RIP Volcanic Tongue

RIP Volcanic Tongue

This past Sunday, Scottish record store Volcanic Tongue announced through its website that, due to lack of economic viability, it will be ceasing operations for good. This follows an the closure of Volcanic Tongue's physical shop on Argyle Street in Glasgow on August 21 of last year. Run by musician Heather Leigh and writer David Keenan, Volcanic Tongue was a haven for international experimental music from 2004 through now, exerting tastemaking influence via its weekly "Tip of the Tongue" feature on its website. These posts would feature Keenan's words on the best record the shop had heard that week, shining a light on everything from reissues of obscure New Zealand folk music to Japanese psych to good ol' fashioned noise music. Perhaps needless to say, Volcanic Tongue's closure—alongside that of Kim's in New York—foregrounds a dilemma for avant garde culture: if current-day economics are hostile to commercial institutions of the underground and outré, then what new form must those instituitons assume? Keenan, through his contributions to The Wire, has expressed sentiments that such crises mark the end of the type of underground Volcanic Tongue has championed. Of course, there are still plenty of record stores both online (experimedia, Boomkat, 905 Tapes) and in the real world (Heaven Street, Hanson Records, Deep Thoughts JP) which act as such cultural hubs, but the grisly collision of 20th century and internet modes of music distribution leaves the relationship between commerce and such art tumultuous. At the very least, Volcanic Tongue had a damn good run. The shop will be liquidating in the coming weeks. According to the site's announcement, Leigh has a number of releases planned in 2015 and Keenan will publish his first novel, The Comfort of Women.

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