Money Will Ruin Everything: The Second Edition is a really fine and finely-crafted book with two accompanying CDs that comprise a loose history of Rune Grammofon, a Norwegian music production team run by Rune Kristofferson. Rune has been in business for about 11 years now, and it’s my first experience with them.
This package consists of two CDs, mostly instrumental but with some vocals. Accompanying it is an approximately 150-page hardbound book. It’s got a very cleverly designed folded dust jacket that doubles as a reversible poster, one side abstract, the other a subdued photo with some unattributed text.
Inside the book you’ll find an interview between Kim Hiorthøy and Kristofferson discussing various aspects of Rune, some of their past and future projects, and various aspects of the groups they’ve recorded and those who are to come in future issues. It’s an engaging, fast-paced, and spontaneous interview with ideas and comments bouncing off the two participants like bullets off of Superman, insuring that you don’t dare miss a word for fear of having to reread everything.
There are also introductions by Rolling Stone Senior Editor David Fricke and Rough Trade founder Geoff Travis, as well as essays by Wire editor Rob Young and Design writer Adrian Shaughnessy and also a number of photos and illustrations. Overall an eclectic and very interesting project.
The music on the CDs is a compilation of various Rune musicians and groups, totaling 25 tracks at a combined two-and-one-half hours plus.
You certainly wouldn’t go wrong calling this an Experimental Music or Minimalist Music sampler. These groups would not be out of place if they were mixed in with some Philip Glass, John Cage, Terry Riley, John Adams, Laurie Anderson, or Steve Reich, or as mainstream as some Beatles selections, or Pink Floyd, or even Prog Rock groups such as King Crimson, Brian Eno or The Soft Machine. Overall, an adventurous project that’s surprising in its quality and beauty.
Since it’s a compilation, it’s a little difficult to pigeonhole the sound. The best I could come up with is an amalgam of minimalist, experimental, progressive rock, experimental rock, art rock, krautrock, and avant-prog, with soupcons of genres such as techno, trance, and even ambient. Representative groups that fall into these categories that are better known include Tangerine Dream, Aphex Twin, or The Orb.
Minimalism is a very broad field, far broader and probably far deeper than most people imagine, which contributes to the descriptive difficulties. Probably the first publicized definition of the minimalist genre was by Tom Johnson, a music critic for The Village Voice some 35 years ago, and which can be found in a well-written Wikipedia entry here.
To understand this CD more fully, I’d suggest a brief sojourn down the Wikipedia path. Although Wikipedia is not, by any standards, the gospel on any subject, it does contain a vast amount of very useful knowledge and facts, as well as opinions ranging from astute and erudite to silly and just plain wrong. A little side reading, however, can set one on the straight and narrow. Plainly put, start with Wikipedia. If you think you’d like to learn more about this subject or any of the people making music on it, consult a verifiable and accountable article or book.
Back to this CD/book combination. Rune Kristofferson, based on the contents of this package, seems to me to be striving diligently to put out quality projects, with little regard for the number of groups involved, except to keep the number manageable. His comments on where Rune’s been and where the label is going are obviously well-thought-out views, and show a great deal of thought and consideration have gone into producing ambitious products of high quality, readability and listenability. No junk here, I can assure you.
As I mentioned, this was my first experience with Rune Grammofon, and it will certainly not be my last. Highly recommended.