Throwback 2015: Top five labels

We’re back with another one of those end of year lists. Top tunes and all that malarky is great but everyone does it. We thought then we’d at least try and be a little more interesting, so here in my totally biased and extremely techno-centric opinion, are the top five record labels of 2015.

5. Numbers
Including Numbers in my list feels like a bit of a cop out as they’re popping up on nearly every one of these lists I’ve read myself. Their output this year has been decent and I won’t pretend otherwise. Two particular releases this year absolutely killed it and nabbed them a place this time round. Firstly, they re-released four DJ Deeon tracks and piled them into one extremely saucy EP, ‘Deeon Does Deeon’, which is full of dancefloor madness and salacious grooves. Secondly, Glasgow boy Sparky dropped an unreal 12″ ‘Signal/Tigress’, with the B-side ‘Tigress’ standing out as my favourite Numbers release of the year. Oh, Sophie continued his love affair with the record label, which is still having great success pursuing that strange alt-pop sound of his.

4. Lobster Theremin
For those who like their techno rough and ready, but still with a bit of class, look no further than Lobster Theremin. Whilst the London-based label is embryonic in terms of its age – founded back in 2013 – its releases, are far from child’s play. From Manse’s brutal ‘A Slap in the Face of Public Taste’ EP, from which the lead track is an absolute stomper, to Reflec’s long-awaited debut with his ‘Momentary Archive’ EP way back at the beginning of the year, these guys throw out some of the grittiest techno going. Back in summer, they teamed up with Hidden Spheres to release a four track EP absolutely drenched in summer vibes and jazzy groove, reminiscence of starry nights spent on some far flung beach. An all-round stellar year from a stellar label.

3. Sleaze Records
Sleaze records charted their 100th release at the beginning of this year, a massive milestone for any label. They seem to have taken that to heart, focusing on releasing only the highest quality of music in what must have been a landmark 2015 for them. Their 100th release itself, Secluded’s ‘Obstacle EP’ was killer, with Truncate’s remix of the lead track checking in as an absolute bomb to start the year off. The Manic Brother’s EP ‘Detuned’ also highlights one of my favourite aspects of the label – Hanns Bouffmyhre’s hands-on approach. He doesn’t drop a remix on every single EP (that would be ridiculous and verging on autocratic), but he does crop up from time to time with a remix for an EP or a collab with the original artist. That aside, they’ve also charted some massive releases this year, with Rebekah’s brutal ‘Transient Being’ EP standing out as a firm favourite.

2. 50 Weapons
Another label that has been getting a lot of love towards the back end of 2015 and I don’t feel even slightly ashamed to include 50 Weapons in my list. As you may know, this is the end of the imprint. Modeselektor’s much-loved label is calling it quits after 50 releases. They knew this was coming and they embraced the end gloriously, producing a 2015 catalog that listens like an utter treat. They’ve seen FJAAK release multiple times, always with huge success, from ‘Oben’ to ‘Rush’ to ‘Super Smash’; a fleeting romance between which has been stunning to listen to. The Benjamin Damage and Doc Daneeka collab was an absolute beauty and Truncate’s groover ’86’ has been a firm favourite of mine for most of the year. R.I.P old friend, you shall be sorely missed.

1. Soma
I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, Soma have had a stunning year and they have thoroughly earned their place as my favourite record label of the year. From Ilario Alicante’s debut on the label with his ‘No End’ EP to Woo York’s 5th release with the Glasgow based outfit, pretty much everything they’ve dropped this year has been more than stellar. Whether it’s Mark Henning’s no frills approach with his ‘Joyride’ EP -which was monstrous – to Deepbass’s slightly softer approach, the label has not pigeon holed themselves to one particular style of techno. And all of this before the tantalizing collaboration between Slam and Gary Beck, the ‘Reciprocal Exchange’ EP that Clouds and Slam teased us with and Rebekah’s stunning debut with the label with her ‘Confined Heart’ EP. Stand up and take a bow Soma, 2015 was your year.

Hamraj Gulamali

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