Joburg-based leftfield electronica label Subterranean Wavelength (SubWav) has released its debut label compilation called Wiretribe. This compilation exclusively features unreleased contributions from the label’s roster, is an presentation of the artists and their unique sounds, and shows the colourful diversity of electronica emerging from Joburg at the moment.
Founded by Micr.Pluto, Edward Kgosidintsi and Tribal Rebul Ludi, SubWav wasn’t never meant to be a label, but gradually grew into one from the compilation series of the same name - the first volume of which dropped in 2014.
Featuring Hlasko, Watermark High, Obligations & Hawkword, it showcased Joburg’s beat scene in its early stages, which was also part of the reason for starting the compilation. In 2016, this grew beyond the desire to just release music through compilations, resulting in the formation of the label that same year.
While the Subterranean Wavelength series was a showcase of the beat scene in general, Wiretribe focuses on the broader SubWav roster. “Everyone on Wiretribe are people who we are actively working with on the label. Who are signed to the label, either with our bookings or as artists,” explains Micr.Pluto.
Wiretribe showcases what the SubWav family has to offer. “We have a bit of everything because we’ve got rappers, vocalists, beat makers, producers. I’d say most the vocalists we work with are on the super-experimental tip. Our beat makers are on that tip. I don’t think we have an artist that has a mundane output with their music, everyone is actively pushing boundaries in their sound, trying out new shit, experimenting all the time,” Micr.Pluto says.
SubWav’s artists have a range of styles, from the bouncy Glitch Memories by Daev Martian x Tribal Rebel Ludi to the dubby Listen by Eye – On Feather x Nandi Ndlovu, the beats of Micr.Pluto and Kajama’s soulful sound experiments, there’s a laid-back vibe to the Subterranean Wavelength.
Besides Wiretribe, Subterranean Wavelength plans to release a number of projects including a solo project from Kajama’s Nongoma, which is a project from Eye-On Feather, as well as a new work from Micr.Pluto.
The growth of this label is an indication of the growth of leftfield electronica locally, but Micr.Pluto believes there are positive and negative aspects to this growth. “I’ve actually seen crowds swell and get really huge for the beat scene type movement. But I also feel like it’s kind of evolved into something different in a sense. It ended up merging with everything and everyone is jumping on the bandwagon of the beat stuff. In a sense I feel like it hasn’t grown to have its own crowd, it’s own market. It’s still got a long way to go to where people can host parties or throw events that are purely based on leftfield electronica or experimental beats, there’s always gotta be something thrown in there to make it accessible, but [we’re] getting there.”
The label will also be hosting SubWav Live that focuses on the live facet of the beat scene. “The concept is to uplift that in Joburg and place an emphasis on that specifically. We also make sure we have live sets and DJs around that to keep the party vibrant,” says Micr.Pluto.