From LA club trax to London mutant dancehall, these DIY labels are distorting dance music into harsh, noisy and mind-bending new shapes
The most exciting sounds from the underground all share a lo-fi, DIY attitude towards music – from grime and acid to just pure noise. Spanning from south London, Paris and all the way to sunny Australia; Dazed takes you through the most exciting, genre-defying dance labels of the moment.
Label and club night Her Records captures the deconstructed new sound of South London: dance music with a post-industrial sentiment, twisting its global influences into thrilling new forms. CYPHR is the stand-out producer, putting his vast soundscape to good use in the from of a warped dancehall rework of Rihanna's "Diamonds" – check it out below, and be sure to download their latest offering Ekleipsis here.
This North England label explores the pitch-black depths of acid, with an equally somber aesthetic to match its obscure and lo-fi approach to electronic music. Our pick? American underground acid hero Delroy Edwards, who mercilessly dismantles any preconceived notions of what a dance record should sound like. RA described his excellent Teenage Tapes as sounding like “a kid in his bedroom channeling his teenage idols into the darkest, most menacing music he can make” – which it literally is.
“Pump that ass, sister!” demand Aussie duo Zanzibar Chanel, over a disco-funk bassline in their fun and frenzied "Big Bone Bitch". They're signed to super-camp Melbourne label Ruff Records, which specialises in raw and funky 80s-inspired house with sassy and sexualised vocals.
The acid-influenced dance of London's Apron Records goes heavy on the drum distortion, creating disorienting, damaging and delicious dance. Check out Canadian signee Adam Feingold for more – who perfectly sums up the label when he says: “It’s a sound that’s so obscured that it comes out like trippy peak-time techno. It's confusing, in other words, but glorious, too.” Meanwhile, releases from label owner Funkineven sound like old school disco drenched in acid, perfectly blending soul with electronic obscurity.
Lost and unreleased techno tapes from the 90s are unearthed and brought to new light by Parisian DJs IUEKE and Quentin Vandewalle of Antinote Records. But the novelty of a release like IUEKE'S tape-1.2 (listen below) isn't so much in that it may have never seen the light of day – but that its sonic assault hasn't lost any of its impact in two decades.
Alongside Fade to Mind and Body High, La Club Resource is one of the most exciting electronic labels to come out of LA, with the aesthetic of Burzum and a raw, aggressive sound to match. Check out label head Delroy Edwards dragged and decaying '“Pure Evil”, which takes slowed hip hop beats into a spectral sci-fi future.
This fast-growing label at the forefront of leftfield grime doesn't hold back, with its taste for maniacal drum arrangments and blistering synths – just listen to a set by legendary grime DJ Slimzee for a perfect example. Darq E Freaker and Novelist have both released via the label, and if you're in London, don't miss BOXED, the label’s instrumental grime club night held at Birthdays in Dalston.
Paris label Inparadisum veer from hard-hitting four-to-the-floor beats to ambient and atmospheric soundscapes. A highlight of their roster is Daniel Avery favourite Ricardo Tobar, whose production skills are mesmerising and completely unpredictable – check out the dank rumble of "Carnaval". Alternatively, get your feet moving with the explosive drums of Qoso's “Jura” and its corresponding video (below), animated by Stephen Vuillemin.
Chicago footwork and UK grime? It's the perfect marriage, according to London label Crystal Culture. Listen out for their tracks on 1Xtra and MixMag – but in the meantime, add Chesslo Junior’s epic remix of Missy Elliott's "Work It" to all your party playlists.
Established just last year, London's amazingly-named Lobster Theremin have released some of the most exciting music of 2014, from the moody urban skittering of S Olbricht to the chilled-out acid/techno fusion of Route 8, streaming below.