Since 2003, Silicone Soul’s Darkroom Dubs imprint has co-existed in a parallel world to their more high profile work on the mighty Soma Recordings. Releases have been carefully selected, lovingly dressed and siphoned out to usually stand as brilliant monuments to house music in its deepest state. Not necessarily even the quintessential deep house stereotype of pads and finger-snapping, as blissful as that could be. Darkroom Dubs sound like the name; built for early hours moments but with a heady, sometimes hallucinogenic quality which can be re-triggered in the brain at any time. Opiated is another good term, as figuring in the title of the label’s landmark 50th release.
Having already established themselves as one of the most constantly surprising, thrilling and respected outfits in electronic dance music, Silicone Soul launched their alternative dream machine in 2003 with ´I Need To Freak´ under the pseudonym of Astrocats, but also needed this extra outlet to accommodate the new unknowns regularly winging their way and deserving of exposure. After scoring success in its first years with names such as Jet Project, Martinez, The Spirals, Anthony Collins and Mirror Music, more were added to the roster in 2008, when Darkroom Dubs underwent a revamp/relaunch, including Gary Beck and Sei A. Most recent recruits include Of Norway, Freska, Klartraum, Jairo Catelo, Antonio Olivieri, Luc Ringeisen, Edu Imbernon and Terje Saether.
2010’s superlative ´Darkroom Dubs Vol. 2 - Compiled & Mixed by Silicone Soul´, was according to Craig, "A real snapshot of the label’s music, philosophy and intent."
A Mixmag Compilation of the Month. Even as I said so myself in DMC Update: "Silicone Soul´s Darkroom Dubs imprint has long been the ultimate bastion of the deepest electronic dance music bathed in the aural anarchy of acid house and relentlessly jaw dropping in its output…"’
Silicone Soul credit the deep musical substratas they were exploring on tracks like ’Nosferatu’ from their Soma debut album, along with their legendary Darkroom Dubs remix of Schatrax´s Misspent Years. Apart from more obvious connotations, the name comes from the old photographic process and that eternal dub production style which can often make b-sides more spectacular than the original song. The proverbial quality not quantity has always been the motto.
This sneakily seismic label is celebrating reaching the big 50 [in the same year that mothership label Soma marks 20 years of electronic quality], with a string of special releases, headed by a full-pelt Silicone Soul behemoth called ‘Alive From The Opium Den‘, which could be the best excursion yet into the boys’ heliocentric world, whipping up their trademark dreamy swirl with ever-gathering sonic thunderclouds, tick tock boom groove and voices announcing the title [ending with ‘come again’ and a crashing gong]. It’s backed with the equally-hallucinogenic ‘Time Mariner‘s Mirrour‘, with sublime flamenco guitar and also a contagious, old school-flavoured remix by Bpitch Control´s Kiki. Vinyl only, the record will come with full colour art; hugely commendable in this age of faceless digi-anonymity.
There’s also a limited vinyl reissue of two of Silicone Soul’s all-time favourite tunes; Frank De Wulf’s ‘People In Motion’ from 1993 and DJ HMC’s 1991 monster ‘Life Support Systems‘. As Craig explains, "Both really shaped our love and appreciation of electronic music when we first heard them at The Arches and Sub Club. It´s wonderful to be able to give both tracks a fresh audience. The recent crowd reaction to both has been tremendous, everywhere from Club 69 to the Panorama Bar. "People In Motion" is a track that still gives me a special thrill every time I hear it, and it´s now been lovingly re-mastered. With "Life Support Systems" the original DAT tape couldn´t be located, so we had to search out a mint vinyl copy. Luckily Andy Pirie, who does the Melting Pot parties in Glasgow and is a passionate audiophile, owns a seriously high fidelity turntable and was kind enough to record it digitally for us, while our mastering engineer, Mathias ´Show-B´ Schober, added that extra oomph! We both hope you enjoy the tracks as much as we do."
Friend of Darkroom Dubs, Twitch adds, "DJ HMC is one of the forgotten pioneers of techno. Before most of the world even knew what techno was, he was making records that sounded better than anything else, and in Australia to boot. ´Life Support Systems´ was a bona fide classic at Pure, a club I did in Edinburgh from 1990-2000. It also became a classic at Optimo and featured on our 2nd mix CD. It will still be a classic 20 years from now. Timeless!"
The retrospective theme continues with the Darkroom Dubs Remixed series, where they ask some of their favourite producers to rework their favourites from the illustrious DRD back catalogue. Here, in something of a coup, they turn loose Robag Wruhme [of Thora Vukk album fame] on Extrawelt’s ‘Neuland’ while US techno titan John Selway supplies a stellar dub of ´The Hills’ by Filippo Mancinelli and Allen May, retaining the subterranean atmosphere while amping up the engine room.
As Silicone Soul continue to re-align the axis of electronic dance music as we know it with each release, the Darkroom Dubs vaults continue to swell with intoxicating treasures. By sharing the same thirst for new artistic blood as Soma, the label’s future is dazzlingly assured and shot with ongoing excitement that, even still, the best is yet to come...