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Learning L.I.E.S. Records Through Five Brutally Blissful Tracks

Charting the naughty New York label’s scruffily meteoric rise.

Obvious point here, but being "into" dance music involves subscribing to a kind of unintentional, or unwilling, tribalism. We have favored DJs and favorite producers, we pledge allegiance to certain clubs, lionize certain labels. Taken microcosmically — ignoring the effort that goes into releasing a record or putting a night on — our choices become emblematic of our interest in things as a whole. They are schemas that we use — consciously or otherwise — to broadcast our taste and sensibilities to the wider world.


If I see you picking up an Infected Mushroom record down at Rough Trade, I'll think you're a certain kind of person, and vice versa when you see me grabbing greasily at anything with the word "edit" on the sleeve. This is just how we work.

A while back now we put together a tongue in cheek guide intended to help the clueless sound like they'd at least seen a clue, if not actually possessed one. In that bullshitter's guide we described Ron Morelli's L.I.E.S. as a label that releases the kind of acid warped tough techno you'd hear "Deep dark dank holes from Brooklyn to Brixton where the attendants hate clubs and hate dancing even more." Which is, we guess, kind of true.

Formed — or founded — in 2010 by the aforementioned Ron Morelli, Long Island Electrical Systems has become a byword for raw, gritty, steely, non-fuck-giving rough edged house and blunt, bludgeoning, bolshy techno. This week has seen the announcement that UK producer Randomer is set to return to the label with a new EP — Kid's Play — so we thought it was a perfect time to try and piece together an overview of the label looking at five key, killer releases.

Malvoeaux - Targets

We might as well start back at the beginning. The very first 12" pressed on the label is a dementedly dreamy slab of jackin' disco-inflected house that sounds like Soundstream after a seriously rough few nights and a week or two in the gym hitting the free weights. "Targets" is a riotous example of the power of the loop. A series of disco licks interlace and entwine, pushing the listener into a kind of tectonic-shift of a trance. There's immense pleasure to be found in repetition, after all. Lighter than a lot of what was to come, it's a kind of red herring. But a very, very tasty one.


Steve Summers - Mode For Love EP

Remember when 'outsider house' was a thing? Great wasn't it. The world felt so young back then, so full of promise. The future looked in our reach and it was going to be soundtracked by cracked out crunchy club music that sounded like someone had pissed on a Larry Heard record, then set it alight, then put it out with more piss, then took a swatch of sandpaper to it, then lit it again, then pissed on yet again, then spat and puked on and then played at the wrong speed. And we loved it. It turned out that 'outsider house' was a terrible term that didn't really mean anything, but records like Mr. Outsider House himself, Steve Summer's, indomitable Mode for Love release on L.I.E.S. were, and still are, really fucking great. It's house for terminal insomniacs — haunted, twisted, wrecked, wracked and ruined.

Various Artists - Music for Shut-Ins

It's all in the name. This mini sampler — bringing us a track each from Beautiful Swimmers, Entro & Terri, and Marcos Cabral — is a kind of calling card, a snapshot of a (club) moment in time. It's also, in a way, totemic of what L.I.E.S. was and is. It's a label that releases forward thinking dance music best heard in the kind of clubs where everything's pitch black and feels slightly off. It's about as far away from a hands-in-the-air David Morales remix as you can get without being a Fushitsusha jam. Which is a good thing, obviously. The Swimmers turn in the luminous, glowing, gloriously future-looking-throwback cut "The Zoo", Cabral's "Dancing on Manhattan" is a deep, dubby NYC heater, and "The Clap" by Entro & Terri ends things in finely submerged, brutal style — Basic Channel for the socially challenged.


Delroy Edwards - 4 Club Use Only EP

Once we'd all gotten over the "haha he's Hellboy's son" thing, it turned out that Delroy Edwards was capable of dropping some serious, serious heat. His production style — imagine Legowelt's hardware collection asphyxiated by the sudden emergence of quicksand in a club just before the sunrises — has come to typify a particularly L.I.E.S-y sound. The title track glides demonically, built round a deeply delicious pad that dips about deliriously, lurching 303 squelches stumble about like an 18 year old on his first night out, "Bells" is a minimal anthem par excellence and perfect proof of the humble marimba being the low-key best instrument to use on club tracks, and "Love Goes On and On" is a chugging, churning slab of deep-sea dwelling aqua-techno in the vein of Drexciya.

Pvre Matrix - Burning Sulfur

Let's zip straight to the contemporary with this acid-bleached set of Joey Beltram style belters from July 2015. Burning Sulfr sounds like it's title suggests — belching, heavy, hard hitting techno that sounds like "The Bells" by Jeff Mills played at +8. It's uncompromising music that doesn't give a fuck about trends and charts and it's L.I.E.S. personified.

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