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Label Profile: 5CM Recordings, founded by Mathias Timmerman


“In 2013, I played my first solo set (as Underwater Escape From the Black Hole) at one of the Zeitgeist fests that were held in Boone,” Mathias Timmerman, of Des Moines label 5CM Recordings, said in an email. “And I ended up meeting a lot of other folks who were running little DIY labels, putting out tapes and releases for the weird little experimental projects that they were currently in. I loved the culture I found at the fests, people swapping tapes with each other and enjoying some waay out there experimental music. Iowa labels such Personal Archives, Warm Gospel and Centipede Farm were big inspirations.”

Originally from the Dubuque area, Timmerman and his partner Kaylee moved to Des Moines in 2014, and he started 5CM shortly after. The label’s first release was a split between his Underwater Escape … and a musician from Scotland named Soma.

“My half was mainly ambient loops and swells, and his half was in the same vein,” Timmerman said. “I’m still super happy with that release, both with the music itself and how the tapes turned out.”

More recent releases, he said, cover a wider variety of styles, from “shreddy prog punk” to “harsh noise.” Among them are a split from Gravity’s Constant (one of Timmerman’s solo projects) and Heaven Drugs, a cassette from Haploid (which Timmerman is also part of), and work from Moulttrigger, from Ames, and Excrete, based in Des Moines.

“I’m actually in waaay too many projects haha,” Timmerman said. “I play synths in Haploid, bass in Leonard, and I’m also in an improvised collective called Sarin and I do solo electronic music as Gravity’s Constant … One of the reasons I started 5CM was to have an excuse to put out physicals for some of the releases I was working on at the time. It helps having a little merch to sell at shows, and cassettes were a more affordable way to do that.”

Although he’s experimented with other media, Timmerman — a 7-inch vinyl, a lathe 7-inch, occasional CDs — but he keeps returning to cassettes.

“Cassettes are fun because they’re super easy to do on your own. You can order shells in almost any color you can dream of, and dubbing cassettes is something you can do totally on your own, without having to outsource anything. CDs can get a little tricky to do on your own and still look professional, but with cassettes, once you put some stickers on the tape and get the j card folded up and in place, and voila you have a legitimate looking somewhat professional release. When I started out in music having an actual physical release meant a lot to me, so I try to help others have the same.”

Ultimately, Timmerman said, “I’d like 5CM to become a little hub for some of the music that’s off the beaten path in the state. There’s some great little scenes that have been emerging across the state in the past few years, particularly in the metal and punk genres, but electronic music and experimental stuff is a little harder sell, so I think helping to promote some different genres will help diversify the music in the state a bit.”

This article was originally published in Little Village’s November 2022 issues.


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