Tag Archives: Dance

U.K. Dance Label Rhythm Section’s Guiding Rule: “Good Parties, Good Music”

Bradley Zero

Bradley Zero

Exiting Peckham Rye train station isn’t for the faint of heart. Within seconds of leaving its marbled arches, you’re on Rye Lane, a permanently bustling, consistently overwhelming half-mile patchwork of butcher shops, bars, and bodies. It’s the lifeblood of South East London, a mishmash of cultures swarming its sidewalks at all hours. A similar eclecticism flows through every release on local dance label Rhythm Section International.

Renowned for their genre-fluid approach, Rhythm Section International’s releases wind their way through jazz, R&B, house, disco, and countless other styles. The label, which grew out of a series of parties, gigs, and club nights on Rye Lane’s dingy Canavan’s Peckham Pool Hall that started in 2012, began taking shape when founder Bradley Zero’s crossed paths with an artist named Al Dobson Jr. during Zero’s day job at Boiler Room. Zero was adamant that Dobson’s free-spirited, jazzy works needed to be released, and in June 2014, he took it upon himself to do so. The diverse ethos of those Rhythm Section London parties went international with the release of Dobson’s Rye Lane Volume One LP.

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The Merch Table: June 2017

Merch Table

Illustration by Paul Grelet

Every month, The Merch Table brings you the best and most bonkers merchandise you can find on Bandcamp. We commend bands and labels that get a little creative and think outside the tote bag. Whether it’s a fashion accessory, a piece of art, or something entirely unique, The Merch Table showcases inventive, original—and, occasionally, downright strange—stuff that you might want to get your hands on.

To mark the official start of summer we’ve got fly T-shirts and slick baseball hats for all your festival needs.

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The Local Action Label Blurs the Borders Between Dance Genres

tom-lea-label-head-by-Vicky-Grout-600

Label head Tom Lea, photo by Vicky Grout.

Viewed from one perspective, the history of British dance music is a tale of genres. Jungle, grime, U.K. garage, dubstep—each one born and bred in the nation’s capital. Yet it’s notable how the key London labels of the last decade or so—the likes of Hyperdub and Night Slugs—have operated in the space between clear genre boundaries, giving equal attention to grime, techno, dub, and countless others. To that list, add Local Action.

Founded in 2010 by Tom Lea, Local Action emerged at a transitional point in U.K. dance music, just as dubstep was morphing from an underground London sound into a global mainstream soundtrack. At the time, Lea was working as the editor of FACT, the influential online music publication located in the basement of Phonica Records in London’s Soho. “One day I was sitting with my colleague Kiran [Sande] who now runs the label Blackest Ever Black and Simon Rigg, manager of Phonica approached us, like, ‘Why don’t you run a label for us?’” says Lea. But Sande had his own distinct vision for a label brewing, so Lea decided to go at it alone. With financial backing from Phonica, Local Action debuted with a volley of 12-inch records, from the likes of T. Williams and Throwing Snow, that sketched out a bumping, rhythmic dance floor sound with traces of distinctly British house, U.K. funky, and grime in its DNA.

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Douglas McCarthy (Nitzer Ebb, Fixmer/McCarthy) on the Chemistry of a Perfect EBM Track

Fixmer McCarthy

Douglas McCarthy thought he was done with the music business in the mid ’90s. Downtrodden from the endless cycles of studio recording and worldwide tours, McCarthy decided to leave music and pursue his teenage dreams of becoming a graphic designer and filmmaker. It was, after all, the career choice he would have pursued had he not formed one of the most significant EBM bands of all time: Nitzer Ebb.

Electronic Body Music (EBM)—driven by an often erratic and staccato bassline, a tight, intrusive snare, and an irrefutable dance beat—was a genre that never quite seemed to depart from the stigma of the 1980s. Until recently. “EBM was a really dirty word for a long time,” says McCarthy. “It was synonymous with people stuck in the past and not being able to appreciate anything new.” And now, 30 years after Nitzer Ebb’s 1987 breakthrough LP, That Total Age, everyone seems to be catching on.

Contrary to its former unpopular perimeters, EBM has become a common descriptor in dance music vocabulary. “With the development of genres, they need to go through a few generational cycles for people to look back and appreciate or distill what they want from them,” says McCarthy. Alongside fellow EBM trailblazers Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft (DAF) and Front 242, Nitzer Ebb’s 1983 self-released cassette Basic Pain Procedure helped establish the genre’s conventions—McCarthy’s riotous roars, low growls, and call-to-arms chants have been oft imitated over the years.

It wasn’t until 2003, after meeting the French techno producer Terence Fixmer, that McCarthy left his newfound occupation of film and design to return to music. Fixmer’s distinct blend of dark, intrusive techno and EBM bassline patterns resurrected McCarthy’s interest in music once again. Their relationship began when Fixmer had agreed to remix Nitzer Ebb for NovaMute (a subsidiary of Mute Records) and, in return, asked that McCarthy do vocals for a few of Fixmer’s own tracks. Their meeting and studio session sparked an entire slew of demos that suited an album’s length of music and the collaborative project of Fixmer/McCarthy formed soon thereafter.

Fixmer/McCarthy’s new EP, Chemicals, on the Berlin-based label Sonic Groove, is a true continuation of the sound the duo has developed over the past fifteen years. The title track is forceful—its driving bassline conspires with a heavy techno-influenced beat underneath McCarthy’s nakedly raw and severe vocals. It, alongside “Wrong Planet,” is undoubtedly meant for the club floor, to be heard in the anticipatory section of an vigorous DJ set. The new EP revels in the familiarity of classic EBM and is inseparable from the lineage McCarthy cultivated long ago without being propped up by the ruse of a throwback album.

We talked to McCarthy about the drug-induced inspiration behind Chemicals, what makes a perfect EBM track, and the genre’s inarguable comeback.

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Omniboi on Video Game Soundtrack Inspiration and Feeling at Home in L.A.

Omniboi

Internet fame can strike fast. Omniboi, a Los Angeles-based producer, learned that lesson when he uploaded a video of himself playing piano chords under Migos’s viral hit “Bad and Boujee.” “When I got out of work I thought my phone was broken,” says Omniboi over the phone on a February afternoon. “I opened Twitter and it was, like, 400 notifications.” The sudden attention over the song quickly pushed him to record a full version, which similarly racked up hundreds of thousands of plays.

A member of the online Paper Crane Collective, Omniboi’s music is usually less pop-oriented than his Migos cover might suggest (see: the chiptune inspired House Of Omni: Chapter 1 that he released last year). That release is more his standard lane of work, but he also does more dancefloor-ready music as one half of the duo 2ToneDisco.

We talked about his love of video game-inspired music, the moment he knew he was a music producer, and how he’s felt welcomed in Los Angeles’s electronic music community.

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