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Playground magazine

Record Label


Nonesuch Records

Present location: New York, USA

Since: 1964

Sub-labels: Explorer Series, International Series, Nonesuch Digital


Nonesuch is an American label founded in 1964 by Jac Holzman. In the first stage of their existence, they specialised in classical music, offering titles at accessible prices. In order to be able to do that, they concentrated on getting European licenses, instead of commissioning new volumes. At the end of the sixties, they started opening up to new sounds, particularly electronic music, thus becoming the first label in history to commission an electronic album, “Silver Apples Of The Moon”, by Morton Subotnik. Around that same time, they started the Explorer Series, dedicated to world music (a non-existent term in those days). Between 1967 and 1984, Nonesuch released recordings from Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, South America and Eastern Europe - establishing themselves as the absolute pioneers of the genre and introducing the American public to sounds they had never heard before. In the eighties, Nonesuch also started releasing jazz records and music for theatrical productions.

In the past decade, the platform's stylistic spectrum has expanded and diversified. The label started to add pop and rock greats to its roster - such as Emmylou Harris, Randy Newman, David Byrne, k.d. lang, Joni Mitchell, Brian Wilson, Shawn Colvin, Sam Phillips and T-Bone Burnett - alongside names from the new alternative pop and rock generation, including Wilco, The Black Keys, The Magnetic Fields, Punch Brothers, Chris Thile, Laura Veirs and Christina Courtin. In 2002, they released the acclaimed “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot” by Wilco, and in 2004 they put Brian Wilson's “Smile” on the market, a high-profile album the artist had been working on since the end of the sixties. In 2004, four albums from the Nonesuch catalogue were nominated for a Grammy, in four different categories: Best Classical Music Album (John Adams), Best World Music Album (Youssou N'Dour), Best Alternative Music Album (Wilco) and Best Jazz Album (Bill Frisell). They've recently become Björk's label in the USA.

Selected discography

Morton Subotnick: “Silver Apples Of The Moon” (1967)

Steve Reich: “Early Works” (1987)

Wilco: “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot” (2002)

Youssou N'Dour: “Egypt” (2004)

Brian Wilson: “Smile” (2004)

Wilco: “A Ghost Is Born” (2004)

Amadou & Mariam: “Dimanche A Bamako” (2005)

The Black Keys: “Attack & Release” (2008)

Allen Toussaint: “The Bright Mississippi” (2009)


John Adams

Amadou and Mariam

Laurie Anderson

Angelo Badalamenti


The Black Keys

Buena Vista Social Club

David Byrne

John Cage

Paolo Conte

Ry Cooder

Christina Courtin

Ibrahim Ferrer

Bill Frisell

João Gilberto

Gipsy Kings

Philip Glass

The Gothic Archies

Jonny Greenwood

Emmylou Harris

Kronos Quartet

k.d. Lang

Los Zafiros

The Low Anthem

The Magnetic Fields

Clint Mansell

Brad Mehldau

Stephin Merritt

The Pat Metheny Group

Joni Mitchell

Youssou N'Dour

Randy Newman

Thomas Newman

Orchestre Baobab

Carlos Paredes

Joshua Redman

Steve Reich

Morton Subotnick

Ali Farka Touré

Rokia Traoré

Jeff Tweedy

Laura Veirs

Caetano Veloso

Brian Wilson


Iannis Xenakis

John Zorn