Next to software development and system administration, collecting music is my biggest hobby. I started collecting sometime around 2007, when I stumbled upon Benn Jordan’s music (Alphabasic). Below is a list of notable labels I discovered in my ongoing musical journey.
Labels & Artists
Based in the UK, Warp Records is one of the biggest independent labels most widely known for its influential and pioneering electronic music. Artists signed to Warp include prominent figures like Autechre, Boards of Canada, Squarepusher, Clark, Oneohtrix Point Never, Brian Eno, Aphex Twin and Plaid. Warp also distributes releases from other electronic music labels.
Bleep is Warp’s own DRM-free music store.
Ninja Tune was founded in 1990 to “escape the creative control of major labels” and has since accumulated a wide range of underground electronic music releases. Signed artists include Amon Tobin, Bonobo, Machinedrum and The Cinematic Orchestra. Ninja Tune distributes releases of other record labels like ‘Werkdisks’ (Actress).
Ghostly International is an American independent record label based in Michigan. A more Techno-oriented label, Ghostly International features artists like Lusine, Com Truise, Matthew Dear, Shigeto and Tycho.
Death Waltz Recording Co. / Mondo
Death Waltz (recently merged with Mondo) is an English record label releasing remastered soundtracks of cult-classics like ‘Assault on Precinct 13’, ‘The Fog’ and ‘Halloween’. The vinyl-only releases also include exuberant liner notes and a poster of the album artwork.
Soul Jazz Records
The goal of Soul Jazz Records was to draw “cross cultural connections between various music genres”. Just like the name suggests, this includes genres like Jazz, Soul, Reggae, and — most recently — electronica and house. Soul Jazz releases feature highlights like Black Fire! New Spirits! (a compilation of Jazz music in the USA '57 - '82) and Deutsche Elektronische Musik (Rock and Electronic music '72 - '83).
Belgian label R&S Records is known for their release of Aphex Twin’s ‘Selected Ambient Works 85-92’ and Biosphere’s ‘Microgravity’ and ‘Patashnik’. Founded in 1984, the label recently re-launched after a hiatus from 2001 to 2006 and now carries artists like James Blake and Pariah.
Alphabasic is Benn Jordan’s own independent record label featuring his releases as The Flashbulb, FlexE and Human Action Network. Bartel and Mend are also part of Alphabasic’s lineup. The label was created after Sublight Record’s demise in 2007.
Planet Mu is an English electronic label founded by Mike Paradinas (µ-Ziq). Planet Mu’s roster includes Burial, Kettel, Poemms and Venetian Snares.
Hyperdub is a London-based record label distributing releases in the 2-step and UK Garage genre. Hyperdub is home to Burial and the label’s founder, Kode9.
Sending Orbs is an ambitious small record label based in the Netherlands. Reimer Eising, who runs the label, releases his own music (Kettel) on it. Sending Orbs also features music by Secede.
Home of avant-garde ambient and experimental composer William Basinski is 2062 Records, an independent record label in New York. The label features a lot of great releases, but Basinki’s most famous one — The Disintegration Loops — is essential to anybody’s collection.
Touch is a multimedia publishing company in London, releasing music by composers like Fennesz, Geir Jenssen (Biosphere) and Jóhann Jóhannsson.
Bigamoebasounds is a small independent record label created by ambient legend Paul Frankland (Woob). It features the digital re-release of Woob classic ‘Woob 1194’ (originally released on Em:t Records) and Woob’s most recent albums.
Where to buy music
The best place to buy records is generally the label on which they were released. Every label in my list has their own shop. If you can’t find the album there, check out these retailers:
My music setup
Headphones: Sennheiser HD 650
DAC/Amp: Asus Xonar Essence III
Record player: Pro-Ject Debut Carbon DC Esprit SB
Pre-Amp: Rega Fono Mini A2D