Music Week — Preservation

Published:  November 23, 2012
Heath Killen
Music Week — Preservation

It’s the final day of our music week record label series, and today we’re coming all the way back to Australia – specifically to Sydney where the Preservation label was born and still operates today.

Preservation has been one of my personal favourite record labels for many years, due in no small part to the design direction of Mark Gowing, which always perfectly compliments the music within. The label’s releases (which feature both Australian and international artists) are diverse, surprising, and frequently beautiful. Even when a new album comes from a genre I wouldn’t usually listen to, I find myself making a special exception when it’s from Preservation. There is a sense of curation behind the label, and careful consideration to how each release speaks an overarching philosophy. More recently, the label has started to develop sub-labels or side projects, such as the Circa series, which exist within the label, but feature their own unifying design and conceptual framework.

I could speak at length about the label, but perhaps it’s better to just hand over the reins to Preservation’s co-founder and manager Andrew Khedoori. Andrew is music director at 2ser radio (also based in Sydney) and here he shares insights about Preservation’s goals, principles, and its future.

Black Eagle Child - Lobelia

What is the history of Preservation?
Designer Mark Gowing and I started the label after talking a lot about music and its design and packaging in its release. We felt it as the industry wheel kept turning that was becoming somewhat of a lost art. At the same time I had an opportunity to release a recording (the label’s debut from Sun) and we decided the timing was right to create something as such. Mark is still the creative director but not involved day to day. At this point we’ve done about 50 releases of the more exploratory ends of electronica, neo-classical, folk, pop as well as dyed-in-the-wool experimentalism.

Grand Salvo - The Temporal Wheel

Grand Salvo - Slay Me In My Sleep

What has inspired the design direction of the label?
A sense of wonder and intrigue as well as a classic sense of the progressive might sum it up. We have always aimed for something that we felt housed the music well as well as built a consistency of vision for the label, something recognisable and hopefully anticipated.

Post - Post

How important are physical releases to the label, and what are your thoughts on digital releases?
Design is important to the being of the label. It’s a large part of the activity and satisfaction in running Preservation, so the physical product captures much of what we want Preservation to stand for. Still, I’ve no problem with digital because the exposure and enjoyment of the music is paramount also. People have choices and they should make them.

Nuojuva - Valot Kaukaa (Art by Bianca Chang)

Nuojuva Valot Kaukaa

Ous Mal - Nuojuva Halava (Art by Colin Jenkinson)

Who are the designers you’ve chosen to work with, and why were they chosen?
The majority of Preservation’s output has been designed by Mark Gowing, though there has been fantastic art from photographer Jacob Ring, Bianca Chang’s work with paper and Colin Jenkinson’s mixed media. They were asked to work on particular records for their sensibility as well as sensitivity in connecting to the music from an artist, realising something thattraces its feeling through their brilliant visual means.

The Singing Skies - Routine and War

Select covers from the Circa 2011 series

What’s coming up next for the label?
A series called Contrasts – split cassette releases that pair a veteran of a musical field with someone following a similar pathin their pursuits. The design for the series follows a simple but stark block colour scheme making for some nice and bright juxtapositions, just like the music contained within.

Oliver Mann - The Possum Wakes At Night

Music Week 2012 —

Monday: Sensory Projects, Melbourne
Tuesday: Raster-Noton, Chemitz
Wednesday: No Format!, Paris
Thursday: Minimal Wave, New York
Friday: Preservation, Sydney


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