In fall 2010 my husband and I spent our belated honeymoon in London. We had planned our trip so as to accommodate our main interests: music and art.
Our main shopping destination was Sounds of the Universe, which is not just a record store, but a true institution. Suffice it to say that Sounds is associated with the mighty Soul Jazz record label, famous for its compilations of top-notch funk, reggae, avant-garde jazz, dub, no wave, and world music. Soul Jazz also publishes beautiful books (such as Kanaval—Vodou, Politics and Revolution on the Streets of Haiti) and releases DVDs. The atmosphere in Sounds of the Universe is not unlike San Francisco’s Aquarius Records, with knowledgeable and dedicated staff playing underappreciated albums and singles (the soundtrack to our record-browsing was some magnificent heavy dub). The difference is that Aquarius’s primary interest is avant-garde metal and noise, and Sounds of the Universe, just like Soul Jazz, has its main focus on Black music genres and their progeny, such as the various strains of contemporary bass music. Apart from Soul Jazz releases there are records and CDs put out by other independent labels. Sounds of the Universe recently started its own label, the first release of which was a 12″ by Chicago house and techno producer Hieroglyphic Being.
Sounds of the Universe. Photo courtesy of Julia Glosemeyer
To hear some cool new sounds live, we headed to Fabric. It is a giant, labyrinthine club, known for being very democratic: no one will turn you away at the door if your clothes are not expensive. Snobs might hate Fabric because it is so large and crowded, but I adore the fact that you can enjoy gigs by the most cutting-edge DJs in a non-elitist setting. When we were there, we heard sets by young dubstep producer Gemmy as well as drum ‘n’ bass institution Roni Size. If you want to brave Fabric and bypass the long lines, get a membership. For a monthly fee you will get not only priority entry, but also CDs delivered to you by mail. Recent additions to the Fabric and FABRICLIVE CD series have included mixes by Four Tet, Pinch, Agoria, and Pearson Sound/ Ramadanman. Continue reading