A Decade of Weird and Mysterious Peak Oil Electronic Music

By | November 21, 2022

A Decade of Bizarre and Mysterious Peak Oil Digital Music

By Andy Beta November 21, 2022

Regardless of the illusionary glamor and shimmer that defines Los Angeles within the standard creativeness, there has at all times been a murky weirdness effervescent slightly below the floor, generally actually (take the well-known La Brea Tar Pits for instance). Maybe not as well-known as a number of the metropolis’s myriad beat music scenes (suppose Brainfeeder, 100% Silk, Stones Throw, and many others.), longtime report label Peak Oil has flourished over the ten years since adopted its creation. . The brainchild of Brian Foote and Brion Brionson, the 2 met when Brionson was a author for XLR8R Charger and Foote busied himself along with his daytime duties as a music publicist.

“Being in Los Angeles in 2012, when there was an unassuming cascade of kosmische arpeggio tapes and synth opuses being launched each week, was actually inspiring,” Brionson says. “It was actually the tight-knit experimental music scene on the time.” Quickly, he crosses Foote in membership evenings, on Dublab or within the aisles of the digital part of Amoeba. A shared enthusiasm for early ’90s labels like Rising Excessive, Fax, Kirk Degiorgio’s Utilized Rhythmic Expertise label, in addition to 4AD, made them notice they have been aligned.

“I felt like if we have been going to create a label that may solely exist as a labor of affection, it ought to exist as a conceptual entire,” Brionson says. “I had learn so much concerning the idea of ‘peak oil’, the second when society – primarily based on the infinite progress of a finite useful resource, oil – collapses, and the way oil is current in all places, even within the archives. It appeared to “click on”.

Enthusiasm for the stream of self-produced tapes throughout city prompted the 2 to contact mates and begin the label in earnest. “A typical thread was our month-to-month present on dublab, as many of the label’s artists have been invited,” Foote mentioned. “It is a good cross-section of our prolonged circle.” Peak Oil’s first launch got here from Technique, a handful for producer Paul Dickow, who had been making albums since 2003, releasing a lot of information on kranky (Foote additionally serves as a publicist for that label). “I launched his first album on an IDM label that I did within the early 2000s and I have been a fan of his since day one,” Foote says.

From there, the label branched out to attach an underground community of avant-electronic crackpots, who use both {hardware} rigs and modular synthesizers or transportable software program to create their warped sonic worlds. Along with Technique, the label has launched albums from Brooklyn’s Will Burnett (below his alias Black Deer) to circuit bender Mr. Geddes Gengras, from Grouper’s ominous facet venture Liz Harris to mysterious dub techno outfit Topdown Dialectic. Gengras remembers taking part in at a home occasion, and after the set, Foote inspired him to launch the music. “He advised me the idea of his label, one thing about oil consumption and the tip of the world, extra LOL making vinyl information whereas Rome burns,” Gengras remembers.

“Peak Oil has carved its means into releasing dense, deep, and thrilling information, they usually’ve managed to maintain it considerably understated and understated,” says Sierra Leone-born, Brooklyn-based producer Lamin Fofana, whose The label’s newest work is to be launched as a part of their tenth anniversary. “If , . I respect that.

All through, the label has introduced a unified aesthetic for every launch, a visible cue that grabs your consideration even in the event you might not know the artist themselves. Every Peak Oil launch options some kind of framing: a central 4-inch sq. surrounded by a 4-inch body, echoing the symmetry of the album inside: the central label is surrounded by the circles concentric with the vinyl itself. “The quilt design constraint started as a easy visible pun exhibiting the heightened prominence of the curator,” says Foote. However now the framing and concentric circles current a kind of visible echo, and the brand new variations play extra with the square-within-a-square sample.

“I actually really feel like we have coronary heart surgical procedure on our sleeves,” Brionson says, of the final decade of peak oil. “With out turning into an eye-opening remedy session, the label is really a mirrored image of our lives and experiences.”


“I’ve at all times been impressed by the truth that Paul works in so many various modes below one moniker,” Foote mentioned of Technique’s Paul Dickow, whose 2012 self-titled album ushered within the label with a set that truly discovered the producer approaching the pop tune. constructions, and revealed a delicate side of the footprint. “I believe the primary launch on Peak Oil being an outlier within the artist’s oeuvre helped set the tone for what adopted. Brion and I actually like the concept these one-off collaborations or secondary pseudonyms are a part of what we do. It is positively a typical thread within the catalog.

sluggish walkers
sluggish walkers

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Living proof: Grouper’s Liz Harris collaboration with the Room40 Lawrence English label. Harris isn’t any stranger to collaboration, teaming up with Roy Montgomery, The Bug and Jefre Cantu-Ledesma, however Gradual Walkers stand out. Recorded between 2011 and 2013, it finds Harris’ haunting sound set in a windswept panorama. Ideally suited and tangy marching music for these winter sunless days.

Mr. Geddes Gengras
Spontaneous technology

“I met Brian round 2008 at a bizarre, uncrowded home present the place I used to be taking part in a Moog by way of a little bit bunch of delay pedals,” remembers noise musician Gengras. “He is additionally been a mentor, trainer, collaborator and the man I name when I’ve a query about nearly something music-related. Nobody has been a extra supportive determine in my life. Initially launched below Gengras’ editorship, Personable is an interesting modular techno venture that at all times teeters on the sting of machine delirium.

Information Horde

Brian Foote is sentenced to life. He began an digital label within the late 90s within the Pacific Northwest and was a member of the sprawling noise collective Jackie-O Motherfucker. His identify additionally seems on initiatives by Stephen Malkmus and Zola Jesus, in addition to releases by kranky, the place he was an in-house publicist for many years (his Smoke Level venture additionally launched a killer ambient techno album this 12 months). Foote’s full launch as Leech brings many years of perception into the digital music micro-scene with masterful readability and depth. As his companion Brion recounts, “Brian was taking part in these tantalizing teases from the studio, and I stored saying, ‘Ship some tunes!’ arguing.” Thrives of analog squelches, fuzzed-out synths, sensible damaged rhythm, daydream vibes, drum and bass breaks diminished to glowing miniatures, and way more mix collectively on this set.


Russian digital music producer Kirill Vasin caught the eye of Foote and Brionson the old style means. “He despatched demos, they usually dominated!” Brionson remembers. “A flurry of e-mails revealed that he was a gracious and enthusiastic admirer of the label in addition to a gifted musician, with no scarcity of tracks to select from. We additionally had no concept how it will be acquired and we have been actually overwhelmed by the constructive response.Flickering snares, shimmering pads, alien mind breaks, deep dub reverb and fleeting sounds are all introduced collectively due to Vasin’s professional craftsmanship.

Paper clip minimizer
Paper clip minimizer

“Throughout a visit to Los Angeles in 2016, a good friend from Manchester gave me some tracks of this child who labored for him and who he mentioned made nice music,” Brionson says of how Peak Oil has come to launch a characteristic movie from British producer Jown. Howes (in his Paperclip Minimiser guise). “I am a gearhead and studio tinker by nature, and I am excited by somebody’s strategies nearly as a lot because the ensuing end result,” Foote says. “So after we meet an artist the place these two issues shine like they do with John, it is a no-brainer to work collectively.”

Lamine Fofana
Disturbing scores

“I had this file coping with local weather disaster and inaction, environmental devastation and destruction of life; it is heavy”, says Fofana about his final album. “A number of the items began in 2016. However with all that I had occurring, I wasn’t positive I used to be going to complete it. After just a few conversations with Brian, his preliminary assist and encouragement is why the disc exists.Whereas earlier releases by Fofana have oscillated between Drexciyan techno and British funky, Disturbing scores is filled with sluggish dread, stuffed with crackling campfire vibes and deprivation tank dream states, all rigorously constructed over the muffled metallic beats of the ultimate monitor.

High-down dialectic
High-Down Dialectic 2013

Few fashionable digital musicians encourage the type of fever and maddening hypothesis that Topdown Dialectic. Who’re they? What number of members are there? The place are they primarily based? What materials do they use? How did they create essentially the most seductive and elegant dub temper music of the previous decade? Good luck getting such solutions. “I used to be fortunate sufficient to discover a technique to contact the one who helped foster these leads by way of a good friend,” Foote remembers. To which Brionson provides, “I had no concept who made them in any respect, simply that we listened to them again and again at Brian’s home, and I used to be like, ‘Wait, it is nonetheless Topdown????’ Finally we needed to take it out.

After a string of now-impossible-to-find tapes, Peak Oil launched three albums by the as-yet-unknown artist, every stuffed with atomized dub bass and shattered drums that have been as straightforward to lose as coastal fog. And now comes a long-awaited reissue of their 2013 debut cassette, a set simply as slippery, undefined and ineffable as the remainder of their catalog. “They advised us they wished it to stay nameless and that the top-down dialectic was a course of, not one thing connected to an individual,” Foote says. Irrespective of who or what’s behind all of it, crank up the amount and dive into the vaporous thriller of Topdown.