Eclectic Visual Arts Meets Music at Time Released Sound
For Colin Herrick’s Alameda record labels, the packaging is as important as the sound.
Photo by Lance Yamamoto
If you like traveling the intersection where eclectic visual arts and music meet, it’s time to get to know a unique, small record label in Alameda. Time Released Sound and its sister label, Time Sensitive Materials, were founded in 2011 and 2015 respectively. From his Park Street studio in Alameda, artist Colin Herrick devotes his time to making handmade, limited edition released music with creative packaging. As a former printmaking student at California College of the Art, Herrick creates designs that mirror the art he has been making for over 30 years. Working in mixed media, he incorporates old school photographic media techniques via methods used in bookmaking, collage, and printmaking.
Herrick has released music in vintage 35-mm film cans, extensively modified chocolate boxes, bird’s nests made from the broken parts of grand pianos, zippered fabric evidence bags, 50-year-old classical music boxes, hand-bound and machine-sewn books full of vintage paper ephemera and transparencies, repurposed and repainted antique children’s books and art deco photo folders. Intertwined into these you might find Braille paper, clock parts, test tubes full of semi-precious metals, moss-lined glassware, polyurethane embedded broken accordion bits, liquid mercury, battery powered lights, custom jigsaw puzzles, or vintage circuit boards. On the heels of his 90th release, here are five questions for Herrick about his creative vision and work.
When did you start Time Released Sound and what do you do there exactly?
I first started the label after a lifetime of obsessing over and searching out new music of all sorts, buying music from smaller music labels and in particular looking for music that came in some sort of unusual packaging or format. People have been making creative handmade packaging for their own music for many years. I’m just sorry that it took me so long to decide to start a label. I wish I’d started it 20 years ago when all music was released in a physical format as the manner in which most music was purchased. As far as the music genres I represent, though I have quite diverse musical tastes, it was partly due to an over-saturation of beat driven and vocal oriented music that drove me to specialize in the sort of quieter, instrumental, more introspective and cerebral music that we release.
At Time Released Sound we turn out the music of musicians from all over the world in limited edition fine art packaging. Each album usually comes in two or more physical versions, along with a digital form. There is always both a deluxe numbered limited edition and a more affordable standard factory printed version. Each album has a theme or concept decided upon, generally in collaboration with the musicians themselves, which guides the design process. We start by making a deluxe prototype or two and then make a set of 40 to 100 deluxe, individually unique versions. The edition size often depends on the availability of materials, complexity of design, projected price point, etc.
We are for the most part a “beatless” music label and release music that is electronically and instrumentally tinged, cerebrally evocative, mysterious, cinematic, modern classical, folktronic, and ambient nature. Some of our music can be somewhat experimental yet most is still quite accessible and easy on the ears and sensibilities. It’s introspective mood music, if you will. I think the music we release serves as a perfect soundtrack to making art.
Why did you base the record label in Alameda?
I moved to Alameda from Oakland in 2001. I had lived in the industrial wasteland just over the High Street bridge for quite a while, and after 18 years, when the romance of that had worn off, Alameda seemed both a short move and a convenient and relaxing place to relocate. In 2006, I co-founded an art gallery on Park Street called Autobody Fine Art, and though I no longer have anything to do with the running of the space, it is still here, and I have my own art studio in it.
What is your favorite thing about being based in Alameda?
There are a lot of reasons that I am happy living and working in Alameda. One big reason is its convenient location and ready accessibility to the rest of the East Bay and the greater Bay Area. After a daily work commute to San Francisco for 15 years, the easy freeway access and the fact that I always get a parking place directly in front of my house is a big plus. I’m also grateful for the high walkability factor and the ease in which I can stroll from either my house or studio to places like the post office, local antique shops, and bookstores.
What is the most challenging aspect of running an independent music label?
The most challenging part is staying on top of and remaining dedicated to the business end of things. In a perfect world, I would prefer to spend all my time in my studio coming up with new ideas and concepts and physically making my musical objets d’art. But the reality is that I probably spend even more time on the computer than I do at my work tables answering emails from interested musicians, promoting my releases and projects, trying to bring them to the attention of music bloggers, critics, and reviewers and in general trying to interest the world at large in what I am doing.
What does a day off from the studio look like for you and what are your favorite things to do in Alameda?
As someone who has spent most of his life in a self-employed capacity, with my work as an artist, music producer, and longtime blue collar career in the building industry, the idea of specific days off has not played as large a part of my mentality as it seems to do with others. For a long time now, my life has revolved around art. It’s what I do for work and play. But, I enjoy getting out of the studio and exploring the many quality restaurants that the island has to offer. My partner, Maria, and I like spending time out at the base, taking in the view at Rock Wall Winery or going to monthly auctions and the antiques fair where I gather a lot of the materials that I use in my packaging. And after almost 20 years in Alameda, I have quite a few friends and fellow artists in town whose company I enjoy.
Time Released Sound wrapped up 2019 with a year-end release of a collaborative album between well-known Japanese violinist and current Tangerine Dream member Hoshiko Yamane and Icelandic based Swedish musician Mikael Lind. As a new year gets underway, Herrick is making plans just six months out at a time. Among his projects lined up for 2020 is a kick-off record release from Polish musician and sound sculptor Jacek Doroszenko. Herrick said he is very grateful to loyal customers from across the world who have kept the label going all these years. For more information, visit TimeReleasedSound.com and TimeReleasedSound.bandcamp.com.