If, in my opinion, you want to see how to run a label in 2012, look no further than Project Mooncircle (PMC). It’s based out of Berlin and was originally an offshoot of HipHopVinyl Records – a store I wandered into one summer day in 2004 and left, several hours later, minus a quarter of my summer tour earnings. The label bills itself as “specializing in the conjunction between electronic and organic music.” I could expand on that a little by saying that PMC’s music falls somewhere in the gray intersection between instrumental hip-hop, soul, and jazz, with a particular focus on whatever the thing is called that’s hip-hop post-Dilla or post-Fly Lo. I’ll call it Future Beats until someone tells me better. Ed. I hear the comment button clicking already. -PK
In PMC’s releases, swung, tumbling, complex, tricky beats weave in and out of melodies and vocals in a sweet cascade of emotion. Their records are the kind I want to play for people who think hip-hop began and ended with Native Tongues, or believe the pinacle of musical creation happened between ’94 and ’96 in the era of Trip Hop. Although just saying PMC is the logical extension of those movements fails to convey how extremely “right now” their sound is.
Apart from just putting out good music, PMC warms my heart by executing its affairs brilliantly and thoroughly. They have incredible art (including multiple reoccurring illustrators). Their catalog only skips 3 numbers in 100 releases. A huge amount of the music is available for sale on their Bandcamp page, with a healthy number of free giveaways. PMC even has two sub-labels, Project Squared and Finest-Ego, the later of which has put together a series of stunning compilations. These are probably the best place in the world to hear interesting new production in hip-hop, and they are all organized by country, one of my favorite discrete units of any scene.
The crew behind the label is above, but as I found out in a recent conversation with Robert Koch of Robots Don’t Sleep and several PMC release, the whole project rests squarely on the shoulders of the label’s founder Gordon Geiseking. Koch painted a picture of Geiseking tirelessly sitting at his desk, working late, surrounded by boxes and boxes of HHV vinyl waiting to be sent off all over the world. It makes sense – there’s no way something like PMC could have reached the heights it has without an extremely dedicated personality at the helm.
PMC’s other catchphrase is: “… an interesting experience for anyone looking for the extraordinary.” Almost absurdly humble words from an entity that’s just celebrated their 100th release with a 10-year anniversary boxset compilation, pressed onto two white and two black pieces of vinyl. That release alone is 46 tracks long if you get the digital version, one track each from just about anyone who currently has something to do with the label. It’s a great starting point to check out their sound, but if you want to delve further, you can listen to nearly the whole catalog on their website. I’ve picked a few past and current favorites below, but really, let yourself stroll through their incredibly deep catalog to find your own favorite future beats from around the world.
Rumpistol and Red Baron – Floating
The next release forthcoming on the label, the veteran Danish producer Rumpistol of Rump Recordings teams up with fellow Dane Red Barron (currently living in LA) to create a haunting soundtrack of etherial broken pop. Snippets from the entire release can be heard above.
“The Branches” is amazing organic future jazz that isn’t cheesy in the slightest, from Russian mastermind Long Arm. It’s like he was sitting there in a smoky jazz club in 1955 with a tape recorder running. The true inheritor of the mantle of DJ Cam and his ilk.
Beat maestro Flako takes you on a playful stumbling journey through a forest of beats – this is a true beat tape, more simple sketches than fleshed out epics, but it works so well that it’s difficult to tear yourself away from it till the whole thing’s over.
One of my favorite hip-hop albums in a long time – John Robinson not only has a totally unique voice and flow, but he’s a born storyteller, a craft sorely missed in today’s beat scene. Robot Koch is at his finest on production.
My introduction to the incredibly fertile Russian beat scene, which is almost crushingly large and diverse – but fortunately this is the cream of the crop – 813, Moa Pillar, DZA, Pixelord, Damscray and a bunch of others are all here. Get familiar!
I had forgotten about this till just now, but Project Squared is home to some of the better recordings in the Future Garage world, with Asusu being one of my all time favorites in this sound. Hope to hear more from this offshoot of PMC in the future!
Ed.: I’d been following Project Mooncircle, too, particularly as they pop up around Berlin, though I think the whole label will have international appeal. Got favorite releases you’d like to add to Matt’s list? Let us know comments!
Kid Kameleon is a San Francisco-based DJ, promoter, writer, blogger, historian, archivist, and fan of electronic music. He joins us regularly for our “Created” series, doing whatever the digital equivalent of digging through crates is. (Nominees welcome for that term.)