For me, 2013 was the year things got weird. The last twelve months saw many collectives who had been working on the fringes for years, begin to prick the ears of the masses. Labels such as Workshop, Morphine and The Trilogy Tapes all had a purple 2013. L.I.E.S became a leviathan of the underground, gaining a popularity belied by the often dark, industrial thud of their releases. Livity Sound won many well-deserved plaudits, after being championed by Ben UFO amongst others. Even cassette labels, such as Mood Hut and Opal Tapes, have been tempted to enter the vinyl flogging fray.
All of the above are, well, a bit weird. And so is Sued – a Berlin-based label whose star has risen substantially in the previous year.
An effective (if uninformative) starting point for entering the Sued world is their crazy-ass website. It reveals few facts not already accessible via their Discogs page, yet the site emits a psychedelic fug which serves as an effective analogue for their aesthetic. It is bright, bold, and gaudy. And looks like it cost about 10 pence to make. Ramshackle? Yes. Forgettable? Definitely not.
The same could be said for Sued left field take on dance music. They share the same “anything goes” ethos of the Sex Tags Mania gang, incorporating multiple musical styles, like a discerning yet omnivorous musical magpie. However, they major in brittle, tripping techno that sounds like it was made on Fruity Loops. They also plainly just don‘t give a fuck.
A case in point is SW’s awesome “Reminder”. Glitchy snare hits fire like lasers in a space age shoot ’em up, whilst a small crescendo of repeated synth lines lull the senses into reverie. The track has been in the bags of many DJs, such as Ben UFO and Tessela, despite completely lacking a kick drum or any discernible bass. It shouldn’t work. But it does. If this is dance music; it’s dance music for racing minds not flailing limbs. Made for the brief moments of respite on sweaty dance-floors.
The label has a scope which encompasses disco at one end and murky techno at the other. The most recent X1 release even has a 10 minute “Dub Session”, which does what you would expect. They also enlisted DJ Sotofett for remix duties on the aforementioned “Reminder” track, which results in a face-melting jungle deconstruction of the original.
With a penchant for cheap hardware and unquantised beats, Sued feel very at home among the current swathes of “dance-not-dance” producers. There is enough funk for the boogie enthusiast yet enough motorik steel for techno purists. If SUED was a DJ set it would be Jamal Moss B2B Sotofett. In Hawaii. Now there’s a proposition.
Despite “fitting in”, as I said, they remain a very unpredictable label. You never know what you’re going to get. My favourite releases are their takes on (slightly) more conventional 4/4 material. SVN’s “Track 1” is a good example of this – a brooding, dark house number with a strangely sludge-like funkiness. It’s not on YouTube – go buy it! I’ve pretty much not stopped playing it since I bought it.
The label has been cited by luminaries such as Call Super, Anthony Naples and newcomer Palms Trax as a source of inspiration. Yet they remain very much a cult concern. I have no idea how many copies they have been pressing, but thankfully many of their releases are still widely available. Grab them while you can, as these guys are making some of the most interesting music around at the moment.