A soft mist pervades the air, bringing with it the smell of microscopic lichens forming on damp bark. Nearby, a stream trickles through rock formations, eroding itself a new path through the land, shaping the world around it. Ever present, the voice of a child utters soft unassuming phonemes in Mandarin. This is the abstract sound of Yannick Dauby‘s 咾咕厝 LÓ-KÓ͘-CHHÙ : Penghu Experimental Sound Vol. 2, and my first introduction to Discrepant, one of the most eclectic labels I have ever come across. If you have listened to the last two AS IF. NO WAY! radio shows, you will have heard a selection of their records, picked up at the Independent Record Market in East London including Penghu Experimental Sound Vol. 2 (as mentioned above) and Antologia de Música Atípica Portuguesa – a compilation that focuses on “Portuguese music with an (un)characteristic foot in the past musical traditions of the country”.
At the market, the label guys talked me through some of their releases, all of which seemed from totally different worlds. The first one was from audiovisual collage artist Vicki Bennett, who, according to Discrepant’s website, has been making work available via CD, DVD and vinyl releases, radio broadcasts, performances, gallery exhibits and online streaming for 25 years. The work is a concoction of various samples and sounds like a riverboat ride into Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory.
The joviality of the vocal samples in ‘Nothing’ are cut in such a way that the finished article is trippy and unsettling, yet totally brilliant. This combined with the tongue-in-cheek nature of ‘Dolly Pardon’, where a man’s voice is cut over what presumably is a Dolly Parton riff on repeat creates an LP that is part-nostalgia, part-satire, part-ambience, all-acid-trip!
What is striking about each of the releases is the diversity of the background of each of the artists, musical or otherwise. Each record on their market stall was labelled with its name and a small comment or description; one simply read: “Post Industrial Russian Gloom … Yeah that’s right!”. That EP is Ventspills EP – Old Komm, a deep-yet-dreary gloom excursion into the depths of an industrial ex-Soviet tower block. Despite its grey/black cover, the EP is filled with colour and light.
The 1st Movement starts of dark and foreboding, almost thunder-like, eventually with some loose percussion, and finally becomes sweet, warm and melodic. The 2nd Movement – ‘Ventspils Theme’ – subtly begins with a crackly sample of a storm together with some discordant drones, and evolves into a industrial soundscape that seems to typify the meaning of the term ‘Discrepant’.
The label is a gamut of pioneering musical paradigms that dares to champion form without the boundaries set by traditional genre-constraints.
We caught up with Gonçalo, the man behind Discrepant to delve deeper into the meaning behind the label and its releases.
AS IF. NO WAY!: How was the label formed?
Discrepant: Discrepant started in 2011 in London and like all good things in life it happened spontaneously and with no aim in mind. I was actively making mixtapes mostly for my friends, but was encouraged to start putting them online, so I started a website/blog type thing. One thing led to another and before I knew it I was approaching artists I respected and admired to ask if they were interested in releasing some music on the newly formed label.
AS IF. NO WAY!: Who designed the logo and what does it represent?
Discrepant: It comes from a Native American sign for rain dance. But we use it upside down where it could look like a happy face, or a pregnant woman. Whatever we see seems to be connected with the act of creation and/or music, so that works for us.
AS IF. NO WAY!: Where does the name come from and what does it represent?
Discrepant: I usually refer people to its official definition. Discrepant: inconsistent: conflicting; at variance [from Latin discrepāns, from discrepāre to differ in sound, from dis-1 + crepāre to be noisy].
AS IF. NO WAY!: When I met you guys down at the label market you said that you believe there are only two types of music: good music and bad music, regardless of genre. We hold a similar belief! Is this the methodology behind picking your releases? Or is there a common theme that you try and stick to?
Discrepant: Pretty much, someone once said the label is like little pieces of my brain. Forming an extension of my personality and tastes. I guess the methodology behind it reflects that.
AS IF. NO WAY!: Are there any other labels that you liken yourself to? Which labels do you admire?
Discrepant: I listen to a lot of different music, from field recordings of music or places to 90’s hip hop, 70’s tape music, detroit techno, avant garde stuff. Labels off the top of my head, GRM, Folkways, Principe Discos, Pacific City Sound & Visions, Nashazphone, Sublime Freqs, etc. etc. etc.
AS IF. NO WAY!: How do you find such an eclectic range of artists?
Discrepant: Travel and internet!
AS IF. NO WAY!: Despite the eclecticism of your releases, the label does seem to have a common feel of disjointedness and/or trippiness about its releases. How would you characterise this sound (if at all)?
Discrepant: Discrepant music! I want to become a genre hahahaha. In fact a record shop sent me a picture once of Discrepant’s own section, that made me very happy.
AS IF. NO WAY!: There’s a certain punk attitude about what you choose to release which I love (for example the message on the Old Komm release at the market “Russian Gloom … Yeah that’s right!”). Do you feel that you aim to (pleasantly) shock/surprise/educate your audience with what you release?
Discrepant: Yes, that’s kind of the aim. We don’t like to take things too seriously. We do when it’s needed, but surprise and fun comes first, otherwise what’s the point? That message on the Old Komm really works sales-wise. People instantly laugh, pick it up and ask about it.
AS IF. NO WAY!: Your releases seem to span the breadths and depths of sound. Many of your releases are field recording/sample based; take for example Yannick Dauby – Penghu Experimental Sound Vol. 2 and People Like Us – Abridged Too Far, to name just a couple. The former is heavily field recording based, intertwined with distant harmonies, and the latter is a glorious patchwork of different sampled melodies. You also release some more ‘conventional’ music, in terms of form, with releases such as the Syrian dance record: Rizan Said – The King of Keyboard. What are the boundaries of what you consider music?
Discrepant: I wouldn’t call Rizan ‘conventional’. Its an updated version of a very traditional style, Dabke. But yes, it has loads of factors that make it immediately more appealing than other more out there releases. I never pretend to release just music. Field recs could be music or just atmospheres. I guess I like to create moods and ‘moments’ with the music I release. Whether they evoke something very real (Yannick Dauby, Mike Cooper) or something completely alien (Kink Gong, Gonzo), or between the two (Carlos Casas, Old Komm), the aim is the same, set the mood to something else.
AS IF. NO WAY!: As a follow on, do you think that there are clear distinctions between different genres of music? Do you believe music can be without genre?
Discrepant: We always gonna need ‘genres’ to guide us through the musical rabbit holes. But yeah, I’m a big fan on ‘uncategorizable’ music. The more difficult it becomes to frame it in a record shop, the better. Or maybe just file it under Discrepant, that’s the new genre hahahaha.
Gonçalo’s mix was recorded live using two turntables, a mixer and a tape walkman and showcases the extent Discrepant’s eclecticism as a label and concept.