Labels We Love 2008: Part 1

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If you’re reading XLR8R you probably already own ’nuff albums on XL or Domino, Def Jux and Lex artists have repeatedly rocked your headphones, and you know what’s coming out on Minus or Stones Throw before we do. So this year–our seventh time loving on labels–we focus on labels we’ve (mostly) never quizzed before. For the next six weeks, we'll catch up with brash new dancefloor igniters Fool’s Gold and Dress 2 Sweat, techno champions Mobilee and Traum, and the dubstep damage squad: Hyperdub, Tectonic, Hot Flush. We'll revel in cosmic disco from Ghent and New Jersey, and applaud local pride from Los Angeles to Dublin. And since some of the labels we love are more obscure than, say, Sub Pop or DFA, we'll feature a new artist each week from one of the selected labels. This week take an in-depth look at Feedelity's avant-pop experimentalist, Dominique Leone. Vivian Host and Ken Taylor

View more photos here.

Feedelity / Strømland
Lindstrøm spreads his wings from Norway to San Francisco.

Founder: Hans-Peter Lindstrøm (with Joakim Haugland for Strømland)
Location: Oslo, Norway
Best-known artists: Lindstrøm, Six Cups of Rebel, Plague the Kid
Funny story: [Our best known artists are] all the same person!
Favorite label: Smalltown Supersound
Happy-hour spot: Tim Wendelboe Coffebar in Grunersgate. Simply the best coffee in Scandinavia!
Label mascot: Jesus Christ in bright neon colors.
Biggest disaster: There haven’t been any... yet.
Upcoming: The new Lindstrøm album comes out this month, and the debut album by Christabelle might see the light of day in late 2008.

Pole’s unstoppable dub-tech team.

Founders: Stefan “Pole” Betke and Barbara Preisinger
Location: Kreuzberg and Prenzlauer Berg, Berlin, Germany
Best-known artists: Pole, Deadbeat, Jan Jelinek
Funny story: Pole was supposed to play a late-night show at a big festival. He arrived shortly before his set and the bouncer wouldn’t let him in, saying that there were at least three or four Poles already in, and the real Pole would now have to buy the day ticket, which was 50 pounds.
Favorite label: There are so many other labels that we love and respect.
Happy-hour spot: Club der Visionaere. It’s very nice to sit on the water having a cool drink and meeting people.
Label mascot: Our little Hawaiian palm tree.
Biggest disaster: On the Staedtizism 4 compilation, one of our artists referred to a track by Fatback Band as a tribute and we got sued by the publisher. We had to call the whole release back shortly after street date and lost a lot of money–though Staedtizism 4 was a great record.
Upcoming: Reissues of Pole’s 1, 2, 3 trilogy, a few 12”s by Pole, and a new Round Black Ghosts compilation in late fall.

Lush house and future funk from Sonar Kollektiv’s lovechild.

Founders: Dixon, Matthias Bombach, and Frank and Kristian from Âme
Location: Friedrichstrasse, Berlin, Germany
Best-known artists: Henrik Schwarz, Château Flight, Tokyo Black Star
Funny story: A certain DJ keeps on losing his mobile phone all over this planet and spends hours getting people to send it back to him. Well, actually it is Matthias who has to do this for him... It’s a neverending story and far from being funny anymore. Fact!
Favorite label: All the labels that really care about the music, take risks, and don’t release things that they don’t dig.
Happy-hour spot: The little Italian sandwich and coffeeshop across the street. Heavily supported!
Label mascot: Niko Bellic and Darth Vader!
Biggest disaster: We manufactured a special package for our Muting the Noise CD. It’s a high-quality, debossed linen book with 60 pages that contain nothing at all. We muted all the noise! In addition, we successfully managed to hide the CD and make it as hard as possible for people to get out. You should see the faces of the people who open that package!
Upcoming: New music from Âme (with Henrik Schwarz & Dixon) and Laurent Garnier, and a Toyko Black Star album.

Dutch downtempo fiends top our list for future jazz grooves.

Founder: Gerd
Location: Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Best-known artists: Gerd, Amplified Orchestra, Delgui
Funny story: Syrafin had to do a remix. It was 2 a.m. and the remix would be picked up by courier at 9. He had no inspiration, so he wanted to smoke a spliff–he had loads of weed but no papers. Desperate, he took his only 50 Euro bill from his wallet and rolled a spliff with it. What followed was his most expensive, and dopest, remix ever: “The Game is Mine (feat. JTodd)”
Favorite label: Too many to mention.
Happy-hour spot: Bootleg Café at the Mauritsweg in the center of Rotterdam. A place where the cocktails are delicious and the ladies are fly.
Label mascot: Our neighbor’s cat, Fenna, who naps on our studio couch while we are in a recording session. Lazy creature!
Biggest disaster: Syrafin and I were traveling to a show in Belgium. While queueing outside of the train station’s bank, there was a huge explosion. Somebody had bombed the bank’s wall. Police drew their guns and an immense fire fight followed. We ducked on the floor while bullets flew around our ears. The robber got out of the bank and passed us before he was shot in the knee. There was money still floating in the air. Before we knew it, we were on the train counting our Euros. We bought ourselves two Mac Powerbooks with the loot, compensation for our tragic adventure.
Upcoming: Aqeel’s “Wake Up” (feat. Shafiq Husayn of Sa-Ra), the 4lux Sub Soul Sampler, and [d]’s The Greatest Never featuring Elzhi of Slum Village, Guilty Simpson, Muhsinah, and Buff-1.

Low-end theories from the best in dubstep and future hip-hop.

Founder: Kode9
Location: Camberwell, South London, U.K.
Best-known artists: Burial, Kode9, The Bug
Funny story: Burial made a couple of albums. She didn’t like having her picture taken. Everyone wet their pants.
Favorite label: I’m more interested in following specific artists, but I do seem to have a lot of amazing music from Terror Danjah’s Aftershock label.
Happy-hour spot: We don’t have an office. We’re never happy. We don’t drink. We don’t have spots.
Label mascot: The shower gets a lot of love.
Biggest disaster: Our operation is so smooth, you can hear it purr.
Upcoming releases: A King Midas album with remixes by Flying Lotus and Dabrye, twelves from LV, Samiyam, and Zomby, and new Kode9 & Spaceape and Burial albums lurking on the horizon.

Featured Artist:Dominique Leone

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Dominique Leone, 34, is an inspiration to any unsigned artist at home twiddling with a four-track. Two years ago, the San Francisco-based music scribe (and lifelong musician) cold-called Hans-Peter Lindstrøm with the hopes the space-disco pioneer might dig his tunes. “I just really liked the singles that he was putting out at the time. So I wrote him and said, ‘I would really love if you would listen to my stuff and see if you’d be interested in doing a remix of any of it,” recalls Leone. “To my great surprise and good fortune he not only wanted to remix it, he wanted to release it.” The resulting album, Dominique Leone, came out in May on Strømland, the brand-new imprint from Lindstrøm and Smalltown Supersound’s Joakim Haugland.

Leone’s sound doesn’t exactly mirror the orbital bounce of his European pals–it’s a much more organic strand of collage pop that references Abba, Brian Wilson, prog-rock luminaries Magma, and noise bands like Japan’s Ruins. “I just kind of write what I write–I’m not really thinking I want to make a prog song, per se… but you can’t really escape where you come from, I guess,” he muses.

Leone’s a self-described “analytical” dude (“[That’s] probably why I wrote for as long as I did,” he says), and his music sounds like the product of someone who’s spent lots of time thinking critically about music. On kaleidoscopic tracks like “Duyen” and “Claire,” he sings atop swirling layers of organ and found sounds that recall Animal Collective’s twisted folk. These tracks predate Leone using a computer for production, but the 34-year-old producer recently netted himself a laptop and is burning through tracks. “Hopefully I can follow [this album] up with another one with newer stuff [soon],” he says. Joe Colly