Can’t even remember what these guys are like. I’ll give this a fresh listen before I put it away. But look at that label! Holy jeez. Courtesy of IPR (Independent Project Records), a label I knew from the beginning would have excellent possibilities for this blog. I had to resist posting several here over the course of my contributions.
If you’re not familiar with IPR, it’s a label started in the early '80s by Bruce Licher, musically known best for his role as founder of the excellent band Savage Republic. He also operates a letterpress printing outfit and did the majority of the IPR sleeves, center labels, and inserts on his own letterpress, which he now operates under the name Licher Art and Design. In addition to a lot of the Savage Republic stuff, the original LP release of Camper Van Beethoven’s debut, Telephone Free Landslide Victory, was put out by IPR with a gorgeous sleeve definitely worth seeking out.
The IPR aesthetic has the unique quality of being consistent (due to the regular use of letterpress printing), and yet incredibly diverse, with a very inventive and eclectic approach to design and text/image interaction. I mean, I like a bunch of stuff on the Sacred Bones label, and like their consistent design approach in theory, but it feels a little monotonous sometimes. IPR never feels that way to me. I don’t totally love every sleeve, but they’re always an unusual visual feast in some way or another, and many are really outstanding. I honestly don’t know how much input the bands had with Bruce in the design of their sleeves, and I would imagine he exercised quite a bit of control in this area. The original sleeve for his own band Savage Republic’s essential album Tragic Figures is simply fantastic, and he’s even done plenty of gorgeous and surprising fold-out CD sleeve constructions, including those for his less abrasive followup to SR, Scenic.
In the case of this Ten Foot Faces 7”, the outer sleeve, though nice, is pretty mild compared to some of the other IPR releases. But the center label is another story. Not only do we get the bizarre but striking band photo on the B-side, but we get a full-on zoetrope on the A-side.
I got into IPR in the mid-late ‘90s through an accidental introduction to Savage Republic, and discovered a number of the vinyl releases were actually pretty easy to find used at Amoeba in Berkeley, where I shopped most often. (This is still somewhat the case, depending on what you’re looking for, and I suppose being in California helps.) Turns out the label actually released some pretty diverse and high quality stuff, i.e. they’re not just worth picking up for the design, though that’s nearly reason alone. A number of the bands are pretty damn good, including the aforementioned few, plus Indian Bingo, Party Boys, Human Hands, The Dentists, For Against, and others. I haven’t yet heard Red Temple Spirits, but they sound like they might be interesting too. And of course, check into Savage Republic if you haven’t yet – really ragged, intense, percussion-heavy ‘80s L.A. post-punk!