With new labels sprouting up on a seemingly daily basis in every direction that the eye can see, it takes a lot for a fledgling imprint to get noticed these days. Often a thankless task, running an independent record label is a labour of love in the truest sense of the word. Do it right though, and you can be responsible for the forging of a sonic aesthetic, the breaking of new talent and innovations in sound. Today on Friday Fives we give special mention to five labels who have achieved just as much in recent times. Hailing from locales as far flung as the United Arab Emirates and Vancouver, Canada, the five labels share little in common save for their shared commitment to individuality and integrity…oh and a shed load of bloody good music of course.
One of the best newcomer labels of last year, this Debussy referencing imprint led by a shrouded figure who goes by the name of Gizmo has been sending out waves of leftfield excitement with each and every twelve-inch stormer. It entered the fold with a slab of acidic House from Dutchman Ekman, featuring a DJ Sotofett rework, it’s safe to say things were kicked off with a bang. This was followed up with a rare outing from another Dutch producer in hot demand – Gesloten Cirkel. Also featuring a high-profile remix on the flip and from none other than Boddika under his AAD guise. Since then there has been a variety of jagged Lo-Fi bangers, Broken beat tips and Electro House jams from MGun, Vereker, Breaker 1 2, L’estasi Dell’oro and Cousin Cockroach (aka Dego). The most recent release is a collaborative effort from Breaker 1 2 and Ekman and next on the agenda comes the ‘Smuggler’s Bureau’ EP from another favourite of ours, Tuff Sherm and will feature a deep rework from L.I.E.S artist Delroy Edwards. But that’s not all, Gizmo also puts out obscure Eastern folk music on sub label ΚΕΜΑΛ and has just announced Japan Blues to be the next contributor to the Brasserie Heroique edits series.
The self-proclaimed ‘vinyl only imprint based in the dessert’ Bedouin is run by Salem Rashid and operates out of the United Arab Emirates. Distributed by Honest Jons, the first three releases come from Allison Chanic, Imugen Orihasam and Dez Williams. One of the features that sets this label apart is the undeniable allure of the mystique. The attraction of the unknown and the fascination of operating in an obscure far away land however doesn’t detract from the quality of the music. The stand out release for me is BDN 001. ‘Painlessly In Love’ by Allison Chanic is brilliantly composed EP featuring a remix from Lakker. Ominous vocals compliment destructive rhythmic patterns resulting in a dystopian venture in to the electronic avant-garde.
With their first release dropping in 2003, Reckno have steadily established themselves in the world of wonderfully presented cassette labels. Founded in Hampshire, the label’s discography boasts twenty-one releases including EPs from Tuff Sherm and dtcpu. The care and attention attributed to each limited edition cassette release is an attractive detail for any collector or enthusiast. From experimental takes on modern dance music to ambient string loops, Reckno seem to exist in an untouchable world of daring, expressive and original music that deserves much appreciation.
Responsible for some of the most beguiling lo-fi House to come out of Canada since…well ever, the team behind Vancouver’s Mood Hut have been earning attention in all the right circles. Despite being just two years old, there’s already a pretty substantial discography for newcomers to sink their teeth into, thanks in part to several album length cassettes which have been put out.
With the first ‘official’ release coming last July in the form of Cloudface’s serenely groovy ‘Devonian Garden’ EP, the label’s sonic aesthetic has continued in much the same vein ever since. Pender Street Steppers and Aquarian Foundation are the two cliques whose members contribute the lion’s share of the releases on Mood Hut, with the former’s ‘Life In The Zone’ mixtape (listen below) arguably one of last year’s finest. Seemingly somewhat press shy, a recent Boiler Room session live from their hometown and Bradley Zero’s NTS special are two of the best ways to school up on the hazy delights of this exciting label.
The common thread that unites the seemingly disparate material put out by this Copenhagen based label may seem hard to see-but it is there. Active since 2008, Tartelet has explored a wide scope throughout its discography but the mission statement seems to broadly be this; to make the zaniest yet most danceable music possible.
Tartelet’s early years saw the label putting out records from local Danish talent such as Tomski and James Braun, as well as the likes of German acoustic Techno trio Brandt Brauer Frick amongst many others. 2014 has seen an increased level of prominence for the label, with their release of Max Graef’s superlative debut providing an early highlight. Below is ‘Acid Tears’ from Graef’s friend Glenn Astro’s ‘Chemistry’ EP, released by the label back in March. 303 lines and Jazz Sax combine in perfect harmony to create a groover that engages throughout.