Saturday, July 12, 2014

Svreca @ Imprint, Trouw. Amsterdam. 28 Jun 2014 (excerpt)

Semantica is one of the few truly underground techno labels.

At a time when the idea of imprints acting as filters for great music becomes increasingly redundant thanks to the immeasurable number of labels spewing out digital releases, it has bucked the trend. Synonymous with a DiY culture that is rare nowadays, its owner’s A&R skills means that it has achieved buy on sight status. From ERP’s widescreen electro to Developer’s big room techno via Orphx’s abrasive industrial and Andy Stott’s deep, dreamy dub, the Madrid label’s approach is the direct opposite of 99 per cent of labels that slavishly follow a pre-ordained micro-genre.

It also differs from most operations in that it places particular value on its vinyl releases, with limited editions for sale directly via its website. Last year Semantica celebrated its fifth birthday with a five-vinyl release series that included tracks from long-term label collaborators like ERP, Oscar Mulero, Plant43 and Vladislav Delay, as well as contributions from Silent Servant and Karl O’Connor, while 2012 has seen Semantica champion newcomers like Developer, Aiken, NX1 and Architectural. Where did Semantica come from and how in a few short years does its catalogue boast so many great electronic music producers? By his own admission, his background is ‘mainly techno’ and the Madrid DJ/producer’s road to Damascus moment came thanks to Jeff Mills. “It all changed when I discovered the Live at The Liquid Rooms, the Mix To CD series with Oscar Mulero and Angel Molina, and the first Tresor albums and compilations. Those recordings really changed the way I looked at music,”.

At the time, Svreca’s hometown, Madrid, was undergoing ‘a real golden age’ during which he attended the city’s best techno events. The scene in the Spanish capital during the 90s, with DJs like Mulero at the helm, provided the inspiration for other local techno producers like Alex Under and Damian Schwartz and laid the basis for their Net 28 distribution hub. However, Svreca was not part of this group; “I met with Damian sometimes at local record shops, but we never really played at the same parties,”

Instead of looking inwards, Svreca decided to set up a label as a means to communicate with the outside world. “I set up Semantica to establish my own platform for music and design. It’s an extension of my taste in electronic music and my DJ sets. Today it’s a full-time job, hopefully tomorrow that will still be the case,” he adds ruefully. The approach and thinking behind Semantica was derived from other great imprints and Svreca admits that “there are a lot of labels that have influenced me; Tresor, Downwards, Skam, Warp, Raster-Noton, Axis and Dynamic Tension. I love all the work of Karl O’Connor and I love the music and the concept behind Downwards and Sandwell District. For me, Karl is on another level”. When asked about current labels, Svreca is equally enthusiastic, name checking the likes of Our Circula Sound, Kontra Musik, MDR, Echocord, Stroboscopic Artefacts, Prologue and Blackest Ever Black among others.

The first release on the label was in 2006, at the height of the minimal techno explosion, but he says that this had no bearing on Semantica’s artistic direction. “I set it [Semantica] up in my own way. I remember that year, offbeat techno started to disappear, and many labels stopped or changed their sound,” he recalls.

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