An imprint that’s doing something interesting, not over-reaching nor pandering. In short, it’s doing its own thing.
It’s hard to find a label that is doing its own thing. Huh? Well of course all labels will argue that they do it their way, and they do. But labels that are pursuing paths that few others are, pushing something different and doing their own thing; these are hard to uncover.
Proto Sites would claim the above mantra. Try and pinpoint the label’s sound and you’re going to have a tough time. I’d like to say it’s somewhere on the techno spectrum, but that’s pretty esoteric. Perhaps their first release by EGA can summarise the label. Abstract. Complex. Out-there. That cassette release, Northward, came out in 2014 and is as wonderful a work of accessible ambient music as you’re likely to find. And within this ease of access is a bravery, tracks such as “The Wave” leaving any listener in awe. Their second release, by The Foundling, continued down a similar path, sidestepping into resonance, drone and library sounds.
The move to vinyl marked a shift in style, but just a slight one. Casi Cada Minuto and Imre Kiss (of Lobster Thermin fame) were first to be set to wax. A-Sites maintains that search into the other with some floor structures, albeit very loose, form. Casi Cada Minuto’s side searches astral plains, bleeps echoing into the cosmos of “Intonarumori” before ascending into the radiance of “In Vain.” Imre Kiss dares to add some timed percussion, sort of timed. “Urizen,” with S Olbricht, thuds and thumps in what can be only described as the closest thing I’ve ever heard to the transit of blood around the body. Amidst that dull and speedy 4/4 are strings of sweetened wonder.
And this is one of the elements that makes Proto Sites so interesting. I’m not going to call it outsider dance music or some crap like that. Instead let’s focus on the releases. Artists like S. Olbricht are pushing the presumptions of what should be acceptable. “Onlon,” for example, is a wonky work of plinks and plonks set within the parameters of a wobbly 4/4 groove. “Onhom” comes from a similar place, cascading bars with drum patterns slipping in and out but keeping steady time. Lutto Lento follows this path. Percussion pushed and pulled, comparable to artists such as Low Jack have attempted. Behind these beats the Polish artist bends strings, brass and a medley of sounds to produce something refreshingly original.
The latest from Sentry pursues the deconstruction of the dancefloor. Tracks like “Stare at the Word” pulse with a tribal mesmerism, distorting thud draped in dissolving drone. Recognizable elements are stretched, pulled into new shapes. Warm and lilting harmonies are pockmarked with splintered snaps for “Gargoyle’s Laser” before Sentry ducks below the waterline for the trembling aquatics of “Kingdom.”
So what is Proto Sites all about? That’s a difficult question to answer. I said that the label is somewhere on the techno spectrum, and it is. IDM is in there also, electronica, ambient, dollop of drone and whisper of noise. It’s an imprint where the scale is wide and the spread of influences vast. But it’s also an imprint that’s doing something interesting, not over-reaching nor pandering. In short, it’s doing its own thing.
Visit Proto Sites at psoox.com.