Best Imported Record Label (2012)

ugEXPLODE Records

In 1991, a teenaged Chicago miscreant who obsessed over No Wave, metal, punk, noise, classical, and free jazz crowned himself Weasel Walter and launched ugEXPLODE Records, created primarily to document his own work as visionary pilot of his "brutal prog" ensemble the Flying Luttenbachers. A maniacal fusion of intricate math-rock precision, shape-shifting experimentalism, and jazz-cum-black-metal deconstruction, Walter assembled like-minded extremists like Ken Vandermark, Jeb Bishop, Fred Lonberg-Holm, Ed Rodriguez, and Mick Barr, and parlayed his cataclysmic vision into a string of face-ripping records. Upon Walter's early naughts relocation to Oakland, the intrepid percussionist's improvisational craftsman leanings converged with that of trailblazers in the Bay Area scene; he formed alliances with legendary guitarist Henry Kaiser and bassist Damon Smith that are still reverberating to this day. But it wasn't until Walter's move to Brooklyn that his vision came to full fruition. In a 2009 interview with the Voice, Walter lamented the lack of iconoclasts in New York who "stick the fuck out." Walter has not only remedied that shortfall with his ubiquity here, but he has also corralled his troops of radical innovators live and via the myriad records he has put out on ugEXPLODE—including 2011 Best Guitarist Mary Halvorson, composer David Earl Buddin, chamber-rock noiseniks Normal Love, ace trumpeter Peter Evans, art-noise punks White Suns, and his own No Wave–inspired shred quartet, Cellular Chaos.


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