Bands I Miss: Labradford

The trio hasn’t released a new album since 2001’s Fixed::Context.

There’s something especially frustrating about a band that’s gone on an apparently “permanent” hiatus, as opposed to simply breaking up, calling it “quits”, etc. If the band packs it in, there’s at least some measure of closure amidst the overall suckiness of the event — the band members are (theoretically) moving on, which makes it easier for fans to do so (mostly). However, when a band doesn’t ever “officially” disband, there’s always the tantalizing but ultimately frustrating hope that they might, someday, get back together and release some new music.

Such is the case with Virginia’s Labradford. Arguably one of the most important and influential “post-rock” bands, the trio of Mark Nelson, Robert Donne, and Carter Brown haven’t released a new album since 2001’s Fixed::Context but they’re still listed as part of Kranky’s current roster. Their Kranky website bio even concludes with:

Although the members are now dispersed from their Richmond, VA point of origin, Labradford is, in our minds at kranky anyway, an ongoing project.

Their first album, 1993’s Prazision, never did much for me. It wasn’t until their 1996 self-titled album that their sound really clicked with me, and did it ever. The self-titled album is still my favorite, from the opening ghostly sounds of chains being dragged over Co2 canisters to the fragile organ melodies and haunting lyrics of “Pico”, from “Scenic Recovery“ s glorious, sepia-tinged guitar/violin waltz to the cinematic denouement that is “Battered”.

The follow-up, 1997’s Mi Media Naranja, delved deeply in Morricone-esque soundscapes, and their final album, the aforementioned Fixed::Context, may have only been 37 minutes long, but it still managed to sound vast and endless. After that, however, the mighty Labradford fell silent — which seems ironic considering how the band’s music had grown progressively quieter and more sparse with each album.

The three members have moved on to other projects: Pan-American, Spokane, and Aix Em Klemm. But there’s still a part of me that holds out hope that the trio will reunite for a proper farewell, and delve once more into the haunting, graceful-yet-ominous ambience that they have explored with such skill and effect in years past.

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