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Shepherd Express (Milwaukee, WI); vol.17 no.31 July 25-31, 1996
Think Globally, Record Locally-Milwaukee label earns international reputation
by Jamie Lee Rake
(page 3)



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."

Arguably 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."

The 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.

Eckes 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."

Eckes' 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.

The 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," Eckes says.

However 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 label.

"It's 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."

Eckes 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."

 

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