This is the first in a series I have planned, shining light on quality music labels. With so much good music around today it is hard to keep up with new releases so the idea of this is to focus on some of the enterprising and interesting record labels that now proliferate across the internet and highlight some of their releases that I think are worth listening to. I’ve always kept an eye on certain labels and what they release and through this series I hope to introduce people to new labels that they can keep going back to check out. These labels are often independent, run by music lovers and can often get missed amongst all the others. I want to purely look at those that are releasing consistently good tunes and developing a distinct feel to their labels through good artwork as well as good tunes (the connection between good artwork and music releases being something sadly missing or passed over now most releases are digital).
I begin my series by looking at Mecanoplastica.
A relative newcomer to the scene they have only been operating since the beginning of 2018. Their specialization is in releasing Tech-Funk , Acid,Breaks,Techno and other variations but always consistently good.
Run by the extremely hard working Greek Pale Penguin, who also runs (amongst others) Deep Garnet Records, Diablo Loco, Fantomas and even an AfroTropical label Shango, Mecanoplasctica came from the remains of another of his labels V.I.M Records (Very Important Music.) This label released some great techno, breaks and tech house music until the beginning of 2018. They did a series of compilations called Pale Penguin Presents… which are all worth buying giving a broad range of musical styles that the label released but after 10 years it was decided to shut the label down.
Using old black and white pictures (with always a touch of red- to symbolise according to Pale Penguin the combination of old and new sounds) of Geisha girls across each of their releases it gives the consistent artwork that screams to me quality. I have always been a sucker for repetition in artwork for labels that stems from my love of Factory, 4AD and other post punk labels that had a grip on their product output and independence. I would often buy everything a label released whether I liked it or not (there weren’t so many records released in those days so it was easy to keep up) just so I had the set (I’m not so anal now).
The label’s artists are a mix of fairly established musicians (in the tech-funk scene anyway) to first time releases by newcomers and so is very much to be encouraged. The term Tech-Funk describes a bit of a non -genre but those who like the style of music can’t help really calling it that. Mention the style to most people and I think they think of a mix between 2Unlimited and George Washington – at least that’s what I think that lost look means .The term Tech Funk has been used by other music genres – there was an album released in 1998 by Dave Angel called “39 flavours of Tech-Funk” but this had no relation to what I am talking about. By calling it Tech-Funk fans in the Breaks scene sought to differentiate the harder more techno inspired music being done by the likes of Meat Katie and Elite Force in the mid 2000s. Although most of the original proponents of the music probably just consider themselves techno artists the term stuck by a lot of fans and Mecanoplastica are one of the labels who still release the music and call it this.
My favourite releases:
The first track that they released that made me sit up and listen was a remix of their second release Houseplants by Strong4life who, despite sounding like, are not a charity organisation – and have a track record going back to dubstep. The remix was by Nick Behrmann (also known as “>Nick Berta ) who is very much a Tech-Funk artist, hailing from Hungary, where this style of music thrives. It takes a slow tech house tune and by adding an acid-tinged re-fix it makes it into an entirely new tune that bubbles and pops along like an acid house tune from the 80s with added attitude and cool.
With a couple of solid, more breaks influenced, tech rollers inbetween (with a Borka FM remix for release 3 being a notable mention) the 5th release stood out to me for originality. By AC1TZ , the nom de plume of Manuel Lazaro a Spaniard and responsible for over 60 other breakbeat releases under his BL1tZ name, Summer Ray and Moonrise comes at you like an acid breaks rollercoaster. The acid tones on Summer Ray bubble up and down building and peaking but the beat keeps rolling along – a great addition to anyone’s set.
Moonrise has a darker more insistent beat when suddenly a key change signals the arrival of an acid refrain straight out of A Higher State of Consciousness that builds up and is released by that key change again. The whole track keeps building with more percussion and beats and is another solid release from the label.
Release number 7 (MEC07) sees 2 of my favourite techno artists at the moment collaborating in the form of Martin Collier’s Deeper with a remix by Ed Steele. Martin also known as Kollier comes from near Manchester and has been responsible for some great tracks over the last few years on labels such as AUX,V.I.M and Deep Garnet Records and this is his first track on this imprint. The main track is an atmospheric techno number that rumbles along implying a sense of foreboding.
The Ed Steele remix adds more oomph to the track and places it firmly on the dance floor with a solid beat. The track is almost unrecognisable as Ed has added sounds that were not on the original and has given it a melody that I can only describe as coming from the wind whistling through a desolate landscape – it’s great.
I have reviewed BorkaFM’s release number 10 elsewhere on this site https://www.lifesupportmachine.co.uk/borka-fm-star/ which brings me to their latest release by Windom R Dark Streets and a full blown uptempo monster of a track it is too. Windom R hails from Russia as a lot of tech funk musicians do- must be something to do with the cold that makes them want to produce warm music to make you move. He had an album released on Deep Garnet Records in 2016 (The Net’s Offspring) which is full of dark techy breaks with bass so deep it could come from the very bowels of hell – love it- check it out if you like that kind of music. This is his first track for Mecanoplastica and I can understand why Pale Penguin has kept him through all his labels. On remix duties is the Australian Resistor who has also had releases on previous sister labels as well as a whole heap of tracks on Dead Famous Records. Both tracks scream peaktime dancefloor carnage and hopefully they will get picked up by some big name djs and give a bit of a push.
The label is going from strength to strength with a load of releases coming up as well as their first compilation album For The Love of Geisha (of course) which came out recently and includes many of the tracks I’ve mentioned here.
I’m particularly looking forward to a remix of Moonrise by Claas Reimer who is a great producer from Dusseldorf with a strong back catalog of quality tech/acid/breaks/electronica.
To sum up the label I see it as a progressive label, not afraid to release different genres and prepared to push new artists as well as giving a space for established artists to flourish. One of my biggest impressions of the label is how cosmopolitan it is with artists from all over the world united with a common love of good music…and geisha girls.