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Thirsty Ear Recordings

Thirsty Ear Recordings
Founded 1977
Status Independent
Distributor(s) Alternative Distribution Alliance
Genre Jazz, hip hop, funk
Country of origin United States
Location Norwalk, Connecticut
Official website

Thirsty Ear Recordings is an American independent record label. It was founded in the late 1970s as a marketing company and expanded to issue its own records in 1990.

Thirsty Ear pioneered the concept of specialized marketing to the yet-unnamed alternative music world in the U.S. As such, Thirsty Ear was hired to implement campaigns in this new area for virtually every major label, working with such now-legendary artists as David Bowie, The Talking Heads and The Police, among many others.

In the mid-1980s, Thirsty Ear partnered with English labels 4AD and Beggars Banquet and established their US operations out of Thirsty Ear's offices. The Beggars Banquet alliance proved fruitful and continued for ten years, firmly establishing them as one of the premier English independent labels in America. In 1990, Thirsty Ear made its emergence as a record label of its own, quickly accelerating its position and becoming one of the top alternative independent labels within the U.S. music industry.

Thirsty Ear came to prominence in the mid-1990s thanks to its series of CD reissues of classic early industrial albums by pioneers such as Foetus, Einstürzende Neubauten, Marc Almond, Swans, and Test Dept. The label also released new albums by alternative rock bands such as Baby Ray, Madder Rose, and The Church.

A unique partnership with 2.13.61 Records, the label founded by punk legend Henry Rollins, led unexpectedly to Thirsty Ear's relationship with jazz iconoclast Matthew Shipp. Shipp would go on to become the Artistic Director of a new line of recordings named the Blue Series. The concept of the Blue Series was born from Thirsty Ear's desire to marry jazz's many languages into a cogent new one and perhaps shake up what was, and to a certain extent still is, a stagnant musical climate.

Since its beginning in 2000, the story of the Blue Series has been one of focused, organic evolution. From free jazz masters, legends in their own time, to some of the most innovative producers working in the world of modern hip-hop and electronic music, the Blue Series has come to encompass some of the most exciting developments in creative music since the turn of the new millennium. Featuring present-day jazz legends such as William Parker, Tim Berne, Charlie Hunter, David S. Ware and Matthew Shipp, and augmented by DJ Spooky, Dave Lombardo, Meat Beat Manifesto, U.K. electronica titans Spring Heel Jack, and hip-hop innovators El-P and Antipop Consortium (to name just a few,) the Blue Series acknowledges jazz's luminescent past without allowing it to smother its artists' desires to pave new ground. Thirsty Ear continues to work with the most forward thinking artists and earns tremendous praise for projects with the likes of Mary Halvorson, Jessica Pavone, Scanner, Daniel Bernard Roumain and Nils Petter Molvaer. The label enlisted indie rock's best for the benefit album "Rock the Net: Musicians for Net Neutrality," and earned a Grammy nomination for Sex Mob's Sexotica.

Thirsty Ear Recordings has remained active in the 2010s, putting out Matthew Shipp (Elastic Aspects), Nils Petter Molvaer (Baboon Moon), Black Music Disaster (S/T), Greg Ward (Phonic Juggernaut) and others.



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