The underground music scene of Seattle-Olympia in late ‘70s was small but seeded. The vestiges of prog rock pompously pummeled the few clubs and record shops before punk and new wave became the rage. Leimer sought to support a growing community of experimental composers by launching the Palace of Lights record label in 1979 with his wife Dorothy Cross. He was creatively autonomous to the point of being a persona absentia in Seattle’s 80s rock scene. Unconcerned by social status, he enlisted musicians from experimental and post-punk groups in the area to come record as Savant at his home studio, Tactical.
Savant was designed by Leimer to tap into entropic truths, asserting an uncaged counterpart to the loop-based minimalism he produced in isolation. Savant was a band sans jam.
Since Savant’s Artificial Dance was just released on RVNG Intl., we recently got in touch with Kerry Leimer to discuss the new compilation, the work on his record label Palace of Lights and some of his music interests.
How did you got in touch with the NY based record label RVNG Intl.?
It seems that the Savant records managed to hang around for quite a while. We re-mastered and reissued The Neo-Realist (at Risk) years ago on CD, but the vinyl persists. The original LPs come and go on sites like eBay, year in, year out. I know DJs have been using bits of it and Stationary Dance for years and it may have a modest underground reputation, which may have contributed to this reissue.
The story probably begins with Greg Davis re-mastering and reissuing my Music for Land and Water on Autumn Records a few years ago. Greg planned to then follow up with a similar release of my early tape work. That project became too big for autumn, so Greg got in touch with RVNG about doing what eventually became A Period of Review.
I think RVNG was initially more interested in Land of Look Behind and the Savant tracks, probably because the music is more reliant on percussion and therefore more accessible to more people. But I said no, so RVNG went ahead with A Period of Review. And they did a great job, and they did what they said they would do, and built some trust. And so it seemed reasonable to go forward with Savant.