Release Date: Sep 4, 2015
Record label: Planet Mu
Genre(s): Electronic, Techno, Garage, Pop/Rock, Club/Dance, Experimental Techno, Garage Rap/Grime, Dubstep, IDM, Jungle/Drum'n'Bass, Breakcore
Planet Mu is a label for the weird kids, lorded over by a big weird kid. A firm dedication to the new and unusual has prevented Mike Paradinas's 20-year-old label from earning Ninja Tune or Warp's elder statesmen status, though it's also kept its discography fresh and unpredictable. Its wide range of outré sounds and its unstoppable release schedule can make it easy to gloss over the contributions that Planet Mu has made to electronic music.
Planet Mu has never been easy to categorize. For the past 20 years, the label has continually taken risks on new styles of electronic music, developing sounds that stray from the dancefloor—but never far. To celebrate their accomplishments, Planet Mu is releasing µ20, a 50-track, three-CD box-set featuring a Rory Gibbs–penned account of the label’s history.
When Mike Paradinas (aka µ-Ziq) formed his Planet Mu record label in 1995, electronic music was on the verge of breaking into the mainstream, moving from the clubs into to stadiums thanks to the success of groups like the Chemical Brothers, Fatboy Slim and the Prodigy. Twenty years later, as electronic music is enjoying a resurgence, Planet Mu's output has faithfully stayed the course. To commemorate two decades of smart, timeless underground electronic music, Planet Mu has assembled a near-flawless mix of its best material on this 50-track compilation, µ20.
A feisty sentence in this compilation’s press release describes Mike Paradinas’s Planet Mu record label as “an established engine of creativity and enquiry, with one foot in the pop world, and a sense of fun that never lets its experimentation disappear into exclusivity and snobbery.” Assuming that Paradinas, aka µ-Ziq, and the rest of his roster have an interest in keeping one foot in the “pop word”, the µ20 anniversary collection sounds like Planet Mu went and unlaced the shoe on that foot. The shoe remains, giving us the impression of a pop presence, but the foot quietly excused itself to some other place. Mike Paradinas and his ilk are the kind of electronic musicians that try to peer around the corner of cutting trends.
It's intriguing to think today just how much Planet Mu, the label that has been run unwaveringly on the independent fringes by Mike Paradinas for 20 years, has been an important beacon for many in numerous electronic music genres. For me at least, taking a cursory look at my recent music purchases seems to highlight just how much Mu has come to feature in my decisions on what I buy. The last month alone saw me buy RP Boo's Fingers, Bank Pads, And Shoe Prints, and Ekoplekz's Reflekzionz, while a week before at a yard sale, I came across a good vinyl copy of In Pine Effect, the 1995 album by Mike Paradinas aka µ-Ziq and one of the first release on the label, while it was still a subsidiary of Virgin Records.