ACROSS THE POND IS A TERRIBLE EXPRESSION. IT’S NOT A POND. IF IT WAS, IT WOULDN’T COST ME $1.3K TO GET THERE- I’D JUST SWIM. BUT OVER IN EDINBURGH, A CITY ON OUR LONG LIST OF TO-DO SPOTS FOR OUR UPCOMING WEBSERIES, ALEX COWLES IS FOLLOWING HIS ELECTRONIC DREAMS CARVING A UNIQUE PATH WITH HIS NETLABEL, CUT MUSIC AND HIS PERSONAL PRODUCTION UNDER THE MONIKER, DFRNT. FOR A LONG TIME WE’VE COVERED THESE DIY RELEASES AND WONDERED IF THE LABEL IS ENTIRELY HIM (AN ACCUSATION HE STRONGLY DISPUTES), PARTAKING IN AN ANONYMOUS GAME OF CAT AND MOUSE.
STAND-DOWN-ECLECTIC: SINCE APRIL, 2011, CUT MUSIC HAS BEEN PUMPING OUT EPS FROM DIFFERENT ARTISTS. ALEX, HIMSELF, WRITES ELECTRONIC MUSIC THAT SEEMS TO BE THE BASIS FOR QUALITY ON HIS LABELS AS WELL AS AN AESTHETIC CONTROL THAT PINPOINTS THE ATMOSPHERIC FEEL. IT’S THIS COMBINATION THAT EARNS HIM A SEAT IN OUR DIYMVP COLUMN; AN ABSOLUTE DEDICATION TO FORM AND FUNCTION, AN AUDITORY MUSEUM CHRONICLING A DEFINITIVE SOUND.
Cut Vol. 1 was an introduction. This is the sound. This is the mood. And from there we saw flight. As the months clicked by and the EPs piled up, it was instantaneously clear that Cowles has a vision bouncing around his head, a vision for electronic perfection that tied minimal house influences to the modern dub dynamic. One of its most appreciated traits: patience. Give the listener everything in the first 30 seconds, and well, you’ve lost them in 30 seconds.
Alex makes the cut by devoting his time to the electronic arts. Everything he does revolves around an uncompromised ideology of personal taste. His contribution to the UK scene touches all those who roll themselves over to the club to catch a DFRNT set. It’s not a sound that one can claim for themselves until they’ve achieved a level of curatorial perfection that is in direct response to the outside pressures that homogenize the genre (unfortunately).
Genre labels be damned, what Cowles has is the golden thumb; a taste and opinion that allows for structural differentiation among an environmental agreement. Those who land on Cut Music count themselves lucky and as the group promotes a Pay-What-You-Want style of download, the music has planted its roots internationally. It’s stoney eyed, drool dripping, reverb laced crack for the ears. Every bubble of melodic complacency is popped in favor of a more enigmatic approach, leveling brainwaves and creating a nostalgic affect that might, might just bring you back to groups like Everything but the Girl.
What the future has in store is a mystery. When asked to comment on the break that’s been taken by the group- we were told to expect new releases in the upcoming months. But, we’re used to this as Alex has eluded our radar for sometime as he pushes ahead with personal standards that rise above the average label owner never bothering to “please his consumer” but rather remaining true to his spirit.
Cut Music isn’t a label that’s looking for your cash- and that certainly isn’t how it’s artists are chosen, or represented. Cut Music is particularly fond of being looked at as a digital museum that tells the story of an emerging culture in the UK- a culture that looks back to the earliest days of electronic music and re-appropriates elements as needed to create a whirlpool of nostalgia and an undeniable grooviness.
Those who seek to curate would take notice, take notes and understand this fine point, as demonstrated throughout Alex Cowles work. Aesthetic control is everything. Without authenticity and personal touch, a labels brand is worthless.
DFRNT might be a personal outlet. But Cut Music is the family that let’s it flourish. @Dingusonmusic