Every so often a single individual skips the border betweenSweden and Norway with a box. Its origins, located somewhere deep in the enclave of Karlskrona is little more than a mysterious postcode, and besides the conspicuous shape it holds very little clue to its contents. It arrives at Filter Musikk Oslo, usually hand delivered by an acquaintance, and exchanges hands with little standing on ceremony. Roland Lifjell knows what it is, but he savours it, biding his time until the moment is just right to release a new bunch of Börft records onto the shelves at Filter Musikk and ultimately Oslo’s DJ scene.
Börft records get hand-delivered at Filter Musikk, and it’s a tradition that harks back to the origins of Roland’s tenure at Filter Musikk. The personal bond that these two fine institutions share across a border has installed Börft records in the subconscious of every DJ in the Norwegian capital, making it one of the city’s most sought after and respected labels while Filter Musikk has become something of a flagship store for Jan Svensson’s enigmatic label.
Börft’s origins go back to 1987 when Svensson and his band Frak established the label with their first cassette, “Raggarslakt”. Coming at a time when Techno, House and Electro was still in its infancy, Frak and Börft set a distinct tone for the time. Blending Detroit’s DIY machine sonics with the darker sounds of EBM and with the Punk attitude of their forebears coursing through their performance-based recordings, they arrived at a sound they and the label have been perpetuating through cassettes and records for the last 32 years.
Björft has been there through various different phases, constantly adapting to the musical surroundings while retaining that central ethos to the label, one man’s steadfast vision of electronic music, based around a small but dedicated community in Gothenburg that has expanded throughout Sweden and beyond, with artists like Tillander (TM404), Sotofett, Smea, Luke Eargoggle and of course Frak contributing to the label’s extensive, but contained discography. It’s quite possibly one of the oldest independent electronic music labels, save for possibly MUTE, and to this day it continues to make significant and prominent contributions to electronic music culture.
As Roland Lifjell unpacks yet another special delivery from Karlskrona we dedicate this week’s Cut to Björft with new music from Jon Doppler, Bergsonist, Da Book, Anders Enge and Daniel Araya.
Bergsonist – Chaos (Börft) 12″
This is what Börft is all about. Meaty beats; irreverent sonic arrays; and ferocious rhythmical constructions created to be played in subterranean vaults. Bergsonist is one of the two artists on this list not to arrive onto Börft through the contained Swedish connection. The Moroccan-born New York artist can be seen as the latest incarnation of that Börft ideology, infiltrating Techno through the fertile New York scene from which acts like Via-App and Aurora Halal have emerged too.
Out of “Chaos form, development and control materialises in Bergsonist latest contribution to the Börft label. Where electronic textures writhe and twist under pressure at their incipient stage as they distort around heavy kicks and malignant sonic textures, they find resolution in the steady pulse of a kick, rubbery bassline or a progressive development.
The off-beat rhythms and punkish sonic aesthetic play well against each other, but they never drop off the edge into a grotesque assault of the senses, but rather teeter between two worlds, between abstract electronic sounds and functional forms. While a track like “Self Cultivation” might jar the senses a little, on the other end of it a track like “Tentation” with its bouncing bassline and sweet melodic atmosphere shows a more amenable side to Bergsonist’s music.
Jon Doppler – Blackberry Vision Algorithm (Börft) 12″
A regular feature on the Börft lineup since 2016, Jon Doppler makes soothing dubbing electronica, that floats to and from the dance floor. Effervescent echoes and delays weaving their way through lethargic beats and wispy pads define his work and even through his most adventurous rhythmic pursuits he retains a deep quality to his sound. He could be a direct descendent of Christian Doppler in the way he moves through textures. The Chicago native makes his second appearance on the Swedish label with “Blackberry Vision Algorithm,” perpetuating those dub encounters with Techno and House music.
While the opening tracks focus more of their attention on the dance floor in temperate but urgent tempos, staccato chords and acid lines modulating through the track like whirling dervishes, Jon Doppler pads these core elements in ethereal atmospheres that progress in slow, but determined phases through the tracks. Doppler stays the course through the A-side on this tangent, but it’s when he gets to “Weem” that his unique artistic voice really shines through.
A moderate tempo, quivering bassline and various synthetic movements fluttering in and out of the progression sets an elusive tone through the track. You find yourself drifting through the outer extremities of the track, or sinking into its vast cavernous depths, where the slow, lethargic kick drum vibrates in short staccato bursts.
Da Book – Vixxen (Börft) 12″
There seems to be a habit with the artists on Börft records to cover, or partially cover their face in the quest for anonymity, in the manner of that old electronic music adage; let the music speak for itself. A losing battle in the age of the internet frankly, but one that perpetuates the very same motive behind Svensson’s that was there at the beginning when Frak started performing together. Hidden behind masks and all kinds of facial disguises, standing behind synthesisers, emblazoned with various insignia, it’s always been the machines and their bold aggressive sounds that are the stars in the Börft lineup.
Da Book (Patrik Book of Ausgang Verboten / Random Toxy) sustains this ideology in 2019 as he harnesses the almighty strength of the Roland X0X series of machines through the five tracks that make up “Vixxen”. Uncomplicated, functional pieces play on the strengths of the dance floor where 4-4 rhythms and bold basslines form the basis from which staccato keys and buzzsaw acid lines make laconic impressions on the dance floor. The piano stab of “Techno Aina” and the lazer-like Acid bass line of “Raggaren” are elements that stay with you for the duration and beyond while those concise, immediate rhythm arrangements never leave you trailing far from the speaker.
Anders Enge – Love Loser (Börft) 12″
Although Jan Svensson is a veteran in the field of electronic music today he continually seems to find new, young exciting artists to bring to the Björft alumni, constantly updating the label’s discography while maintaining the ethos and sound of the label. And even though some of the artists behind the records on this list might have been around for some time in one form or another, these monikers are all fairly new to the world of electronic club music. They retain that raw essence of the label that’s been there since 1987, updating little of that DIY machine aesthetic beyond anything like modern production touches. It’s like Svensson insists on certain parameters like; record your music live on a stereo track, using no more than three machines.
It’s a tried and tested formula that has outlasted any style or trend in the arena of House and Techno and has helped establish a definitive sound behind the Börft records label. That formula has been so ingrained in electronic it has become second nature for an artist like Anders Enge, who arrives at that formula through instinctive impulses.
After a few cassette releases on Dissociate Rhythm he’s back on Börft with “Love Loser”. The EP builds on a few elements, which Enge channels to the more marginal hemispheres of electronic music, with a particularly exploratory flair for his machines. Acid lines are re-contextualised as wheezing abstract creations; synthetic bleeps create static atmospheres like chatter from an alien planet; and anomalous bass modulations wobble through precise marching rhythms. Anders Enge tests the limits of cognitive patience on the dance floor through four audacious cuts, that leave a jarring, agitated impression on the listener. It’s a record for the more adventurous DJ or the more desensitised soul.
Daniel Araya – Riot Date (Börft) 12″
Making a return to the Börft franchise with his chilling blend of Acid and Techno, Daniel Araya hits the ground running with “Acid Opal” the opener from his latest record, “Riot Date”. Weaving subtle strands of old school rave between modern minimalist Techno arrangements and of course Acid bass lines, “Riot Date” is an explosive sojourn through the primal, corporeal aspects of electronic club music.
Gnawing bass lines, thunderous kicks and squirming lysergic melodic movements create an intense pursuit over four tracks. Distorted hats and the odd stab at some incooperate keys, lay elusive threads to the hardcore origins of Techno and House, in an untamed, feroscious EP from Araya.
It’s all about the A-side however, where “Acid Opal” and especially “Cyclic Rave Overload” command the floor. It sets a provocative mood for the rest of the EP, that the other tracks on the B-side never quite harness in the same way, and for good reason, as it would simply make for an exhausting 30-odd minutes of music.
As one soundcloud user so eloquently put it; “Fukkk yeah!” It’s a record for one of those moments where all inhibition gives way to simple animalistic abandon and we give in to our most primal urges; and isn’t that just what every Börft record is about.