One could arguably say that right now, this second, we are living in the most highly proactive era of interesting and innovative electronic music. Whether it’s veterans of the many different scenes within music culture or the newcomers producing beats in their bedrooms it’s safe to say that the tools to produce are now more readily available than ever before – and they are being used to create in unstoppable force.
With so much music constantly being produced, it can seem difficult for it all to sound refreshing and new. Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing as It can be easy to fall into old troupes when producing and rehash what’s been done before. However, there are a number of independent labels who pride themselves on their unique creativity and the artists they select to join them. Be it their artwork, tracks or mixes, these labels are taking what we know and turning it inside out. From twisted metal club tracks to fractured grime instrumentals and ambient jungle cuts, the labels below are well and truly pushing the boundaries of electronic music. Below check out our picks of 9 independent record labels which are challenging stereotypes and keeping the club scene from drying up. These tracks will keep you on your toes, prepare to feel inspired.
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The Bristol-based imprint, Crazylegs, was born out of its award-winning event series of the same name and has become renowned in local scenes for its explorative nature. It’s forward-thinking releases vary from fractured disco to experimental grime and challenge what’s expected from club music nowadays. The label features a number of international artists as well as some homegrown ones and has released work from Sega Bodega, Gage, Clubkelly, TRC, Bloom, Ziro and others. Their latest release from grime-scene instrumentalist Bloom, Sfumato, is his most transportive expression of sound to date.
Headed up by producer Batu, real name Omar McCutcheon, Timedance is another Bristol-based label which showcases some of the city’s most exciting artists. The club scene has always been a staple in the culture of the city and the Timedance label celebrates this ten-fold. As well as killer releases from the likes of Laksa, Lurka, Ploy, Hessle Audio’s Bruce and label honcho Batu, Timedance throw regular parties with extremely tight lineups.
Established almost three years ago, E-BEAMZ has released tracks from DJ Boring, Hugo Massien, and DJ Seinfeld to name a few. Its library is stocked with an armoury of punchy club tracks and lo-fi house gems – most notably DJ Boring’s near-cult status, ‘Winona‘, and Massien’s ‘Almost Becoming Lucid‘. Keep an eye on E-BEAMZ for more nostalgia-laced graphics and soundscapes.
Connecting creatives from London to Glasgow the Astral Black family specialises in dark drill-style instrumentals, experimental grime and sample-heavy hip-hop anthems. Their last party saw them collaborate with Clash Magazine for Clash Live at the Ace Hotel’s Miranda in Shoreditch and featured a UK rap-heavy lineup with the likes of Capo Lee, Boy Better Know’s Jammer, ShyOne, Jon Phonics and more. They usually drop limited records, tapes and merch so be sure to watch out for their updates.
Coil Records was recently launched by UK-producer, DJ and artist, Murlo, and is home to all things bassline and garage. Recently, Coil Records released the long-overdue self-titled Sharda EP as well as a synth-heavy collaboration between label owner Murlo and Luckyme’s S-Type. Judging from the talent of the artists involved so far (Sharda, Conducta, S-Type and Bassboy) and the strength of the releases, Coil Records is likely to continue to bring emotion back to the dancefloor for years to come.
Headed up by Sinjin Hawke and Zora Jones, Fractal Fantasy is an icy imprint which showcases the pairs love for extraordinary sounds and mind-bending audiovisual experiences. The label’s website includes a number of interactive pages which even let you create your own sounds using your mouse and a selection of controls and parameters. Fractal Fantasy is rapidly becoming more than just a label. The platform is now verging on brand status with merchandise lines, club nights, releases and tech.
The abstract-leaning bass, techno and grime label, Different Circles, is run by non other than UK dream team Mumdance and Logos. With a breadth of releases that channel deconstructed beats with impromptu-sounding melodies, Different Circles knows no boundaries. Last week the pair dropped their latest offering, the Shared Meanings LP Sampler, which arrived on hand-stamped 12″ vinyl and included 5 tracks from the Shared Meanings mix. Different Circles has released tracks from Airhead, Rabit, Strictface, FIS, Inkke, Shapednoise, Sharp Veins and others.
Her Records shines a light on the percussive-heavy hard drum music scene. The South London label and club night haven’t released anything for a while, but their impressive existing catalog will keep you returning. Bruising kick drums lay the foundation for NKC’s Tincture EP (Her’s last release) as unrecognisable, sharp tones scrape across the top. This is club music at it’s most rhythmically brutal.
On a slightly different tip to cool things off, Gilles Peterson’s Brownswood Records began as a platform for unsigned demos he received whilst working for BBC Radio 1. It was founded in 2006 and boasts a truly diverse range of organic sounds. From experimental jazz to world music there is plenty to sink your teeth into on Brownswood.
These are just a few in a long list of many independent labels that deserve your attention. If you’re in awe at the sounds you’ve just been exposed to, we offer a number of Music Production and Sound Engineering degrees which will teach you how to warp and manipulate sounds to expert level. Find out more about our courses here.
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