How Longform Editions Created a Boutique Outlet for Experimental Sounds

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The Australian label’s founder talks about offering a museum-like space for freeform music and breaks down a few key releases.

Various album art from the label Longform Editions
Graphic by Drew Litowitz

Andrew Khedoori remembers when he first fell under the spell of a longform composition. As a volunteer at a Sydney-based community radio station in the late 1990s, he came across a three-CD set of Eliane Radigue’s Trilogie de la Mort in a pile of discs to be discarded. Intrigued by the cover, he took it home and found himself engrossed in its shape-shifting dronescapes, each one roughly an hour long. “I was aware that I needed to give myself over to it,” he recalls. “That’s what Longform Editions is about—giving yourself that space and time to absorb something and get out of it what you can.”

The premise behind Longform Editions is simple. Every two months, a batch of four releases appears, featuring four different artists. Each one contains a single track anywhere between 20 minutes and an hour. Within those temporal parameters, the field is wide open. A given release might be built around ambient drift, inky drones, or filmic scene-setting; synthesizers and field recordings abound. But listen carefully and you’ll also encounter pipe organ, piano, and even lap steel guitar. The important thing is where the music might take you if given your full attention.

Khedoori, who cofounded Longform Editions in 2018, prefers to not even think of it as a label. “A label usually tries to establish a kind of identity for itself,” he says over Zoom from his native Sydney. In contrast, Longform Editions has steered clear of anything like a signature sound. It’s digital-only, and its catalog is a revolving door. The four names in each batch of releases are drawn from diverse corners of experimental and electronic music—some well known, some not at all. “We think of it more like an ongoing conversation that a lot of different people are taking part in,” Khedoori says. Another metaphor he likes is the art museum; in fact, he calls the project “a gallery for listening.”

Before Longform Editions, Khedoori and label partner Mark Gowing ran Preservation, a more traditional record label, albeit with a similar focus on ambient and experimental music. But after 15 years and 70-some-odd releases—including records by the improvising guitarist Loren Connors and folk singer-songwriter Tara Jane O’Neil—they decided to try something new. At the same time, Khedoori says, “I started to think more deeply about my own type of listening.”

In his former day job as a music director at a public radio station, Khedoori found that the nonstop barrage of new releases was dulling his passion for music. “My listening became dissipated,” he admits. “And streaming became more of a hindrance than a help.” He increasingly found himself disillusioned with the “infinite library” promised by streaming services. “Music is an art form and should be absorbed in the same way you might absorb a painting in a gallery,” he adds. “We wanted to challenge the digital clutter that jams our phones, and we wanted to subvert the way we absorb and hear things.”

Still, Khedoori stresses that there is no one way to experience a Longform Editions release. Although influenced by Pauline Oliveros’ philosophy of Deep Listening—a mindful exercise that assumes the discipline of spiritual practice—he was leery of being too prescriptive, and his open-mindedness is reflected in the varied attitudes that artists bring to their own work in the series. In a text accompanying her contribution to the series, Danish sound artist Sofie Birch encourages a “silent contract of patience and awareness” between creator and listener. Los Angeles beat musician Ahnnu, on the other hand, favors more distracted modes of encountering art. “I wouldn’t recommend a listener to listen to a piece of music too closely,” he writes; he believes his music is best understood when one’s attention is allowed to roam.

 

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