I’m writing this on a train to Prague en route from Košice and southern Slovakia, with another Central European trek behind me, listening to life’s stories by random strangers eager to share their perspectives and offer well-intended advice. A young lawyer talking about absurd court cases, an affable girl recollecting her drunken exploits, a single mum fulminating about her ex. The humanity likes nothing more than to divulge their deepest secrets to any given stranger, it seems. As I gradually tire from the long journey and fleeting social interaction, music seems the only redemption at hand.
Fictitious biographies, anonymous faces, mysterious whereabouts. The music industry has had a longstanding fascination with the enigma, which may seem like a slightly tired formula 20 years after the likes of UR popularized it within underground techno. Nevertheless, several imprints, new or old, have embraced the clandestine modus operandi. Farbwechsel is a new Budapest-based dance label. Their first release is by S Olbricht, “a famous 70s German producer-songwriter who moved to LA and engaged in a tragic romance”. The cassette EP, The Last Act of Dorothy Stratten, is apparently a selection of the lost and found tapes of S Olbricht, created to honour his murdered lover.
While further north, my beloved Mik Musik! has just launched a new series which aims to release records under pseudonyms and aliases by known and emerging artists in an effort to free music production from the constraints of the name as a “brand”. Their latest offering, a sonically adventurous high-octane EP is by someone called PAWEŁ PESEL. There is one more new label in thrall of the uncanny, but their name or location I cannot tell you right now (they might jinx me). Their latest release is by a well-known UK experimenter.
The Polish magazine Glissando is a leading quality music magazine—one of the few surviving in the region—that constantly pushes the limits of what’s expected. Their lengthy in-depth articles defy the lifestyle blips catering for the scattered minds of today’s readers. Aside from the publication, whose content ranges from Kim Cascone to techno-utopia, they also do regular mixtapes—with a difference. Commissioning local and international producers to create a musical selection which is “opposite” to their usual sonic guise. Such as this by Mordant Music‘s Vindicatrix.
Let me bid an aural farewell with a band called Coughy. The duo, manouvering in the hazy psychedelic waters, has just released an EP on the Bucharest-based imprint Local Records, whose raison d’être is to bring out Romanian musicians. Coughy’s already transgressed the local context—and has been scooped by Apollo, a temperate sublabel of R&S Records, home to the likes of Model 500, Aphex Twin and Teengirl Fantasy.
Interested in more obscure and exciting music from Eastern Europe? Head to Easterndaze.