Top five labels of 2015
Few imprints manage to enjoy one of those defining years that both cements itself as an outstanding music outlet and as a formidable tastemaker. Dekmantel has charged through 2015 with only a handful of releases consistently issuing the highest standard of music. From London’s own Palms Trax ‘In Gold’ EP, with soothing bass lines and funky percussions, to the perfectly timed re-release of Fatima Yamaha’s breathless ‘What’s A Girl To Do’, the label has earned much respect across the underground community.
As many of these things do, it all started out as bunch of small parties, this time situated in The Hague. 6 years after announcing the start of their label in 2009 and with three glorious festivals under their belts Dekmantel has grown from strength to strength. However this success comes from being more than just a label. It is in part due to the encompassing vision they have championed, coupled with wise collaborations such as Boiler Room - perhaps the smartest thing they have done – increasing exposure and with it, their influence. You can bet your life the tremendous and fully deserved but overdue, opening entry of Hunee at 26 on the recently released RA Poll will have had a lot to do with his phenomenal set widely broadcast from the green pastures of Amsterdamse Bos.
Together with a podcast series matching the standard set by their releases with personal highlights from the awesome DJ Nobu and most recently Huerco S taking us through an ambient and uplifting groove Dekmantel’s curation has reached a high point in 2015. We hope for all our sakes that it carries on into the break of the new year.
20/20 Vision Recordings
Ralph Lawson's Leeds based 20/20 Vision has had yet another superb year with releases coming from the likes of Citizenn, PBR Streetgang, Subb-an, Christian Loffler, Cristoph, and many more. 2015 has been a significant year for the label with it "drawing the line in the sand" after its big release last year celebrating 20 years in the game featuring prolific artists such as Maya Jane Coles, Simian Mobile Disco, Cassy, Eats Everything to name a few, and now focusing on new music from new talent and even getting a makeover by local Leeds based designers which features the stylish minimal but effective artwork they display today.
20/20 has certainly picked out some gifted artists this year; our favourite release has to be German Christian Loffler’s EP, ‘York’. Other originals to mention are from Italian producer, Whitesquare’s, ‘Path Of Time’ EP, Lakosa & Rick Grant’s ‘Dusk’, and last but not least, Tuff City Kids’ (Gerd Janson & Phillip Lauer) Disco Remix of PBR Streetgang’s ‘Return To Page One’.
20/20 Vision is one of those labels which we get very excited about every time we see they have a new release online, this year they have consistently delivered.
Rhythm Section Intl.
Bradley Zero’s Peckham-based imprint has seen its best year to date. With seven very strong releases from both local and international artists, it’s really starting to establish what the label’s about. ‘Good Morning Peckham’ by West Croydon man Henry Wu, was reviewed by Matt back in August and received the highest Y.O rating so far (re-read here).
However we feel as though Rhythm Section Intl. is not just a record label, it is a collective of artists that very much support one another based on talent, not name. Similarly, the party attached to the label continues to flourish bi-monthly in its pool hall home. It provides an environment where everyone from the promoters, to the bar staff, to the dancers, can feel welcome, and most importantly, a part of something that binds a community together.
This year Drumcode has once again cemented its position as one of the best techno labels in the world. This year, the Swedish label run by Techno titan Adam Beyer, celebrated five years of ‘Drumcode Radio.’ This boasts 12.8 million listeners each week via 72 stations and across some 50 countries. Yet it’s no surprise as it ticks all the boxes as a label and as a brand.
This year highlights have been three number ones in the Beatport Techno chart from Adam Beyer, Drumcode regular Alan Fitzpatrick, & Dense & Pika's 'Tex', which sat up at the top spot for over a month! They can also boast that they're the only label to have two releases in Beatport's ten top selling Techno tracks of the year, one a release from 2014 that is still going strong! The Drumcode parties have been growing stronger and stronger across both sides of the globe; here in London they hosted their second sell out event which featured an almighty list of Techno heavyweights including Maetrik, Pan-Pot, Scuba, Boddika, and all the Drumcode artists at the one of the cities biggest party venue’s, the Tobacco Dock which can hold up to five thousand ravers!
Blip Discs have had only two releases this year, but it’s always about quality, not quantity. O’Flynn provided the goods with the first release, a record that has been on my turntables more than any other this year. Four Tet’s played it almost as much as I have and he claims that it smashes any dance he takes the controls at.
Label owner, Tom Blip, took over the next release. Both tracks on the record are effectively a seemingly unending congo workout.
Though they seem little, Blip Discs has an almighty following not just by the public, but also by big players in the game including Gilles Peterson and James Blake amongst others. 2016 looks to continue in the same direction; O’Flynn’s bringing a new one out which Blake’s already played on his Radio One Residency.
Words by Ben S, Matt & Ben C