All of the labels in this year's top 20 navigated this landscape in their own way. Some are babies, some have been around for a decade or two—but they all have a special ingredient, something extra that makes them demand our attention and our affection. Most have a tight-knit roster whose sum is greater than its parts. Many have a well-honed visual identity, or throw killer parties, or oversee an interesting podcast series—or all of the above. The one thing we know for certain is that running a great label is rarely just about releasing great tunes.
- 1.We all know the feeling. Sometimes you have one of those nights when everything is so perfect—the music, the people, the atmosphere—that it ends up seared into your memory, a series of fuzzy images you take pleasure in revisiting. Giegling is an artefact of that experience, inspired by four parties at a Weimar club from which it takes its name. This is why any given track from the label, whether it's techno, house, ambient or hip-hop, has the melancholic tinge of a memory—"like the feeling of seeing a sunset," in the words of Dustin, one of the label's core members.
Most great labels have some equivalent of this—not just a signature sound but an actual personality, something that's hard to put your finger on that ties all of the releases together. In 2014, with just an armful of records from the label's old guard, Giegling didn't do anything radically new, but they did reach a tipping point of sorts. With albums and EPs from Kettenkarussell, Vril, Edward, Traumprinz and DJ Metatron, that feeling they've been building for years reached something close to perfection.