Helmed in Los Angeles by DJ/Producer Kingdom, Fade To Mind is a “record label and movement” with artists devoted to finding ways to make you dance to stranger sounds. Their music (and font!) shares much with sister label Night Slugs: both institutions are united by varying shades of darkness, and draw from UK grime, Chicago house and techno, blending them in usually hyperactive but always unsettling ways. Now with the huge acclaim that's followed the release of Kelela's Cut 4 Me mixtape, the collective are poised to make all kinds of new and exciting moves. To get you stuck into their enormous catalogue, we've assembled a selection of some standout official releases pre-Cut 4 Me.
Kingdom, Vertical XL
This EP from the Fade To Mind chief, Kingdom, features “Bank Head,” a tantalizing trial run to match Kelela's measured and massive vocals with a bubblegummed-up, chirpy version of Kingdom's chrome-finished sound. It sticks out: most of Vertical XL gives alluring menace and ennui of grime a set of hi-def sounds. It moved grime to PS3 while other producers were stuck desperately blowing on cartridges.
Fatima Al Qadiri, Desert Strike
Fade To Mind scatter gunshots and explosions on their songs like breadcrumbs on a battlefield, but the ones on Fatima Al Qadiri's Desert Strike steam with potent dread. Her story may have something to do with that, but she never lets the enormous weight of her album's concept supersede its most important M.O.: making exciting, punishing, and emotionally dense electronic music.
Total Freedom, Dummy Mix
Fade To Mind's parties are already legendary. Wildness, a night organized by Ashland Miles a.k.a Total Freedom and Nguzunguzu, is the subject of a documentary. And really, it would be odd if the label let someone else organize gatherings of the community based around their music. Total Freedom spins around the world, and his mix for Dummy is a wonderful, unrelenting set. Screams and sexuality give it a primal atmosphere, but Total Freedom pulls off matching his confrontational gusto with substance. He skins tracks from both pop megastars and underground sensations and stitches them together with cumbia, trap, and whatever else will make hip-hop as far out of its comfort zone as possible.
Nguzunguzu, Perfect Lullaby and Timesup
Nguzunguzu's Timesup EP updates the Art of Noise's sampling meyhem for the trap era. It's like a tree planted deep on hip-hop's lawn, but with the roots and branches spilling into R&B's driveway and garage's deck. Asma Maroof and Daniel Pineda also show off their smoother sides on Perfect Lullaby, Fade To Mind's closest thing to a chill-out release. (Side note: the duo also mixed M.I.A.'s great tape Vicki Leekx.)
Bok Bok, FADEMIX003
Not many mixes can keep their cool in such insane surroundings, but Bok Bok's FADEMIX003 never seems to break a sweat as it throttles the energies of footwork and 2-step for nearly an hour, giving R&B and soul burners unceasing shots of adrenaline. And you're constantly engaged: Bok Bok has a way of leaving you anxious to see just how he'll string kicks together next, and praying that your feet will be able to keep up.