Since the fall of 2009, LiveJam Records has been one of those labels that creates buzz by avoiding it, quietly putting out vinyl-only EPs that tend to disappear quickly (these days, you can pick them up on Discogs for about 40 euro each). They also have a habit of setting up side labels, which, intentionally or not, works as another dodge against growing popularity. These include Appointment, their collaboration with Restoration Records, LiveJam Ltd and Relative, which puts out tracks from John Swing and EMG, LiveJam's co-founders who produce together as Vinalog.
So far Relative has had more diverse output than its related imprints: the first release was barebones and a bit drab; the follow-up was surprisingly colorful, packed with bright chords and samples from The Simpsons; Relative 003, one of the best 12-inches in the LiveJam discography, was at once dubby, crass and disco-fueled. Aside from the series' overarching personality, the only common thread in these records is the LiveJam modus operandi: "all tracks recorded live," "direct analogue cut from the source."
On Relative 004, Vinalog take yet another left turn, this time going for deep and dubby house. The record was released back in the middle of December, and it plays out like a soundtrack for the deepening winter: the songs are drawn in grey-scale tones, with charcoal basslines and bright grey highs. Each rhythm is propulsive and fairly up-tempo, but the overall delivery is muffled, barring the occasional stray chord or shrill hand clap.
On one track, "Spacecraft," loops and drum sounds fall in and out of the mix in a way that's more intuitive than logical, bringing the LiveJam concept to the fore. The "Organic Construction" of these tracks (to quote one of the other song's titles) enhances their hypnotic effect––in a deep house or techno set, these would be the dreamy interludes stringing together more explosive moments. Fans of their more jacking tunes might feel a bit left in the cold, but Relative004 shows a surprisingly subtle side to one of Berlin's most intriguing labels.