This was DSCRD, the DEMENT3D-affiliated troupe from France. On record they're one thing, but live performances are where they really come into their own. The sheer logistics of five people improvising together is something to behold. But DSCRD are about so much more than putting on a show: it's a serious conceptual project about techno music as a social experience. It's powerful, heady stuff without being weighed down by academia. And there's plenty to enjoy in the music itself—the considered sound design, the field recordings, the dense and noisy soundscapes that paw at the dance floor.
The same is true of their label mates, Polar Inertia. The anonymous duo have just released their third record—or "episode"—in a series focussed on the damned and mysterious "polar children." As with DSCRD, Polar Inertia has its own fully formed concept, in this case a reflection on cultural theorist Paul Virilio's 1999 book of the same name. This one is more of a multidisciplinary, collective art project, featuring photography, print, video and text. In March of last year they had a show at the Abilene Gallery in Brussels, coupled with a live broadcast, which they've released in two parts on the Kinematic Optics EP as "Can We See Well Enough To Move On?"
The label is only DEMENT3D's more recent manifestation. The outfit began as a small party in 2006 run by Julien Haguenauer (later known as Heartbeat). Ed Banger had ensnared the city's younger crowd, while the '90s generation were moving away from electronic music altogether. This left a vacuum for techno in the capital. DEMENT3D was a very intimate and underground affair, usually with Heartbeat playing all night alone or with friends. In 2008, he was joined by Francois-Xavier Zoumenou, the artist better known as Francois X. "When we started working together we wanted it to become about building a culture, building a scene," says Haguenauer. "Trying to defend the music we loved in Paris, which was really difficult back then."
DEMENT3D changed course when Zoumenou and Haguenauer met DSCRD. Voiski, another French producer and co-founder of Silicate Musique, introduced them at the squat-turned-studio where DSCRD had set themselves up. "It was like discovering a whole new galaxy," Haguenauer says. A year later, DEMENT3d was born as a label.
"It's amazing to think how quick we took the decision to move out of party promotion, because it was our bread and butter back then," Haguenauer continues. "But we believed in that DSCRD project so much, we just threw party promotion out of the way to build something that was clearly different from what we had been doing. There were so many deep and consistent ideas about electronic music and techno that we knew we had our own little thing."
The Discordance EP set the tone for DEMENT3D: visceral, abstract and compelling. It was followed by two slightly more club-facing EPs from Polar Inertia: Indirect Light and The Last Vehicle. The label has since released records by Zoumenou solo as François X and together with the artist Opuswerk as Hiss : 1292. That project is devoted to loose and grainy analogue techno defined by its hardware origins. François X's Suspended In A Stasis Field, on the other hand, is loopy, trippy and far more regimented. Then there's Ligovskoï's Dilip EP, four ambient tracks with remixes from In Aeternam Vale, Abdulla Rashim and DEMENT3D's founders in their respective collaborations: Hbtvsk (AKA Heartbeat with Voiski) and Francois X with Antigone.
The common thread here isn't exactly the music so much as the artists themselves. Under the DEMENT3D banner, they are a collective founded on personal relationships. It's an exclusive collective as well—not because Haguenauer and Zoumenou designed it that way, but because they had "the luck to meet exactly the right people."
"We give them all the freedom, all the time. That wouldn't really be possible anywhere else," says Haguenauer. "We've got that special way of working in terms of how we discuss these records. The exclusivity is natural."
For such a tight-knit group, it seems odd that these artists have performed together so rarely since the end of the DEMENT3D parties. Every member on the roster is managed by a different agency. "It's disparate," admits Haguenauer. But he's hopeful that, as the label enters one of it's most prolific phases to date, we can expect more DEMENT3D showcases. "There are a lot of new projects, new collaborations, new live shows, which would probably benefit from that initial energy we had from debuting Polar Inertia and DSCRD at the parties back then," he says. He confesses to underestimating how difficult it would be to tour an act like DSCRD in the beginning, which explains their lack of exposure outside of Paris. If anything, though, this has only helped to ferment the group's mystique.
Haguenauer and Zoumenou are poised to release a handful of records in the next few months. This flurry of productivity is possible because Haguenauer is no longer relying on money from touring to finance the label. He and Zoumenou have set up a side business that offers new labels help with promotion and pressing vinyl. "We've organised ourselves to be sort of a platform for labels to develop," says Haguenauer. "The idea behind that is to support the scene, especially the new artists and labels in France that are just starting out, but also other international labels that need serious and professional help."
This is merely an extension of the type of techno activism the pair have been engaged in since the beginning. As a party, DEMENT3D was about spreading the music they loved in a city that seemed to have little interest in it, laying the foundations for the likes of Concrete and others to bring about a broad change in Paris's nightlife. They poured that same kind of passion into the label, which itself was borne out of a frustration with the way the city undervalues its artists. "In Paris there's always a feeling of competition, and some sort of code that says that locals have to be pushed down a bit, to let foreigners enjoy the headliner slots," says Haguenauer. "At some point, Paris needs to learn how to support its own artists. This is the real challenge now. And this is still what we are trying to achieve with DEMENT3D: to execute a true artist management label, pushing new acts forward and helping confirmed artists to get to the level they deserve."
Throbbing techno, lush ambience, even a bit of spoken-word—Heartbeat shows us the breadth of his label with this immersive and enigmatic mix.
Filesize: 139.9 MB
Unreleased (new Ligovskoï Remix by Abdulla Rashim)
Unreleased (Ligovskoï forthcoming EP)
dscrd - L'Etale // DM3D007
dscrd - L'Envers des Clefs (Part 1) // DM3D001
Unreleased (soundscape by In Aeternam Vale)
Unreleased (Ligovskoï forthcoming EP)
Polar Inertia - Indirect Light // DM3D002
Ligovskoï - G.Y. (In Aeternam Vale Remix) // DM3D009
Polar inertia - Black Sun // DM3D002
Ligovskoï - G.Y. // DM3D009
Unreleased (Antigone & Francois X forthcoming EP)
Polar Inertia - Major Axis (Silent Servant Remix) // DM3D005
dscrd - L'Envers des Clefs (Part 2) // DM3D001
Hiss : 1292 - Simbi // DM3D010
Francois X - Iterative Choir // DM3D008
Unreleased (Antigone & Francois X Forthcoming EP)
Polar Inertia - Can We See Well Enough To Move On ? (Part 1)
Polar Inertia - Vertical Ice // DM3D011
Hiss : 1292 - Augun // DM3D010
Unreleased (Voiski forthcoming EP)
Polar Inertia - Can We See Well Enough To Move On ? (Part 2)
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