Express (Milwaukee, WI); vol.17 no.31 July 25-31, 1996
Think Globally, Record Locally-Milwaukee label earns international
by Jamie Lee Rake
Kurt Eckes sums up the meaning of his record label and promotions
company, Drop Bass Network: "Drop refers to psychedelics. Bass is
the sound aspect, and Network just makes it sound bigger than it is,
larger than life, encompassing everyone."
the Midwest's predominant purveyor of techno music culture, Eckes
has promoted rave parties of varying levels of legality since 1992.
"We're promoting getting out and having a good time," he says. "I
don't think people should be afraid to do whatever it takes to have
a good time because there's not a lot of time to have fun."
techno genre resulted when '80s Chicago house music collided with
futurist bleeps from the Roland 303 synthesizer, said to emit a
"burning" sound. The music was called "acid house" for this reason.
It was misinterpreted by British fans as signaling an interest in
LSD an inspired England's 1988 "Summer of Love (Part II)," with
intense outdoor clandestine parties that would become the prototype
for U.S. raving. Not long after limey youths made the acid house/psychedelics
connection, Yanks like Eckes would follow suit.
makes socio-musicological-pharmacological interface between hippies
and ravers, finding ties between the fringe-leather '60s turned
upside down. "It's the psychedelics and the music that works with
the psychedelics. Plus a whole group of people belonging to something
and feeling something for everyone else there."
activities as record mogul and rave promoter intersect in obvious
ways. "We try to promote one of our artists at a party, whether
it be someone who DJ's and makes tracks or just makes tracks. At
last every party we've held for the past year has always had somebody
representing Drop Bass records," he says.
unifying sound of Drop Bass Network's 50-some 12-inch singles and
EPs (tracks that have been issued on techno compilation albums in
Europe and Japan) is the manipulation of the Roland 303's acidic
rumblings. Drop Bass' 50 or so releases have earned the label a
significant reputation around the world. "We sell a pretty consistent
amount of records, and some are pretty prized in the DJ'ing community,"
pummeling the sounds from a Drop Bass single may be, still darker
sounds are what's closes to Eckes' soul. To accommodate his passion
for harsher, more industrial-sounding techno, he formed a Drop Bass
subsidiary, 666 Records. Eckes remarks on the surprisingly quick
sell-out of the limited edition pressings issued on the beastly
just heavy and noisy," he says. "It's not anything I thought would
be listenable or danceable. It turned out that there were a lot
more people than I thought who really liked it."
hopes that people checking out Drop Bass events and recordings will
explore the depths or their own cerebral cortexes, maybe with the
aid of a controlled substance or two. To him, it's "just seeing
what's out there and breaking down some of the barriers that have
been put up over the years and saying, 'Holy shit! That's what it's
really like!' But I'm no philosopher or anything like that."