I am always on the lookout for fresh music. It’s part of the process I go through selecting music to review on this site, use on the CerebralMix, and mainly just to satisfy my ears. But how many labels can you follow? And, there are literally hundreds, if not thousands of labels to follow, so how do you choose which ones to follow? Well, here’s a start with my first 10 netlabels to follow.
This will, hopefully, become a semi-regular feature on The CerebralRift. I tried in the past doing features of netlabel compilations that were available, but honestly, they were too sporadic for me to make it a regular feature. This should be a much easier feature to do regularly (once or twice a month).
So, here’s the first batch of labels worth following…
10 Netlabels To Follow
[Ed. Note: It appears this label is now offline. Link above will take you to their archive on Internet Archive.] This is a recent discovery for me. They have been around for about eight years at this point, with over fifty releases. While not working on high release volume they are very focused on quality. Each of the releases I’ve downloaded have been extremely good (including several that have not been reviewed on this site). Archaic Horizon focuses on electronic music: ambient, glitch, chillout.
If you aren’t already familiar with Ektoplazm, and you are into EDM, you need to be familiar with this site. This site has been running a year longer than Archaic Horizon, and has grown from a single netlabel into a collective of netlabels specializing in all times of EDM: full-on, darkpsy, progressive, downtempo, goa, twilight, forest, morning, techno, house, glitch, and many more. Basically, if you can name it, they probably have something in their catalog.
I’m not certain exactly how long BFW Recordings has been around, however their first release was on 25/04/08. That would make them about the same age as Archaic Horizon. However, in that approximately the same period, BFW has over 230 releases, quite a few compilations, and has run numerous competitions. They specialize in “ambient shoegaze indie experimental electronica”.
I’ve mentioned this label a few times. It was one of the first that I discovered years ago when I got into netlabels and electronic music. There are lots of releases on this label that I have really come to love, and some that I will be covering in my reviews over the coming months. Since they began operation, Kahvi has released 346 high-quality electronic music releases. They specialize in electronica with a groove, a feeling to it. You could try to categorize their releases as IDM, ambient, experimental, etc. But it’s not worth categorizing their releases, it’s just worth it to listen to them.
Bump Foot is a Japanese netlabel that has been in operation is 2005! Predating both Archaic Horizon and Ektoplazm. They take a unique approach to their releases. They split them into two lines: Bump is the techno / house side of the label, while Foot is more ambient, IDM, and other electronica styles.
So, this is a label that is a bit difficult to explain. They’ve only been in existence since 2012. But that isn’t the whole story of this label. They have actually been around a lot longer under a different name (which I can no longer remember). Textural Records specials in abstract, ambient, drone releases. Some of which may be questionable as music, however as soundscapes they offer excellent listening experiences.
Possibly one of the premier downtempo, trip-hop, lo-fi netlabels around. If you are into that domain where jazz and blues recordings are reworked with modern beats, and contemporary sounds, then this is the one of the best labels to follow. Many releases from DWK have found their way into my review queue, and many more will find their way into the queue in the future.
I’ve found so many excellent releases on this label it’s almost scary: Spiedkiks, Small Colin, niesel23, The Fucked Up Beat, and Bitbasic just to name a few artists. This is a Cologne based netlabel with a focus on high quality electronic music that tends towards pop, dance, and lo-fi. But, they aren’t limited to those genres, give them a listen and you’ll see how really high quality they are.
Launched in March of 2012 by Thomas Mathie (aka Headphonaught) as a way to give back to the independent music community he has come to love. He has featured releases from Cousin Silas, Scott Lawlor, William Spivey, Kevin Lyons and many other excellent ambient musicians. If you are into ambient, experimental or drone genres I highly recommend this label. Even if you aren’t into these genres all that much, at least stop by and check out some releases, you might find there is more to this style of music than meets your ears at first.
I discovered this curiously named label last year when I came across Talk Less, Say More’s England Without Rain release, and was literally blown away. I had spent too much time on the electronic music side of things to see the whole picture. (Okay, I knew of Rec72 and a few indie artists that were doing excellent work.) Launched on January 15th, 2008 they are another long running netlabel with lots of really good pop music of various genres.
This collection of netlabels somewhat intentionally focuses on electronica, EDM, pop music. While it does include a few notable ambient, shoegaze and experimental netabels there are lots more out there to jump into and explore. One way to find a lot of music is to look at the netlabel aggregation sites that are available, such as CCTrax and Sonic Squirrel.
Please check out these labels. They are doing excellent work, and most have been around for a good long time. I know that I have benefited a lot from having their music and artists in my life. Hopefully they will bring the same benefit to you.
Also, while many classify themselves as “free” labels, please consider supporting / donating to them as you can.