V.A. – Self-Reference Paradox

The final chapter

I have no idea how many labels are born every day all around our lovely little planet. And I would bet that most of them will be born with a pretty solid idea regarding the style of music that will be featured, they will have a name that the founders brooded and debated over for a really long time only to finally choose the first idea they had put on their blank sheets of paper. And someone among their buddies that’s a pretty okay at design will have come up with a nice little logo. Plus lots of enthusiasm, optimism, entrepreneurial spirit and plans to become some kind of famous.

Some label founders take a few steps further. They create a story around the label to add some more depth and meaning to their undertaking. Sometimes – and Grounded in Humanity is one of these cases – the label’s story is even used as foundation for their musical output. When GBlanco and SoulRay founded the label they came up with this idea of a science fiction story that would be told chapter by chapter with each release of the label.

I admit, I don’t understand every aspect of the story as some of its meaning is lost in translation – but the idea itself is a really good one. The guys really put their full attention to the project as it seems, producing tracks to tell the story on each of the releases, and recruiting plenty of great talent to contribute some excellent music.

Eight years later, the latest release – number 12 – seems to conclude the story, and the label celebrates this final chapter with a double 12″ release that is strictly limited to 250 copies with no repress (if they don’t reconsider at some point). The label had already featured some pretty solid names like Grad_U, Stojche, David Hausdorf and Ohrwert. This list is extended by no less than eight artists on “Self-Reference Paradox”, among them Octal Industries, J.S.Zeiter and Sibling.

Saying that this is what makes this double vinyl a really good one would do the whole project a big disservice though. All of the artists deliver excellent work, and they all created something that translates their view of the GiH story. Sibling for example have absolutely no problem taking the job of composing what functions as a kind of intro, a brief and spacey mover that will let us slip into sci-fi mode in no time.

Toki Fuko on the other hand – or Sergey Korotaev – gets plenty of time to showcase his talents in sound design, rolling out a slow and ominous mood piece that has a nice retro feel to it. Or Regulus Rex (I admit, I didn’t know the guy – he had been active both on GiH and its sub-label Alienus before) – laying out a funky and relaxed Dub Techno groover with no hurry whatsoever.

The final chapter of the GiH science fiction tale offers plenty of atmospheric discoveries, most of the tracks doing a really good job at creating moods and spaces – like Octal Industries’ “Fever Dream” with its slightly dragging Dub rhythm, sluggish double time hi-hat and distorted vocal snippets. This is anything but a compilation – the more you hear the more you feel that each artist contributes to the story.

Compared to some of the earlier chapters this last part has less of a dark or even menacing touch to it, even if it wouldn’t necessarily qualify as a classic happy-end. But listening to Jose Rico deliver his elegantly positive and classy “45 Tapes” it’s hard to conclude that the human race is doomed. Part of the label’s sci-fi story is based on the thought that human individuality is a problem – listening to this track, we’re losing all individuality to form one grooving organism right on the dance floor.

Havantepe is on board as well, another GiH veteran, who briefly takes us over to a deeper and slightly jazzy corner of Tech House – and we’re still not fearing for humanity. Much less when J.S.Zeiter takes over, driving as always, masterfully compiling just a few select elements, easy on the effects but highly effective all the same. “Emergence” is one of those tracks that could easily go on for another ten minutes without losing its punch.

Closing it with “Eternal Return (Epilogue)” is someone called The White Man – he appeared on an EP on GiH three years ago and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was one of the label’s founders, supplying the epilogue to the story and all. In any case, it’s another relaxed and nicely balanced Dub Techno groover. The final words on the label’s promo text on Bandcamp are “the story goes on and on and on” – and most of the tracks on this collection have the same kind of quality.

Grounded in Humanity are clearly grounded in quality, creativity and concept. That’s a lot more than you can say about a lot of music these days.

Release for review:

Vinyl only release and sold out. Try to get it on Discogs: Click

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