DJAO - Lights Off (SMBDL013)

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Seattle’s DJAO, also known by his Club alias 7777777, reignites the Symbols Singles Series with “Lights Off”, utilizing repetition and a familiar sample to push the listener firmly out of their comfort zone. A singular drone, mechanical breathing and Lil Jon’s bracing chants make up the backbone of the track, managing a disorienting dragging effect even as sharp snares form a marshall beat. It’s a foreign zone to most, but one that is ultimately rewarding.

DISPLAY: A new cassette sub-label of Symbols

DISPLAY is a new sub-label of Symbols curated by Kid Smpl. The label aims to showcase long form single-track musical explorations. Guest artists are asked to create an original piece with a single constraint: a 10-15 minute run time. The results can be found in digital format as well as on limited-run split cassettes.

The first releases feature Eaves, Kid Smpl, MICHAELBRAILEY and WWWINGS. The cassettes may be ordered via our Bandcamp or at Apothecary Compositions.

Maere - Cold Dark Matter (SMBL050)

Maere - Cold Dark Matter (SMBL050) 
Release date: March 3, 2017

Bandcamp | Spotify | Apple Music | iTunes

Rising from the thriving Berlin underground, Maere debuts with Cold Dark Matter, the 50th release in the Symbols catalogue and a striking collection of inky, soundsystem-focused productions. At six songs, Cold Dark Matter is just long enough to fully submerge the listener in Maere’s expansive sound design — mostly comprised of analogue synths run through cassette decks — and its focused sense of melodrama takes on an all-encompassing nature from the buzzy opening notes of “It Swarms” to the hi tech churn of “Outro”. 

Reference points abound in Maere’s work, but the unique design elements are what come to the fore throughout Cold Dark Matter. Those design elements range from richly textured synths to meticulously placed drums, pointing to hip hop and R&B production while drawing up and aspiring for an entirely new future. That outlook makes the newcomer out of Germany a perfect fit for the Symbols roster and Cold Dark Matter, out March 3, is as dazzling of a debut as you’re likely to come across.

Artwork by Christian Velasquez

Artwork by Christian Velasquez

Kastle & Kid Smpl remix CÉCI (Hush Hush Records)

CÉCI is the alias of 24 year-old London-based Danish sound designer, electronic producer, and vocalist Cecilie Dahlin. An emerging artist with a captivating and still evolving sound, CÉCI’s music taps into the thrilling intersection between experimental electronic production and hypnotic leftfield pop. Her sharp ear for intricate details, immersive atmospherics, and hard-hitting drums, as well as her ethereal vocals that swarm in and out of the kaleidoscopic backdrop, creates music for another dimension. In this space, fragile echoes fill a dark industrial space, magnetic whispers sneak out of a moonlit alley. 

Early demos of her works were immediately and strikingly impressive, yet CÉCI’s rapidly ascending talents now have her looking ahead at an official debut artist release that's due out later this year. Until the emergence of that anticipated EP, Hush Hush is proud to present an unofficial showcase of her multi-faceted talent with 'RMX,' a 4-track remix collection of those scrapped demos. Driving her music through a prism of progressive zones is a pair of Hush Hush alums (Kid Smpl, Chants) and a couple of talented friends (Kastle, Ca$h Bandicoot), each artist finding inspiration in CÉCI’s music to explore a cutting-edge collaborative sound.

Utah? - Nitrogen (Out Now)

Spotify | Apple Music | iTunes | Bandcamp

Utah? returns to Symbols this February with the Nitrogen EP, the Sheffield-based artist’s elemental follow-up to 2015’s Oxygen. Working on the fringes of what has become codified as instrumental grime, Utah? boils down the rhythmic swing of garage and a hi def synth aesthetic into a potent, emotive concoction that exists just outside of the borders of both worlds. Fans of radio shows like Boxed on Rinse and Chow Down on NTS will surely recognize the sound employed on Nitrogen, a heady balance of cinematic extraction and purposeful movement with tracks like “Jackal” and “Closure” sketching out vivid worlds in fine brushstrokes. 

A UK record at its core, Nitrogen fits into a long narrative of on-the-cusp British dance music, employing mastery of past forms to create something new altogether. It’s also Utah? at his most confident, eschewing bombast for a fine tuned edge that pings between anxiety, sorrow and triumph as the record moves along. It also functions in the margins between the digital and human spaces, retaining an organic core despite its high tech construction, laser-guided basslines and haunted melodic quotient. Like the vast majority of the Symbols catalogue, expect to move and be moved by Nitrogen.

Kastle XLR8R Podcast

"Barrett Richards (a.k.a. Kastle) and his label Symbols embody the forward-thinking ethos at the heart of electronic music. Since debuting seven years ago, Richards' work as Kastle and the music he releases under the Symbols banner consistently strives to push sound and genres into the outer-realms of what could be considered the status quo. There are obvious stylistic touchstones in his music—UK garage, jungle, grime, hip-hop, and bass, to name a few—but Richards manages to sift them through a unique filter to create a sound that is at once familiar and foreign, a style in itself." -- Read more at XLR8R

01. MICHAELBRAILEY "Intimacy Negator (Feel Me)" [DISPLAY]
02. WIFE "Native Trade" [Profound Lore]
03. w. baer "The Shakes" [Hush Hush]
03. Organ Tapes "天堂"
04. S4U "One Key" [Limited Health]
05. Klasey Jones "Area 55" [Terrorhythm]
06. Maere "Omen" [Symbols]
07. Kastle "Polytopia" (Kid Smpl Remix) [Symbols]
08. Dinamarca "Mobileboy" [Her Records]
09. Ceci "Dry" (Kastle Remix) [Hush Hush]
10. Kastle "Masks" [Symbols]
11. Gaika "PMVD" (feat. Mista Silva) [Mixpak]
12. Kastle "The Future" (feat. MICHAELBRAILEY) [Symbols]
13. Hoodcelebrityy "The Takeover" (Kelman Duran Remix)
14. Dial Boy "Kaiyote" [JockJomz]
15. LU6IFER "Heroine"
16. DJ Heroin "Left Behind"
17. Letta "Far Off" (feat. Ryan Hemsworth) [Coyote Records]
18. Big Tobz "Uno My Style"
19. Kid Smpl "Ender" (y y y Remix) [Symbols]
20. Utah? "250ml" [Symbols]
21. Santa Muerte "Dangerous Scenarios" (feat. Rules) [Infinite Machine]
22. DVA "Almostu" (feat. Roses Gabor & Rae Rae) [Hyperdub]
23. Dave Saved "Let It Evolve" [Gang of Ducks]
24. Roni Size "New Forms" [Mercury]
25. Portishead "Wandering Stars" [Go! Discs]
26. my.head "Abyss ft. Ida Dillan" [Symbols]
26. WWWINGS "Digital Divide"
27. Ian Isiah "247" [UNO NYC]

Video Premiere: my.head - Abyss ft. Ida Dillan

"Among its cluster of spaced-out instrumentals is "Abyss," the lone vocal-led track featuring Norwegian vocalist/producer Ida Dillan, whose syrupy vocals, atop a bare sonic palette of crystalline layer of hi-hats and looming, ethereal synths, seem to slow down time. Its accompanying music video is similarly minimal and muted, stringing together swirling, slow-motion images of floating white specks and colored liquids. It's a dark, yet strangely serene, and maybe even a little comforting track." -- Read more at THUMP

my.head - Abyss Of An Excessive Void (OUT NOW)


Bandcamp | Spotify | Apple Music | iTunes

Space has always been present in my.head’s music, both in the literal sense and in its fundamental aspiration to transcend traditional sonic structures. Abyss Of An Excessive Void marks the French artist’s second release for Symbols and his most ambitious work to date, a project that looks to spatial-temporal phenomena as much as it delves into the intricacies of metaphysics. As a follow-up to 2015’s En Noir, Abyss Of An Excessive Void comes across as both less extroverted and more expansive, a deftly compiled collection of instrumental tracks that tend to skirt pop sensibility with the tact of a seasoned composer.

Like En Noir, my.head’s latest builds on familiar rhythms and sound palettes, but trends towards abstraction, building expansive, self-contained universes out of immersive synth work and carefully arranged percussion. Midway through the album, Norwegian vocalist/producer Ida Dillan provides an emotional peak in “Abyss”, while instrumental efforts like “Vacuum” and “Void” point to the deeply felt collision of noise and silence throughout my.head’s work. And whether you take Abyss Of An Excessive Void’s extraterrestrial concept literally or as an abstract framework, the album’s roots are clearly unmoore from convention, a space that my.head tends to inhabit comfortably.

Kid Smpl - Privacy (OUT NOW)

The last few years have seen no dearth of Kid Smpl material with the San Francisco-based artist approaching topics of decay, loss and aspiration through releases on Hush Hush, Symbols and his own nascent DISPLAY mixfile label. This November 11, Smpl will release the Privacy LP on Symbols, his first full length for Kastle’s Los Angeles-based label and a sprawling effort trained on the contradictions inherent in everyday digital life. With a keen understanding of histories, both personal and musical, Smpl approaches oft-unspoken, but deeply important issues of dissociation, isolation and hyper-connectivity that seep out of our digital lives and into our psyches. With a deep sense of ambience and rave emissions as building blocks, Privacy is stunning at times and grotesque at others, an album that manages to walk the line between universality and emotional specificity with ease. 

Accompanied by three music videos developed by linking Unity, a video game engine platform, with Ableton, Privacy is a deeply visual album, both in terms of cinematic imagery (speeding cars, twisted metal, bits of glossalia-esque dialogue) and its conceptual scope. Not one to shy away from tempestuous sound design, Privacy twists in and out of the listener’s grasp, foregrounding wispy memories before erupting into euphoria, alternately conveyed through pillow soft pads and teeth-clenching major chords. Like the quotidian digital experience, contradiction is at the heart of Privacy and the feelings and sensations elicited throughout its 13 tracks aren’t always clear. More often than not the album inhabits spaces of duality, but the dedicated listener will be rewarded by the essentially modern subject matter within.

Like its subject matter, the music on Privacy evokes digital paranoia and fear—there’s also beauty hidden beneath its layers, but you have to dig.

Kid Smpl Video Trilogy

The visuals were created and recorded in Unity by Kid Smpl and are a sneak peak into his new A/V show. This video game engine allows him to create his own virtual space and essentially realize an environment for the music. Every change that you see happening, except for camera movement, is caused by audio signals received from Ableton Live and Unity reacts to that in real time. You can think of it as Ableton sending input information to the engine much like a player would with a controller but instead of a player hitting “x” to jump Ableton sends a particular frequency to make a light flash.

Stream/DL 'Privacy'

Kastle announces new album

Kastle - Reflections (SMBLP006)

Pre-Order Reflections | Billboard Announce | Nest HQ Feature

Kastle will release his second studio album Reflections on October 14. Clocking in at 12 tracks, the LP is a personal narrative of his journey toward self-discovery and finding inner balance.
The producer and DJ, Kastle, born Barrett Richards has been a consistent force since his debut seven years ago. Based in Southern California but inspired by overseas genres such as garage, dubstep, grime, and jungle, Kastle filters hip-hop and R&B through a unique lens, emitting an uneasily definable sound that is simultaneously familiar and foreign, accessible yet underground, finely crafted yet gritty. As the curator of his Symbols record label, he is constantly striving to push musical boundaries and break new artists, with releases like Los Angeles duo Vindata for their dynamic 2014 EP …For One To Follow and Sweater Beats' debut EP That Feel.
It’s this dichotomy between musical advancement and artistic expression that lies at the heart of Reflections. Kastle freely admits that his role as a label head and his relentless focus on discovering what’s next led to a 12 month period of radcial self-experimentation; as an artist, the rat race for new sounds overtook the purity of expression. It was a recognition of the need to re-balance that led to him swapping the concrete chaos of Downtown Los Angeles for more suburban scenery. What followed was a prolonged period of introspection and reflection, along with some Carl Jung. Gradually he was able to cast off the shackles of “newness”, indeed the album that poured forth is centered around the more classic strains of two-step and UK garage. Ironically, it took him removing his A&R hat to release his purest work to date.
At his own musical core, Kastle is a culmination of worldly influences coming together, each with its own rich history and culture, co-existing in a colorful, diverse display. Its a breadth on full display on this album, from the dancehall-inspired experimental pop of lead single “The Future” to the wintry, Burial-esque garage tropes of “How 2 Love.” Brain-scrambling atmospherics on “Masks” feed into “Surreal’s’ frenetic drum and bass. Like the colliding of objects at the bazaars and swap meets he visits on the road, Reflections, is an arrangement of quirky collectibles spanning many genres, each possessing its own past, personality, and sense of place.

Video Premiere: Molo - Conditions ft. Ayelle

Molo - Shapes EP is out now!

iTunes | Spotify | Bandcamp

Combining dance-forward rhythms with carefully crafted melodies and texture-heavy sound design, Molo walk the line between club fare and headphone music effortlessly and Shapes is the type of release that is best played loud, but doesn’t necessitate a dancefloor. Songs like the aforementioned “Conditions” and “Wolves” work classic instrumentation into a forward-thinking production aesthetic, allowing rich, soothing synths to play adjacent homemade percussion sounds, the resultant synthesis oozing an inherent humanity that’s all too rare in most electronic compositions. Born out of a background in sound design and an innate sense of atmosphere, Shapes has the ability to fill whatever room or headspace it’s played in, making it a perfect fit for the Symbols roster and a dramatic step forward for this talented London duo.

Premiere: Schism - Venom Aura

Forthcoming on:

Schism - Rift EP (SMBL045)
Release Date: May 13, 2016

The synthesis of two existing projects, Schism is the work of German producers hnrk and DJ Heroin, the former of teamSESH fame and the latter a rising star in the world of post-apocolyptic club productions. As Schism, the two arrive on Symbols with the Rift EP, a release that sees the pair take their respective aesthetics to the extreme and is full of the sort of blow back rhythms and twisted sound design we’ve come to expect from the label. Comprised of three towering efforts, fans of WWWINGS and y y y will find solace in the chaos strewn worlds constructed by hnrk and DJ Heroin and while the outsized tracks are full of the rich textures and sneaky pop sensibility they’re also fully outfited for maximum club potential.

Follow: Schism | hnrk | DJ Heroin

Artwork by AMEN

Symbols Mix Series 010: Astral Plane DJ Team

We are very excited to share this mix from The Astral Plane DJ Team. Someone who is always on the cutting edge of electronic music as evident with their blog, under-the-radar coverage for FACT Mag, and more recently with their newly launched label division. Oh, and did we mention they also have an expertly curated Mix Series?

Helm - Often  Destroyed
Kuedo - Cellular Perimeter
Monokle - Blow
Lussuria - Under
Pan Daijing - ENCOUNTER 逢
Ausschus - Mantle
Roly Porter - High Places
Kid Smpl - Barrier (SHALT Remix)
Grovestreet - Untitled
Loft - Undecide
Nunu - Punani
Shalt- Quick Decline
Ausschuss - Ravoir
Kareem Lofty - Power Bass Bubbling
Shalt - Acheron (LCM Edit)
Chants - Crushed Lollipop
Coil - The First Five Minutes After Death
DJ Baba - Elequa RMX
Chants - Silencer Magpie (Floor Edit)
Rushmore - Struck Down
Shalt - Unconfined (Kid Smpl Remix)

Kid Smpl x Adidas Video

Kid Smpl soundtracks a new video collaboration between Adidas and film director Jonas Hegi featuring dancer Gianna Gi. The track, "Input Vein", is available now on his Response/Ascend EP.

It is obvious that a person free to use his time for the whole of his life, free to go where he wants, when he wants, cannot make the greatest use of his freedom in a world ruled by the clock and the imperative of a fixed abode. As a way of life Homo Ludens will demand, firstly, that he responds to his need for playing, for adventure, for mobility, as well as all the conditions that facilitate the free creation of his own life. […]
— Constant Nieuwenhuys