NoCorner Music – an outside perspective

Sometimes it can be hard to summarise what a label means to you. Personal relationships with music are often inextricably tied to the time and place where you first heard them. That time and place contextualises it, gives it an extra-musical meaning that is both tangible and intrinsically personal. Everyone will be familiar with this feeling, whether it’s the first time you heard your favourite artist or the first time you were introduced to the music that you now play down at your local every Saturday. For me, that feeling of symbiosis manifested itself when I first moved to Bristol in 2014 and discovered a curious tape by an artist I’d never heard of before called Filter Dread. Some brief clips led me to an instant purchase of both the cassette and an incredibly cheap and shitty USB-powered cassette player. I’d just started at university and was holed up in a filthy bedroom the size of a closet as what felt like the coldest winter of my entire life rolled in, with the sound of Space Loops sound-tracking my lachrymose stares outside of the window at the sheer-faced brick wall that stood about 12 inches from it. Now every time I think about first moving to Bristol I go back and listen to that tape from start to finish and remember the long, freezing cold winter that ended up being the springboard for my discovery of and forays into all of the music that has defined the last three years of my life. Alongside the many avenues of dance music that became the cornerstone of the nights that I’d run as a student was an increasing curiosity in the lesser trodden ground that NoCorner came to represent for me. Still young and bleary-eyed, wading through the rest of the back catalogue was a task I’d not given credence to until later – it was through a meeting with Ossia at a label fair in 2015 that pushed me to dig deeper into NoCorner vaults when he passed me two more tapes: the first was Modern Malaise by Lily, the second a promo cassette (and first release) called Memoryz Ov U by the now beloved O$VMV$M (aka Neek & Jabu). It was only after having listened to these two albums (now two of my favourite of all time) that I began to have a sense of what NoCorner meant – not just to me, but for the wider scene as well. The web of labels and projects that Dan and Alex had constructed until that point had funnelled people like me into music which, given different circumstances, I would never have given the time to unpacking were it not for their singularly virtuosic curative and artistic efforts. It’s as a result of these efforts that I see NoCorner as perhaps the most accomplished and impressive projects to have emerged from Bristol since 2010 – I can think of few other institutions that can maintain such quality across a catalogue that is as hard to define as it is rewarding to delve into. Trying to draw a conceptual line from asda to Filter Dread to October & Lily and all the way back to a reissue of a Systemwide record from the ‘90s is enough to make anyone’s head spin, but in a way I think that’s the point – there’s so much expectation in the element of surprise, and that makes for a captivating and undeniably personal construction of what it all means. For a label to make you think in those terms is about as high praise as I can think to give, and it’s been an honour to become friends with the two utter mad-men who concocted this ten-headed beast. Here’s to another five years of head-turners, jaw-drops, and window-staring accompaniments.