Writer Harry Croxford / Artwork supplied by Erbium Records
Ambitious and experimental, with a vision that brings together both sound and image, newfound Birmingham/London electronic music label Erbium Records is an excellent addition to the city’s creative scene.
Formed in 2020, Erbium is the product of DJs Jay Carder and Trieste, and visual artist Olly Green.
Trieste and Carder, mainstays of their respective electronic music scenes in Birmingham and London, have shaped the label’s expansive and malleable sound. The epiphanic highs of acid, the bristling tension of jungle, and the textured ambience of techno can all be found here. No strangers to sonic experimentation, after co-founding Voyage Events back in 2018, this ambitious duo’s new project is complemented by Green’s distinctive graphic style.
Across Erbium’s burgeoning discography, sound complements the visual. The liquid, chemical sheen of SDS MAX’s Trip Advisor album cover substantiates its acid-infused melodies. Meanwhile, the rusted electrical diagram on the artwork for Electric Supply Station’s The Last 10 Minutes foregrounds the vintage electronic sound that pulses and enlivens the record.
The label recalls dance music old guards like R&S Records and Hyper Dub, as well as recent movers like Central Processing Unit where experimental sounds coalesce with a strong visual aesthetic. This branding and musical eclecticism will attract listeners seeking out texture and sonic experimentation.
‘MINING RARE EARTH ELEMENTS’ states the label’s bandcamp, gesturing to an ethos where genres – elements – are spliced together to present the best of dance music’s liquidity and feeling.
Notable in this excellent roster, and a favourite of mine: Sublight Communications by Boulderhead. This impressive release extends Green’s visual throughway of the scientific, cosmic, and futuristic, where the release’s artwork of a space station porthole, bordered by chromatic modular panelling, complements Boulderhead’s sound superbly.
This sound is distinctive from the first track: ‘PG017’ which is rich and spacious. The IDM-tinged techno calls to mind the granular synthesis of artists like Monolake. While ‘Voltage Processor’ with its frenetic kick drum, gradually enveloped by a helter-skelter-like synth-line, never quite arrives and leaves the listener in a euphoric, nervous state.
Tracks like Boulderhead’s are tunes that capture what is best about dance music and what attracts the listener to Erbium.
Through this label’s discography, unity is founded through its variety of sounds. In doing so the team behind Erbium and its roster of artists reflects what makes Birmingham – and Birmingham’s electronic music scene – so great: its incessant and ingenious ‘mining’ of elements to experiment with and mix.
I’m excited about what comes next for Erbium and, if you’re in the least bit interested in the shape of Birmingham electronic to come, you should be too.
To listen to Erbium Records’ most recent compilation Reactions Vol.2, released on the 28 January 2022, visit: www.erbiumrecords.bandcamp.com/album/reactions-vol-2
For more on Erbium records visit: www.erbiumrecords.bandcamp.com