Label of the Week: Body Promise

Sydney’s Body Promise, run by Amelia Jenner and Doug Wright, is more than just a record label. It began as a radio show, getting its start on Sydney’s FBi Click back in 2014, FBi Radio‘s digital radio station dedicated entirely to electronic music. After a good run, the digital station became dissolved into the main station in 2017, and Body Promise moved over to live radio in the Tuesday Sunset slot from 6-8PM.

Fast forward to 2019, and they still hold this slot, over the years giving representation to the underground sounds of Sydney that weren’t really being recognised or pushed as hard anywhere else. The programme is thoroughly centred on featuring left-of-centre electronic music, with a strong emphasis on careful curation.

Over the years, they’ve had over 100 artists deliver guest mixes and interviews for the show including Otis Records founder Hugh B just a few weeks back, the deep rhythms of Ecuadorian DJ/producer Nicola Cruz, Sydney hip-hop powerhouse PRINCI, a raucous takeover from HABITS and everything and anything in between.

Body Promise is at the centre of a forward-thinking community of DJs and producers, with their involvement in the local community eventually extending past the radio show to parties and as a response to the success of the show, a record label too.

Outside of BPAmelia and Doug are expert curators in their own right, with Amelia‘s day job being the Music Director at FBi Radio and Doug being involved in various musical projects himself like electronic two-piece Fishing and his own project HED Ardennes.

The label officially kicked off with the announcement of a series of compilations that would define the importance of a label like Body Promise. Since the inception of these compilations, the label has definitively given a voice and a community to artists and listeners alike, showcasing the immense diversity of the underground and allowing them the opportunity to have this supportive platform to be heard from.

Their compilation series kicked off at the end of 2016 with BPVA001, Harmony From A Dominant Hue. As written on their website, the title is drawn from a 2003 book called Color Problems: a practical manual for the lay student of color. The text ‘outlines a colour theory describing the use of agreeable and harmonious colours in tending to the sanity of the whole body.’ By analysing this excerpt in the context of the compilation, you can straight away see that BP‘s intention for the consumption of this particular body of work is to take it all in as one body. By placing together such sonically different tracks, and listening to them in the recommended ordering, there are elements that are brought to the fore that may not have been noticeable otherwise. In their own words, “The act of arranging them into one complete body of work means that the complementary sounds, moods, and textures are immediately apparent. A dominant hue takes form.”

The compilation showcases the work of fifteen producers from within Australia and abroad, all of them having their own particular places and sounds on the electronic music spectrum that may not even be relative. All of the works on HFADH are original and previously unheard and with that being the case, allowed for BP‘s curatorial decisions to be heard loud and clear.

HFADH kicks off with Sydney producer Jikuroux and her expansive brand of deadly emotive club on ‘Doubt’. Melbourne’s DJ Plead takes the reigns on track two with ‘Levant Motors’, bringing Middle Eastern influence to this polyrhythmic percussion frenzy. Letabruthaknow from Sydney follows with an undulating breakbeat oh ‘lowdown’, while Melbourne’s DJ Logic (now known as Logic1000) takes the lead with howling winds on percussive jam ‘Sole Charge’.

Track five comes in from the pseudonym of Sydney media artist and engineer Ivan Lisyak, Charles, and is dominated by crunchy percussion and touches of reverb-soaked vocal samples. Portugese producer Elite Athlete brings expert mastering to his beautifully percussive library of sounds on ‘Beat Mortífero’ while in contrast, Impart Amiss makes small vocal motifs the dominant melodic focus of the next track, ‘Wait, Wait’, chopping and skewing samples to create an equally as complex soundscape as the track previous.

Internet friends Mya Gomez & Felix Idle put forth ‘T2 Meltdown’ as an intensely delicate response to feelings of seasonal isolation, while PRINCI, with the help of producer Atro, delivers a similar sonic soundscape on ‘She’s That Princi’, but separated by form – her poetic prowess taking the lead here.

The compilation begins to get heavier here, with Sydney’s Chunyin diving deep into techno with thumping glitchy sequences on ‘Animus’, while Enderie delivers an equally as striking stomp-haven on ‘Ataque As Hordas Do Poder’, but takes it that step further with unforgiving bouts of tinny hi-hats and off-kilter machine like rhythms. Elisabeth Dixon out of Melbourne delivers sonic brutalism with the undulating tones of ‘Int1’, and Doug of BP delivers through his project HED ardennes, taking us closer to the end with a tribal percussive sequence and a driving melody that shifts pitch as the intensity progresses.

Sydney’s Patch Free delivers the penultimate sequence, delivering lowkey, lo-fi percussion, jagged sounds and a dissonance that never feels uncomfortable. Marcus (Not Singing), a production project of Sydney’s Marcus Whale takes us home with immense intensity on ‘To Be Possessed’, rounding out the compilation with an unleashing of industrial fury.

As the first official release from Body PromiseHFADH is successful in letting us into the curatorial minds of the duo. With an overtly important emphasis on both sonic and personal diversity, each artist featured on the compilation successfully delivers both the BP vision and sonic originality, something that makes this comp so memorable.

A year later, the duo announced their second compilation, Fantastic Effects. Keeping in stead with their curatorial vision of BPVA001, BPVA002 promised 14 original works from an almost entirely new roster of artists, some popping up during that year inbetween releases. This compilation release came as both a digital and cassette release.

This particular body honed in on the percussive side of the underground, promising rhythm and bold cuts.

Dominated by an aquatic set of percussive sequences, Crazy Legs opens the compilation with ‘Open Book’, a storm of trickling melodies, bustling percussion and topped off with that sweet 909 kick. The Ghan takes a sharp left turn on ‘Drainage’, delivering charming marimbas over varying stages of percussive exploration; light with the tambourine, static with the jet effect, simple with the live kit sequence and finally intense at the end with an industrial punch.

A pioneer of Portugese kuduro, DJ N.K.‘s contribution to the compilation is unsurprisingly perfect. High tempos and rhythmic complexity dominate the soundscape, with wonky SFX bringing further intensity. His addition to the compilation is an apt one in not only delivering the intended brief curated by BP, but it also adds a new level of cultural appreciation to the release.

Melbourne’s T.Morimoto brings ‘Take A Walk’, the result of experimenting with creating a track sans melody. Sydney’s DIN – made up of Rainbow Chan and Moon Holiday – deliver track 5, ‘Uh’, a freaky cut of percussive dominance, and Doug AKA HED Ardennes makes his return for track 6, a shuffling sequence of melody-less atmosphere, and instead replacing that with intense bouts of siren like stabs.

Hot Wavs, a collaborative project of Will Rigney and Ryan McDonald, bring us to the halfway mark with ‘no grills’, a grime-heavy, very rude number with a focus on distortion, whilst afterwards, Sydney experimentalists WDK simmer down with ‘episode’, an elegantly languid, sculptured cut that eventuates into a dirty, percussive haven, dominated by punchy techno and metallic percussive hits.

Lavurn Lee AKA one part of BVCassius Select and fake delivers track 9 ‘lo res’, a drawling, gurgly track characterised by Lee‘s want to make this feel like it does to look at a blurry image. Dream team DJ Plead and DJ Logic come together for ‘E3’, with Plead injecting his penchant for his Middle Eastern influence with Logic‘s ear for complex percussive rhythms.

Sydney selector and fellow FBi Radio host Andy Garvey delivers her debut on ‘Club Music [Tool]’, an acid driven house banger driven by a vocal line reminding you how much the speaker loves club music. DJ Plead and T.Morimoto‘s collaborative project Poison delivers track 12, a MIDI heaven in ‘International Funds Transfer’ and sees them using this track as a means to explore shared feelings of their mixed cultural identities.

Melbourne audio-visual two-piece friendships deliver an absolute frenzy of a track on the penultimate ‘GUT ROT’, a single that’s become defining for the group. Characterised through electronic percussion and an intensely crafted sonic journey, it’s the perfect track to begin to take us home with. Melbourne’s Makeda takes it home with ‘Imperial Tailwind’, exploring a totally untouched sonic terrain altogether on the record, and leaving us on a thoughtful note on what percussion can be defined as.

Fantastic Effects saw BP continue in delivering a wholistic sonic vision, backed up by their expert ability to A&R the fuck out of a record and simultaneously, showcasing the sounds of their community.

It’s been over a year since the label has put out a record, but that’s all going to change on March 15 when they share their third and final instalment to their compilation series, Smooth Sensation. They’ve decided to make a tangible version of the release too, with Smooth Sensation being their second and final compilation cassette.

For this one, expect 12 cuts from the Australian underground. The track-listing features previous BP favourites like HED ArdennesAndy Garvey and The Ghan. New heavy-hitters have a place on this record too, with analogue-enthusiast Lou Karsh, techno heavyweight Lucy Cliche, the spacey dub of Low Flung and more, all lending a hand for the final release.

We’ve heard two cuts from the record so far, with Adelaide’s Emily Glass giving us an early promise in ‘Worker’, a deeply complex cut of club oddities that fade into the final moments of the record with a beautifully calming ambience. The second cut comes in from Sydney’s Andy Garvey, who’s found her feet and kicking off the releases hard with her debut EP Eternal Recurrence on Lobster Theremin in March, and her label Pure Space running their first compilation a little later in the month. ‘Welcome To Infinity’ pairs ‘dissociative’ acid with beautifully floaty vocals that sit high atop the intense atmosphere of this one.

The compilation promises to be one for the rave, with each artist being bonafide dance commanders in their own right. With the announcement of this compilation being the label’s last in this series, it begs the question, what have they got up their sleeve?

If there’s one thing that’s remained consistent throughout BP‘s time together, it’s that their eye for curation has not once faltered, and the vision remains the same: to push Australian underground to the fore.

Body Promise‘s Smooth Sensation compilation will be available on March 15. Pre-order the cassette/digital release here.

Photo by Swinny Swinburn

Words by CAITLIN MEDCALF

READ MORE LABELS OF THE WEEK HERE

SEE ALSO

BODY PROMISE ANNOUNCE ‘SMOOTH SENSATION’, SHARE ‘WORKERS’ BY EMILY GLASS
BODY PROMISE CELEBRATES EXPERIMENTAL CLUB ON THEIR ‘FANTASTIC EFFECTS’ COMPILATION
EXPERIENCE THE PROGRESSIVE VIBE WITH BODY PROMISE’S NEW MIX

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No idea where she’ll be in 10 years, but as long as she has a good record and a glass of white wine, she’ll be sweet.