Harmonious Thelonious returns to the Kontra-Musik family with an absolute gem of a record. This is everything we want dance music to be: characterful, playful and impossibly funky. Harmonious Thelonious is a master of crafting organic sounding rhythms but arranging them in a manner that reminds one of a 1970’s car factory. Primal pulses running through modern assembly lines, gears and pistons covered in green lianas. The result is a perfect symbiosis between living tissue and mechanical parts – dance music for primitive cyborgs.
“A long time ago, at a festival far, far away, the members of the legendary Borft trio Frak were just going to bed in their tent when something caught their attention. Now, this was well before Frak’s rise to international fame – in fact, this moment was Swedish music history in the making, because what they heard was someone playing a Frak tune. That someone turned out to be Kontra-Musik’s own Ulf Eriksson and once their paths had crossed, there was no turning back. Frak has since released five highly sought after records on Kontra-Musik and Kontra-Musik White Label. When it was time for a 10-year anniversary gathering in Ulf Eriksson’s private garden, Frak of course turned up together with other Kontra artists like TM404 and Rivet. For those present – we few, we happy few – this turned out to be one of the most magical summer nights in living memory. The Swedish word for porch is altan, and so, to honour this wonderful experience of the whole Kontra-Musik family coming together, Frak decided to name their brand new album Altan Gathering. Another great friend of Kontra, Henrik Jonsson aka Porn Sword Tobacco, made the album cover and we wouldn’t have it any other way. His aesthetic choice of tin foil is on point: Listening to Frak is a lot like biting into a fresh falafel wrap without first removing the aluminium foil holding the delicious mess together; it’s mouth-wateringly warm and moist but at the same time intensely harsh and tough to chew. This might seem like a far fetched analogy but if you’ve ever went partying in Kontra-Musik’s home town Malmo you’ll know the feeling. And if you’ve never been to Malmo, well do stop by someday. It seems, when the stars align, the gatherings here can be the stuff both legends and albums are made of.”
What would it feel like to have your naked body slowly submerged in a pool of steaming acid? One would expect unbearable pain, of course – beyond the limits of our imagination – but with his Acid Ambient Vol. 1 on Kontra-Musik, Daniel Araya proves us wrong. The EMS Studio Engineer and producer adjusts the intricate PH levels of this corrosive bubblebath with infinity skilled hands, making the experience thoroughly pleasurable – on the verge of erotic even. Your skin melts away with a sweet sensation of laxity and your muscles and tendons dissolve sensually slow. At the end, nothing will remain below the surface but the pleasure center of your now diffused brain, pulsating with unrestrained satisfaction.
Andreas Tilliander returns to Kontra-Musik in a grand style with his second TM404 album. Titled ‘Acidub’, this highly anticipated release is much more of an evolution than a repetition of the first superbly self-restricted album, where Tilliander even decided to use only one of the two Roland TB-303 waveforms. Acidub is a more playful and open listening experience, no doubt inspired by his extensive live touring with the TM404 concept. In fact, you can almost hear Tilliander’s flock of acid machines breaking free from the restrained modus operandi. Every sound is like a migratory bird with a heart yearning for high altitude and favourable winds. The opening track Alinge paints a lucid picture of these acid birds leaving a cold industrial landscape behind; the flickering black shadows from their wings against the white smoke rising from a forest of chimneys below. The very last seconds of Alinge even echo of the place the silver birds are longing for, but that will remain a secret between Kontra-Musik and the avid listener. Sufficient to say, we can follow these birds of passage as they’re heading south towards a warmer climate, fleeing the cold discipline of the North. Mutron Mantra, for instance, brings us to a rainforest full of serpentine lianas, giant leaves dripping with moist and green pools of water bubbling with organic life. Don’t Defend Mascot guides us through a steaming savannah at dusk with hundreds of yellow eyes following our every step while Pade vividly describes the perils of the flight and the pace and courage needed to press on. In all, Acidub is a surprisingly exuberant follow-up to the more introspective TM404 album. But while the musical journey of this second album is quite different, the experience of sheer aural eminence remains the same. Andreas Tilliander has done it again, and Kontra-Musik couldn’t be prouder.
To celebrate Kontra-Musik Records hitting the ten-year mark, founder and label owner Ulf Eriksson has put together a collection of some of our finest releases. This has been a daunting task, for we are happy to announce that we could easily have made several very different compilations that we would have been equally contented with – there are so many superb tracks we had to leave out. This has, however, been a labour of love. Much like the label itself. Eclecticism has always been a lodestar for Ulf Eriksson, as we hope this collection gives testimony to. The label has always been moving freely between techno, house and more experimental sounds. Kontra-Musik intends to show different angels of perspective, not to convert you to a new Religion or Ideology. Being open to a broad variety of sounds and rhythms – judging them not solely by their functionality but rather by their personality – has been the Kontra-Musik way from day one. While it has been a crooked and sometimes exceedingly hard road to follow, we’re hoping to carry on for several years to come. After 10 years, the label still feels meaningful and current to us – in short: it’s still worth it. Kontra-Musik would like to thank everyone – from contributing artists to faithful friends of the label who have supported us all these years. None of this would have been possible without you.
The Dance is the result of a long lasting musical love affair between Kontra-Musik’s Ulf Eriksson and Sebastian Mullaert (aka Minilogue). As most love affairs, it started off as an exciting experiment: Ulf would play records and Sebastian would bring out his music gear and play a live set. As they were touring with this live concept, their sounds started to really integrate, and after one especially fine night at Trouw, Amsterdam, Ulf and Sebastian decided it was time to conceive The Dance. Once the decision was taken, everything else came naturally. The Dance was to be recorded live, in one take, at Kontra-Musik’s home field Inkonst, Malmo, Sweden.
With this release, Villa Abo (Frak) departs from the home planet of Borft to create Friendship Over Different Systems together with Kontra-Musik. Via twisted machine funk and a grand space opera of analogue synths, Villa Abo will Askew The Eternity. The steady pounding of drums and hearts through the Galaxy makes you want to keep your 1970:s X-wing ready for battle Between Doomsday And Now, but In The End we’ll all dance together under a starry sky filled with debris from exploding Death Stars.
Italian producer and sound designer Roberto Clementi joins the Kontra-Musik family. With the use of tape and field recordings and an array of analogue machinery Roberto has created an “all nighter”. The steady thumps and growling dubs of the title track ‘Diodes’ is the perfect welcome to a dark and smoky dance floor, and the sweeping synths and life sustaining open hihat of the last track, ‘Into’, is the perfect goodbye. Between the open and the close you have have the analogue grit and amplitude of ‘The Optimist’ for peak time purposes, as well as a refreshingly dizzy-making breath of fresh air from ’15 Years Later’.
Mixing opposites is always an interesting project, and that brings us to the present release from Kontra-Musik. On the one hand, we have Swedish National Treasure Andreas Tilliander and his already classic TM404-album. On the other hand we have Svreca, the dark prince of Semantica Records and the heir to Oscar Mulero. We thought it would be most interesting to blend these clearly diverse elements together. We where right. There is a very clear and constant division through the entire release. On one hand you have the warm, fuzzy analogue dubbiness of TM404, on the other hand you have the focused, trimmed and piercing techno from Svreca. Where TM404 brings out beams of acid sunlight from his silver boxes, Svreca conjures up a starless night with his relentless beats. It’s a bit like Saruman was given the permission to remix a Gandalf record. TM404 + Svreca. A piece of modern Alchemy, brought to you by Kontra-Musik.
The timing couldn’t be better for Frak to return to Kontra-Musik with this remarkable synth and acid flavoured release. Machines drifting away is an intriguing piece of music; straightforward and multi-layered; futuristic and old school. The first half of the track molds itself around an ebm-like bassline which seems to be moving through a desolate landscape with hard hitting kicks, claps and drums marching on beside it, while the sky above is filled with the wails of brooding synths. The second part introduces a mean 303-bassline as the intensity of the journey heightens. The sound of an echoing metronome sets the tempo at the beginning, soon to be joined by heavy kicks and toms. Several analogue synths then joins in; bending, distorting and moving through the soundscape, almost battling for space. Everything is kept on the right path, though, thanks to an ingenious use of hi-hats – a trademark trick and treat from Frak.
Having commenced 2013 with one long player in Andreas Tilliander’s TM404 project, Kontra Music signs off for the year with the second album from label regulars Jonsson & Alter. It’s a fine way to bookend another impressive calendar year for the Malmo-based label who have slipped out a bunch of killer twelves in-between as well as found the SKUM label with compatriots Skudge. The inspiration behind Henrik Jonsson and Joel Alter’s nonchalantly titled second album 2 apparently derives from the time Jonsson & Alter spent performing the previous album live and wanting to incorporate “heavier beats”. The result is a nine-track album that sees Jonsson & Alter produce a refined and matured follow up to their debut, while managing to maintain a raw and housey aesthetic.
TM404 is a project where Andreas Tilliander embarks on a conceptual journey through classic Roland machinery. On the A-side of the Svans EP you can clearly hear the connection to Richie and his Plastikman project. The track 303/303/303/606/606 is heavy, slow grooving techno that brings the listener back to the dark emptiness of the Plastikman Consumed era. On the b-side the TM404 project is allowed elevated to new levels. With a Yamaha SY-1 and a Yamaha TG33 entering the machine park, TM404 for the first time, breaks his Roland oath and opens up the project to a future of new possibilities.
“As a label manager a lot of music reaches you ears. Some you get especially attached to. This release is one of those. The two Italian producers Massprod and Herva has together produced some music that feels very unique and different. The EP that goes under the wonderful title Technology Fail as a Birth Control for Unnecessary Recordings, contains a set of songs that blend distorted funk, lo-fi tape recordings, noise and ultra minimal electronica. Titles like ‘Mike vs Speak and Overdub as a Weapon Against Modern Laptop Wanking’ and ‘Fourth Dimension Opens Up to Show Invisible Boogie Maze’ might even open up for new horizons for our label, the label with no set goals. We hope you like this one. We do.”
Collaboration vinyl only release between Skudge Records and Kontra-Musik. It came to us some time ago that what Kontra-Musik and Skudge stood for had a lot in common, which is the reason for this SKUM entry. Uniting to showcase the Swedish techno underground is an act of faith in these times of extreme self focus. We want to tell the world that we believe not only in ourselves but also in this new wave of local artists, a pledge for the future. In the immemorial words of ABBA, when all is said and done, you still get epic throbbing stabby techno from Skudge, deep hectic madness from MRSK, classy lush slow mo acid from TM404 and cavernous acid house from the Frak camp, a testimony to the scene we so believe in!
Fishermen is a new project created by Martin (MRSK) and his friend Thomas. Their first EP was released on the Skudge White series. When it is time for their second coming, Delirium Tremens, the duo delivers four tracks of dark, grinding soul techno, inspired by the sea. To be played at maximum volume.
As one of the younger breed of Detroit talents, Jason Fine is still just starting to get a foothold, despite having a good few years of releases behind him. His Kontra Musik relationship has proven to be the most fruitful, and this remix package capitalizes on that with two top shelf commissions. A Made Up Sound brings his unmistakable broken house swing to bear, with warming subs and thick swathes of pad and melody twisted to Dave Huismann’s crafty designs. Heinrich Muller brings the Drexciyan vibes in abundance with his punchy electro stance that remains peerless after all these years.
The duo Jonsson & Alter returns with an EP more straightforward than previous works. The EP For You, aims for the dancefloor with the sophisticated house anthem For You on the a-side, followed by the deeper and unique sounding Ljuset on the b-side.