Radio show – Summer of Netlabels Vol 2
The Summer of Netlabels continues! This week, we’ve got two hours of music from Maltine Records. Unlike last week’s episode, this isn’t a broad look at the label’s catalogue. All the songs on this chronologically arranged playlist are from the first six years of Maltine Records, one of the earliest netlabels and the most influential in Japan. At over 160 releases spanning hip-hop, gabber techno, anime-sampling house, and idol pop, it’s difficult to write about Maltine as honing a specific aesthetic. Instead, Maltine channels the internet itself in its effortless blending of myriad styles. Sometimes those sounds are pureed together in the songs of Maltine, and other times they are more coarsely mixed, but the spirit of the internet, taking influences and tweaking them until you wear them like your own, is the 140 bpm heart of Maltine.
That, and irreverence with some disdain for authority– both traits woven into the fabric of the internet. In the footer of some pages this opinion can be found: “Jasrac is a joke.” For young, data-driven musicians wanting to remix and sample songs they enjoy, this isn’t just an idle volley. Many of the earliest releases by Maltine can no longer be downloaded, and that’s probably because they sampled something Jasrac was paid to protect. As has been demonstrated since the days of Napster, protecting copyright is not high on the list of virtues for most internetters. Maltine owes more than just aesthetics to the qualities of the internet.
And, honestly, I’m not sure we’re missing too much by not being able to download those early Maltine releases, but I say that as someone who’s not much of a breakcore and rave techno fan, though I’m curious to listen to some of it(I’m a bit of a completist, anyway). In fact, much of Maltine’s early catalogue is hit-or-miss, but maybe not, I guess, if you’re into breakbeats. Really, when people talk about Maltine now, they talk about shinier, friendlier(but still on-the-edge) music, the kind Maltine has released for the past seven or so years. The early Maltine, I’m sure, reflected the tastes of its creators when they were adolescents full of hormones, maybe pissed off, maybe bored, and clamoring for something different. That’s still pretty cool, though. That’s one reason for music, and why it’s so important. This spirit persists in Maltine to this day, and is why the label is so good.
Hints of what was to come are in the early catalogue. There’s still a pop sensibility flowing through early tracks, and the songs themselves are always fearless and pretty much up for anything, whether it’s the Amen Break or anime samples. A turning point in the early catalogue is the late Imoutoid’s ADEPRESSIVE CANNOT GOTO THECEREMONY, a glitch tribute to an erotic visual novel that is one of the shiny pop gems Maltine would later become known for.
tofubeats is here as dj newtown. He got his start on Maltine and honed his sound here in these early releases. The moody shuffle of high school girl(we loved) is a standout track, remixed many times over by other excellent musicians. Mikeneko Homeless(三毛猫ホームレス) has, and still is, a Maltine stalwart, and their early work, including the crucial KANEKURE, is represented on this playlist. Many more important and excellent artists are on this playlist. Even if you’re not a fan of the genre(and much on Maltine can’t fit in a single genre), if it’s on Maltine, it’s going to be worth the listen. No other netlabel puts as much care into such a variety of music. Enjoy.