What’s the best way to describe atmosphere, vibes or the ancient Taoist idea of “feng shui?” How do you explain that intangible sense of belonging in a certain place at a certain time when everything just feels groovy? Rhythm Section International seem to have a pretty good idea what’s up.
Rhythm Section boasts “Radio, music and parties since 2009” yet the label branch of this all-rounder type affair wasn’t established until 2014 by Bradley Zero. Since then, the label is one to have lurched to the forefront of todays saturated music scene. Hosting a regular fortnightly radio show on NTS – one of the biggest movers in setting the standard in London, furthermore the UK and beyond – and receiving a nomination for Label Of The Year at the 2015 Giles Peterson’s Worldwide awards (just one year after the labels formation), goes to show that Rhythm Section Intl. are going from strength to strength.
The parties thrown by Rhythm Section are built on respect and mutual enjoyment and represent a humble homage to the world of music through their no-frills approach. Previous selectors – both established and less well known – include Dauwd, Yussef Kamaal, Max Graef, Harvey Sutherland and all the RS Intl. crew. They play strictly vinyl only sets which for the more cynical party goer, might construe a sense of elitism. However, Rhythm Section do assure that “We only play records because we prefer the sound of them and the culture that goes along with it. (ps. we don’t hate on anyone who doesn’t, it’s just the way it ended up here).” To further the all-about-the-music incentive, every event thrown is devoid of any headline slots, or set times. The community feel is emphasised by the founders’ only two rules: “Be nice and don’t take pictures.”
Everyone at Rhythm Section seems to have a knack for cooking up tracks that create an atmosphere while still managing to get feet tapping, heads nodding and faces grinning. Their gleaming roster includes artists such as the versatile Al Dobson Jr., the cool-as-a-cucumber Henry Wu and the musically adventurous FYI Chris.
One of the most noteworthy artists are Chaos In The CBD, who portray beautiful imagery of the urban landscape of London through their use of atmospheric jazz samples and lightly distorted, four-to-the-floor beats as shown in their Midnight In Peckham release in August 2015. More recently, September 2016 to be exact, their EP Invisible Spectrum stays true to the general feel of previous releases, yet encourages ideas of progression. The EP’s whopping ten-minute title track introduces an African rhythm to get people moving and creates anticipation with high-resonance filter-sweeps. When the brass samples and jazz-piano chords eventually come in around four minutes in, it’s difficult not to become completely immersed in the picture the track paints. The EP also features a futuristic twist on the 2015 release, Observe, logically titled Observe pt. 2. As well as having an arguably more intricate percussion section, pt. 2 replaces the live jazz piano sound of its predecessor with a funkier synthesised patch of a similar melody.
2017 has seen a release from Chris and Chris a.k.a. FYI Chris who have shown a mastery of breaking away from conventional modern dance music. The Snafubar EP released on the 14th of April this year, showcases tracks such as How To Ruin The World. The opening track is introduced by an interrupted, syncopated – even confused sounding kick drum paired with an out of phase synth which are then met with an abrasive cowbell and a crescendo of clattering percussion that cuts right through the mix – all over a subtle plodding bass line. The cacophony is all made sense of around two minutes in when the structure of the layers begin to marry up and the bass takes centre stage. The whole 3-track EP demonstrates how to give a little shove to the boundaries of production at the same time as showing technical prowess. It’s clear that FYI Chris like to lead the listener off the beaten track.
With the label showing no signs of slowing down, the radio shows still in full swing and the parties still shaking, it seems that Rhythm Section still have much more to offer.