Clubs / new music

GutterFunk: carrying the torch for the Bristol sound

By georgia marsh, Sunday Dec 15, 2019

Harnessing a sticking-to-your-guns approach that by no means sticks to genre, GutterFunk – in a first for the label – have produced a compilation that reflects their core ethos of “good-music-first”.

Unconstrained by compulsions to reach unthinkable BPMs (for some producers and selectors, the higher the number of beats-per-minute the better), desires to conform to dancefloor expectations or preoccupations with coolness, the compilation’s well-fine-tuned tracklisting is, as its aptly-titled namesake would suggest, All Subject To Vibes.

Or, as the spoken vocal sample on the jazz-infused opening track Spirit World declares: “let’s do something the radio might not play, let’s do something we really feel in our hearts”.

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“We always had the outlook to fuse different styles together,” DJ Die – the label’s top banana – says of the prevailing GutterFunk ethos, “and we always wanted to put together a body of work that explains this”.

‘This’ being both a reflection of the label’s releases that have encompassed everything from disco to footwork to soul as well as a distinguished project within itself, something that intrigues everyone from the dedicated raver to the casual listener, embedding musical surprises at all the right moments.

It’s not just a bass label, and All Subject To Vibes makes that clear.

“You have to explore the less-trodden path and be open to new encounters,” Die continues. “All Subject To Vibes means you adapt, you throw curveballs and don’t follow the set formula.

“That’s also reflected at a GutterFunk party – that’s how we like to DJ: in true Bristol style, we mix it up in a melting pot and it’s eclectic; the different ideas that bridge the gaps make up the Bristol sound.”

By ‘we’, he’s referring to the GutterFunk roster that, to name a few, includes Pinch, Fox, Joker (who mastered the compilation), Addison Groove and Fixate, all of whom contributed to the album through unreleased and especially-imagined tracks.

“We’re perfectionists with sound, always striving for quality whether we’re making you have a good time or taking you through a journey of flavours.’

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Read more: Weird and wonderful: why Boiler Room was so inspired by Bristol

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‘We’ also more specifically denotes Dismantle – the DJ who Die labels his “partner in crime. We worked together intensively on this project, painstakingly going through each beat of each mix to make sure they were polished, making every track count and deliver.

“We developed from acid house, early rave and hip-hop parties, but we’re beat-heads at the end of the day; junglists at heart and that’s how the sound was formed.”

Dismantle: DJ Die’s right-hand man

The meticulous understanding of local history – both sonic and geographical – even extends to the joyful album artwork: a monochromatic shot from Bristol photographer Mark Simmons’ archive found in his book Bristol Black and White (which Die features somewhere aged 18).

In his mission to capture the life of everyday people in the city, Mark shot women from Barton Hill preparing care packages for refugees – an image that resonated with GutterFunk’s audible homage to the city as well as the label’s ethos and compilation title.

The artwork for ‘All Subject To Vibes’ is taken from the works of Bristolian photographer Mark Simmons

“That’s what it’s all about; it’s easier to fit into a box that not fit into that box” – metaphorically speaking, of course.

All Subject To Vibes is out now via GutterFunk Records on gutterfunkuk.bandcamp.com.

Read more: Weird and wonderful: why Boiler Room was so inspired by Bristol

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