Acido Records is a case in point. Ever since he started the label, Andreas Krumm, AKA Dynamo Dreesen, has been flying by the seat of his pants, and this is crucial to Acido's soul. "There is no plan or anything behind it," he says, "everything is happening by chance, really. It's all happening by nature. I'm not even contacting people, like, 'Hey you wanna do a release?' That wouldn't make sense for me."
This probably wouldn't come as a surprise to anyone familiar with the label. Since 2004, Acido has operated in fits and starts, usually putting out just one record per year, though things have picked up lately. Most of them, especially the early ones, have a palpably DIY feel—the most extravagant artwork they've had so far has been pencil sketches by SVN, Krumm's friend and production partner (they make music together as Dreesvn).
More importantly, the music itself has a wonderfully free-form, off-the-cuff feel. A typical Acido 12-inch might bundle together hip-hop, ambient, IDM and ultra-subtle house and techno, forming a five- or six-song release that's part EP, part mini-album. The records are always touched with an understated psychedelia, often with pithy analogue production that makes them pop out of the speakers. Simple yet trippy, unfussy yet avant-garde, they're the aural equivalent of doodles on a notepad.
Acido's personality is very much a product of its laid-back MO. Since there's no pressure to stick to a release schedule, Krumm can wait as long as he needs for something to come along that, in his opinion, truly belongs on Acido. As much as possible, he likes to let serendipity play a role. "For me, it has to do with myself, it has to do with my life. I cannot just pick any artist, it has to be someone I would meet naturally, who I cross paths with. I like his music, I like his style, I like his personality. Then it becomes an Acido record. I think that is the way."
Take, for instance, "Urania (Titoli Di Coda)," which appeared on Soundtrack For No Film Vol.1. "I DJ'd in a little bar in Milan and I met a little bass player from Naples, Luca. He was a great character. If you remember the Muppet Show, there is one character, the rat, who was very hectic and running around and tiny compared to the other puppets. Luca is absolutely like that character. He is playing in this band 291-Out. They do really clichéd '80s B-movie soundtracks. He gave me some tracks and I liked them so much. It's very honest music, really captures the dark side of Milan. It's what I feel about this city—when I switch off a light, I can hear their music already in my head. When I heard it I simply had to release it."
Krumm has always gone with the flow, in life as well as in music. In the past 20 years, he's bounced around between Berlin, Hamburg, Milan and the small mountain village where he currently lives, on the west coast of Liguria, Italy. And that's not counting his many adventures on the road.
"In 1992, just before I came to Berlin, I was alone in Honduras on a small island," he says. "I hitchhiked from Los Angeles. I was for half a year on this adventure trip that ended on a little Caribbean island. I was diving there a lot; it's one of my favorite things, to see a coral reef and to snorkel all day there. It's the best thing I can imagine doing. I met a few guys there, I was diving with some Swedish people, some German crews and they said, 'If you want you can come with us to Hawaii or whatever.' I hitchhiked a lot when I was younger, but with cars only—hitchhiking with boats was a new opportunity for me to travel the whole world, from continent to continent."
As a DJ and a raver, Krumm cut his teeth in Berlin, where he more or less partied for a year straight in '92, the halcyon days of the city's legendary techno scene (though Krumm, perhaps unsurprisingly, spent most of his time at trip-hop and jungle parties). Ironically, his real musical education happened somewhere far less likely. "A DJ friend from Hamburg, he went to North Carolina to marry a girl there and after he was living there for one year, I went to visit. I thought I would only stay two weeks, but they gave me a job and a caravan to live in. And I loved to be in the mountains!
Krumm DJ'd at a lot of house parties in the Appalachian mountains, and got to know some interesting artists. "frequeNC Records were doing some astonishing stuff. This guy Charlie, he used to be a teacher in Chapel Hill, he was doing some music projects with kids. He did this project where he got four little kids, under ten years old, and they pressed some buttons on a synthesiser for the first time in their lives, and held a microphone in their hands. Very improvised. He played for me a one-hour recording of their jams, and then we cut together the track, and you'll find that on Acido number two."
Krumm founded Acido Records not long after, mostly as a lark. It was just after 2000, and he was living in Milan, DJing squat parties and collecting records. "I was a real record nerd," he says. "I just wanted to see how it works, how it goes with the distributor, all the processes. I inherited a little money—not much, but enough to try out releasing a record with some stuff I had done. I decided I would use the money from one record to pay for the next one, and would try not to go into debt. The first one I sold very quick, I found a distributor and they liked it a lot. Suddenly I was already working on the second one."
There were a few bumps in the road. "After the third release I thought I'd stop, because it wasn't fun anymore. It was getting tough to sell the records, and the distributor didn't like them anymore, thought they were too artsy-fartsy. I think after a year they went bankrupt, which was funny. Anyway, then I went to Hard Wax and that guy Torsten, he said, 'It's not bad, let's try it.' He didn't look too excited about it, but they started to sell my records. After a year, they were constantly helping and I had built a real relationship with them."
After a couple more releases, Krumm was struggling again, partly because he was getting tired of doing everything alone. Then came SVN, a Berlin-based artist who runs the label SUED, and who would soon become his wingman in the studio. "He was very pessimistic about the whole thing at first, but then we started jamming. I brought some machines over to his office, he had some machines, and then it started to become fun."
"I was not very inspired with music in those days," SVN says, "but Andreas brought it all back for me with his great ear. He brought the right ideas, and it was really a new thing for me."
Soon Krumm met DJ Sotofett, another likeminded artist. "It was in the big brick building behind Club der Visionäre, right on the water front. On the third floor there was a club called Atelier that looked really, really good. It didn't cost entrance, Mika Vainio was always hanging out there. Anyway, I'm not sure if he was already called DJ Sotofett or not, but he and I were the only guests there that whole night, so we started talking. I think it was the same week I met SVN. We all started jamming and helping each other out on recordings. Suddenly I was where I always wanted to be."
It was around then that Acido Records really hit its stride. Sotofett came onboard for a bizarre hip-hop-inspired record featuring vocals from MC Sensational, and the Norwegian producer Skatebård delivered a beautiful ambient house EP under the name Transylvanian Galaxi. In 2013, with the mini-compilation Soundtracks For No Film Vol.1, Acido brought another handful of producers into the fold, including the New York artist Madteo.
Meanwhile, Krumm was having breakthroughs as a producer—thanks in part to his jam sessions with Sotofett and SVN—and by now his own tracks are the backbone of Acido. Unsurprisingly, his style feels most suited the label's ethos: subtle, colorful and abstract, with the crisp delivery of an all-analogue set-up. Acido's best records are the ones with his signature, namely Tall Stories and Woodlandscene, both of which he made with SVN, and Back In The Mists Of Time, his beautifully warped solo debut, which came out at the end of 2012.
Today this modest operation is at the top of its game. Acido's on track to release more records this year than ever before (at a grand total of three), and Krumm feels great about what he has in the pipeline, which includes an EP by his old friend $tinkworx. "It's very emotional for me, this record... they're funky house tracks done with very, very old gear. I can live with this music every day for the rest of my life, it's so positive." The future is slightly more defined than usual—"there are some plans," Krumm admits. "I already have the music ready for the next three releases, that was never, ever the case before. I am also more productive myself now." Still, the long-game is the same as always: "I do it until it's not fun."
Download: RA Label of the Month 1308 Mix: Acido Records
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Dresvn feat. Sensational (DJ Sotofett production) [Acido 009]
Dresvn - Creation [Meakusma]
Rotorik - Verschollen Im Weltall [Acido 004]
DJ Fettburger - Burger Trip [Sex Tags UFO 007]
Dynamo Dreesen - Tape 4 (SVN remix) [Acido 011]
Tim Love Lee - The Tortoise (DJ Sotofett Remix) [Acido 009]
100records - Murks is Dead [Acido 005]
Transilvanian Galaxi - God DR-55 [Acido 010]
Transilvanian Galaxi - Sequence 2 [Acido 010]
Dresvn - A3 [Acido 008]
Dreesvn - A2 [Acido 006]
Dresvn - A1 [Acido 008]