Music Portrait | posted 08.04.2021
Gondwana Records
Soul And Character
As a DJ and musician, Matthew Halsall became a label operator. Starting with a local focus on Manchester’s contemporary jazz scene, the trumpeter, composer and bandleader has since given his imprint Gondwana Records a fairly international focus.
Text Harry Schmidt
Rubriken_sticker_detail_06

Please find the Vinyl Records of Gondwana Records in the HHV Records webshop.


»A home for like-minded kindred spirits« was what he had in mind when Gondwana Records was born in 2008, Matthew Halsall tells us. »Jazz from the meditative-spiritual world, more contemporary modern jazz, neo-classical, ambient and electronic crossover are our strengths«, says the trumpeter, composer and bandleader, outlining his label’s profile. »But we’ve also released some stuff that goes beyond that and that we’re really proud of – Allysha Joy, Noya Rao, or most recently with Caoilfhionn Rose, a fantastic singer-songwriter from Manchester. We’re not afraid to break out, nor do we want to get stuck in a routine of putting out the same thing over and over again.« First and foremost, though, his goal is not to »make a lot of money or become a big corporate company«, but to offer »a happy and supportive place for musicians, he emphasizes. »It’s quite an independent soul business.« Currently, five employees take care of the label’s needs, everything is shared fairly. The focus is on respect for the artists and the tremendous energy they put into their releases. »We try to keep it balanced, to be aware that decisions have an impact on togetherness at all levels, and also to make the label more diverse.«

»We’re not afraid to break out, nor do we want to get stuck in a routine of putting out the same thing over and over again.« (Matthew Halsall)

Halsall started collecting records when he was 14. Two years later, he became obsessed with labels like Warp Records and Ninja Tunes, as well as classic jazz labels like Blue Note and Impulse!, later with imprints like Strata-East and others. »As a collector and DJ, I guess I was one of those people who were more interested in the label side of things«, says the now 37-year-old. At the same time, he started making music himself and discovered that there was a healthy jazz scene in Manchester. Central to that was Matt & Phred’s Jazz Club, which presented contemporary crossover jazz seven nights a week and provided a platform especially for Manchester acts like The Cinematic Orchestra. »There was a mix of hip-hop, drum’n’bass, spiritual jazz and folk going on there – a fairly eclectic sound. I was there four to five nights a week and eventually started to talk to the musicians.« Quickly, this gave rise to the idea of »shine a light on this interesting scene with a label.«_ In addition to his own records, those of saxophonist Nat Birchall were among the first Gondwana releases. In addition to the reference to his mother’s former antique store, the idea of the eponymous supercontinent also expresses the idea of a world community. At first, he says, it was harder than he thought, but by GoGo Penguin’s debut album, a new level had been reached. Halsall began looking at the bigger picture and signing new artists: Mammal Hands, Phil France and John Ellis added to the roster, then Portico Quartet and Hania Rani joined. «It’s just grown on a nice steady pace«, Halsall says.

Although he nowadays appears more as a radio presenter than a club DJ, dancefloor culture is still very important to him: »My biggest influence, both as a musician and label owner, has been DJs: Gilles Peterson and Mr. Scruff are two of the most important figures in my musical education.« Starting with a local focus, Gondwana has since taken on quite an international outlook: In addition to British acts, artists from Poland, Australia, the U.S. and Belgium have joined the catalogue. Some come to him via the demo page, but also via recommendations from his musicians. Others he actively approaches when he feels they fit the label philosophy. »Development happens in phases«, Halsall says. His main credo as an A&R: »It’s not about quantity, it’s about quality.« What a production must have to become a Gondwana release? »First and foremost, it has to be honest and have a sense of soul and character that, when you then face the artist in person, feels true and makes you feel a strong, deep connection between the person and the music.« Just about all releases appear on vinyl, often in collector’s editions. »Ambitious and playful« is the motto, also when it comes to the artwork, which he is responsible for with his brother. In addition to classic jazz labels, Factory Records is also one of his favourites as a label designer. Scheduled for 2021 are albums by Portico Quartet, Hania Rani and himself, an EP by Mammal Hands, and releases by some new signings from Los Angeles, Berlin and the Middle East.


Please find the Vinyl Records of Gondwana Records in the HHV Records webshop.

Your Comment
Related Articles
Music Essay | posted 24.06.2019
British Jazz
On The Hot Spot
Jazz in Great Britain is in the midst of a generational shift. New talents from Manchester to London are revising gridlocked listening habits and are testing the limits of the genre. But why now?
Music Portrait | posted 26.05.2021
Portico Quartet
Guest Mix
»Terrain« is the name of the new album of the British band Portico Quartet, which was released these days on Gondwana Records. For us, Portico Quartet’s Jack Wyllie has put together 60 minutes of music in an exclusive DJ mix.
Music Review | posted 23.01.2012
Portico Quartet
Portico Quartet
Portico Quartet’s unconventional jazzers have extended their sound-spectrum – which has always been quite broad – once again.
Music Portrait | posted 07.07.2020
International Anthem
In search of the truth
For six years the label International Anthem from Chicago has been reliably delivering jazz with their own attitude and idea. Although the founders refuse to be ascribed almost any kind of attribution to a genre. For them, the most beautiful sound is just always: the truth.
Music Portrait | posted 30.06.2020
We Jazz
With emphasis on We
We Jazz, that stands for edgy, surprising jazz from the north. And also not. Since 2013 the festival has been held in Helsinki, since 2016 the label was founded. Matti Nives mainly publishes Finnish bands there. And acts as one of the most important networkers of the local scene.
Music Portrait | posted 17.12.2020
On The Corner
Bangers for the backroom
With his label On the Corner Records, Pete Buckenham serves a heady stew of afro-futuristic jazz concepts and contemporary street grooves beyond the genre ascriptions, and is opening the gates to the sound universe of tomorrow.
Music Review | posted 10.01.2014
BadBadNotGood
BBNG2
To get jazz back out of the feuilleton, it’s taken nothing but the gentlemen of BadBadNotGood. »BBNG2« is making jazz dangerous again.
Music Review | posted 11.02.2016
Ed Motta
Perpetual Gateways
Since Donny Hathaway, hardly anyone has sounded this tender. With »Perpetual Gateways«, jazz singer Ed Motta is keeping up his high standards.
Music Review | posted 22.03.2016
Vijay Iyer / Wadada Leo Smith
A Cosmic Rhythm With Each Stroke
Words like »sublime« should be used sparingly; however, it’s more than fitting for the encounter between Vijay Iyer and Wadada Leo Smith.
Music Review | posted 14.04.2016
Özdemir Erdoğan
Jazz Session
Özedemir Erdoğan’s »Jazz Session« gives us a good idea of the great things waiting to be explored in the field of Turkish music.
Music Review | posted 10.05.2016
Bacao Rhythm & Steel Band
55
On »55«, the Bacao Rhythm & Steel Band shows how good Steel Drum-Funk can function with Hip-Hop elements.
Music Review | posted 07.07.2016
BBNG (BadBadNotGood)
IV
With their new LP »IV«, BBNG (BadBadNotGood) are proving the critics wrong: their instrumental hip hop has defeated the alleged elevator-jazz.
Music Review | posted 01.04.2019
Steve Reid
Nova
The only bad thing about »Nova« by Steve Reid and the Legendary Master Brotherhood from 1978 is that it’s already over after 30 minutes.
Music Review | posted 14.02.2020
The Heliocentrics
Infinity Of Now
With »Infinity Of Now«, which has just been released by Madlib Invazions, the genius of the Heliocentrics should really get around now. To the inifinity.
Music Review | posted 09.03.2020
Pharoah Sanders
Live In Paris 1975
Pharoah Sanders recorded “Live In Paris 1975” in times of transition. This is reflected in the stylistic diversity of the recordings, but not in the playing of his quartet.
Music Column
Records Revisited
Funkadelic – Maggot Brain (1971)
With »Maggot Brain« Funkadelic 1971 goes to the dark side of funk. The triumphant pleasure principle is interspersed with dystopian eschatology, and juxtaposes the celebration of life with an oppressive doomsday mood.
Music Portrait
Hōzan Yamamoto
Meditation out of improvisation
For over five decades he pushed Japanese jazz towards spiritual spheres, without kitsch or esoteric – and just a little pathos. Above all, he garnered reputation for it back home. Even today Hōzan Yamamotos work is internationally considered an insider tip.
Music Portrait
Hoshina Anniversary
The Techno and jazz meltdown
Hoshina Anniversary makes techno. But he would rather see himself as a successor to jazz and traditional Japanese music. And the Tokyo native is not alone in this. In this sense, jazz is less what you play than how you play it.
Music Essay
Jazz kissas
Where the music plays in Japan
They offer classy retreat from a world where everyone listens all the time. And they celebrate listening to music: Jazz Kissas, Japan’s unofficial cultural heritage. Journalist Katsumasa Kusunose is now documenting it.
Music Portrait
Hiroshi Suzuki
The unknown with the trombone
In 1976, Japanese trombonist Hiroshi Suzuki recorded an album. “Cat,” which is characterized less by perfection than by a fine groove, was somewhat overlooked at one time. Now you can rediscover it.
Music Essay
Small In Japan
Japan, a Vinyl Nation? Not really.
Elaborate packaging, audiophile listening bars and the highest number of record shops in the world: Japan, a vinyl paradise? No. For decades, the medium has only played only a minor role there. A cultural history of Japan’s music industry.
Music List
Evidence
10 All Time Favs
Evidence is a producer, cratedigger and rapper, and one who in 15 years of career has never lost the desire to discover. Now his album »Unlearning Vol.1« is released. We asked about 10 vinyl records that have shaped, improved and educated him.
Music List
Record Store Day 2021 – 2nd Drop
12 releases to look out for
On July 17, 2021, the second Record Store Days this year will now take place. Again, several dozen exclusive releases have been announced. We have again picked twelve records that we want to recommend to you.
Music Column
Records Revisited
The Smiths – The Queen Is Dead (1986)
Released in 1986, »The Queen Is Dead« is the culmination of the British band The Smiths’ career, which lasted only five years and four studio albums. It still sounds refreshingly idiosyncratic even after so long.
Music Column
Records Revisited
Porter Ricks – Biokinetics (1996)
When Porter Ricks released the album »Biokinetics« in 1996, it was more than just a collection of their first 12inches flanked by two bonus tracks. It was a utopian attempt to expand upon the dub techno formulas.
Music Portrait
BBE Records
The influencer's influencer
Peter Adarkwah is the reason why some lives have been changed by J Dilla, why Roy Ayers experienced a second spring and why Japanese jazz albums are reviewed by Pitchfork. In other words: BBE Music turns 25 years this year.
Music List
Record Store Day 2021 – 1st Drop
12 vinyl records to look out for
On June 12, 2021, the first of two Record Store Days will take place this year. For this alone, several dozen exclusive releases have been announced. We have picked out twelve records that we would like to recommend to you.
Music Portrait
Portico Quartet
Guest Mix
»Terrain« is the name of the new album of the British band Portico Quartet, which was released these days on Gondwana Records. For us, Portico Quartet’s Jack Wyllie has put together 60 minutes of music in an exclusive DJ mix.
Music Portrait
SSIEGE
Looking for the Infinite Loop
Densely packed with details, the sound of SSIEGE strolls along the transitions of the seasons and during the process blurs ultra-saturated pictures with cravings yet unfulfilled. With them, the Italian producer manages to tell dream tales that recur endlessly.
Music Column
Records Revisited
Marvin Gaye – What's Going On (1971)
Is it even necessary to reminisce about this album? Not really. But you can listen to it again and again. And it has remained relevant to this day, for better or worse. Marvin Gaye’s »What’s Going On« is 50 years old.
Music Portrait
Seefeel
Music in vacuum
Seefeel are a convergence of improbabilities. For almost 30 years they have been playing between styles, unfettered by contemporary references. Their sound remains a singularity.
Music Portrait
Arsivplak
The Past, Re-presented
Volga Çoban’s Arsivplak label and Arşivplak edit project are two sides of the same coin: his approach to Turkish funk, disco, pop, rock and jazz is archival on the one hand and strives to shed a new light on old sounds on the other.
Music Column
Records Revisited
Grace Jones – Nightclubbing, 1981
Nightlife for androids: On »Nightclubbing«, along with one of the world’s leading rhythm sections, Grace Jones made sure that reggae and new wave would develop a new life of its own in 80’s pop.
Music List
Crumb
10 All Time Favs
Since their debut »Jinx« in 2019, Crumb have been considered the next big thing in music . Now their new album »Ice Melt« is out. The perfect opportunity to ask them about 10 records that have shaped, improved and educated them.
Music Interview
Adrian Younge
Sonic history lesson
»The American Negro« marks the beginning of a new chapter in Adrian Younge’s work. It is more frontal, more politically charged, and more self-assured. He wants to teach. We had the opportunity for an in-depth interview.
Music List
Leon Vynehall
10 All Time Favs
With his new album »Rare, Forever«, British producer Leon Vynehall continues the path he started with »Nothing Is Still« 3 years ago. Today he tells us 10 vinyl records that have shaped, improved and educated him.
Music Column
Records Revisited
Gil Scott-Heron – Pieces Of A Man (1971)
He was called the “Godfather of Hip Hop” because he wrote about drugs, racism and the Divided States of America. Gil Scott-Heron’s most successful album is now 50 years old – and more timely than ever.
Music List
Jenn Wasner (Flock Of Dimes)
10 All Time Favs
With her solo project Flock of Dimes, Jenn Wasner has just released her most personal and at the same time most substantially far-reaching album. We asked the musician to name 10 Vinyl records that have shaped, improved, and educated her.
Music Portrait
Gondwana Records
Soul And Character
As a DJ and musician, Matthew Halsall became a label operator. Starting with a local focus on Manchester’s contemporary jazz scene, the trumpeter, composer and bandleader has since given his imprint Gondwana Records a fairly international focus.
Music Column
Records Revisited
Yellow Magic Orchestra – BGM (1981)
Cues for the future: on their fourth album, »BGM«, the synth wizards of Yellow Magic Orchestra drafted background music for generations to come.
Music Portrait
Important Records
Deep Listening Forever!
Whehter it’s Pauline Oliveros, Éliane Radigue, Alina Kalancea or Caterina Barbieri: For 20 years now, Important Records has been like a well-stocked record shop for exciting sounds and music that needs to be heard intensely.
Art Portrait
Vincent de Boer
Like Jazz With Brushes
Dutch artist Vincent de Boer has become a regular band member of the British jazz band Ill Considered. He draws record covers based on the grooves he hears. For »The Stroke«, the process has now been reversed.
Music Portrait
Far Out Recordings
At the epicenter of the Brazil craze
Joe Davis is the train driver whose bandwagon a whole generation of Brazil-affine producers jumped on in the mid-nineties. With his Far Out Recordings label, he became the worldwide representative of Brazilian music culture.
Music List
Aaron Frazer
10 All Time Favs
»Introducing« is the name of Aaron Frazer’s first solo album. As the drummer of Durand Jones & The Indications, however, he is by no means an unknown name. So musically it’s off to the sixties. He tells us what actually influenced him musically.
Music Portrait
On The Corner
Bangers for the backroom
With his label On the Corner Records, Pete Buckenham serves a heady stew of afro-futuristic jazz concepts and contemporary street grooves beyond the genre ascriptions, and is opening the gates to the sound universe of tomorrow.
Music Portrait
Tidal Waves
Riding the Wave
A powerful wave has already washed many treasures ashore. Seen in this way, the name fits, because the Belgian reissue label Tidal Waves searches for, discovers and publishes pearls of music history believed to be lost.
Music Portrait
Mort Garson
Music for plants and people
He was involved in over 900 songs and reached number 1 on the Billboard charts, but Mort Garson’s current fame is based on an encounter with Bob Moog, whom he persuaded to give him one of his synthesizers. A rediscovery.
Music Portrait
Dark Entries
Between Disco, Goth and Porno Soundtracks
Since 2009, Josh Cheon has been running his label for underground music from the 1980s and those who want to be the next big underground hit. Next year he will have released over 300 records. We introduce you to the label from San Francisco.
Music Interview
Makaya McCraven
»I'm excavating sounds«
Makaya McCraven is one of the most leading jazz musicians of these days. Not only his hometown Chicago, but the whole world seems to be inspired by the free approach to the jazz heritage in his music. We had the chance for an interview.
Music List
Record Store Day 2020 – 3rd Drop
12 releases you should look out for
On October 24, 2020 the third of three Record Store Days will take place this year. More than 120 exclusive releases have been announced. We have picked out twelve records that we would like to recommend to you.
Music Essay
A Journey Into Turkish Music
Gastarbeiter*innen Musik
Simultaneously with the genesis of Anadolu Pop, a viral infrastructure is developing in West Germany. This »guest worker music« has always only touched the public consciousness. The economic exchange could have also been a cultural one.
Music Essay
A Journey Into Turkish Music
Anadolu Pop
Altın Gün, Derya Yıldırım & Grup Şimşek or Gaye Su Akyol: more and more bands are again referring to the sound of Anadolu Pop, which was formed in Turkey in the 1960s. But is it a revival? We clarify.
Music List
Record Store Day 2020 – 2nd Drop
Another 12 releases you should look out for
On September 26, 2020 the second of three Record Store Days this year will take place. More than 150 exclusive releases have been announced. We have picked out twelve vinyl records that we would like to recommend to you.
Music Portrait
Melody As Truth
On the threshold of sound and silence
With his label Melody As Truth, Jonny Nash moves between balearic and ambient. The journey leads from new age to a new art of world chamber music.
Music Interview
Kelly Lee Owens
»We store emotions in our body«
The Welsh musician released her second album »Inner Song« which wipes tears from cried-out eyes with one hand after the closing set while opening the window into everyday life with the other. A conversation with Owens about rave memories, trauma sessions and her challenge with Four Tet.
Music List
Harmonious Thelonious
10 All Time Favs
With »Plong« Stefan Schwander shakes the foundations of club music. His new solo album as Harmonious Thelonious lets everyday noises develop an eerie life of their own. He told us which 10 records have have shaped, improved and formed him.