Best known as the in-house producer and proprietor of the Shimmy Disc label, Kramer (first name Mark) has also had an extensive career as a musician, mostly with other bands or collaborators, but occasionally solo as well.
From the late '80s on, Kramer was a highly active collaborator, releasing projects with Jad Fair of Half Japanese, John S. Hall of King Missile, Ralph Carney and Daved Hild, ex-Gong frontman Daevid Allen, ex-King Missile member Dogbowl, ex-Soft Machine bassist Hugh Hopper, and Captain Howdy, a band featuring magician Penn Jillette on vocals and cartoon voice-over master Billy West (Ren & Stimpy, Futurama, etc.) on guitar. Kramer's solo career began in 1993 with the release of The Guilt Trip, which was followed in 1994 with The Secret of Comedy and 1995's Japanese-only Music for Crying; the albums combined Kramer's warped humor with his ample production skills and (sometimes) pop songwriting sense. In 1998, Kramer returned to solo recording with Songs from the Pink Death on Shimmy Disc and Let Me Explain Something to You About Art on Tzadik. A second Kramer release on Tzadik, The Greenberg Variations, arrived in 2003. He returned to the label for 2012's The Brill Building, a collection of covers of songs written by Brill Building greats including Carole King, Burt Bacharach, and Neil Diamond given Kramer's distinctive approach. He continued to produce albums for artists ranging from Colleen Green to Permahorn, and in 2017 launched the vinyl-only label Shimmy 500. That same year, The Brill Building, Book Two, with guitarist Bill Frisell, arrived on Tzadik. ~ Steve Huey, Rovi