Saturday, 27 September 2014

Label In The Limelight: Speedy Wunderground

Dan Carey sets the challenge of recording and mastering a song in just forty-eight hours. What could possibly go wrong?

Hey good looking,

Speedy Wunderground is all about that spark. It's about finding that magical moment in a song's inception when everyone's just about figured out how it should be performed and the neurons are in overdrive firing off at a million a second but before the track starts to stagnate and the excitement wanes, and then recording at that point and capturing it on vinyl.

Spearheaded by Dan Carey, a man whose production credits range from Franz Ferdinand to Willy Mason, the label uses a range of bohemian and alternative methods for achieving that rawness. Smoke and lasers in the studio, parties during recording and not even giving the artists a break to grab a couple of donuts from the shop round the corner are just three outlined in Speedy Wunderground's unique ten-point plan.

The manifesto goes as follows:
  • Speedy Wunderground is a new label which begins on February 25th with the release of I Go Out by Steve Mason & Emiliana Torrini.
  • Speedy Wunderground is the idea of producer Dan Carey. Dan will produce all releases. All records will be recorded at Dan’s South London studio. Dan has previously produced Franz Ferdinand, Bat For Lashes, TOY, Willy Mason, Django Django, Emiliana Torrini, The Kills, Chairlift and Steve Mason.
  • Recording of all records will be done in one day and finish before midnight. The recordings will be a snapshot of the day. Mixing will be done the day following the recording, also in one day only. This will prevent over-cooking and ‘faff’.
  • There will be no lunch break during recording and mixing days.
  • Overdubs will be kept to a minimum allowing the recordings to be free of clutter.
  • The recordings will appear in limited runs of two hundred and fifty 7”s, which will be in the shops as soon as humanly possible following their completion.
  • The core of each song will be a live take recorded in the dark with smoke and lasers and somewhere on each record the Swarmatron will make an appearance.
  • Speedy Wunderground work quickly. There will be as a little delay as possible between recording and release. Speedy Wunderground records will not sit on the shelf gathering dust waiting to be released.
  • Speedy Wunderground will release each year’s recordings as a compilation at the end of the year.
  • Speedy Wunderground Records will not be slow.

It appears that Carey's studio is some sort of insane experimental realm - a "spaceship" Juce describe it as - loaded full of gadgetry and gizmos, with sleeping bags draped over drum kits, metal coil hanging from the ceiling for reverb, smoke machines and lasers to evoke the atmosphere of a live performance, and of course that mysterious green box of awesomeness that is the Swarmatron.

Ah yes the Swarmatron. And if you're anything like me you'll currently be thinking "what the hell is one of those?" before watching the video below and immediately wanting one like crazy.

Handmade by the Dewanatron cousins, it's an amazing, extra-terrestrial sounding analogue synthesiser that uses eight oscillators played with one single ribbon controller instead of a keyboard to determine the pitch (that's all basically techy jargon for 'ultra cool toy'). The noise it produces is something like a swarm of harsh digital wasps, and by making it a mandatory feature Dan Carey has created the absolutely thrilling new game 'Spot the Swarmatron' when listening through the label's back catalogue.

Only seven singles in after eighteen months, their back catalogue might not be all that expansive however fear not, the quality of the releases excuses that and then some. And they're unpredictable too. To date Carey has released TOY twice - the five-piece blowing my socks off once with their relentless wall of psychedelia as backing band for Steve Mason and Emiliana Torrini and then again on the epic Natasha Khan (Bat For Lashes) collaboration 'The Bride' - as well as blues rockers Archie Bronson Outfit, a pulsating fuzz-filled tune from Childhood and probably my favourite new artist in the world currently Kate Tempest.

I reckon Dan Carey might be ever so slightly bonkers, but then aren't all the best people? Wunderful stuff.

Founder: Dan Carey
Established: 2013
Location: Streatham, London
Roster: None
Did You Know: The Swarmatron, a key element of Speedy Wunderground, was one of the primary instruments used by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross when making the multi-award winning soundtrack for The Social Network.


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