“I wanted to use a methodical, timeless word, which could have different meanings. Obviously, ‘Rotation’ for circular motion on a turntable, ‘Rotation’ in life’s cycle, ‘Rotation’ in art forms that appear, fade, reappear, ‘Rotation’ as a whole; and then ‘Audio’, because audio production is what we’re involved in”.
I have been browsing through my notes pondering about the blog’s 7th year anniversary feature (due this coming April) and couldn’t help wondering about the lengths d&b has reached after all these years. The scene seems as exciting and healthy as ever, abounding with great new music literally every week. It’s been definitely easier, almost de rigueur to establish a new record label nowadays, as opposed to the 90s, however to carve a niche in a small yet saturated market without vision, purpose and commitment is a first class ticket to disappointment.
The next installment of the blog’s ‘This Side/That Side’ label profile series, is about a brand-new, boutique independent record label based in Bournemouth UK, which has been a creative hub the last few years. The brainchild of dj/producer Joe ‘Ride’ Rideout, Rotation Audio was founded through love and dedication to electronic music. The new label will aim to showcase some of the rawest well-known and underground talent in the drum & bass and jungle scene and will focus on the darker roots of the spectrum. Their first release emphatically validated that statement.
“Starting a record label has always been something I have wanted to do. The whole process of sharing an art form with people and the rewarding feeling you receive on occasions has always inspired me. The same kind of feeling I guess when someone is digging your music and when you hear a special track or mix. It’s a nice feeling sharing creative art and collaborating with other artists. ‘Rotation Audio’ was formed through my love for electronic music. Another thing that pushed me was the time last year, when we lost a good friend. Robbie H. was one of the people I shared many musical memories with and the one who introduced me into Jungle music all those years ago, so to fully dedicate the first release to him was something I set out to do”.
Regular readers must have spotted my obsession with semantics, allusions and words riddled with imaginary metaphors, as I firmly believe that the merit of an artistic product is to evoke a subjective narrative of stories, images, emotions and interpretations. Even this feature’s head title is a nod to the Moving Shadow regional compilation ‘Storm From The East’. In this case, the label name is not random or accidental. ‘Rotation’ is a term that essentially transcends the conceptual sphere of a life-cycle, the geometry of creation and the illusion of permanence. Joe explains:
“The label name started with a letter and then progressed (the initial R from my alias Ride, my surname and my friend’s name Rob). I wanted to use a methodical, timeless word, which could have different meanings. Obviously, ‘Rotation’ for circular motion on a turntable, ‘Rotation’ in life’s cycle, ‘Rotation’ in art forms that appear, fade, reappear, ‘Rotation’ as a whole; and then ‘Audio’, because audio production is what we’re involved in”.
The label’s logo with the letters RA (for Rotation Audio) encircled by an amen break waveform has been conceived by Joe Rideout and designed by Louis P @BrightBox Designs, who has also illustrated the sleeve layout of the first Rotation Audio record.
“The artwork was designed by me and a friend Louis, who runs his own design/publishing company ‘BrightBox’. He also knew Rob, so he was more than happy to help. I’m really happy with how everything worked out. It took a long time passing work between us, but we got there in the end. I plan to use Louis and ‘BrightBox Designs’ for some of our future releases also”.
Sicknote x Drum Cypha – Formation EP (RA001, 2019)
There is a literal dimension to a physical product that a digital thumbnail simply cannot replicate; a maxim Rotation Audio embraces, hence the investment on the vinyl format with a full artwork sleeve for their first release. RA001 – Formation EP is officially available today on 12” vinyl from selected record shops (distributed by Unearthed Sounds). Orders from the label’s bandcamp have been shipped a few days prior to the official launch and the digital release is offered from all the usual outlets.
“Vinyl, because it was the first thing I learnt to mix with. It takes me back and I’m happy that there’s growth again in production, sales and manufacturing. It’s a beautiful thing and needs to be appreciated! The whole thing about having a hard copy is nice. And personally I love that warm crackly sound and the work that goes into the whole thing. Obviously we will also be involved with digital, as it is just as important. I’d also like to get some LP compilation cassette tapes out at some point”
The label’s debut release is dedicated to Rob’s memory featuring two sensational cuts, paying homage to the blueprint of d&b with a modern twist. The selection of the two established artists for the project couldn’t be more apt: Sicknote and Drum Cypha.
“I saw Lewis (Sicknote) last year at a BBQ and we played some tracks. I’ve been enjoying his new stuff and I have known him for years. He’s always helped me with bits and pieces and actually gave me my first copy of ‘Ableton’, even though I’m on ‘Logic’ mainly now. He also showed me the way into Music College and he knew Rob well. It was a perfect combination to be honest. And obviously he is killing it at the moment! Nice one Sicky!
Also, I’ve always been into Mark’s (Drum Cypha) stuff and have followed him on soundcloud for a while. I sent him a message about the project and he was really up for it. So, it went from there really. Both Lewis and Mark have been really sound people to work with”.
Side A: Sicknote – Someday
Man of the moment Sicknote (owner of Stereocilia and co-owner of Goldman and PAWS Recordings) delivers a stunning 8-minute long journey laced with nuanced references to the genre’s golden era. A captivating intro with widescreen synth pads and textures, subtle voices intimate as whispers and a progressively cascading drum loop underpinned by a crisp and catchy bassline set the tone. Then, the mandatory diva vocals take over until the beautiful breakdown and the track concludes in a cyclical fashion; a vague promise lingering like a G.H.O.S.T of your own youth, simply breathtaking.
Side B: Drum Cypha – Centaurs
Centaurs were mythological creatures with the upper body of a human and the lower body and legs of a horse. In Greek mythology they were skilled warriors with primal instincts and belligerent tendencies, apart from a few bright exceptions like Centaur Chiron, who was the wise mentor and trainer of ancient heroes. The hypnotic, gossamer intro (distant flashing ‘Spacefunk’ echoes borrowed from Drum Cypha’s Timeless Recordings legacy) is a smokescreen to the imminent relentless amen assault. A rich seam of jungle influences unveils a reflective and epic combat scene from the ‘Centauromachy’, which has become the standard metaphor for the archetypal battles between good and evil, civilization and barbarism and eventually resulted in the extinction of Centaurs. Drum Cypha has taken no prisoners!
The first RA installment has been a promising start and the future seems quite bright for Rotation Audio. Joe reflects on the events from the label’s formation to having a physical product on his hands, hints about forthcoming releases, as well as a club night showcase, and conveys the way forward for him and the label.
“I understand things don’t usually happen overnight, but I’m willing to hold out and just keep doing what we do. I mean there are new labels cropping up all the time, so I understand it won’t be easy. I studied Electroacoustic & Acousmatic composition for 2 years on a 5-year stint in sound and audio. That really did break me. I was going to throw in the towel after that. I didn’t really know what music was anymore. It’s good to be back now with the same feelings a couple years later. So yeah, never give it up and keep doing what you love.
On a whole I’m really happy with how the first installment has turned out. Many hours of sending emails back and forth, trying to understand different parts of PPL legislation, finalising the logo and getting the artwork down. To then hold the finished piece in your hand and listen to it on a turntable has been an amazing feeling. I’d definitely do it again tomorrow. And the tracks are getting some wicked feedback and support so far, which is obviously the main thing! Nice one everyone involved!
Regarding forthcoming releases, we’ve got Joe ‘Mono’ (with releases on Samurai offshoot Shiro and UVB-76 Music with Overlook) lined up. I have known Joe a long time now and already got some of his tracks here. Possibly Overlook, would be nice to hear what those boys come up with on the more amen percussion side with their eerie atmospheric approach. Minimal progressive naughtiness! Also, MAC-V (Guerilla Bass, Next Phase) all lined up and I’ve been in contact Hannah Djinn, she’s very busy though! Plus more, that I can’t disclose at the moment. Looking forward to more demos! Will aim for our releases to follow the same sound, but change and insert different aesthetics from time to time.
I like to stay busy, switching between other work and music. I appreciate the contrast and the music is an enjoyable escape for me; always has been. I’ll also be back in the studio soon on some of my own production. I’ve been recently working with Guerrilla Bass Records (based in Amsterdam) and the ‘Obscurity EP’ is getting some good feedback. My track, ‘Criminal Minds’, got played by Bizzy B on his latest show. That was sick; he seemed to be enjoying it. Surreal but cool, I’ve got plenty of his releases kicking about. He’s a proper Junglist! Big up Brian! Last, but not least, I’ve been contemplating about a label night launch. I’ve been in contact with DJ Beast, who used to play with Sicknote here in Bournemouth and Sharne from Aeonian Sounds, with whom I share the same approach on music. So probably yes, a label showcase is in the cards”.
Paraphrasing Boards of Canada instead of an epilogue: “Now that the feature is over, we would like to leave you with one very important thought”:
“I love the music out in the scene at the moment; it feels like a really exciting time for Jungle and D&B. Just stay true to what you love and believe in and work hard at it. It’s all about time, hard work and persistence, I think it’s easy to forget that these days”.
Links and social media for all things Rotation Audio:
*Comments in blue italics by Joe Rideout exclusively for the feature
The archive with the previous installments of ‘This Side/That Side’ series here