One of our favourite labels – for too many reasons to go into in a short space – microCastle again continues to delight and scintillate. The EP’s title track does that special thing of grasping for the future while gathering up an array of influences and making definite sense of them all. Yet for any notion of what has gone before there is something specifically 2018, not a moment less, about this mind engaging production of wired and wonderful sounds, rhythms and ideas. Tango follows with a more traditional chord structure in place creating intriguing atmospheres while generating dancefloor tension. Then comes the brilliant Submissive featuring KnowKontrol’s resonating, soulful, inquiring vocal which explores time lost and found over wonderful drums and punctuating electronic sounds. An excellent remix is courtesy of Chaim whose rolling, thunderous beats cause serious damage amid the vocals’ effected treatments.
Changing your mind about something musical is sometimes the sign of true significance. First of all I thought this was really good, now after some more time it sounds extremely good. Rock n Roll comes armed with three chords, drums and (hopefully) gritty melody. This however hits you with a bagful of subtleties, plugged into the electrical mainframe. Although exploring a slightly differing route than MUUI’s recent and very sublime release the EP begins with the blissful bass fuelled title track, Pluto which feels that bit more ‘progressive’ in nature, yet reveals itself in layers of sizzling sound as atmospherically charged keys transmit emotional resonance above and beyond. A remix from Marvin & Guy follows re-imagining the elements, while second original Mancha proceeds to work a series of rhythms to the point of distraction, leaving the probing beauty of Dimensions to end seeking for further ethereal revelations that soon realize themselves via an array pulsating synthesizers.
Release: April 7 (Beatport Exclusive) / All Stores: May 5
If you want your music to delight yet invigorate and tempt you into the future then here it is. If you like to inhabit the past and want to relive it endlessly, then perhaps you should remain asleep. MUUI supplies four new tracks of such exquisite composition that it makes a return to Disco seem redundant. However, transporting your soul to places you sometimes didn’t imagine via a hard-wired succession of fizzy electronics that hit you low and hard, high-end and infused with emotion is what lies instore form the labels first outing in 2017. Klibi, begins with an all out assault on the senses to the very point of distraction employing gritty techniques and simmering Acid attitude. Next, Hide Seek toys with deeper notions and thought-provoking melancholy atmospheres across pulsating beats and bass. Nema, proceeds to lift the mood again care of a sparkling array of synth hits injecting the probing drums with a life all of their own. Which only leaves the aptly titled title track, Seminal to evoke challenging questions with robust notation playing out over pulsating machine rhythms while very gently tearing at the edges.
Apologies with being slightly behind with this review. But then microCastle release music that defies time and space. Fabio Montana’s tough opening production Ortygia combines all sorts of attributes touching upon dark, brooding edges yet retaining a life-assuring warmth courtesy of the crashing waves of FX and delicate piano lines. The remix comes from Love Over Entropy who combine seventies styled drum machines with twisted keys turning it all into something altogether more haunting in the process. The equally tasty Akragas sees the second original composition chase rumbling bass across punchy drum hits and layers of evocative keyboard. This time round the remix comes from My Favorite Robot who add a definite crunch to the drums along with a simmering tension to the electronics which as always are guaranteed to cause a big sensation.
Welcome to Magazine Sixty and thanks for taking the time to do this. I wanted to start by asking where the name micoCastle came from? And also about the striking Art featured on your releases?
Hi Greg, thanks for having me, and thanks for the great things you’ve written about our releases of late, much appreciated! The name… Well this is a little known fact and quite odd, but it came from a fascination with aquarium ornaments, the little castles you would see half buried in the sand at the bottom, we would always refer to those as microcastles and I always thought it was just a cool sounding name that didn’t exist. Starting a new label was something I had been thinking about for a while, probably around 2007 and that’s when I decided on the name, even though the label didn’t have its first release until 2009.
The artwork can be and usually is an arduous process, whether it be looking for the right illustrator for a certain project or more recently, finding just the right image and then treating it in the right way. On ‘Climb to the Sun’ for example I probably spent two months, almost every day, searching for just the right image to capture what is locked inside that record. The artwork doesn’t always have to relate to the music in a very direct way but in that case, with Haptic’s vocal and the vibe of the track I feel like it did. When it works out well then you feel great about it, I think we got it right on that one.
Your most recent releases from Cornucopia and Third Son are both soulful and electronically charged. What attributes do you look for when signing music to micoCastle?
That’s tough to answer… My musical interests are very broad so I do feel a wide range of music works on the label. In the case of both of those projects it was definitely about looking for a certain emotion and ‘Pursuit of the Orange Butterfly’ and ‘Climb to the Sun’ definitely resonated with me on that level even though stylistically the tracks were quite different. It’s a very difficult thing to find, so not every release works out that way.
The label stands on its own in terms of the different styles you are prepared to release, while a lot of other labels tend to stick to the one sound to define them. Is this an extension of your own personal tastes and how important are the nuances for you?
Ah yes, as I mentioned just now, my interests are broad so that does show in the labels releases sometimes I guess, and I feel the need to be doing something different for whatever reason as well. I’m not exactly sure what it is, but I just don’t have the same level of satisfaction simply locking in on one sound and doing it release after release. It’s seems to be the norm these days, but I like the challenge of doing different things and want to explore these on mcsl. It’s probably confusing for general fans of the label but the diehards fully understand what we’re doing and I’m grateful for that.
How would you describe running a record label in today’s digital world? And what advantages/ disadvantages do you think the Internet has brought to both quality and quantity?
Hmm… Well there is certainly less to deal with than when we were pressing vinyl which I did years ago on previous labels, and will still do now on microCastle when the right project presents itself. I don’t think there is any debate that the digital age has hurt the overall quality of music being released, simply because it is so easy to just start a label and put out release after release each week. With things like Soundcloud and all social media though, it’s giving artists a chance to have their music heard, where in the past that would not have been possible, so that’s a great thing.
Who are the biggest influences on you in terms of electronic music and also from outside of it?
‘Selected Ambient Works’ Vol. 1 was huge for me along with the first two Orbital albums, Spooky, Speedy J and more, so that paved the way I guess you could say? More recently I would say I’ve been listening to the Dorisburg album, the Nonkeen album, Tim Hecker, M83, Dave DK, Kiasmos, Rival Consoles, The Field, Inventions, Mattheis, all the Hivern Disc releases, and much more.
Outside of electronic music, I would say style-wise, that Shoegaze, Post Metal, Post Rock and Psychedelic stuff are probably what I listen to the most. Going back to my childhood bands like My Bloody Valentine, early Catherine Wheel, early Spiritualized, Flying Saucer Attack, The Cure, Ride, Sonic Youth, Jesus and Mary Chain, Lush, Slowdive, Cocteau Twins and many others were big for me, and I think the hazy, organic quality of that music certainly affects what I sign to the label today on certain projects.
Influences outside of music I would say that nature and art are at the top of list. The world can be a magical place.
What is your favourite instrument? Do you own one?
There are several in our apartment but are they in use? No not really… I played drums for years in a band in high school. Aside from that, my favourite synth, which I had back when I was still writing music, would have to be the Andromeda. I loved my Virus too though.
How do you see Dance Music moving forward into the future with the prominence of festivals along with the on-line streaming of club events – might that eventually replace the experience of going out?
No, I certainly don’t think it can ever replace the experience of going out, but it is a great way for people all over the world to be more connected to what’s happening, and that’s a great thing. I spent 10 years straight DJing every weekend, and there is nothing like the vibe in a room when everything is perfect. It’s magical and it always will be, there’s no way for that to ever fully translate on-line.
What can we look forward to from micoCastle in 2017?
That’s hard to say… I have no music currently signed for 2017 which is not out of the ordinary, but there are no shortage of great demos and lots of friends are working on projects now, which I’m sure will end up on the label. You’ll likely see EPs from Brian Cid and Cornucopia, as those have been discussed, but aside from that, you’ll just have to wait and see. I’ll continue to do different things with the label and more vinyl releases as well. Thanks for having me Greg. 🙂
Pursuit Of The Orange Butterfly EP
This record represents a kind of brutal, beautiful indication of what’s right with the planet. Feeling introspective for sure, but also there’s a sense of sharing within its thoughtful, thought-provoking rhythms which aren’t regulated, clean, pristine hi-fi but are most obviously soulful in the very real senses of that word – as if reaching out for heaven. ‘Pursuit Of The Orange Butterfly’ not only has an exquisite title but breathes life into all of those tired arrangements that qualify as Dance music today, indeed they surpass them. Slightly reminiscent of the Minimalist composers of the past century this produces an evolving, effortless landscape of sound that opens up your mind to the blue sky of possibilities. Next is Mountains of the Moon which escapes into a series of rapid beats plus against the grain synthesized sounds, which along with final track Neverland prove to just as engaging, although the title remains in a league of its own.
Formats: 12” Vinyl / Digital
Release: September 23