Label Of The Week – Houndstooth

Branding becomes synonymous with a product, whether it be the golden arches of McDonalds or the bold tick of Nike sportswear, to the extent when the name is not even needed anymore – the logo becomes the identity after enough time circulating public consciousness. After a strenuous end to 2016, Fabric’s logo did just this – the jutting shape became associated with potentially the most successful boycott to a Met Police decision and provided hope, not just for promoters, but punters and music lovers alike. In 2013 the sub-label Houndstooth was released, aiming to both advance and promote cutting edge music; so whilst the four sided shape of Fabric demonstrated resilience and securing history – the houndstooth became recognised as the means for experimentation and future development.

The figurehead of the label is Rob Booth – who manages the imprint, champions upcoming artists, and with a John Peel-eque approach aims to push the label further towards ‘a unique sound’. Working alongside Rob Butterworth, who acts as Label Director, and Leo Belchetz who manages Houndstooth, the trio aimed to pick up where the Islington nightclub left off with small scale releases and loose-end projects – solidifying Fabric as not just a leading venue – but as an artist based label handling cutting-edge production and more left-field releases. Laying the blueprint for releasing albums instead of just the usual mix series, and aiming to steer away from becoming simply another techno label, Booth used his experience from running Electronic Explorations, a podcast featuring the likes of James Blake and Pearson Sound back in 2007 as a basis for the project. The aim was to distance themselves from the club and focus on building rapport with a selection of different producers – ‘to create an entity separate from Fabric’.

By releasing albums, and working individually with the artists, Houndstooth soon established itself as a community instead of a factory created for churning out sub-standard releases. The care and curation that goes into every project helps create this loyalty that other labels, who have no involvement in the creative process, fail to gain. With an eclectic mix of releases, Houndstooth’s discography falls between dancefloor fillers and abstract experimentalism.

The first release, Call Supers’ 2012 ‘The Present Tense’, features detailed techno progression and pulsating kick drums (featured on Threshing Floor), but also Shlohmo style future hip-hop beats and gentle swooping sub-bass, to contrast on ‘Leosengor’. Over the following 5 years Houndstooth have featured releases from Throwing Snow, Marquis Hawks, Guy Andrews. Noticeably Akkord, with the track ‘Hex_ad’ helps demonstrate Houndstooth’s niche, with its experimental introduction in an obtuse time signature sliding seamlessly into cutting, danceable techno.

Celebrating it’s fourth birthday last month, it’s clear that Houndstooth are still making huge strides with their releases, with album projects planned over the course of 2017 from multiple artists on their roster. The company mantra of bringing in the new producers and developing exciting talent from album releases is a different take on making music than most other commercial labels, and even Booth himself claims he wants to ‘challenge people’ with the imprints releases. ‘We wanted to announce ourselves, to a certain extent, as a new label’ Belchetz has always since the project’s conception, and with Fabric rising once again like a phoenix from the ashes – there’s no better time for Houndstooth to spread their wings.

JH

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