[Crime City Disco]
There’s something about small, labor-of-love type labels that tickles us house and techno people. Is it because we appreciate the obvious and often unpaid effort that goes into them? That they have more tangible identities? Or perhaps just that they’re a bit DIY, in accordance with dance music tradition? In truth, I don’t know what the magical quality is, but Crime City Disco has it in spades. Since its debut record last year, I’ve been following the Berlin-based label with keen interest. The promos appear in my inbox with friendly greetings from Tobias Gullberg, the label’s Swedish owner, while the records themselves continue to delight me as they arrive in the post, splashed with busy-but-delightful artwork from his friend, Kid Kroft. It’s all so consistent and personal. Perhaps that’s the key to our love affair with “boutique” labels. Most of us would rather shop at a grocery store where the owner works the till and knows our name, for instance, than the big chain where the cashiers don’t even bother to make eye contact. Not only do we like to feel valued; we also like witnessing passion, first hand.
All that’s irrelevant if the music is crap, of course — something CCD has never had a problem with. Thus far, it’s introduced four previously-unknown names to the world, all of them trading in slow, playful house. Record number five, Less Monday’s debut release, continues this trend. On the A-side, “Take Em Down” almost seems like a product of the 00s; that time when house was eloping with chill-out, rather than UK bass. There’s a big, jacking beat, but the entire duration is suffused in infinitely sustained strings, imparting a pleasant softness. The rest is elementary: a looped vocal intoning the song’s title, a sugary female counterpart, and a brisk, rising chord progression. On the other side, the sprightly “Sad Marvin” methodically lathers a choked-up 303 with glassy organ, building them to a subtle yet affecting crescendo. Both tracks seem like classic mid-set rocks: propulsive enough to maintain the floor but not distinctive enough to send it wild. And yet, Take Em Down seems a far more tempting purchase than other records of similar quality and usefulness. Must be that small label fever coming on.