Abstract Logix's Souvik Dutta: From Living Room to Center of the Universe
Although the beginnings of Abstract Logix evolved in a quite natural, organic way, Dutta admits that he still had no goal in his mind as to where he wanted to take the company: "I was just one little shop on the internet, selling some stuff by other people." Nevertheless, the company was slowly growing, and by now Abstract Logix had gone from selling a handful of CDs to selling them in their hundreds. Then along came another unexpected turn in the story: "What happened was that Jeff Sipewho's a very close friend of mineand Jimmy Herring, told me they had done this sort of avant- garde project, called Project Z: Lincoln Memorial (Abstract Logix, 2005), which they wanted to sell on my site. By that timeand it was something which I wasn't really aware ofpeople had got to know of us, this little shop on the internet that sells stuff for John McLaughlin and some other people. I had built a relationship with City Hall distributor in the United States, and the next time I saw Jeff I said maybe I could distribute it around the country. So I bought the record for a very small amount of money, and that was the first record that I distributed as a label in the country. "
That first record on Abstract Logix's label was the foot in the door, though as Dutta recalls with some amusement, he had no idea of what lay on the other side of the door: "I had no experience of record distribution. I didn't know what I was doing."
Something that Dutta has always had, however, is an ear for good music and an unerring judgment. The first time Dutta met Shawn Lane at the party in his house, which was the site of conception and accidental birthplace of Abstract Logix, Lane turned him on to a young guitarist who had particularly impressed him when Lane was performing in Vienna. Lane's enthusiasm for guitarist Alex Machacek was such that Dutta did indeed check him out, though with no idea at the time of turning a profit: "It was in no sort of a business sense," Souvik says, "because Abstract Logix didn't exist." However, as soon as he was able to listen to Machacek's music, he understood Lane's excitement: "The first time I heard Alex, I knew this guy was specialthere was no doubt."
Machacek would send copies of his CD Featuring Ourselves (Next Generation Enterprises, 1999) from Austria, and Dutta would sell it. The relationship grew and has continued to grow and bear fruit to this day: "He was writing a new record called [sic] (Abstract Logix, 2006) and he had just moved to the United States," relates Dutta. "Nobody knew who he was and no record company had any interest in releasing his music." Abstract Logix put out [sic] to great reviews in the music press, announcing the arrival of a major new voice on electric guitar. Machacek has since released a number of critically acclaimed CDs on Abstract Logix, including the extraordinary 24 Tales (Abstract Logix, 2010), an ambitious, recomposed work based around a 51-minute drum solo by Marco Minneman. The range and depth of the musicrecomposed and improvisedattests to Machacek's status as one of the most innovative and daring composers/musicians on the jazz/fusion scene. Not for nothing did John McLaughlin say of the guitarist: "Alex Machacek's music starts where other music ends."
People were gradually getting to know Abstract Logix, largely through the label's distribution of John McLaughlin's DVD, though another tour selling merchandise for Remember Shaktithis time through Asia enabled Dutta to spread the name of the label still further. "I worked very hard to make Abstract Logix known to people who like this kind of music," explains Souvik. "I would take out little ads and make postcards and give them to people at the McLaughlin concerts, and that's how I spread the word about the company." In addition, Abstract Logix built up a relationship with distribution companies in Japan as well as Europe, and the music began to gain a wider audience. Today, around 60 percent of Abstract Logix's business is outside the United States.
Musicians too, began to see Abstract Logix as a good company to represent their best interests, as Dutta explains: "Things started to happen, man; I got a phone call from Scott Kinsey, and people started to approach me who maybe didn't have a large record company to release their stuff, and I just started to do it one by one."