Critical Music isn't your typical drum & bass record label. The London-based imprint, which celebrates 15 years in 2017, doesn't represent a singular sound. Rather, its multi-national artist base mixes backgrounds, cultures, and influences to explore the liminal space of bass music.
"It's important to me that the label is as diverse and interesting as possible," said label boss, Kasra, speaking from home in London. "It would be very boring for me to put out the same album over and over again, especially over a period of 15 years."
The depth and range of Critical Music will be on display at Bass Coast Festival 2017, with a special Critical Music showcase featuring Kasra, Enei and Sam Binga. A label-spanning anniversary compilation has also been announced, titled 15 Years of Underground Sonics, which also coincides with the label's 100th release.
It takes a strong leader to get a label to the milestone of 100 releases. Kasra's devotion to musical innovation and progress has made him one of the most respected names in the underground. Goldie called Kasra "a gatekeeper to what is under the surface of drum & bass."
"The format itself, the tempo (of drum & bass), can be quite limiting," said Kasra.
In order to keep it fresh, Kasra said Critical Music focuses on pushing the boundaries of all of the of sub-genres that fall under the 170 bass music umbrella.
"It's mainly about the artists we work with and singling out artists who we feel share our ethos of not wanting to do the same thing over again, but be brave and not afraid to take risks. The music that they put out is a result of that freedom they're given. And in turn, I suppose that is what gives us our sound."
The format is working. The tracks coming out on Critical Music sound original and timeless. And Kasra is enthusiastic about the future of the label and the genre.
"I know we're doing interesting stuff because it excites me, you know? And if you're a music lover, you know if you're treading water or you're doing something exciting, because you listen to it and you feel excited by it. And I feel excited by the music we put out."
Interview by Paul Brooks
Get acquainted with Critical Music with an exclusive playlist assembled by Kasra.