Maybe we aren’t fully embracing the possibilities of our artists.
It’s important to remember that the releases we know from the artists we love are just the tip of the iceberg. Not only do artists produce many more compositions than the ones that make it on to the final release, they often produce in many more styles than those they’re known for.
How many records do we all own where there’s the track we play and three other lesser versions of the same track? It’s only natural to have a favorite, but there is a tendency for labels to sculpt continuity into the records they release. While the intention might be to present the strongest sonic identity for an artist, the unintended consequence is a narrowing of sonic possibilities. Artists everywhere succumb to this pressure and try to pre-sculpt or specialize in order to get their work released on labels. The result is an abundance of similar (and easily marketable) music. It’s easy to draw a connection between how we present new music and the industry’s frustratingly strict adherence to the newest sonic trends.
With every record, we have an opportunity to celebrate difference and represent the totality and spectrum of the work our artists produce. As long as the music is of quality, the continuity is going to be there by default. Let’s demand continuity of quality and allow the artists to present their best work without being restricted by genre.
But we also need more artists like White Visitation, unafraid to try and successfully conquer new styles. Whether it’s psychedelic slow-mo house, ambient abstractions or the current dose of techno and dub. . . there’s no doubt that it’s made by the same artist. If you asked Nicco about his genre, he’d probably dismiss the question by saying he doesn’t care about genre. But he doesn’t give himself enough credit — he has the confidence to produce on his own terms. He defines his music and we, as labels, are lucky to have him.
While others are writing doom and gloom techno, reimagining a score for the apocalypse for the umpteenth time, White Visitation has focused his attention to groove. Focus on rhythmic subtleties seems another thing lost in this current era. White Visitation’s high tempo operation on the two Wounds tracks are a breath of fresh air. This isn't the last record with this kind of range that Blank Slate will release.
PS: Special shout out to the Blank Slate art director Mathea Millman. Although she always selects the art on the B-side of our records, this is the first time she has chosen one of her own photographs. Ithacans, you know where this is!
Soren and I have known each other since I was just sixteen. We met at a gig in my small hometown of Ithaca, New York, where the number of DJs present exceeded the size of the additional audience. Two years later we started DJing together, and two years after that, Blank Slate was born. Soren has been a friend and mentor, and he has deeply influenced my musical education. Soren’s more imaginative and challenging music is ingrained in the label's foundation, and it’s a privilege to build on this tradition.
We also share a common interest in non-Western music, and if you’ve ever been lucky enough to catch Soren DJ you’ve undoubtedly heard his propensity to sprinkle a variety of international music into his sets. In the small and enclosed world of dance music, the fact that music flourishes beyond the confines of the West is often overlooked. Whole forms of dance music wait to be encountered, enjoyed, and understood.
All too often, when producers interact with international music, the association is very limited. Music is simply packaged and inserted into the dance music formula, often at the expense of the original material’s groove, rhythmic complexities, and sampled material. Among friends, we’ve dubbed this phenomenon “ethnosploitation."
A more respectful method is demanded, even at the cost of accessibility. Such a fuller and more wholesome interaction between the structures of dance music and the nuances of non-Western music is the methodology that holds this record together. Soren allows his sampled material to sing true — letting the sample dictate the structures of the track. The result is a beautiful musical balance.
Soren proves yet again that dance music’s formulaic nature can be embraced and challenged simultaneously. Hats off to him.
As always, keep your eyes peeled for his upcoming projects.
Tremendous thanks to Kai Keane who, on my visit to my hometown of Ithaca New York, was instrumental in convincing me to get a website and then found the time and energy to assist me in its setup. Kai has been a lifelong friend since we met in middle school who's showed me support more times I can count. We both, along with Mirko, played in the same high school band when we first were discovering dance music. Kai's a wizard on the keys and be sure to check out his project with Mary Millard called The Mimis. Thanks Kai!