A 15-Track Guide To The Wildly Creative House Music Of Sex Tags Mania
The brothers Stefan and Peter Mitterer (a.k.a. DJ Sotofett and DJ Fett Burger) got their start in Moss, Norway’s graffiti scene. But eventually, they decided to extend their activities into music. They founded the Sex Tags label for their own sounds, and for the music of friends and artists they admired from their own country or that they met while traveling.
An ever-growing and fiercely independent network came into being around the brothers that, almost 15 years later, is so complex and diverse that many find it difficult to decipher. But for the brothers, it all makes perfect sense. There’s a coherence among the sub-labels based on their own varied musical preferences, humor and attitude—and those of the likeminded collaborators they encountered along the way. While the Sex Tags construct is diverse and open-minded, it’s also incredibly cohesive and tight-knit.
We took a look at some choice tunes from the back-catalog of the Sex Tags Mania parent label as well as its leftfield offshoot, Sex Tags Amfibia, plus the imprints the Mitterers ran individually over the years (Sotofett’s Wania, Fett Burger’s Sex Tags UFO, Mongo Fett and Freakout Cult—the latter a joint venture with Jayda G). The other talents that populate the Sex Tags universe are too many to list, but we included some that pop up more frequently as well. Take a dive into their unique universe below.
[See also: Our guide to 15 essential disco house tracks that every head should know]
Bjørn Torske & Crystal Bois, “As’besto (Percussion Mix)” (Sex Tags Mania 2006)
This joint venture between Norwegian old-school don Bjørn Torske and the enigmatic Crystal Bois (a.k.a. Siob Latsyrc) is a supreme example of how little a good house track needs to achieve magic. A deep and dubbed out chord and some improv percussion—that’s basically it. But it’s kept moving floors since it first appeared twelve years ago, and will most likely continue to do so.
Acido, “After Club Rectum (Crystal Bois’ 727 MANIA)” (Sex Tags Mania 2007)
An early appearance from Acido label head Dynamo Dreesen and Laton label head Franz Pomassl, who both were to become regular fixtures in the Sex Tags universe. Crystal Bois are on remix duty, and they transform the source material into a hard-jacking rhythm tool track that you can most probably mix into anything. Erlend Hammer provides brilliant liner notes, making a perfectly valid point that every local scene needs a Club Rectum.
Doc L Junior, “Baracuda” (Sex Tags Mania 2009)
Kolbjørn Lyslo had already released fine and incredibly unique tracks on the prolific Music For Freaks UK imprint in the early ‘00s. But the sound of this track—originally scheduled for Torske’s Footnotes label, but then lost for very obscure reasons—was unexpected. A Latin- and jazz-tinged summer-breeze-of-a-tune that could so easily have ended sounding camp and corny, but sounded absolutely sublime instead. A reproachful echo of the days when using the term “uplifting” to describe a track was not yet an insult.
Busen Feat. Paleo, “Stream Of Love” (Wania 2010)
Greek vocalist and musician Paleo is the closest the Sex Tag empire has come to having an in-house diva. Here, he delivers his trademark meandering voice to a dark, hypnotizing jam produced by Busen (the duo comprised of Daniel Pflumm and Stefan Mitterer, who also released on Elektro Music Department, General Elektro and Atelier).
Transilvanian Galaxi, “Transilvanian Galaxi” (Sex Tags Mania 2010)
Skatebård is another mainstay at Sex Tags and affiliated labels. He rode a psychedelic new wave take on the new beat genre—before most even cared to remember what both were. Skatebård always manages to come across as both earnest and gleeful with every reference he works into his music, which is a perfect match. At Sex Tags, fun and seriousness go hand in hand.
Kahuun, “Batteri“ (Sex Tags UFO 2011)
A disco house gem laced with jazz-funk, originally released on the Norwegian Hi Fi Terapi imprint in 2001. It was mostly overlooked until Peter Mitterer reissued it on his Sex Tags UFO imprint ten years later. Since then, a lot of people have listened to it, and well-deservedly so. This track has many twists and turns, but every single one of them boosts its bright appeal.
DJ Sotofett, “Sunrise Mix” (Wania 2012)
A collaborative effort by DJ Sotofett, Paleo, Bjørn Torske, Rabih Beani and Aaron “Fit” Siegel. The track rides a leisurely but pumping beat reminiscent of Robert Owens’ “I’ll Be Your Friend” until blissful synths elevate the whole jam to Balearic secret beach proportions. The record is one of the most notorious in the Sex Tags catalogue since it was only possible to purchase it via a telephone number that was mentioned on a flyer. The demand then exceeded the supply quite considerably. It would have been possible to repress it at some point, but that would also have taken a lot from the story. A lot of Sex Tags fans possibly disagree with the latter.
Krisp, “Lovestomp” (Sex Tags UFO 2012)
A filter house banger straight from the vaults of Bjørn Torske, originally produced in 1997. It still kicks just as hard today, managing to sound like the lovechild of Daft Punk and Sound Stream (before they started making music).
Frak, “Second Coming (DJ Sotofett Remix)” (Sex Tags Mania 2012)
It was most likely only a matter of time before this Swedish electronic music trio would appear on a Sex Tags label. And when they did, they did what they do best: raw, Börft-styled jacking acid tracks. Sotofett’s remix ups the ante on this EP; he keeps the original track’s sedated groove, but adds distorted ambient pads that circle around the track,—but the track keeps shooting back.
Kambo Super Sound, “Tung-I Ramen” (Sex Tags Amfibia 2013)
Every year, the Sex Tags posse gathers at the Moss supermarket Kambo Super for a barbecue party called “Graff et Grill”. The musical menu here is dominated by a two very vital parts of the Sex Tags universe: reggae and dub. Sex Tags Amfibia is the main outlet for these excursions, and the quality of this sub-label is so high that it’s difficult to pick an exemplary tune. But a track like “Tung-I Ramen” contains most elements cherished in the Sex Tags dub department: tripping dubbed out digital reggae sounds, mounted on sub bass and a stepping rhythm.
DJ Fett Burger & DJ Speckgürtel, “Speckbass” (Sex Tags UFO 2013)
DJ Fett Burger and DJ Speckgürtel (a.k.a. Phillip Lauer) have constructed a great pumping house track that has its roots firmly in the earlier part of ‘90s New York City. But in those years, most house tracks came with a very dominant slap bass—not with a feverish clash of percussion and dub effects. It sounds like a well-executed house track that’s infiltrated by elements that at first seem to clash, but then lend the track exactly what sets it apart from the competition.
DJ Sotofett Feat. Madteo, “There’s Gotta Be A Way (Vision Of Love Club Mix)” (Wania 2013)
This record is another source of frustration for the Sex Tags fanbase—the team decided not to repress the record because of small glitches at the end of one track (albeit ones that are very difficult to hear). In its entirety, it’s an incredibly hypnotic techno trip that has a slight wild pitch feel, but not a wild pitch structure. It pushes along with only slight interferences, held together by a stream-of-consciousness monologue by Madteo. It makes you want to know how the story ends while you’re dancing to it.
Don Papa, “Done (Piano) (Bass Vocal Mix)” (Sex Tags Mania 2014)
Here, Don Papa revisits a track first released six years earlier. The original was a subtle, piano-led deep house groove, but it felt way too short. This version is possibly even more pleasant. It also features the addition of a hip house vocal that’s seemingly at odds with the chilled-out vibe of the underling music, although it’s hardly more than an almost frustrating reprise.
DJ Fett Burger & Jayda G, “Wind Waker (Club House Mix)” (Freakout Cult 2015)
Freakout Cult was established to shed light on both Fett Burger’s and Jayda G’s partnership, and it favored music produced by close friends. “Wind Waker” is a fine example of the ambient house leanings found on most of its releases. Here, the funk of other Fett Burger productions has a more ethereal quality.
DJ Fett Burger, “Dypfryst Pizza” (Mongo Fett 2017)
While the first two releases on Mongo Fett joined forces with Telephones, Tapes and Jonny Rock, the third release features a take on source material by SVN and SW—the SUED label masterminds. The record’s flipside has “Dypfryst Pizza“, a mellow deep house groove at Fett Burger’s classiest and most infectious. Everything on this silky tune will probably remind you of something you’ve heard before. you feel as if you heard it before, but you can’t really remember where and when. Sometimes your memory might betray you. And sometimes, it does not even matter.
Published August 29, 2018.