folk Hero is New Kensington-based Mike Tamburo, already
      known in Pittsburgh for his solo guitar drones and previous post-rock
      bands Meisha and Arco Flute Foundation. "Most of my music is about how
      strings can be manipulated," Tamburo explains, "and that's a theme of
      my label as well." A recent mini-CD features him playing the Boyinger,
      a 24-foot-long mandolin that took up much of an art gallery in

      The label began in 2005 when Meisha recordings, Tamburo's budding solo
      work, and the Nüx project by Arco pal Matt McDowell began piling up
      with no one to release them. Tamburo was also talking to Louisville,
      Ky. avant-guitarist Keenan Lawler, who didn't have any bites either.
      Toss in a CD by Ken Camden of Meisha, and the label was born.

      Since then, musicians have signed on from across the globe. Dave
      Krejcki from Minneapolis debuts a contraption called the Cleophone
      (the innards of a piano and a Rhodes electric, played with hammers,
      bows, ball bearings and brushes), while San Francisco's Robert Horton
      has created his own disorienting, ramshackle language from Just
      Intonation influences and self-built instruments. Talented Detroit
      fingerpicker Nick Schillace joined after touring with Tamburo, and
      there's Hong Kong's Fathmount (a.k.a. Wilson Lee), who creates
      spacious, Keith Rowe-ish guitar noise and has remixed some of
      Tamburo's Boyinger tapes.

      Tamburo roped in the locals, too: young folk-droner Tusk Lord (a.k.a.
      Mike Kasunic) and Bradam Streiple (Adam Strohm and Brad Streiple's
      noise duo). The latest release, Ghosts of Marumbey, produced with
      friends in six cities under the umbrella moniker Mike Tamburo
      Orchestra, also sports Tamburo's unique paintings (he's also a visual
      artist). It's possibly Folk Hero's finest release yet, sure to
      interest those into Do Make Say Think or Godspeed You Black Emperor.

      Yet with all this activity, Tamburo still doesn't have serious
      distribution. Instead, he sells CDs online, and to the audiences who
      have seen him play well over 200 shows across the U.S. in the past two
      years. He unloads just enough to press the next batch, while giving
      the label's artists complete artistic freedom.

      "I back anyone's vision once they're in a circle of trust," he
      explains. "I try to help them discover something about themselves
      through making music and putting out records." For more info, visit
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