Mr Bongo Soundsystem
A while back, Blip Discs might have been referred to as a dance label exploring “world music.” In more recent years, a loose band of parties (Berlin’s Vulkandance, Glasgow’s Highlife), labels (Sofrito, Soundway, Analog Africa, Awesome Tapes From Africa) and artists (Auntie Flo, Africaine 808) have made efforts to present such crossover sounds more faithfully. Blip Discs positions itself at the heart of this network.
With an acute emphasis on percussion and global influence in mind, the label has seen support from Four Tet echoed by the likes of Caribou, Gilles Peterson, Bonobo and Pearson Sound. This year has continued much the same with everyone from James Blake to Ben UFO championing their releases whilst they gear up for what looks to be a continually upward future.
Across its fifteen plus year history Crème Organization and its affiliated network of labels and artists, whose scene had birthed what was then called The West Coast Sound Of Holland—or more simply, The Hague Sound—has gained international recognition.
Founded by Jeroen van der Star (a.k.a. DJ TLR), Crème Organization has remained steadfastly singular in their approach paving the way for much of what is current now, with labels such as L.I.E.S drawing inspiration from it. However, back in 2001 when the label was born, Crème was at odds with the prevailing loopy techno and trashy electro-clash doctrines.
Crème Organization’s highlights included records by Legowelt, Willie Burns, Orgue Electronique, Innershades and Bangkok Impact, while releasing acclaimed albums from D’Marc Cantu, Neville Watson and DJ Overdose.
Like so many music stories, this one begins in the early 80s, or 1983 to be precise. That was the year that Jeroen Van Der Star now more commonly known as DJ TLR, played his first DJ gig. As he recalls: “Somehow I have always played records. I think my first time was when I was twelve spinning bargain bin Culture Club and Grandmaster Flash and Stevie Wonder 7″es for my classmates on a single turntable with a microphone”
It was an inauspicious start to a long and colourful career. Following his high school days, Jeroen and his friends first played at jungle parties but soon began to come under the influence of The Hague’s squat parties. Organised mainly by the Acidplanet collective, these events brought together all the freaks residing in the Dutch administrative capital.
As the 90s morphed into the 00s and the West Coast of Holland started to gain recognition for underground electronic artists like Legowelt, Orgue Electronique, Alden Tyrell and Rude 66. Around the same time, TLR set up the pre-social media Global Darkness web forum to connect with like-minded electro/jack-aholics around the globe and concurrently established his own label, Creme Organization.
Originally home to local artists like Danny Wolfers – under his various guises – and Orgue Electronique, the label has since welcomed producers from around the world, including Bangkok Impact, Alexander Robotnick, JTC and Willie Burns, while releasing acclaimed albums from D’Marc Cantu, Neville Watson and DJ Overdose.
On the road most weekends, the best place to catch TLR’s grainy interpretation of electronic music is out among the freaks. “I don’t have a favourite place to play really, because it’s always different, even in the same clubs – but I like places that are dark, have a booming sound system and a rowdy crowd” he says.
Sounds like the perfect combination for the crème de la crème of West Coast selectors.
Founded in 2012 by school friends MM and Sudanim, Her Records has grown through processes of collaboration, correspondence and artistic exchange between a tight-knit yet internationally situated core crew. The most striking feature of the label, in light of its humble years and South East London beginnings, is the strength of the artistic convictions behind it. There is an aesthetic consistency and attention to detail – sonically, visually and altogether culturally – that underpins a multifarious and outward looking vision for electronic music both club-focused and otherwise.
Industrial cities, especially those in decay, tend to play host to a melting pot of electronic musicians. As so in the city of Aalst (Belgium), a former textile giant, where Thomas Blanckaert kickstarted a music escapade as Innershades a few years ago. In little time his tracks were picked up by prominent record labels such as Crème Organization, Pinkman and Hot Haus Records, many of which are now of cult notoriety.
Strongly influenced by the pioneers of Chicago & Detroit, Thomas created a sound of his own with dynamic productions ranging from raw house and techno workouts to melodic electro gems. A similar eclecticism can be found in his DJ sets which brim with enigmatic selections that will prick the ears of any avid identifier. Needless to say, with productions celebrated by tastemakers worldwide, Innershades is one of Belgium’s most exciting new exports.
Since first appearing on Her Records Vol. 3 in June 2014, Kid Antoine has rocketed from relative obscurity to a position as one of Europe’s most hotly tipped young producers. Hailing from Copenhagen, KA is the first non-British member of the Her Records crew, partnering with the London outfit to release the critically acclaimed Proximity EP in 2015 and follow-up single Bodypaint a year later. In just a few years, KA has developed an immediately recognizable sound that continues to grow and mutate, a tightly coiled effervescence that bangs as much as it weaves, bobs and twists through physical space.
With a series of undeniable releases, plus more on the way, and the backing of some of dance music’s most revered institutions, it’s clear that Kid Antoine has asserted his place in an upper echelon of boundary pushing club producers. Where and how he’ll progress over the coming years is an exciting premise, but it’s clear that a force has emerged from Copenhagen.
Residing from the picturesque confines of Lisbon, Gonçalo Salgado, the face behind the moniker Lake Haze, has been standing his ground in amongst the flurry of producers and DJs appearing out of mainland Europe in the previous five years. After linking up with DJ Haus in 2014 and presenting his UK Garage-flavoured Force of Nature EP to the growing fan base of Unknown To The Unknown (Haus’ prestigious imprint), Salgado had lodged his foot in the door, with an elevated platform with which he could do what he liked.
From there is when Lake Haze began to take shape and formulate his own sound. His crispy, doom-laden rhythms give way to delicate moments of entrancing bleeps and chords, all uniting to form a sound that was apparently too much for DJ TLR to resist. Two mesmerisingly textured EPs on TLR’s Crème Organization later and Lake Haze is a name that a growing fan base prays to hear new material from on a regular basis. His last record on Shall Not Fade sees a shift in sound for Lake Haze, encompassing the low fidelity ethos of the Bristol’s imprint in his typically luscious manner.
Lake Haze carreer is still young but he already shared the dj booth with artists like Legowelt, Orgue Electronique, A Made Up Sound, Kangding Ray and others.
Skirting the periphery of House, Techno and Electronica with a strong UK twang, Lurka has been forging his own path in the underground for the past few years, garnering support from stalwarts like Gilles Peterson, The Black Dog and Ben Ufo amongst others.
With an accomplished, left of centre production approach combined with a keen ear for esoteric sounds (due in part to working in a record shop and a mastering house) he has an insatiable hunger for finding and creating fresh and exciting new music that has seen him signed to Hotline, Timedance, Black Acre, start a new label Fringewhite, work as a remixer and receive increasing amount of Mix Engineering
Few artists have managed to rise from relative obscurity to being a leader in their scene quite like DJ MM, from starting nascent club outfit Her Records with Sudanim at age 17 to holding down Rinse FM slots, headlining nights both sides of the atlantic and smashing Boiler Room gigs.
As both a DJ and producer, MM has approached club music with a near-reckless flair, leaping between styles without breaking a sweat, all the while churning out undeniable hits like 9th Ritual & Reflector Pack. With a incendiary debut EP and white label recently released on his own Her Records, a vinyl offering on New York’s rising Purple Tape Pedigree and one-offs shared via labels such as Staycore, Mixpak and Fade to Mind, it’s clear that DJ MM has only begun to show us all he’s got.
It began in Venezuela 30 years ago – filling suitcases with amazing latin records to bring back to Europe. And it continued ever since; private warehouse visits in the US, dusty back street basements in South America, houses and garages in Africa, and lesser-known spots in Europe and Asia. Mr Bongo bring eclectic and unexpected Brazilian, Latin, African, Jazz, Soul, Reggae and Psychedelic flavours to the dance-floor with a seemingly bottomless stock of weird and wonderful selections.
Photo by Flavien Prioreau
With an uncompromising aesthetic Sudanim burst into the club music consciousness with a string of successful singles and EPs. Co-operator of bubbling south London label Her Records, Sudanim announced his arrival with 2014’s The Link EP and has been on an upward trajectory ever since, garnering features on releases from Sound Pellegrino, Mixpak, Local Action and Crazylegs. August 2014 brought Pleasure Flood, an accelerated take on the angular club forms established on The Link and a look into the jarring, if not downright apocalyptic, end of experimental dance music.
A regular on Rinse FM, Sudanim’s sets deliver the same punch heard in his releases, as exemplified by bomb shelter sirens, cavernous booms and a penchant for razor-sharp, crystalline synthlines. And it’s that ethos, a willingness to disregard convention and disarm the listener, that makes Sudanim such an enticing and necessary presence in the dance music world at large.
Via his globally influenced label, Blip Discs, Tom Blip’s debut record ‘Wrong Guanco’ spent a large part of last year providing everyone from Bonobo to Joy Orbison with their peak time drum workout at sets across the world. The eclecticism of this musical imprint gives somewhat of a hint of his wide tastes as a selector, and has rightfully put the young DJ on the map.