On returning from a 10-day holiday abroad; my assumption was that I was going to return to swaths of new music, be blown inside-out and dive straight back into the fielded depths of sound-encompassing and truly immersive writing.
I was horrendously wrong.
For 2 weeks, now, I’ve been racking my music-less brains for ideas: there’s fresh releases here, there and everywhere! Catalogues upon catalogues of my own collection still primed and ready for published re-investigation… But nothing, nothing in these swamps of musique, that actually inspires me to write.
Lee Bannon‘s had a new album on the way for months! The 15-track Pattern of Excel LP finally landed last Friday and, beautiful as it is, in spite of 2 doses of Bite the Belt pre-release coverage (here & here), I just don’t/didn’t care to write about it. It sat there, pressing ever closer, then came and (now) went; 15 tracks of obscure drone and ambient set to whisk you away into yonderland… but really? It seemed like too much of an obscure return after too many weeks away. Hey; I fucking love drone and ambient, I fiend the stuff, but do all of you? Does 15 tracks of oscillating noise, beat-less and strange really appeal? Is that really what you’ve been waiting for? For 4 weeks, now?
In the same instance, Synkro, dubstep & 130s’ future-chillophile-garage face of cloud drifting has released some new material surely set for the loving R&S division, Apollo Records. I’ve been on its case for the entire year, trying to bag an interview with the illusive producer and maybe even swing a guest mix! I’ve heard rumours of something exciting… and yet, as single teasers finally emerged last week, as organically luscious and tantalising as they were… I knew that I could do better. Can do better. Sorry Synkro.
Strap on your heavy water-proofs, get your thigh-high boots on and find yourself a monster backpack: we’re going on an adventure…
As fine purveyors of all things bass-based what better place to start a new-return from adventure abroad than on an entirely new adventure in itself?
I mean just look at that artwork [all credit to the incredible Olivier Blanchin, friend and overseer of Exploration artwork]: as people on the hunt for a new face of Bite the Belt branding, something to make us all official’n that – I’m excited. I feel inspired. Doesn’t your heart ache in its want to burst from your chest and strap you to a bubblegum-chair on that there forest-scooting train? Exploration boss. Exploration!
Forget the US and its titan-storm of new EDM hybrids, jack-off (non-sexually) the UK’s ever swollen belly of squabbling labels & producers fighting for top-underground-spot in the hidden limelight, bun the legions of Eastern Europeans chasing the 170 dream, Neurofunk or not, side-step the Hispanic nations of street-party-parade-screaming dnb rollers, ever-more, let the Reggae & Dub homelands kick back and relax for a year or so and leave Croatia for the August festival season… I’ve found bass lodged up in a new home, its feet up on the table, paperwork everywhere and the scattered remnants of hard-work-done littering the floors: welcome to Paris.
There’s this guy called Snowball, seemingly a 1-man-DJ-band, who’s been hammering out Rinse FM [France] shows, his own mixes and podcasts over the course of forever, whilst single handedly rearing a release-less label that’s been wholly surviving, for what I can muster to be 6 years, on podcasts & events alone.
He’s credited for being one of the largest faces of bass-music culture in Paris and for being an absolute king about the whole thing: this isn’t Paris’s only drum & bass DJ, he’s not the only man crunching Dubstep on the tiles to an audience more hungry for synth-pop. He’s not pile-driving the heaviest of the heavy all day, every day. He is, however, open.
He’s an innovator. A teacher. Patient. He’s 1 of the only figures in the French capital to be extensively collating and promoting every incredible facet of the electronic industry. He’s everything that I love about electronic music rolled into one; performing and promoting to a people not-considered to be top of the current lists when it comes to this niche sound. A man delivering the very finest & most sophisticated cuts of the crop, from the season’s latest to the dusty vaults’ greatest, to the whole city.
Exploration looks to be an extension of this man’s Parisian romance with electronics – a deep-fed and intimate exploration of the industry’s naked body, its beating heart and every fibre that extends to make a whole.
This is Techno, Breaks, Dubstep, Hip-Hop, IDM, Reggae, Dub, House, Drum & Bass, Half Time, Ambient & Drone: all in one place.
But it doesn’t burn you. It doesn’t leave you sweltering in the heat. I’m not feeling inclined to gurn my way to a Plutonian moon and back. It, like a snowball, like the French Alps, is an all encompassing body of white – it’s crystalline and melting in structure – pure and cold to the touch, revitalising and mountain-high air fresh. It’s Exploration Music. And for one last reason it makes its final stamp on signed and approved incredible: like us, Snowball’s dropped all of the boundaries with Exploration, this is music as a whole – fuck the genre division.
As mentioned, this label has survived the past 72 months on a diet of podcasts and parties alone – albeit a lot of them, it’s somewhat of a deviation from the traditional record label format: a hub for the provision of purchasable music formats.
Now Exploration Music takes its first steps into becoming something more, as tomorrow (15/07/2015) will see the first tide of Exploration Music’s début album, aptly & humbly titled; Setting Forth.
The above preview of Setting Forth was my first encounter with Exploration – a few days before I, too, set forth on my own mini-adventure. And its this first encounter that calls me back all these weeks later, still thrumming in my mind and hoarding my listening, 1 day prior to a teaser relief of release, to write about and bask in its embracive body. So cool and so clear.
8 tracks of unrivalled evocation, Exploration Music Setting Forth into my stagnant heart and I know the open ears of many. Techno and future-garage strides in bpms currently uncounted. Half time drum & bass tracks that would stand as weighty and strong as anything being pushed by the go-to divisions like Exit or the Cosmic Bridge. Dubstep for the closing dark and my most favourite of them all; ambient pieces wrapped tight in that clean Exploration sophistication. This is intelligent music on the brink of public breakthrough. Something I hope to find across the globe for the rest of electronic eternity, the finest of venues, the finest of heads.
Probably going to happen as the limited 2×12″ pre-order is already way beyond ‘sold out’.
The full release of Setting Forth is set for early October and although the first 60 copies have already flown out the window, you can still pre-order a copy for its much anticipated release later in the year.
I spent the closing week of my time away on holiday considering my lack of music whilst I was there – no iPod and no tunes on my phone, I enjoyed life without headphones, endured the set music of the restaurants and bars that we visited. As I reflected, I grew a lost love for the worst and most trashy of the music that we, as a population, listen to – a sudden growth in my power to respect those that choose the daytime major radio stations – and a slight dip in my love for the musics I immerse myself within here and now. That, as forward thinking as some of the musical times are, there’s a hole in my heart where something is clearly missing.
In this little independent corner of France, I find my salvation.
Exploration Music. Setting Forth. Get to know.
Pre-order the Setting Forth LP here