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Test the West

img  Tobias

We received an email the other day from mystified's Thomas: "With everything so expensive around now, I am pleased to announce a free release: mystified's "Dark Lacunae", through the great NetLabel Nishi". We had never heard of the latter, but totally agreed on the former and therefore decided to check things out.

As it turns out, Nishi are not only one of the earlier players in the Weblabel "business", but also one of the most productive. Their catalogue of 88 releases (and counting) is among the most extensive on the net and offers a wide variety of styles and artists - some of them obscure, some of them rather well-known. When the lable put out their 50th release, for example, it consisted of a disc which put Ukraine's pioneer and native star Andrej Kiritchenko alongside "pino the frog" and the magnificent colophon next to someone called "ouef korreck"t (their truly correct future electro track "The Ballad Vocal" is one of the sampler's highlights). From the dark, mysterious and almost industrial soundscapes of debut download-album "Landlines" by "foer" dating back to 2002, the label has expanded into everything its founder k.m. krebs considered interesting. Which is quite a lot.

Actually, the way it looks to us, Nishi was founded mainly because krebs, who is an active artist under the moniker of 833-45 himself (no historical date, but the name of a pulsar), was looking for ways to open up Canadian label "No Type"'s roster even more. No Type had already made a name for itself as Canada's first and foremost MP3-outfit with many fascinating sublabels to its name, but krebs thought there was still room for spirited electronics and experimental sounds with a twist. He was right: The sounds on Nishi are accessible, but still pleasantly leftfield, they offer a friendly weirdness, while always retaining an inviting openness - it is not by their radical nature that these albums are unique but by their deeply personal style. Another part of his success has to do with Nishi's local focus and global outreach: Canada remains krebs' home base, but he has never turned down great tunes from around the world when offered to him.

Which brings us to two of his label's current releases, which we would like to recommend for starters. First up is Mark Hamn's "Function Buttons", previously released on Maetrixsolutions, but well worth "a second airing", as krebs puts it. Hamn has a tender vision of beauty, even though he sometimes has a strange way of formulating it. The album gets off to a moody and undefined start with filtered sequences and background noodling, before a glistening piano sheds teardrops on a sleeping lake full of tweeting and humming sounds and things turn all pieceful. "Les Structures" and "Le Duree" are two belovedly whispering tunes, more harmonic than most christmal carols.

And secondly, there's aforementioned "mystified", centred around Thomas Park. Downloading his "Dark Lacunae" will save you a lot of time if you're an eclectic person. There's foggy drones, sample collages, spaced-out dub, groovy acid and much more.

And that's just two of the great and free records out on Nishi - which, by the way, means "West" in Japanese and refers to the fact that krebs' primary goal was to inflame the Canadian West Coast. With his excellent batch of releases, he has acchieved even more and set fire to the entire web.

Homepage: Nishi
Homepage: No Type
Homepage: mystified
Homepage: Mark Hamn

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