M_REC LTD is Magrini's second label project. The first was M_Rec, a short-lived label that released a string of digital-only singles between 2009 and 2011. M_REC LTD also started in 2009. The distinction between the two was simple: M_Rec was digital-only, M_REC LTD releases both digital and vinyl. Over 20 artists have released on M_REC LTD so far. In most cases, Magrini approached them asking for tracks. Despite having so many artists on the books, there's a strong coherence in M_REC LTD's sound.
This sound was established with Jeroen Search's Segments. Though the record was more upbeat and bouncy than most on M_REC LTD since, it hinted at the style Magrini would hone and expand upon over the coming months and years. Clean, effective and often jacking, the label's catalogue has been embraced by all kinds of techno DJs. There's plenty to choose from, whether it's the sleek drive of Coefficient's 2014 cut "Blood Red," the raw emotion of Stanislav Tolkachev's "Don't Shit On Your Own Doorstep," or the wonky analogue swing of Samuli Kemppi's "Extragalactic."
Most of M_REC LTD's catalogue is for the dance floor, but Magrini launched the Grey Series in 2012 to make room for more leftfield releases. It began with Juho Kahilainen, and nine artists have featured until now. Funnily enough, Magrini had no desire to launch a new series until hearing the tracks Kahilainen sent him. "The sound of those demos didn't fit the more dance floor-focussed M_REC LTD," he says. "I started this new series especially for Juho's record. The tracks on Grey Series affect me emotionally, and are usually slower, darker or more industrial than the main label. There's no specific style."
Stanislav Tolkachev produced the Grey Series' best-known release, Depth Of Light. Tolkachev is one of techno's most interesting figures, and a key signing for M_REC LTD. His minimal sound is edgier than the rest of the label's catalogue, but its warped sci-fi slant helps it fit in. Tolkachev's music doesn't usually suit a dance floor setting in an obvious way, so its place on Grey Series makes sense. "Stanislav is a funny guy," Magrini says. "Sometimes his music is very unplayable, but I love it. He lives in a country with a lot of problems, and I think his tracks reflect that. The next record is scheduled for this year. It's similar to his last release—crunchy, analogue and interesting. It's not simple music."
For a label releasing hypnotic techno, consistency is key. This music generally sounds best in the context of a DJ set, and these sets are some of the most linear and steadily built in dance music. This type of techno—hook-less music with little immediate impact—rarely gets shared on Facebook or played in most clubs, so they're not going to win over chunks of people with that one track. It takes time to build a following. A regular release schedule is therefore key, and success can have as much to do with being organised as it does with creative talent. Label owners often place an emphasis on refining their label's sound by working with artists who match their own vision. This is how Magrini operates M_REC LTD, but it's getting more difficult do so.
Running a techno label isn't what it used to be a few years ago. A surge in the vinyl market has brought problems for the people releasing it, and while observers on the outside—journalists, fans, collectors—cheer the medium's comeback, those behind the scenes are faced with challenges. Labels big and small are competing for pressing plants' limited capacity, so delays occur more regularly and overall wait times grow. Small house and techno labels are among the most affected. These downsides of vinyl's resurgence aren't often discussed, but are slowly starting to be made known (The Guardian recently broached the topic with a story called "Vinyl's difficult comeback").
Magrini's answer to the increasingly unpredictable nature of pressing wax in Europe was to knuckle down. Instead of relying on distributors and other third parties to organise various aspects of his label, as many of his peers do, he's now heavily involved in every step of the process. This dedication is the key to keeping things moving at the pace he desires (roughly one vinyl release per month), but it's getting more difficult to do this. "All the pressing plants in Europe have the old machines," he says. "The process is much longer with these. In the past it used to take three or four weeks to get a record pressed. Now there are so many labels pressing vinyl it takes eight or nine."
You get a sense of how much organising is required when you consider how far in advance Magrini plans his label's release schedule. M_REC LTD's ten-plus 2015 releases were finalised months ago, with most already mastered and ready to be sent to the plant. But planning a release schedule is a lot more complicated than simply signing tracks and picking dates. Delays at the pressing plant occur frequently, which needs to be taken into account when planning. To combat this, Magrini leaves a large gap between the date the vinyl is due from the plant and the date it's supposed to hit stores. But planning is difficult without having a direct hand in the process. This was the case when Magrini was working with Triple Vision, a popular Dutch distributor. "In the past I didn't know what was happening with the label," he says. "The distributor would tell me that a record is coming out in January, but I wouldn't know anything else."
Things changed after Magrini took M_REC LTD to the smaller 712 Distribution, when it launched in Berlin in November 2013. He credits 712, which was founded by his friend Alessio Armeni, with the additional control he's able to have over his label. "It's a real underground distributor," Magrini says. "It's much smaller than most, so they have less to focus on, and have good, direct contact with shops and DJs. Everything is very clear when I'm working with them. I know exactly how many copies of a record are selling and in which stores. Triple Vision were good, but I prefer to be more hands-on."
Magrini's relationship with techno—and vinyl—began at an Underground Resistance concert in 1991. He was spellbound by the rave experience, and went to Remix, his local record store in Rome, the following Monday. "I asked the owner for every single Underground Resistance record they had," he laughs. "That's when it all started."
Remix is worthy of a feature of its own. Many of Italy's premiere techno producers, and the so-called Italian sound, can be traced back to the shop's golden days. Its then-owners founded Elettronica Romana, a pivotal techno label that released some of the first work of future heavyweights like Donato Dozzy, Giorgio Gigli and Dino Sabatini. 712's Armeni, who is a former co-owner of Remix, was one of the Elettronica Romana founders along with Sandro Nasonte. A decade later, Armeni is M_REC LTD's main ally. "He's been my friend forever," Armeni says of Magrini. "Music-wise, I like his attention to new sounds. He releases music from big names that he likes and respects, but his choices are always original. M_REC LTD is also regularly releasing music from newer artists, which is very important."
The friends share similar feelings on the current state of vinyl. They point out an inconsistency they see when label owners flood plants with their own releases but do little else to support the vinyl industry at large—ie. buy records. "Everyone wants to release on vinyl," Magrini says. "But I think these artists who want to release on vinyl should also play it."
"There are problems for vinyl labels today," Armeni says. "A lot want to press vinyl to be cool and use it as a nice business card, but the owners of these labels don't support vinyl themselves. People pressing vinyl should be the first to buy it from others—who will trust your choice to press vinyl if you're not using it yourself?"
Whatever happens with vinyl, M_REC LTD should be around for years to come. There are few label owners with the meticulous approach of Magrini, and this mindset matched with his impeccable taste for hypnotic dance floor sounds could turn M_REC LTD into techno's next powerhouse.
Get lost in this journey though M_REC LTD's signature spacey sound. Founder Max_M splices together cuts from the likes of Samuli Kemppi, Moerbeck and Coefficient, along with upcoming material from Overall Severity and NX1.
Filesize: 176.4 MB
Juho Kahilainen - Interlude
Edanticonf - Movement 4
Tadeo - A Step To The Future
Donor/Truss - Ash 3
Forward Strategy Group - A Marvel
Moerbeck - Arrival Of The Stranger
Coefficient - Blood Red
Allen - MH370
Max_M - 1001A
Fabrizio Lapiana 1003B
Samuli Kemppi - Power Of Voltages
Overall Severity - Rossella
Wrong Assessment - Persecutory Beliefs
Max_M - Architectural Lie
NX1 - MR8
Breaking through: White Visitation
Nicolas Guerrero's style of techno is heady, subtle and subdued. Carlos Hawthorn hears how he became one of Mexico City's musical exports.
Top 10 March 2015 Festivals
We pick our favourites from around the world in March.
In the latest edition of our film series with SONOS, we head to Minneapolis, the city where Zak Khutoretsky learned to be a hustler.
Machine Love: Massimiliano Pagliara
The Live At Robert Johnson producer shows off the synths that shape his sound.
Label of the month
Label of the month: The Trilogy Tapes
We toast to a decade of Will Bankhead's label, an exceptionally curated outlet for noise, techno, house, drone and much more.
Label of the month: Growing Bin Records
Gabriel Szatan spends a day in Hamburg with the deeply eccentric label boss behind this deeply eccentric label.
Label of the month: SlapFunk Records
Matt Unicomb speaks to a Dutch collective that's laser-focussed on house music's most essential goal: making dance floors move.
Label of the month: Dark Entries
The San Francisco label is a prolific source of esoteric dance music from the '80s and the present day. Matt McDermott talks to Josh Cheon, the man making it all happen.
Label of the month: Butter Sessions
Andy Webb hears how two youngsters from the Melbourne suburbs developed one of Australia's essential dance music labels.