A distinct aesthetic theme emerged as Roland Lifjell unpacked the new batch of records over the weekend. Noisy monotone greyscale sleeves, repurposing some ninety-nineties fanzine visual aesthetic made up the bulk of the latest arrivals. Artists from the leftfield corroborated the theme and it was immedeately clear this wasn’t some trend-informed visual anomaly seeping through the vinyl market, but rather the visual identity of one, unique label. That label is Klasse Wrecks. With a fair share of records coming in via the label and its subsidiaries we thought we’d take a different approach to the cut with Filter Musikk this week with a special edition dedicated to latest arrivals from the label.
Klasse Wrecks is the combined effort of Lucas Hunter (aka Luca Lozano) and Michael Ho (aka Mr. Ho), a label that has emerged out of a very close-knit community of artists. “Klasse, Zodiac and Grafiti Tapes are basically labels enabling the interaction of my friends, it’s a small family,” Hunter told Inverted Audio in an interview from 2016. The family includes artists like Fett Burger, Johanna Knutsson and Phran with Hunter and Ho contributing their fair share to the discography and Hunter’s enigmatic artwork presenting the music in visual terms through his very distinct aesthetic.
“There are a few words that spring to mind when thinking about my work;” Hunter told Stamp the Wax, “DIY, outsider, rough, raw, bold…” and that’s a fair indication of the type of music that dots the Klasse Wrecks back-catalogue. Very rarely confined to the strict parameters of a genre or style, the artists and records that feature on Klasse Wrecks, including all its subsidiaries, move between elements of House, Electro, Techno, break-beats and even Trance. It’s not in any particular sonic identity, but rather in the very same attitude that signifies Hunter’s visual aesthetic; “DIY, outsider, rough, raw, bold.”
“I’m not trying to convince anyone of anything,” Hunter told Stamp the Wax, “people are free to be their own masters. I approach work with the intent to make a striking, simple, effective and sometimes humorous piece of work, if I’ve done those things then I feel I have done my job.” For the record enthusiast and collector this particular approach strikes a very harmonious chord, and making it impossible not to pick up a Klasse Wrecks record, whenever you’re in the presence of one.
Releasing music since 2014 with a consistent release schedule, Klasse Wrecks has garnered a very sincere and dedicated following, which in the last year has become a major source of inspiration for other labels too. If that Cardopusher LP on Boys Noize Records looks familiar it is because it was made by Hunter and if there is a sound that is currently dominating the leftfield DJ circuit it is very likely to contain a few Klasse Wrecks records. We’ll try and unravel just exactly what the appeal is to the label in this week’s edition of the Cut with Filter Musikk, a Klasse Wrecks special.
Memphis – Around The World / Lost Lands (Klasse Wrecks) 12″
Who would’ve thought progressive House would be a thing in 2019? But in the spirit of Klasse Wrecks’ self-effacing manner, Memphis (Paul Williams) puts a contemporary spin on the genre for the label. Upholding that rough, bold and DIY ethos, Memphis gets dirty with a lurid bass movement tarnishing the lower frequencies while pitched percussive sounds bounce between the bars.
“Around the world” and “Lost Lands” are essentially two interpretations of the same track with that chunky bass underpinning both tracks. While the AA side “Lost Lands” favours a more minimalist approach “Around the world“ looks to a more bolder formation. Incorporating some exotic world influences and with EBM-style yelps dotting the extensive sojourn around the globe, “Around the World” offers something immediate over “Lost Lands” and its more transient, progressive sounds.
Dos Ritmos – Antropophony (Klasse Wrecks) 12″
Luca Lozano and Phran are Dos Ritmos. Klasse Wrecks are as much a collaborative community as it is a vehicle for these separate artists and Dos Ritmos is hardly the only project to be born out of the community behind the label. A down-tempo percussive project “Antropophony” is their first outing together with a kind of tongue-in-cheek approach to tribal and ethnic subsects of the House genre.
Five tracks favour a tougher approach to music that samples ritualistic percussive library pieces. Dos Ritmos, combine these polyrhythmic devices with synthesizers and sonic atmospheres that re-contextualises them as something more ominous and enigmatic, sucking any spiritual or trancedal association out of these sampled pieces. These aren’t mere House tracks built around a piece of distant library music, but rather a post-modern assemblage of primordial ritual music and the contemporary interpretation of such musical rituals as they happen in clubs all around the world today.
The mysterious and sinister “Cuero” and the dub-heavy “Repeater” are some of the more interesting examples of this dichotomy at play, but all five tracks have something to offer in that regard. From the expressive vocal arrangement of “Masque” and “Yanomani” or the polyrhythmic design of “High Volta” there’s something incredibly alluring to these tracks, even for somebody that has never really enjoyed the tribal connotations in electronic music. It’s the first time something really new has been achieved with that kind of music for a long time.
The Horn – The Counter Counter Offer EP (Klasse Wrecks) 12″
Last year Luca Lozano dug through the archives with a remix of The Horn’s “The Villager” from 1996. Steve Horne was only active for a brief moment in the mid nineties, making Balearic-inspired electronica through the Evolution imprint. And although his actual output might be quite reserved, he was nothing short of a prolific producer and apparently has recorded a fair amount of unsigned demos since. Klasse Wrecks unearthed some of these for a new EP of original material from the veteran producer.
“‘The Counter Counter Offer’ EP collates music produced between 1994 and 2018 and offers them up as an introduction into the world of the The Horn and his music making process,” says the blurb from the label.
The EP harks back to a more adventurous time in electronic music, where it was expected to push the boundaries of music to the outermost limits of human understanding. Digital synthesisers and computer music technology coming into its own during this period, saw people like Horne sculpting intoxicating, alien landscapes never heard before in a musical context. “Schmaltz” and “M1LF” are prime examples of this at work as off-kilter sonic anomalies counteract the beatific melodic arrangements.
It’s on the more “traditional” tracks like “Hermit House” and “Trinity” where Horne’s music is at its most captivating as it indeed makes its counter counter offer to the barren, lifeless sound that dominates contemporary club floors. Innocent melodic exchanges in an opaque harmonic atmosphere leave a little more on the bone around the House-informed rhythm sections.
Karlos Moran – Mmg003 (Moran Music Group) 12″
Moran Music Group is the newest subsidiary of the Klasse Wrecks family and the exclusive vehicle for Karlos Moran, who adds the third installment in the Moran Music Group discography. We don’t know who Karlos Moran is, but it’s quite likely that it is somebody from the Klasse Wrecks family operating under a pseudonym.
Mmg003 is a very balearic record, with luscious keys and synthesised pipes floating on a liquid bed of House beats. Interlacing rhythms from an percussive orchestra coaxed from drum machines offer staccato counterpoint to the languid melodic arrangements, where the tracks appear both punchy and delicate at the same time.
It’s music that’s evocative of an Iberian beach scene in the late eighties, including cabana shirts, cocktails in coconuts, and sun-drenched mustachioed men. You can almost smell the Coppertone tanning lotion on a track like “Kosmos”.
Luca Lozano, DJ Fett Burger – Hands Of Doom 2 (Klasse Wrecks) 12″
“REPRESS PLEASE REPRESS PLEASE REPRESS REPRESS PLEASE REPRESS PLEASE REPRESS !!!!!!!!!!;” the people shouted on discogs and Klasse Wrecks accommodated. Fett Burger and Luca Lozano’s collaborative EP “Hands of Doom 2” is back on the shelves. The nineties-leaning, slowed down rave record was one of the best received records ever to make it out of Klasse Wrecks stable. It combined the playful Norwegian flair of Fett Burger with the UK roots of Luca Lozano in one of the most successful collaborations featuring either of these artists. The breakbeat arrangements, and the sidelong swipes at cues from early rave music – like that pitched hoover on “Signalrød” – makes for intriguing and captivating listening, especially in the context of a dance floor.
That sort of idiosyncratic cut-n-paste approach, where artists lend from familiar tropes, but make it their own with wholly individual take on these clichés are everything that Klasse Wrecks is about for this listener. Taking something familiar, fucking it up beyond all recognition, and then presenting it to its audience as something completely new, runs through every release on the Klasse Wrecks discography from the music to the artwork. The sights and sounds of Klasse Wrecks might be in vogue at the moments as trends conspired around it, but the label is certainly in a class of its own. For the last four years and beyond, they’ve quietly carved out a very niche sound and aesthetic that many are trying to copy or even appropriate as their own today, but there will always be only one original.