The story of Silent Records begins in 1985 when Kim Cascone released the first PGR LP titled “Silence”. Although this is included in Silent discographies as the first Silent Records release, the label
did not officially start until the following year when the Haters’ “In the Shade of Fire" was released. Music of this nature was immediately absorbed by the industrial scene. Kim did not want Silent
to be labeled an industrial label, or himself labeled an industrial artist. He wanted to convey something quite different. In an interview with Mark Riva for FAD Magazine, Kim stated, “I wanted to convey
something of beauty, of more subtlety, something more eternal. That is why I called the first record ‘Silence’."
1987 saw the release of the Organum/Eddie Prevost split LP when Kim traveled to
England to meet with David Jackman concerning the record and hand carried the master tapes back to the US for release. This same year, Kim was on tour with Thessalonians and was influenced by the noise and
musique concrete musicians who were active in the Denver/Boulder Colorado area. Architects Office LP was released as well as a few Thessalonians tapes. I want to note that during this time there was a
strong underground movement within the experimental scene where artists and collectors would trade cassette tapes of original material. Silent had found a niche in the ambient industrial movement.
1988 Kim (now listening to a lot of acid house) put the label on hold to persue an interest in filmsound (during this time he worked with David Lynch on the Twin Peaks soundtrack). It was during this time that
Kim met a sound editor named Jay Boekelheide, whose masterful ability to build luscious ambience for film would lay the groundwork for what Kim would later envision for Silent. Kim found himself doing post
production work for Lucas Film as well as working for David Lynch as assistant music editor on “Wild at Heart” and assistant sound editor on “Twin Peaks”.
In 1990 Kim came back to San Francisco and decided
that Silent Records deserved his full attention. After releasing the first CD on the label (PGR/Arcane Device - Fetish), he started a distribution company (Pulse Soniq) in 1991 to get the music in the stores
and help bring attention to electronic music. Once Pulse Soniq was established, attention was turned to Silent Records and more ambient industrial music was released.
It was also around this time that
techno and ambient demo tapes started coming into the Silent office. The rave culture in San Francisco was growing and a strong community was being built around it. It was in this environment that Silent
began to finally find a home. From 1993 to 1996, three imprints (Flask, Furnace, and Sulphur) were started to highlight different genres of electronic music. It was Silent Records however, that moved
into the ambient techno arena.
Silent had grown beyond the confines of it’s office space and moved offices. In 1995, Kim saw the potential of the Internet and in the Spring of 1996 he sold Silent
and Pulse Soniq to a Silent employee and started working as a sound designer for Thomas Dolby’s company Headspace.
Silent managed to release a few notable albums over the next year and a slew of co-released
vinyl, however, without the visionary leadership of Kim the label folded in 1997 and the owner disappeared, leaving in his wake a disheartened fan base and many angry artists.
It is no secret that Silent
Records was influential in helping electronic and experiemtnal music find a place in the record stores. More than that, Silent managed to perfectly capture the essence of the golden age of ambient music.
Chill rooms and raves were the ideal backdrop for what Silent symbolized. The music and artwork captured a very special time in musical history. When asked what Kim and Kathleen (Kim’s wife and Silent’s
head designer) feel was Silent’s greatest achievement, they both agree that it was the label’s ability to give the musicians on the label some exposure and to help build interest in the ambient genre in the US.