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A Bullshitters Guide to Underground Dance Labels

How to talk about five key record labels without anyone knowing that you don’t know your Move D from your Fred P.

So you bagged yourself a freebie to Lovebox the other weekend and huffed yourself silly on balloons during Joy Orbison's set and you've decided to 'get into' dance music. In theory, this should be as easy as walking into a record shop on payday, asking the bloke behind the counter what's playing and who's playing it at the moment.

Sadly, dance music is inherently snobbish. This is a world that punishes those who slip up and say Perlon when they mean Playhouse, a scene that sees you banished into serfdom quicker than a stag crew from Weston Super Mare in the queue for Watergate that've managed to mix up Kenny Dixon Jr and Kenny Larkin. You've got to know your shit and knowing your shit means spending hours on Discogs dipping into your overdraft and enduring tedious tech-house workout sets from names you're meant to recognise. Who's got the time and the money to do that? Sadsacks who spend hours in damp basements flicking through dogeared 12"s and the kind of cunts who can blow £50 on coke willy nilly at a "really sick deep house night" at the Bussey Building, that's who.


But you're not like that and here at THUMP we want to make life a little easier, so we've put a guide together for you - here's how to talk about five key record labels without anyone knowing that you don't know your Move D from your Fred P.

Strictly Rhythm

THREE WORD BRIEF: Big room bangers

WHAT DOES IT SAY ABOUT ME?: You were into Bicep when they were student DJs in Manchester and you know your New York house shit - you are house music. Actual house music. Not the house music those 17 year olds in Hurraches like. Proper house music. House music.

WHAT SHOULD I SAY ABOUT IT: "If there's anything better than a huge kick, chunky organ chords and a wailing diva then I don't want to hear it" OR "Mate, Masters at Work are STILL the Masters because their tunes WORK anywhere!"

WHAT KIND OF CLUB PLAYS IT: Step into any club that isn't a lurid VK vomit pit or a German fuck dungeon and you'll probably hear at least ONE slice of reassuringly thudding NYC house released by the venerable label.

WHICH THREE RECORDS SHOULD I MENTION: Photon Inc. - "Generate Power" (Wild Pitch Remix), South Street Player - "(Who?) Keeps Changing Your Mind (The Night Mix"), Hardrive - "Deep Inside"


THREE WORD BRIEF: Acid for autists

WHAT DOES IT SAY ABOUT ME?: Fuck that clean, commerical sounding deep house shit. Fuck that sleek, cystaline Komapkt techno nonsense. You want your dance music to be undancable. You want your records to sound like they've been cut to sandpaper. You probably watch VHS slasher movies and have wanked to snuff.


WHAT SHOULD I SAY ABOUT IT: "That new Willie Burns joint sounds like it's melting, totally crushing, hey man, you ever read any William T. Vollmann? He writes books about prostitutes, he's…"

WHAT KIND OF CLUB PLAYS IT: Deep dark dank holes from Brooklyn to Brixton where the attendants hate clubs and hate dancing even more.

WHICH THREE RECORDS SHOULD I MENTION: Delroy Edwards - "4 Club Use Only", Florian Kuper - "Lifetrax", Maximillion Dunbar - "Stayin Away"

Dance Mania

THREE WORD BRIEF: Fuckfest club jams

WHAT DOES IT SAY ABOUT ME?: I will eat your booty for hours while we play DJ Funk 320kbs MP3s in your bedroom. I will never stop eating that booty. I will never stop going in on that ass. I want to kiss it. I want to paint it. If I could I'd put my whole damn head in it.

WHAT SHOULD I SAY ABOUT IT: "Have you ever tried fucking to DJ Assault upside down on speed? It feels like that DJ Slugo record sounds. You guys've had sex right? Yeah me too."

WHAT KIND OF CLUB PLAYS IT: Dance Tunnel or somewhere, one of those clubs where people actually dance rather than livetweet the club experience. It probably stinks of sweat and fingerings and Drum rolling tobacco.

WHICH THREE RECORDS SHOULD I MENTION: DJ Deeon - "Work This Dick", Club Style - "Crazy Wild", DJ Slugo - "Freaky Ride"


THREE WORD BRIEF: Jungle on nightbusses

WHAT DOES IT SAY ABOUT ME?: You're as at home with Simon Reynolds in the bath as you are Fatima al Qadiri in the club. You shop locally. You grow your own. You've read Kodwo Eshun and you've not had a dream in years. You can't cook a meal that isn't pasta with chili sauce but you can strap a zoot in thirty seconds and you've got some killer Carhatt cargo pants.


WHAT SHOULD I SAY ABOUT IT: "The thing is, right, Hyperdub isn't just a label, it's about exploring an internalised aesthetic that plays itself out against the backdrop of the demoralized south London smog"

WHAT KIND OF CLUB PLAYS IT: Any club where the bloke on the door is finishing his MA in Anthropology at SOAS and the girl at the bar has just finished her treatise on the link between neoliberalism and the Huddersfield rave scene for Zer0.

WHICH THREE RECORDS SHOULD I MENTION: DJ Rashad - "Feelin'", Joker - "Digidesign", Ikonika - "Tug Zone"

Ostgut Ton

THREE WORD BRIEF: Terrifying German brutality

WHAT DOES IT SAY ABOUT ME?: You've read about the dark rooms at Berghain. You've read about the queues and the six day parties. But you're from the home counties, you've got no female friends and you dress like a dork. Your trip to Berlin's going to end in tears. But you don't need an unlit power station and the prospect of being frisked and fisted by Fritz to enjoy the stark primal techno released on the club's own label.

WHAT DO YOU SAY ABOUT IT: "I've heard that Marcel Dettman once played this track seven times during the course of a thirteen hour set in the 'Ghain. The place exploded."


WHICH THREE RECORDS SHOULD I MENTION: Steffi - "Yours", Answer Code Request - "Status", Dettmann and Klock - "Dawning"

Now, obviously, this is just a starter pack. Hopefully it'll work on the kind of cunts who actually care about talking about dance music while the rest of us are happy to buy records, listen to records and dance to records. Best of luck.

More guides for your well-being:
An Illustrated Guide to Surviving 24 Hours at Berghain
Your Dance Music Summer Reading Guide
THUMP's Guide to Throwing a Warehouse Party 

Follow Josh Baines on Twitter here: @bain3z