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LWE's Top 5 Labels of 2010

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PostWysłany: 16-12-2010 15:50    Temat postu: LWE's Top 5 Labels of 2010 Odpowiedz z cytatem

When you fall under the spell of a particular producer, you can follow the arc of their work, from their first tentative steps through to bigger and more ambitious projects. The same is true with a record label, though rather than just presenting you with one particular view, they seek to encapsulate more of an ethos. Their arc is typically more exciting too as they can present you with many and varied styles from the past as well as the present. With the right A&R a label can be a sure-fire go to source of limitless quality, constantly teasing your ears with fresh additions and updates on their philosophy. In 2010 there were a clutch of stand out labels that succeeded in doing this, from small boutique labels that counted barely half a dozen releases to their name, to older, more well established labels whose output numbered several dozen. There were many more who warrant their own column space, but after much deliberation here is the short-list of LWE’s top five labels for 2010.

05. R&S

It’s interesting what a little time can do for your profile. Ten years ago the golden days of R&S were far behind them, back with the likes of Aphex Twin, Joey Beltram and CJ Bolland. Lackluster releases, an open-minded genre policy that eroded the tastemaking that made the imprint what it was, and financial hardships all soured the future of R&S to the point where they went into a lengthy hibernation. Emerging from their extended disco nap in 2008, R&S have slowly been clawing back respect from the dance music community they played such a pivotal part in shaping during the late 80’s and early 90’s. 2010 saw the label climb ever skywards in no small part due to the release of two of the best records of the year in James Blake’s CMYK and Klaiverwerke EPs. Blake’s highly experimental post-dubstep releases weren’t the be all and end of R&S this year though. Model 500, who first released on R&S back in 1993 with a compilation of their early work reincarnated this year as a proper group, with Juan Atkins adding Mike Banks, DJ Skurge and Mark Taylor to the fold. Their only release so far is the Detroit electro funk of OFI/Huesca, which was infused with more than a dash of dubstep, effectively bringing together the vintage sound of R&S with the new. Part of that new sound was also thanks to having Untold, Pariah and Space Dimension Controller all issue highly acclaimed records, showing the way forward for the veteran label and proving that there is plenty of life left in the old horse yet.

04. Ostgut Ton

The ebbs and flows of dance music trends can easily make last year’s hero this year’s villain, but in the case of Ostgut Ton, they have gone from strength to strength over the past few years, with 2010 showing no let up in their quality. The steady stream of twelve inch releases that emerged throughout the year, contained such gems as Steffi’s moody, deep house vocal “Kill Me,” Tama Sumo and Prosumer’s off-kilter, synthetic “Rarified,” L.B. Dub Corp’s tripped out, cosmic “Take It Down (In Dub)” and Ben Klock’s spooked out, concrete textured Compression Session EP. Album-wise, Shed followed up his 2008 masterpiece Shedding The Past with the predictably hard to pin down The Traveller, which showed the producer edging further into techno secularism. Marcel Dettmann unleashed his debut album to mixed reviews, some claiming it was too, err, Dettmann-ish, though it contained all of the precision and grit found on his impeccable twelve inch releases that helped define the Ostgut sound. The Ostgut compilations didn’t fail to impress either, with Scuba delivering an impeccable mix of the tracks that keep his Sub:Stance nights on a rolling boil, and Ben Klock giving us the restrained but masterful Berghain 04 mix. Ostgut even entered the cassette market with a retrospective of the tracks that made the club what it is mixed by Ryan Elliott. The jewel in their crown for 2010, though, was the recent Fünf compilation, which had almost every artist who has appeared on the label over the past five years devise an exclusive track based on field recordings made in the club after business hours. It pulls together the full scope of the club, from the frosty, bleek bang of Berghain to the more welcoming warmth of Panorama Bar, and I dare say if this was the only thing the label had released all year you may well still have found Ostgut Ton in this list.

03. Honest Jon’s Records

True testament to just how worldly a world record label really is comes not by how many corners of the globe are represented but by the scope and diversity of that far flung music itself. Honest Jon’s, the modest record store and label based out of Portobello Road in London, long ago proved itself as an excelsior of the worldly groove, but in 2010 their sizeable contributions to the electronic arts helped push them into our top labels short-list. Glossing over the contributions that fleshed out their reggae and folk divisions, the reasons Honest Jon’s endeared themselves to LWE in 2010 came down to the crushingly dense sophomore album by Actress (Splaszh), which sounded like Theo Parrish and Moodymann meting out sonic abuse to swamp monsters from the year 3050. T++’s ultimate rumination of erudite, unblinkered breakbeat, Wireless was poignant not only for many being able to finally grasp the artist’s motives, but for the fact that it contained samples from the Honest Jon’s archives. The infectious, rubber-limbed, African stomp of Shangaan Electro was immediately arresting for its precipitate, marimba-led rhythms and coarse polish that proved to be one of the best cultural zeitgeist compilations in recent history. That’s not to mention the incredible live recording of the Moritz von Oswald Trio in New York (themselves a highlight on the label in 2009 with their debut album, Vertical Ascent) mixed down and recorded by Francois K, or the space-hopping madness of Actress’ Paint, Straw & Bubbles EP which featured the first incarnation of the incredible “Maze.”

02. Hessle Audio

The Hessle Audio imprint may only be three years old and sport 16 titles to their discography but when each release hits as hard as theirs do, that’s a lot of weight to be throwing around. Since 2007 Ramadanman, Ben UFO and Pangaea have been releasing some of the most advanced strains of bass music forged out of the worlds of dubstep and garage. This year the label delivered a bumper crop of goodness, with both Ramadanman and Pangaea themselves both putting out vital double twelves that only spelled the start of bigger things to come for their label. Even though he’d released the outstanding Air & Lack Thereof single on Hemlock mid-way through 2009, it was James Blake’s The Bell’s Sketch 12″ on Hessle Audio that truly opened up peoples ears to the gifted young producer. As they had done previously with TRG, Untold and Joe they also broke two new artists in the form of Blawan and Elgato, the latter who made a late rush to burst into year-end lists with the mighty “Blue.” As if this wasn’t enough Ramadanman even found time to sneak in one last disc under his Pearson Sound moniker after going off-piste all year with killer efforts for the likes of Aus Music, Hemlock and Swamp 81. All this heat and yet it feels like Hessle Audio are just warming up.

01. Rush Hour Recordings

Rush Hour, Dutch purveyor of fine electronic music for over ten years went on the charm offensive in 2010, scoring massive points among collectors by reissuing a staggering number of quality records, many of which not just filled in the want lists of many audiophiles but also introduced a large number to a selection of past classics they’d never heard before. Mandré, Boo Williams, Rick Wilhite and Virgo all got the reissue treatment; in the case of Mandré and Virgo, Rush Hour unearthed these long since unavailable classics, allowing many to hear their albums for the first time. Daniel Wang and Anthony Shakir also got special treatment by having their 2009 Rush Hour compilations broken down into EP or 12″ release, Shakir most recently also getting some of his classic tracks remixed by the modern day talents of Falty DL and Space Dimension Controller. Rush Hour also paved the way forward with stellar output from Falty DL, Cosmin TRG, Aardvarck, Nebraska, Hunee and Dexter all pointing to just why the imprint was such a vital part of electronic music in 2010.
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