Upfront 030 / July 13, 2015

100% Silk

Left-leaning label 100% Silk is in rude health, having perhaps its best year yet. This diverse "mixfile" of in-house exclusives proves it in abundance.

About this mix

The longer you do something the more its meaning changes, regardless of intentions. Culture is a chameleon; history is redacted daily. Today's trend is tomorrow's embarrassment.

Whatever world SILK entered into in 2011 is long gone. Depending on who you ask dance music either never disappeared or else just had to wait for people to wise up to it. Loose, lo-fi house music designed for home listening morphed from oxymoron to chic to fad to status quo in a blur of backlashing critical anxiety. "Outsider" has been decreed a dirty word; insiders are in again, then. Underdogs become overlords. All terrain is contested terrain. It's hard to know what to think about what you hear – even though strangers are lining up to tell you.

2015 is 100% Silk's 5th year in action. The label has been shifting more towards the cassette format lately because vinyl manufacturing prices continue to rise while the social custom of paying for one's music continues to erode, a challenging coincidence of circumstance. Now is as good a time as any to be born independently wealthy.

This is a mix of entirely new and unreleased material that's either out or in production. The artists come from North America, Europe, and Australia. There is no scene, there is no sound, there are only individuals. Music outlasts the world's perception of it. Feel what's real; forget the rest.

Britt & Amanda Brown

Boiler Room says...

As a series, Upfront was conjured up to celebrate the artists, labels, collectives et al who operate outside conventional boundaries (sonically or indeed geographically), have their aesthetic clearly defined and could perhaps use with additional spotlighting, too. All the above applies to the couple behind our thirtieth mix. You know when it's a Silk cut.

For many people, mentioning the Californian label evokes a certain point in time whereby a kind of web-scene began crystallising around what Britt Brown succinctly nails as "loose, lo-fi house music." They broke Ital to the world; guided out the triumphant first Fort Romeau LP; dropped gorgeous, pastel-coloured 12"s from the likes of the Browns' own LA Vampires, Beat Detectives, Octa Octa and Bobby Browser – whose Still Browsing is still, for this author's money, pound-for-pound the strongest release in the catalogue.

Skip forward to the present day, and an element of the distinctiveness has been lost; chalk that up to saturation of the market. But quietly 100% Silk has been having a really, really good year – and look set to continue the rich vein of form over the next six months and beyond, if this Upfront is anything to go by. A slew of familiar faces crop up in the shape of that man Browser, Jupiter Jax and The Cyclist (twice), plus a handful of new signeés and some unheralded names to boot.

Curdled acid bangers nestle up against soft-lit understated numbers but, true to form, a healthy proportion of the songs on offer are glistening and groovy, some even with glassy vocals recalling long-since-forgotten synth-pop trios (or thereabouts). Amanda terms it a 'Mixfile', which sounds about right: take a breather, fetch a cool one and most of the time you'd be forgiven for thinking your player had skipped over. Around the 36 minute mark a hi-NRG chugger dissolves straight into a spot of downtempo keyboard and click track. It's not not not fun.

On balance, it's a testament to the label's depth of output, and the vivid imagination of the minds behind it. Long may they reign in their own idiosyncratic way.

Gabriel Szatan

Gabriel Szatan

Gabriel is one of the show programmer/hosts, and BR's Editor-in-Chief – somehow.