May 22, 2009

LABEL PROFILE: Contexterrior & Tuning Spork & Future Dub (Germany)

Contexterrior is an abstract tech-house label established by Philadelphia native Jay Haze, and a parent label to several more experimental sub-labels including Tuning Spork and Futuredub. Many artists appear on several of the labels, but each label is reserved for a slightly different style of ultra-psychedelic, ultra-minimal, click-oriented techno. Jay Haze was a name I heard often associated with minimal-house superstar Ricardo Villalobos, and as it turns out they both shared (still do?) the same production studio, and have collaborated on several records. To be honest, I typically find the super-minimal tech-house or “click house” sound to be a little bit TOO minimal, with glitchy percussion sounds that don't particularly make me want to dance as much as defragment my hard drive or work out complex mathematical equations. Villalobos, while being a sonic innovator in the minimal field, has tracks that go on about three times longer than I feel like they need to, and I get very bored listening to his material. In contrast, I find Jay Haze's production to run along a similar sonic line, yet to be vastly deeper, more innovative, and very listen-able. Haze incorporates a lot of field recordings and organic textures into his production, as well as organic percussion samples that give his tracks a unique feel. His material explores dub techno and all types of tech-house territories, but often using unexpected organic sounds in place of typical synthesizer sequences and effects. Besides his own solo releases and excellent collaborations with artists like Jeff Samuel and Robag Wruhme, the Contexterrior label has also released solid 12”s by Akiko Kiyama, Lump and several others. The overall tone of the releases is very percussion-heavy, with not much emphasis on melody or bassline, but exploring heady psychedelic rhythms on the glitchy end of the spectrum. The Future Dub sub-label is particularly interesting for an original take on the dub techno/electronic dub sound, taking sounds pioneered by Basic Channel but moving closer to the original '70s dub sound with less of a house influence, while remaining ultra-futuristic throughout. Haze's releases as Dub Surgeon as well as his '07 full-length collaboration with Michal Holy entitled “Sub Versions” 2x12” are well worth hearing. Tuning Spork seems to be releasing slightly more dance-floor-oriented records, although sticking with the percussion-heavy minimal tech-house sound. I particularly enjoyed Guido Schneiders “Earth Browser” 12” as well as this year's Alex Cellar “Trapped In Dub” 12”, very dance-able tripped out techno. Anything you can find on these labels is worth hearing.