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10 record labels to watch in 2014

2014 is upon us, and we’re continuing our week of round-ups with a selection of labels we’re most excited about for the year ahead.

As each year passes, the legitimacy of the record label is questioned more and more frequently. At a time when artists can so easily put out their own music, why even bother trying to get ‘signed’ at all? Well, if you ask us there’s never been a more important time for quality control. It’s true that there’s a lot of free music of value around, but a quick look through Bandcamp or DatPiff will prove just how difficult it is to separate the wheat from the chaff.

Thankfully, there are still plenty of fledgling imprints ready to put in the hard work so we don’t have to, and we’ve rounded up 10 that we think will be well worth keeping a close eye on in 2014.

Also check:

10 grime producers to watch in 2014
10 rappers to watch in 2014
10 house and techno producers to watch in 2014
10 hip-hop producers to watch in 2014
20 albums coming out in 2014 that we actually give a shit about

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Berceuse Heroique

2013 may have been plagued by nagging cat calls of “outsider house,” but in amongst the avoidable pastiches there were plenty of chunky, dusty bangers dying to be freed from their paper sleeves. Berceuse Heroique was one imprint that constantly surprised us, not least with MGUN’s clattering Blunt Run EP which featured the unstoppable electro banger ‘Laser Jam’. We might only be a week into 2014, but already the label has put out a quirky 2LP tribute to Greek folk music called Anastenariafeaturing remixes from FACT favourites Pete Swanson and Vatican Shadow. Now that’s what we’re talking about.

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Butterz

Butterz’ inclusion on this list might seen an odd one – the label launched in 2010, and predates – as well as influences – a lot of the new jack grime labels and producers that started to make waves last year. That said, after a quiet 2013 (by their standards), spent with many of the artists holed up in the studio together, Butterz looks set to return with a reignited fire this year: we’re told there are 10 singles ready to go, including an intriguing collaboration between Joker and Swindle.

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Coyote Records

After a year of cracking 12″s from the likes of TS7, Mella Dee and OH91, Coyote Records closed 2013 with a statement of sorts, the 10-track compilation Coyote Kings. Compiled of 100% new material, it side-stepped the usual label compilation pitfalls – let’s face it, they’re so often unnecessary, self-serving victory laps – and with a sequel compilation plus 12″s from Chemist and Spare primed to go, Coyote’s 2014 schedule already seems healthy.

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Glacial Sound

Debuting in 2013, Dublin’s Glacial Sound released two of the EPs that have come to define the year’s explosion in instrumental grime: Rabit’s Double Dragon and Murlo’s Last Dance. Not bad for a first time out. Label boss Paul Purcell hasn’t announced 2014 plans for the label, but releases by fellow Irish talents Bloom and Shriekin’ Specialist wouldn’t be out of the range of possibilities. Whatever is next, we’ll be listening.

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Goon Club Allstars

The Goons made FACT’s number one track of 2013 with their second release – and their first which wasn’t a bootleg – and will follow it up with an excellent EP by Moleskin, one of our grime producers to watch for 2014. Who knows what’s in store after that, but more MssingNo will have everybody talking, and with a strike rate set to go three-for-three we can’t wait to see what else is in the pipeline.

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Her Records

The South London label revolves around newcomers Miss Modular, Sudanim, Fraxinus, and CYPHR, a crew that spent 2013 connecting the dots between East Coast club music, instrumental grime, and stripped-down house trax. The label was giving its material away before dropping Miss Modular’s superb ‘Reflector Pack’ on Christmas Eve, and they’re just getting started: as Miss Modular told Truants, “Our real statement is yet to come.”

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Mister Saturday Night

Last year Mister Saturday Night evolved from an on-point underground party into something of a Brooklyn institution, with their summer season of outdoor all-dayers becoming the stuff of legend, especially since the demolition of their arboreal canalside venue. In the meantime, the label put out a string of records that channelled the eclectic selections of bosses Eamon Harkin and Justin Carter, from the corroded techno of Hank Jackson’s ‘Deposit’ 12″ to the submerged deep house of Dark Sky’s In Brackets, via Alex Burkat’s orchestral oddity ‘Shower Scene’. Expect more of the unexpected on the label side this year while they look for a new home for their al fresco adventures.

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New Images

Ducktails’ Matt Mondanile kicked off the New Images imprint back in 2011, but last year’s output kicked the label’s technicolor diversity fully into gear. Mondanile’s syrupy, psychedelic collaboration with ex-Skater Spencer Clark as Egyptian Sports Network was an essential purchase, and ex-Emeralds man Mark McGuire’s The Instinct highlighted the guitarist’s new-found depth. This year has already seen releases from Helm (the gorgeous, monolithic Impasse) and “new wave elevator music” trio Francisco Franco on the shelves, so don’t be surprised to witness a sprawling display of weirdness from the New Images camp in the following months.

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Ripatti

Sasu Ripatti (aka Vladislav Delay) has been operating for decades and handed his music to countless labels, from London’s Honest Jon’s to Germany’s influential Mille Plateaux. Last year he finally kicked off his own imprint, and minted it with two releases; one icy solo 12″ and a flawless collaboration with Sun Electric’s Max Loderbauer. Ripatti seees the label as a “studio diary” to document his productions and collaborations, but he’s also saving some space to highlight fresh local talent with a 12″ from Finnish producer Teeth in the works.

If you fancy diving deeper into the world of Vladislav Delay, check John Twells’ essential guide to the enigmatic producer’s output.

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White Material

The Brooklyn/Berlin label is the home to DJ Richard, producer-to-watch Young Male and Galcher Lustwerk, whose 100% Galcher mix wormed its way into our hearts and the upper reaches of our albums of the year chart. The crew have described their rough-and-ready tracks as “working man’s techno” and “no bullshit techno” — either work for us. Recommended, obviously, for fans of L.I.E.S..

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