Founded in Brooklyn and based in Düsseldorf, Desolat Music Group is the iconic imprint from Loco Dice and Martin Buttrich that's rooted in creative and intimate expression. Their annual Desolat X-Sampler is on tap for February 2nd and it's an anthology that continues to accurately represent the future direction of the label.
This perennial sampler is one that keeps coming together naturally. While Desolat receives lots of music on a daily basis, one of the more notable distinctions of the X-Sampler is that, unlike on a typical release, they aren't tasked with picking a few songs by a single artist. Instead, there is a whole pool of tracks to build from by different producers. Then over the year, it becomes clear to Loco Dice what he wants to include and how the assortment should be shaped. The label likens it to a mixtape that you'd share with your friends—something that speaks for itself.
Such is the prestige of Desolat that its artists can recall their earliest impressions of the label. Consider Yaya, who started following Desolat in 2008 with "Sentimente" made by Rosario Internullo, and then released his first ever EP with them. He "couldn't describe the emotion" then and still can't now. Or Lorenzo Chiabotti, Yaya's collaborator on the 2015 X-Sampler's opener "Dhalsim". The Turin native remembers first hearing Dubfire on Desolat in 2007. Chiabotti was living in Ibiza and reminisces about all the magic moments on the dance floor with that track and its "really catchy sound."
Another memory comes from Intec Digital co-chief Jon Rundell, whose "Freak Out" stands out as one of the X-Sampler's heavier tech cuts.
"I remember being away on tour with Carl Cox," he recounts. "We got back to find out that Dice had sent him a copy of his new artist album, 7 Dunham Place. This was the first time I became aware of the label. I read all the notes while listening and learned more about the relationship between Dice and Martin Buttrich as a result. Like all labels, they evolve. It depends on the people driving it as to the directions it can take, but I feel Desolat has always been a label that just release what they believe in."
And what Desolat believes in can be heard in the label's signature diverse style, which has been typified over the years by homegrown standouts like tINI, Guti, Hector, Livio & Roby, Pulshar and Dice himself.
Alli Borem, the Italian piano wizard behind the album's "Broke The Late 90's", calls Desolat the "raw and hypnotic side of the tech-house and post-minimal scene."
For Rundell, there is not one Desolat sound but many. "Desolat has fuller tracks, they've got stripped-back ones, there are pure funk, jackin' tech-house bombs, as well as really deep and thoughtful house records." He loves that the label can do that and it doesn't matter.
Desolat sounds like a journey. You can feel the effort and the amount of preparation done in the studio by every artist who releases with them. It's all to create this unconventional sound and rear a brand that ultimately comes down to one man: Loco Dice himself. Of course, there is a team that helps him make it happen. But make no mistake, Dice is Desolat. He is constantly listening to new music and never lets the status of an artist make any difference to his choices?whether it's something sent by a well-known artist or an unknown.
"Some years ago, I asked Dice the obvious question of what he looks for," says Rundell. "He then said the same as I do to artists: 'Just do your thing and when that record comes, we will let you know!'"
So Rundell sent him "Freak Out" as something he thought Loco Dice might play. Then he heard Dice bust it out at Space Ibiza a few weeks later while doing a B2B with Carl. "I was at the back of the room behind the booth. I saw Dice lean over and say something to Carl, as Carl had a copy of it too. Then I saw some nodding, some laughing and onto the next record. I still don't know what was said, but I saw a good vibe and that was enough for me. Soon after I got the message that Desolat wished to sign it as part of this project, and I was like 'Woah!'"
Desolat is often credited for remaining one of the most respected imprints in the game. It never makes compromises, and stays true to only releasing music that they believe in. They are not chasing any trends or just doing what is popular. If a track connects with people and really flies, then great. But conquering the charts is irrelevant in the grand scheme. That's not the reason Desolat exists.
"Everything on the label is constantly evolving day-by-day," Borem explains. "And nobody could tell you exactly where they will be in a month or a year."
According to fellow X-Sampler contributor Sable Sheep, the music released on Desolat has forever had that 'cool touch'. Timeless and straight, but always credible and authentic. "This is what I'm constantly trying to realize in my productions too," he said. To accomplish that, his offering for the collection—titled "Paranoidal"—uses a combination of analog equipment and DAW / VST software.
Sable Sheep isn't the only artist getting experimental with production for the compilation. For example, Yaya and Lorenzo Chiabotti constructed their raw beats for "Dhalsim" with an MPC and refined them on a Native Instruments Maschine. They were out to make something magic and powerful at the same time, ending up with a piece they playfully dub 'Apocalyptic House'.
Since Desolat's inception in 2007, it has become recognized as a label that pushes artists to their creative limits. And for that, those artists couldn't be more honoured. Not only are they releasing on one of the most famous imprints out there, but being given the opportunity to showcase their music independently and fast. That's the very reason Loco Dice and Martin Buttrich created such a platform in the first place.
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