You hear the term "forefront of electronic music discovery" banded around abit when people are describing a lot of independent record labels (or if you're listening to back to back episodes of Mary Anne Hobbs), but really, truly... how many record labels could actually stand up tall to this descriptive statement and have it accurately portray the roster of talent on their books?
Hyperdub? No shit.
Planet Mu? No question.
Mu can comfortably relax within the same ivory towers that their label brethren reside in, with their willingness to promote talent which continually push boundaries into the unknown spheres of melodic marvel and wonderment. Spearheaded by Mike Paradinas (and his more artistic moniker µ-Ziq), Mu has spanned an 11 year existence with a bewildering array of artists passing through its ranks; from the earlier releases by wistful folktronica such as Leafcutter, to more darker productions from Jega and Tusken Raiders. With the more electronica side of the camp’s output reflecting a period of mass musical discovery and all the production inventiveness the early 00s brought now becoming somewhat eclipsed by the current chapter of the UK music scene, a fruitful period for the trinity of grime, dubstep, garage and funky house, it’s been interesting to see how Planet Mu has responded.
Showing his cutting edge resonance for adapting to the shifts in musical experimentation, Paradinas has shrewdly looked to capitalise on the emergence and omnipresence of bass music, with many of the current crop gracing the Mu books embracing everything from the signature half-step drum patterns to the bumpy sexiness of a 2-step beat and moulding with their truly individual clusterfuck of styles. Perceptive labels can predict and exploit potential musical shifts with ease (Hyperdub must have a super-brain hotwired to underground culture they’re so adept at forecasting warm fronts, temperature changes and storm clouds), and Mu are no different. Whether it’s Starkey’s Streetbass revolution, Ital Tek’s melodic-industro leanings, Gemmy’s deep basslines and party hooks, or Brackles’ ‘all of the above’ melting pot they’re successfully keeping their credibility afloat.
It’s not all urban and bass however, with Venetian Snares releasing his 13th album (that’s only on MU and word has it, the boy has more!) of micro-programmed colossal IDM this year. And if that wasn’t enough to wet the lapping tongue, they also have the fittest looking artwork for their 12” releases – case in point Jamie Vex’d’s recent ‘In System Travel’ EP and Starkey's 'Ephemeral Exhibits' album (pictured).
The depth of talent was perhaps epitomised with the annual label showcase representing Mu’s diverse cohorts, demolishing the Corsica Studios’ sound system in April of 2009. Split between two rooms, crudely containing the party DJ’s in one (Joker, Gemmy, Starkey, Slugabed) and the darker, more intricate producers in the other (Boxcutter, Venetian Snares, Jamie Vex’d). Whatever your penchant, not many labels could put on a showcase as strong, and as stacked-with-talented-artists as these chaps did.
Gemmy’s forthcoming full length debut will be another chapter in the constant barrage of shit-hot productions allowed to blossom during Mu’s forward-thinking existence. Long may the [r]evolution continue.