Today is part one in a multi-part series on various record labels that are currently doing things right. Meaning they have built a true musical community thru similarly-minded artists coming together under one roof and pushing the boundaries of their chosen genre. The labels included in this new series have created an aesthetic with their releases by a constant flow, vibe, and continuity with each project they put their name on. The artists that create under the umbrella of that label all share a drive not just to make music but to create a whole piece; from the music to the design to an overall feel of creative exhibitionism. These are labels that encourage experimentation, art over commerce, and serving every creative itch.
With each of these series, Complex Distractions have curated a playlist for the uninitiated to get acquainted with the vibe of the record label and its artists. It’s a musical appetizer of sorts that will hopefully inspire the listener to take a deep dive into the label’s roster and get lost in the music for a bit.
First up is El Paraiso Records out of Odense, Denmark.
It was over four years ago that I came across the Danish record label El Paraiso Records. I’d heard whispers on the wind about this label putting out seriously forward-thinking rock music that was expanding the boundaries of rock and roll, as well as expanding minds. My first purchase was the self-titled release by California psych-fusion band Psicomagia. A mix of Latin grooves, psych-driven keys, post bop sax, and an overall sense of dream and reality blending into a hallucinogenic shot of sleepwalking on hot coals. It was enough for me to want to explore what this label had to offer.
The next album I picked up was Causa Sui’s Euporie Tide. This was the game-changer. Causa Sui, it turned out, was the flagship artist for El Paraiso. The label was founded and run by Causa Sui members Jonas Munk(guitar) and Jakob Skott(drums.) These two decided to start a label in order to have their own spot to put their music out. This then turned into a place where Munk and Skott could put out music, not only of their own, but of like-minded musicians wanting to explore and push the boundaries. Artists equally inspired by Black Sabbath and Soundgarden, as they were Ash Ra Tempel, Sun Ra, and Coltrane.
Pretty soon, the label was putting out artists as diverse as Shiggajon, Monarch, Mythici Sunship, Landing, Jakob Skott(solo), Brian Ellis, Astral TV, Jonas Munk(solo), Sun River, and of course Causa Sui. With each of these releases El Paraiso created a continuity of like-mindedness and artistic integrity. Not only was the music on point, but each release was carefully designed and packaged. From numbered releases(Impetus Series) to colored vinyl to album art being designed in-house nearly every time by Causa Sui drummer Jakob Skott, there was and still very much is a sense of community.
El Paraiso Records continues to this day to push the mindset that a record label is much more than just an entity that puts out records. It’s a like-minded group of artists with the common goal of boundless creativity and pushing the artist to go for it each time out. Much like the 60s with Blue Note, the 70s with Reprise, the 80s with Sub Pop, and the 90s with Warp Records, El Paraiso Records is pushing the idea and role of the record label forward. One record at a time.