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Schematic Records. On seeing that name, any rational consumer would infer a record label with a distinct plan, a blueprint. And why not, seeing how much regimentation most electronic music has exhibited over the past 30 years? Most, that is, except Miami-based Schematic Records celebrating its tenth anniversary during this Winter Music Conference/M3 with the aptly named "All Night Wrong" party. Forged more to tell the industry to fuck off than to form a concrete plan for success, Schematic started out as Soul Oddity and then as Phoenecia. Co-founders Romulo del Castillo and Josh Kay set out to release eerie, abstract anarcho-electro unfettered by the commercial leaps and bounds label executives expected from regurgitative robofunk.
"[Schematic was] started in the wilderness," says del Castillo. Listening to Schematic's laptop contortionists Phoenecia, Richard Devine, Secret Frequency Crew, Otto von Schirach, Hearts of Darknesses, and Dino Felipe, among others it's easy to imagine that wilderness as a desert made of metal filings where two magnetic horny toads rut with abandon. While differing in purpose and practice, these experimentalists are all purveyors of tweeky, metallic melodies and dirty, hiccup-and-fart rhythms; the label itself offers a creative space somewhere between frenetic multidiscipline design, arrhythmic perversion, and the IDM ("intelligent dance music") of Warp Records fame.
"Schematic is about specialized advanced listening experiences," says Atlanta-based Richard Devine, longtime architexturalist, A&R agent, and mastering engineer with the label. "The blueprint is for mechanical sex fuck music and working it on the dance floor."
It's "pimping the experimental disco gore," according to Miami mentalist Otto von Schirach, the turntablist who regularly drizzles platter after platter with fractal vinaigrette. Like he was Crockett and Tubbs, von Schirach is just one of the many Schematic artists into Miami vice. To von Schirach, the Magic City is the perfect environment for Schematic's digitally crafted dementia to have weathered the seasons, as he has described everything from Cuban coffee to 2 Live Crew as extreme.
"Sound has pissed all over Miami," observes Dino Felipe, one of Schematic's bioengineers. "I turn off everything and all I hear is those train horns or whatever the fuck those people install into their cars." Schematic Records and its artists draw from those white-noise spasms, Tourette's torrents of blips and woozy miasmas of melody.
More recently, aging Schematic sound engineers such as Devine may have gone from stockpiling pawn shop drum machines and samplers to buying lighting fixtures from IKEA. But these topographers of polar opposites can still splay corrugated and crisp beats across compilation after compilation.
During the past decade, del Castillo and Kay now in their 30s have maintained a more-meat-than-mustard integrity, releasing nearly 50 critically acclaimed collections, securing distribution for specialized titles that manage to sell in the low thousands, and organizing DIY tours that, like Schematic's music, undergo mecho-organic mutation and adaptation rather than stick to any one static blueprint.