Trackhunter's labels to watch in 2021
Wednesday, January 13, 2021
Trackhunter picks out some of the labels that have excelled in 2020 and offer great things going forward in the new year for fans of Techno, Electro, House, Disco, Acid and Rave
2020 was without doubt a terribly miserable year for everyone involved in dance music, especially those who make a living from the industry. There were beacons of light as DJs and artists increasingly capitalised on digital tools to broadcast, collaborate and connect with their communities. Whilst musically it may have appeared a watershed year, there was no shortage of great music being released despite the negative impact of Covid19 on record pressing plants and shops. No doubt many countless future classics have been saved for the coming year or so in the hope that some semblance of normality will return to clubs and festivals. 2021 could prove to be a vintage year in terms of output, so as always we’ve picked a few of the labels we think you should be looking out for in the coming year.
Finally, a note of caution, it also could be a year where we are overwhelmed by mountains of mediocre tracks made by producers stuck in their bedrooms over lockdown. A great way to navigate that glut of tunes and find the wheat from the chaff is to install Trackhunter and discover the very best music for your DJ sets with minimal effort.
Erol Alkan’s Phantasy Sound imprint has been consistently impressive for the past decade or so and if the last 12 months are anything to go by, then we can expect more of the same. In fact, Alkan posted on his Facebook page just before Xmas how excited he was to have signed up a roster of new tracks and artists for the coming year. With stalwart artists like Daniel Avery, Alkon and Cowboy Rhythmbox alongside newer producers such as Joshua James, we can expect some very exquisite electronics in the coming months.
The London based label celebrated a decade of making the finest Acid and Techno known to man, woman and beast in 2020 and managed to deliver a half dozen select cuts in the last year. When a label can boast the pedigree of Luke Vibert, DMX Krew and label boss Posthuman, you know the output is going to be strong. One of the things we have been impressed by with the label in recent years has been the various EPs such as the recent Metro Jaxx Volume Three which is a high quality six track release which they sell at a very reasonable price via their Bandcamp page.
Another label that put out some exemplary music across all formats in the last year and no doubt will continue to do more of the same in the next 12 months. Founded by the dual talents of Fin Greenall (of Fink fame) and Will Saul they release a diverse range of genres from Techno to Electro with a good addition of Dub. The back end of 2020 treated us to blinding releases by Haider and Damiano Erckert, both of which traversed the House, Techno and Electro landscapes superbly. We think 2021 will be more of the same from this fine electronic music hub.
Matt Edwards’ label has had somewhat of a very productive 2020 with over two dozen releases, most of which coming out in physical format. Not only did Edwards put out a trio of 12 inches and a long player under his Radio Slave moniker, but also hooked an album from Detroit legend Robert Hood and a release by British Techno pioneer Mark Broom. The year ended with a flurry of releases including the heavy tackle driving Techno sound of Marcal’s Reduction Pt2. We may also see a few releases on Rekid sub labels including Rekids Special Projects and Stranger In The Night, which were both active in 2020.
Internasjonal and Full Pupp
We were lucky to grab Oslo-based, Cosmic Disco maestro Prins Thomas earlier in the year for an interview and there’s no doubt that lockdown hasn’t prevented him and his associates from being busy over the last year. The labels he co-runs with Kai Fraeger (Internasjonal) and Stevie Kotey (Full Pupp) have continued to deliver great music and 2021 will continue that trajectory upwards and onwards. Full Pupp celebrated 15 years in existence with four EPs and a digital release on the special 15 Years Full Pupp label which are well worth tracking down. Whilst Thomas’ self titled label Prins Thomas Musikk will no doubt continue to deliver periodical prime cuts in the coming years.
Specialising in Techno, Breaks and the classic Rave sound, Hypercolour continued to put out great music for parties, even though such gatherings were few and far between in 2020. Luke Vibert very much ran the dance in the past year with no less than three long players that traversed Hip Hop, Rave, Breakbeat, Drum & Bass and Acid. The emerging talents of Orphus and 96 Back also dropped releases and we’re expecting more exciting sounds from the imprint in the coming year. Watch this space.
Gerd Jansen’s productive Running Back label kept up the momentum of 2019 with another great year of productions that included Bella Boo, Krystal Klear, Shan and Prins Thomas to name but a very few. Even the RB sub labels were on fire as Misfit Melodies, Running Back Double Copy, Running Back Incantations and Super Sound Singles all delivered new cuts for 2020. We can be ready for more great outputs in 2021 with Gerd at the helm.
Shall Not Fade
The UK based Shall Not Fade and sub labels Lost Palms, Shall Not Face Basement Tracks and Timeisnow is another imprint that is worth keeping an eye on in 2021. Felipe Gordon and Cody Currie kick 2021 off with a six track EP of House music. Whilst the lockdown has stifled much of the UK music scene, it has not stifled this collection of labels with dozens of releases in 2020 alone from credible artists including Jacques Renault, Byron The Aquarius and Harrison BDP. So again, this is one very much to keep an eye on if you like your House music proper.
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