Sheiks of Industry

Austin record labels, part 1

Merrick Brown (l) and Russell Evans of Chalant Music
Merrick Brown (l) and Russell Evans of Chalant Music (Photo By Todd V. Wolfson)

Austin Electronica: Mutations

It wasn't long ago that electronic music in Austin consisted primarily of DJ-oriented dance trax, local artists releasing their own bedroom mixes, white label 12-inchers, and live-set mix tapes at outlets like Alien Records, Technophilia, and the late System-7. Yet as in Austin, so goes the nation; techno and its myriad permutations have fallen on hard times, with both signings and sales dropping off as guitars steadily reassert themselves.

"The Austin electronica scene is definitely going through something of a slump right now," says Chalant/Tektite's Merrick Brown, "but the talent pool is still vital, with a number of people gearing up for new releases."

Elsewhere in town, newer labels like Notenuf, Diffusion, and the hibernating Whirlingpool have focused on the more experimental side of electronic music. Outfits like the ambient Buddy System and Jon Sheffield are coming to the fore, sharing increasing airtime on the always experimental-friendly KVRX and shelf space at Thirty Three Degrees. Electronica dead? Nah. Mutation can be a beautiful thing.

Chalant Music/Tektite Recordings

Founded in 2000 by local promoter Russell Evans and DJ Merrick Brown, Chalant's roster of deep house artists currently includes Brown, former Austinite Thomas Sahs, Hakan Lidbo, and Morgan Page, among others. Chalant's sixth and most current release is Spettro's Alamo Funk EP. Brown's Tektite Recordings, founded in 1998, has issued 12 predominantly techno releases so far by the likes of Boston-based producer Stewart Walker and Chris Gray, with two more scheduled for the near future.


Started up last year by Todd Gureckis, Steph Salas, and the Buddy System's Kurt Korthals, Notenuf's roster includes electronic, experimental, and IDM artists such as the Buddy System and Illoin, and the recent Winter 2002-2003 compilation, featuring tracks from Dead Whale Tide and A Tiger Named Lovesick. Upcoming releases include Illoin's Pinafore and Jon Sheffield's Something Left Is Never Far.

Diffusion Records

Owner Andrew Sega founded this "boutique label for high-quality IDM and electronica-influenced pop crossovers" in 2001. Part of the pervasive synth-pop revival, Diffusion's six releases include recordings by CTRL, the Alpha Conspiracy, and the Low Technicians, as well as Iris' Awakening, which has been licensed for a European release this winter. Upcoming releases include CTRL's Lost the Image and the Alpha Conspiracy's Aura.

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