A Bandcamp-Only Label of the Future? Australia’s Enig’matik Records and the Art of Detail
Artists and labels alike search for a sound and a business model that can flourish in this brave, new age in music. Against that struggle, Oz’s Enig’matik is something special. We’ve got more coming with this crew, but first, CDM’s Matt Earp takes an look inside what makes this record label work with its founder, in a way I think may resonate with other independent outlets and creators.
And, oh yeah: true to form, Matt goes a bit deeper to chart the larger trends here, and a post-Tipper musical landscape. What’s that mean? I’ll let him explain. -PK
It’s been said that we’re living in a post-Fly Lo world, that Flying Lotus opened the door to a sonic palette of tumbling, loping off-kilter beats, particular kinds of jazzy samples, and of course huge amounts of side-chain compression. FlyLo’s influence on a wealth of producers that have come after him is unquestionable, but for some producers – including the label founder we’ll meet today – it’s more accurate to say we’re living in a post-Tipper world.
Tipper, originally associated with the nu-skool breaks in the late 90s, moved on from that sound long ago. Over the past decade he has created a particular blend of processes, sounds and effects that’s instantly recognizable. These sounds permeate various genres with terribly inadequate names like “psy-chill”, “glitch”, and the ultimately confusing “mid tempo”. But while identifying Tipper’s genres is ultimately a pointless endeavor, his musical characteristics are easy to pick out – extremely clean production, broken as opposed to 4×4 beats, and BPMs that traditionally stretch from 90 to 115 (though in recent years, it’s also taken on a healthy dose of influence from 70/140 land). And through (almost) all of it, there are these particularly squelchy sounds of gurgling synths that are unmistakably Tipper. There’s also, unfortunately, sometimes a heavy dose of truly goofy drum patterns and rhythms that call to mind Heavy D and the Boys from 1984 and 1986. But even that can be fun occasionally, and no one can test Tipper on musicality and dazzling clarity of sound design – no wonder he’s in demand as a mastering engineer for other people’s tunes. Here, just listen to this, it probably intros the sound better than I can using words:
Tipper’s influence should not be underestimated. You just might have missed it it if you don’t live on the West Coast of the US and Canada, or in Australia and New Zealand. Out here we have it in spades and it rules festivals all summer long. And one person who’s take an interest in this particular aesthetic is Jake Rose, the founder of Enig’matik records from Melbourne, Australia. Now, Rose’s label is far from just releasing a bunch of Tipper clones (of which there are many out there). Rather, Enig’matik has taken that sound as a starting point and melded it with other genres and scenes of the past 15 years – hectic IDM, emotional ambient washes, psychedelic permutations, aspects of the entire history of dubstep, and even sometimes a splash of the dark agro soundscapes you might get from a label like Ad Noiseam or Hymen. Not only do all these elements shine through in his Rose’s productions under the name Sun In Aquarius, he’s managed to find more than a couple dozen other artists who share his aesthetic in some way.
Enig’matik is currently a Bandcamp-only label and it’s already 10+ releases deep in just the last 2 years. All the music on the label is extremely clean, extremely complex, and extremely detail-oriented, and it’s wonderful fodder for repeated listening. Plus, a good number of the artists are Australian, making it a great entry for a global audience into a culture whose sounds don’t leave Australia’s shores as often as they should. Doublly exciting is that – minus a few producers, notably Si Begg and Access to Arakas – most of the artists on the label have been releasing music for under five years. The two Painting Pictures on Silence compilations are the natural starting point to check out the label’s sound, but don’t neglect my personal favorite release by Woulg and Child, both of whom have had excellent EPs on the label. And to top it off, the label’s graphic aesthetic is unmatched, with wonderfully diverse, complex, and psychedelic (but not cheesy) cover art, videos, and live visuals for their shows – just check the website and their Vimeo page to see what I mean! [videos below]
Jake Rose is currently wandering the North American hinterlands taking gigs as he can (occasionally with fellow label mates Goosebumpz and Kalya Scintilla), but he took some time out of his travel time to answer a few questions for CDM.
Matt: What’s your background and influences / musical journey?
Did you release anything before your were Sun in Aquarius (SIA), or is there any SIA stuff not on Enig’matik?
Where are you based and what are some of the highlights of the scene there?
What made you want to found a label? What’s the meaning of the name?
The aesthetic of the label is definitely clean and detailed -in sound, in music, in art – What makes you drawn to that sort of aesthetic?
How many of the artists on the label are Australian? How many do you know personally?
From everything I’ve seen the label seems like a one man effort – are there others involved in making it happen?
Who does your art / videos (or is it someone new every time?)
What upcoming releases are scheduled? Are you planning to do any physical releases?
Tell me more about the PanFM remix release series – I can’t find the original track anywhere!
Does Enig’matik have plans outside of releases – i.e., doing a tour of just the artists, hosting a stage at a fest, etc?
If you could get a track from any artist in the world for the label – a dream artist – who would it be?
Kid Kameleon is a San Francisco-based DJ, promoter, writer, blogger, historian, archivist, and fan of electronic music.
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