Best of Year 2019
One of the best from one of the labels (STROOM) of the year. Here's what I wrote about STROOM for another publication.
the new is old. the old is new. the retromania of the past decade++ is rife, but for us that was never more pointedly true than in this first year of owning a record shop. it's every generation's arrogance to assume their era to be the last (what point a future without the self in it?), though a notion of finality, if not End Times, currently feels as sharp as ever. not just politically, economically, socially, but culturally, too. with the future not as good as it used to be, we found ourselves increasingly looking to the past and it was through the prism of STROOM, a Belgium-based (Ostend to be precise) reissue label that we found the greatest inspirations.
active as a label since 2016 - though also as other things before that - STROOM specialises in casting light on apparently overlooked, mainly European music from the 80s and 90s. for better or worse, lots of labels do things like that now, but STROOM's focus on sounds predominantly situated in the liminal halfway zones between the outerreaches of a whole host of genres lends the entire operation a dream-like form, the music functioning as memories you probably never had by playfully (and never absolutely) envisaging alternative histories.
hypnagogic? hauntological? perhaps, but i think mainly just well curated, albeit unpredictably. and that curation extends to the artwork, directed by design studio, Atelier Brenda, which is all wavy typeface, off-angles and strange motifs, itself almost dream-like in its collusion of the absurd and the tasteful.
record shops like World of Echo are propped up by labels like STROOM. their cultural heavy-lifting makes it easy for us to do the light work of presentation. in a year in which we became increasingly disenfranchised with New Music, it was energising to find new pasts being built. new possibles where you've previously only seen dead ends. sometimes we must move backwards to progress.