Seriously – what is Critical Music’s Binary series?
It’s not a sub-label, because each Binary outing is released under Critical.
It’s not completely new talent-focused, either. While it has indeed heralded the earliest releases from bright young freshmen like Signal, Obeisant, Vromm, Monty and more – it’s also home to releases from much more established names like Current Value, Subtension and Billain.
So WTF is Binary’s MO?
The series has just hit album status this week with Codes: a 13-track adventure into crisp, machine funk futurism. Stark, dark and loaded with a dizzying amount of tomorrow-talent such as Phentix, Signal, Shyun, Signs, SKS, Kije, Moscillator and many more, it’s a whole level in Binary proliferation and sounds a bit like this…
Each track smouldering with underground dynamics and aesthetics, we felt it was high time we called up Kasra to ask what the dickens is going on at Critical HQ right now…
So this all started two years ago with Hyroglifics, right?
Yes it did. While we’re still very much committed to vinyl on Critical, I found myself getting music from newer producers and really wanting to release it. But there just wasn’t the space in the schedule.
That and the fact that a lot of younger artists don’t have such a strong attachment to it and don’t mind if we didn’t release it on vinyl. They just wanted their tunes released and want to work with us. We believe in everything we sign. And with digital we can be a lot more flexible and agile with how we push things. In fact, not spending money on pressing vinyl gives us scope to put resources into other areas of exposure for the artist.
So going back to the original question, it started with Hyroglifics. He’s a lot more established now but was very new back then. And that’s what Binary is about. Not necessarily new artists – although most of the guys we’ve signed are very new – but new to us. It’s been a great way to work with new people and put their music out, see if they like working with us, see if we like working them.
London Elektricity once described Med School in that way: while Hospital got bigger and had more expectations to live up to, Med School was the label where they could experiment with no pressure. Is Binary the Med School to Critical’s Hospital?
I get it but I don’t think I care as much about what people think of the releases on the label. I’ve always said this… I will put out anything I think is really good and exciting, regardless of style or sub genre.
It’s a case of you’ve got great music, you want to work with us, we want to work with you, let’s do this.
An outlet like Binary is definitely a way for us to experiment, and of course a digital release is less risky, but a lot of people have no understanding of how long it takes to press a record. Some think it’s like a few weeks – it takes four months. From submitting to final mastering. And that’s if there’s been no issues along the way and the test presses are okay. We’re supposed to be modern label but it feels like an antiquated way to exist sometimes.
Those stories about vinyl sales the other week were a bit misleading weren’t they?
They’re true for a section of the vinyl market, the largest section, but that increase is your dad buying Pink Floyd box sets and your brother in law buying Beatles reissues. It’s great that people are buying records but there’s been no increase in independent vinyl sales. That said we are selling a consistently healthy amount and I’m very happy with that, its more the strain that it puts on the plants that is my issue, not what major labels choose to press or the consumer chooses to buy.
We best talk about the album…
The record came together really well. I was finding I was playing a lot of stuff from newer producers in my sets and the tracks were getting attention from other DJs i was playing with. Some of the producers only had a handful of tracks with one stand out that I was playing so instead of waiting to release a slew of artist EPs I put it all together and realised we had a substantial body of work. I tapped up some other guys I’m really rating and asked them for music and it came together.
So many new names!
Yeah, I mean guys like Signal are a little further down the line. Phentix had a great EP on Cyberfunk earlier this year, too. But elsewhere there’s a guy called Dauntless from Sydney who i played for years ago in Sydney, he’s been quietly working away and nows hes been signed to Dispatch, Commercial Suicide.
There’s a few guys like that who I’ve met on my travels – the Bredren guys from Belgium who ive played sets along side many times. A new talent called Shyun who Joel from Klax tipped me off about. Stranjah has been sending me tunes for years who I’ve known for a while from forums and the internet world of drum & bass. SKS is a guy called Julien who puts on these sick parties in Toulouse called Dirty Dancing. Just extended family etc
Cool – people from all over the world and the scene…
Yeah that’s it. And came together really quickly. Around three weeks. But this is the thing in drum & bass. Everyone does a bit of everything, they host parties, they make artwork, they make tunes… The longer you carry on in the music, the more your circle gets bigger and bigger. Bottom line there are some seriously talented people in this genre and that’s one of the many things I love about running a label and doing what I do.