Label Spotlight: Workshop
by Philip Sherburne | April 5, 2013
Like a lot of boutique dance-music labels these days, Germany's Workshop prides itself on its hand-forged aesthetic: Its 12-inch releases come in plain brown sleeves, boast hand-stamped center stickers and maintain a distinct air of mystique. (For one thing, virtually every track on the label is untitled.) Unlike many of its peers, though, the imprint actually makes its output available digitally, bless 'em. So we've gone ahead and compiled a playlist taking in the entirety of Workshop's output so far: That's 19 EPs released between 2006 and 2012, from artists like Kassem Mosse, Lowtec, Even Tuell, Move D and the avant-techno supergroup Magic Mountain High, featuring Move D with Juju & Jordash.
(There's only one Workshop release we don't have, a 2012 split EP between Kassem Mosse and Lowtec that was pressed up in an edition of 50 and sold on their Japanese tour. Its catalog number, naturally, is "workshop special.")
After listening to even a couple of EPs, the particulars of the Workshop style will immediately become clear. Dusky house and techno are the common denominator, but the typical tempo here runs considerably slower than the club music you may be used to; it's not afraid to leave its music shrouded in lo-fi hiss, fleshing out hypnotic repetition with an extra layer of gauzy intrigue.
It's a remarkable fusion, taking the skeletal elegance of classic Chicago house, the woozy strangeness of screwed rap and the pristine synths of modern techno, and wrapping it all up in a package that's intimate, approachable and thoroughly unpretentious. Like the best DIY efforts, it radiates the love that went into it. So bookmark this page to discover the label's catalog at your leisure, or set aside seven hours and really immerse yourself in Workshop's artisanal world. Its tools will leave their mark on you, guaranteed.