Ipecac Recordings: Labels that changed music

Posted on 1 July 2010
By Kraig Heymans
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Ipecac is syrup made from roots and chemicals that doctors administer to patients who are worried they have swallowed something poisonous. Soon after ingesting, the unfortunate victim will soon completely empty their insides in a colourful yet completely horrific half hour of intensive vomiting.

Formed by the now infamous Mike Patton and ex-exec Greg Werckman, Ipecac has quite literally been making people sick since 1999.

Patton was pretty bored in ’99, his band Faith No More had split up, and he had just finished his last album with Mr. Bungle. With a seemingly endless well of creation and zest, he formed Fantômas, setting Ipecac up as a stop gap label to release what many had deemed completely ridiculous and unpalatable material from this, and many other bands he was a member of.

The label distinguished itself immediately from other labels by having a strict one album contract policy with all of its acts, clearly placing emphasis on art, rather than sales.

A dangerous tactic, and one surely Werckman knew the perils and pitfalls of, having worked in A&R for the massive Mercury records. Still, a lonely furrow was ploughed, and for years Ipecac has amassed a huge discography of odd, bizarre, and downright frightening records.

This approach of a one album contract is something that undoubtedly produces the best results by reducing worries of follow ups. Ipecac has managed to cultivate a community and artistic scene around it that is completely individual.

It is without a doubt right for some bands, which is probably why every album released by Ipecac’s deranged and often seemingly slapdash corporate machine has more merit than most albums on huge major labels. Lest we mention also the fact that without Ipecac, we would probably have significantly less Mike Patton in all our lives. Boo-hoo.

Ipecac Classics:

#1: Fantômas – The Director’s Cut
Probably the most bizarre supergroup ever (Patton, with members of Melvins, Slayer & Mr. Bungle), The Director’s Cut is a brutal and unforgiving lesson in film satire, featuring some of Mike Patton’s most extreme vocal techniques to date. With an unforgiving sense of humour, each effort takes on some of Mike’s favourite film and T.V. themes.

#2: Isis – Oceanic,
Sludgy, dense and thick; Isis’ sound contains all the most challenging aspects of metal, like repetition and drone, yet manages to make it infinitely enjoyable by building on motifs and Earth shattering riffs without dwelling on their colossal creations. Sadly Isis split up the 18th of May 2010, catch them at their best.

#3: Melvins – The Bootlicker,
Another loud and brash release from Melvins sees guitarist Buzz Osbourne compiling monolithic riffery for his faithful fans, but this time the song writing is as strong as Melvins would ever get.

#4: Hella – There’s no 666 In Outer Space,
Knowing full well that their fans wanted fast, complicated and jittering rhythms with shrieking vocals, Hella released 666, and after that their popularity soared, it’s not hard to see why with this classic.

#5: Tomahawk –Mit Gas,
Another bizarre Patton project, Tomahawk sees the man indulge in some native American folklore, whilst still remaining a brutal and punishing metal release, alongside his trademark croon and infectious sense of humour, this is the best Tomahawk album by far.