Resident Advisor Label of the Month: CRITICAL

Kasra hits Toronto May 20 2011


One of the few drum & bass labels that credibly tows the line between underground and overground, Kasra’s London imprint is one of the reasons that the genre is so vital at the moment.

While the Autonomic movement spearheaded by dBridge and Instra:mental is often credited with triggering a wholesale re-evaluation of drum & bass, there’s so much more than atmospheric halfstep to the genre’s apparent renaissance. A wealth of innovation, growth and experimentation abounds at 170 beats per minute right now, and you can’t get a much better—or more comprehensive—approximation of it all than through the discography of London’s Critical Recordings. Founded in 2002, the label has tread an invisible line between forward-thinking and orthodox drum & bass and, in the process, has survived through the genre’s nearly fatal lack of outside interest to emerge stronger than ever.

What is the “Critical Sound”? Quite simply, there isn’t one. Critical’s releases veer from out-there abstractions to straight-up bangers to minimal rattlers, traversing too many drum & bass subgenres—and there are a lot—to count. So maybe we should just start instead with the question “why critical”? “A combination of reasons, really,” answers label founder Kasra Mowlavi, “One, I like the word. It has several interpretations. Two, I wanted the label to grow into something that would be viewed as important, a key piece of the puzzle.”

Critical is all about Mowlavi. Founding the label off of his own back, the charismatic Londoner remains its sole benefactor and its driving force. “I ran an experimental tape label when I was 15, inspired by the underground DIY ideals of people like Sonic Youth and a lot of the American indie labels,” explains Mowlavi. “I’ve always had an interest in the processes involved in releasing music: the choosing of the tracks, the artwork, the packaging and how to effectively get the message across to people. Basically a lot of bits that people find boring.”


Download: RA Label of the Month 1105 Mix: Critical Recordings
(right click + save target as)
Filesize: 99.6 MB
Length: 00:43:30

Synkro – Dwelling (Critical)
Rockwell – Rain (Unreleased)
Rockwell – Underpass (Alix Perez VIP) (Critical)
Dub Phizix & Skeptical – Four (Critical)
Sabre, Stray & Haolgenix – Untitled (Unreleased)
Vicious Circle & Jubei – Deliberate (Critical)
Foreign Concept – Mob Justice (Critical)
Jubei – Untitled (Unreleased)
Dub Phizix – Break It (Critical)
Enei – Stonehead (Critical)
Foreign Concept & Bringa – Cemetary (Shogun)
D Bridge, Fierce , Break & Nico – Galleon (Quarantine)
June Miller – Snapcase (Critical)
Enei & Riya – No Fear (Critical)
S.P.Y. & Kasra – Surface (Critical)
Marcus Intalex – Hot Hands (Soul:r)
Basher – Transmission (RAM)
Spectrasoul – Organiser (Critical)
J Majik & Wickaman – Old Headz (Metalheadz)


Don’t forget the one and only KASRA head of CRITICAL RECORDINGS touches down in Toronto May 20th.

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