Advancements in technology have been a prominent talking point in electronic music for some time now. Personally I think it’s great that wider access to [legally purchased] software allows for more talented people to get involved with something they might not have had the chance to prior to the millennium. However, this increasing access to production and DJing makes for a saturated market in which music has an increasingly short shelf life and the Internet is awash with floods of poor, predictable, music.
House music in particular has seen a revival over the past half a decade and I’ve noticed an influx in cheap copycat music with a lack of soul and passion. One new label that is taking things in the right direction is Fifty Fathoms Deep. The imprint is run by Craig Smith and Peter Oakden and with more than 40 years of DJing experience between them there was little doubt that they would deliver. The pair claim not to be drawn in by specific trends and genres and describe their inspirations as “just good music” and this was certainly evident in their first release. House music flecked with healthy portions of soul, disco and jazz, Lay-Far has set the label off with a bang.
After meeting via a telephone conversation in 2009, the pair clearly clicked. They said: “We just wanted to put out quality music. With such similar tastes it just seemed an obvious decision to do a label together.”
Their second release, the Peace EP (reviewed below) is due on September 30th and their schedule is looking busy with an album from Peter under the guise of Frederick and releases from Ugly Drums, Phlash, NYAK and Craig Smith in the pipeline. The duo said: “Although our schedule is quite busy, we always take time to make sure we are 100% happy with what we put out” and so you can be sure future releases won’t disappoint.
Of course, this isn’t the only label hoping to maintain a sense of passion in the house scene but the internet certainly means you have to dig deeper for the good stuff. Craig and Peter said: “There’s always good music around, you just have to search it out, sometimes more than others but it’s there.”
Perhaps I just haven’t been looking hard enough. Before I move on to a review of the second release on Fifty Fathoms Deep, I’ll leave you with some wise words from the label bosses: “You either embrace the pace of technology or die. It doesn’t mean that quality has to be sacrificed.”
Peace EP Review
The first cut, simply entitled Part 1 comes from Trüby & Marlow. The unmistakable voice of the late legend that is Gil Scott-Heron chants mesmerizingly to the pulse of a deep kick drum before some light percussion, warm pads and soul drenched vocals fill out the mix. Rhodes keys and a rolling bassline drive the track towards an atmospheric climax. A light groover that tugs on the heart strings of those who knew and loved Mr Scott-Heron.
Part 2 is label co-owner Craig smith’s interpretation. It samples the same track but moves on with a harder percussive rhythm, giving the track a great swing. Synth stabs and luscious chimes intermittently weave in and out of each other giving the flipside a tad more energy than its counterpart.
The only drawback of the EP for me is that it lacks variation but this is inevitable seeing as they both sample the same track. All in all it is a delicate and hearty EP that acts as a kind of tribute to Gil.
The record works perfectly for home chillin’ and early hours groovin’ and you can pre order it here.
Craig Smith’s Soundcloud.
Peter Oakden’s Soundcloud