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“The vision of the label is informed by collectivity” says James Vella, founder of Brighton-based label Phantom Limb. “It’s a broad picture, like a mosaic.” Since its first release in 2017, the label has snowballed from its initial offerings of curious electronica into uncategorisable music of all colours and styles. From film scores to dancefloor excursions to ancient folk music, observing the label from a birds-eye perspective produces a picture of a vast network of creativity.

At a glance, it’s clear that the artists are the focal point of the label’s story. “They have all become very important parts of Phantom Limb, very important silks woven into the thread.” Boasting spacious theremin compositions from Hekla, contemplative beats from Loraine James and the full throttle melting pot of WaqWaq Kingdom, as well as releases from Dylan Henner and Kevin Richard Martin AKA The Bug, the mosaic of Phantom Limb’s musical community is dazzling in its variety. The unique character of the label is in part due to the excellent variety of the Phantom Limb roster - this creative focus has set them apart from other labels and propelled them forward. In celebration of their fifth anniversary, they proudly showcase their rich catalogue with releases across the broad musical spectrum.

Helming this early landmark moment in Phantom Limb’s history is the joining of musical minds behind the label’s operations. Phantom Limb consists of James Vella joined by Ken Li, George Clift, Andy Halliday and Dean Wengrow who combined sport 50 years of collective independent music experience coming from the likes of FatCat Records, Thrill Jockey, Hot Salvation, and Mute as well as their own musical endeavours, with Vella recording under A Lily and the band yndi halda. “We can be as creatively and emotionally invested in a project knowing that level of obsession that goes into writing music” he adds.

To celebrate our Label Spotlight feature we have exclusive and limited edition represses from WaqWaq Kingdom and Miguel Noya as well as exclusive merchandise including a Phantom Limb aluminium water bottle. We are also offering 20% discount on selected titles from the Phantom Limb catalogue for a limited time. Be sure to check out the Selector's Picks of the catalogue also, featuring KMRU, Meitei, Iggor Cavalera, MC Yallah, Ami Dang, Lexy Morvaridi, Matt Werth and Tom Ravenscroft choosing their top releases.

  • Artist
    Loraine James
    ReleaseProduct
    Building Something Beautiful For Me
    Label
    Phantom Limb
    Catalogue Number
    PHNTM024
    Release Date
    October 7, 2022

    Instant download of the following tracks with all FLAC, WAV, MP3 pre-orders:

    • 'Maybe If I (Stay On It)'
    • 'Choose To Be Gay (Femenine)'

    Full release delivered on release date: 10.07.22

    Pre-order Information

    Please note that pre-order release dates are estimates based on the latest information we have from our suppliers. Changes or delays are possible.

    Disparate influences have always found room to grow in Loraine James’ electronica and ambient-minded music: from her teenage discoveries of nu-metal and math rock to the R&B and drill that went into 2021’s Reflection, and traces of jazz hidden in her freely morphing melodies and glitches. With her 3rd release of 2022, she wears one particular inspiration on her sleeve, diving into the works of the late pioneering composer Julius Eastman to create radical reinterpretations and responses to his catalogue.

    James and Eastman are perhaps kindred spirits separated by time. Both queer Black artists who are fearlessly themselves, grounded in emotional experimentation and contemplating their inner landscapes through music that pulls from all sources. Eastman is regarded as one of the first to “introduce pop tonal progressions and free improvisation in an art context”, his minimalist compositions containing multitudes of honest emotion. His philosophy of “organic music” is something James taps into across the album, sitting in the spaces of different moods and coaxing them to evolve as they carry their past experiences into new sections.

    The rising arpeggios of Eastman’s 1973 work ‘Stay On It’ are transformed in the opening ‘Maybe If I’, a blue haze of candid vocal meditations and scattered percussion. ‘The Perception Of Me’ reshapes itself across its 8 minute runtime, the contemplative mode of its textural palettes growing in intensity, from tiptoeing to stomping with heartbeat-like kicks and rippling pianos glitching and distorting till they crash. Boisterous live drums and buoyant synths meet on ‘Enfield, Always’, driving each other into a whirlpool of spiralling directions.

    Building Something Beautiful For Me is an apt and heartfelt homage to Julius Eastman’s transformative compositions, and further proof that 2022 is Loraine James’ year.

    Digital Tracklist

    1. 1 Maybe If I (Stay On It) 3:56 Buy

      Maybe If I (Stay On It)

    2. 2 The Perception of Me (Crazy Nigger) 8:34
    3. 3 Choose To Be Gay (Femenine) 7:09 Buy

      Choose To Be Gay (Femenine)

    4. 4 Building Something Beautiful For Me (Holy Presence of Joan d'Arc) 2:46
    5. 5 Enfield, Always 6:08
    6. 6 My Take 5:08
    7. 7 Black Excellence (Stay On It) 5:04
    8. 8 What Now? (Prelude To The Holy Presence Of Joan D’Arc) 4:56
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A key release in the Phantom Limb catalogue is a 2017 self-titled EP from Hirola, Bristol production duo comprised of LTO (formerly of Old Apparatus) and edapollo. Pulling from a myriad of musical influences, Hirola's misty meld of organic textures, electronic beats and ambient soundscapes folds in chamber music flourishes and ethereal vocals into pop structures. Whilst the label's catalogue has sprawled vibrantly outwards, Hirola’s eclectic exploration marks a fervent starting place for the label.

One of the label’s most recent offerings comes from one of the most exciting acts to emerge from the electronic scene in the past few years, with previous releases on Hyperdub and Ghostly International. As with Hirola’s eclectic first release, Loraine James merges disparate themes and sounds, pulling from the past to look towards the future on Building Something Beautiful For Me. It is a heartfelt homage to the pioneering composer and pianist Julius Eastman, who using minimalism and pop structures explored what he called “organic music”. The album sees Loraine James coax vocal meditations, rippling pianos, and scattered beats to develop in spiralling directions, mimicking the trajectory of Phantom Limb’s evolution.

With her debut album Á, Icelandic theremin musician Hekla joined the growing roster in 2018. As the label's third release, and being vastly different to previous output, it was something of a leap of faith. “That was kind of a mutual trust exercise,” Vella recalls. “She really had to believe in what we were offering, and we’re very grateful to her that she did.” Characterised by sparse passages of elegantly wavering theremin, the album explores the instrument like never before, with Hekla’s patient hands and soft vocals at its side.

The enigmatic Dylan Henner makes for one of the label’s most prolific artists, landing his first release A Reason for Living in 2019, celebrating “the universality of life” with field recordings bathed in shimmering ambient textures. His second EP Stormbird Brother In The Dusk followed later in the year, pairing steel pans from Fimber Bravo with dismantled dub stylings in minimalist forms.

WaqWaq Kingdom have packed their maximalist and challenging sonics into satisfying pop structures. The duo of Kiki Hitomi (previously in King Midas Sound) and Shigeru Ishihara (AKA DJ Scotch Egg and member of Warp group Seefeel) create convulsive and hyper strains of dance music with percussive Japanese sounds. Their first album Essaka Hoisa landed in 2019 with surging synths and clanging percussion they classified as “minyo footwork”. House, footwork, dub techno, drone and dancehall elements are all pulped and formed into new shapes.

Their 2020 EP, Dokkoisho, doubles down with sugar rushes of stormy drums and electrified rhythms. Released at the height of the 2020 lockdown, WaqWaq Kingdom’s Dokkoisho is exactly the breath of fresh air they needed, a necessary reminder to persevere when times are tough. Far from evoking the slumped shoulders of a deep sigh, ‘Don’t Be A Zombie’ kicks off with stormy drums and adrenaline infused lasers. Kiki Hitomi’s helium-filled voice sings, “If my life is predictable I’ll become zombie,” in an anti-boredom anthem that segues into the propulsive and bouncing club track ‘Positive Sound’. Plasma-powered bass builds on ‘Mr Two Face’, breaking down into a serenely ambient second half with an oasis of glittering synths before the ebullient chiptune of ‘Relax In Chaos’ chirps and pulses, racing against shredded vocals.

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As Phantom Limb evolved, so too did its output, with its exciting unpredictability manifesting in a handful of sublabels and imprints. Dedicated to soundtracks and cinema, the Geist im Kino series was established in 2019. Jon Natchez’ Luzzu score sits as a highlight amongst its offerings, with illustrious harp from Mary Lattimore and the soft susurration of violins detailing the struggles of a Maltese fisherman. Geist im Kino's sub-series Imaginal Soundtracking revives forgotten short films by inviting artists to re-score them, featuring Masaaki Yoshida AKA Anchorsong and Midori Hirano.

Launched in 2020, Spirituals is another series focussing on digital releases of instrumental, ambient-leaning works by musicians from all around the world. Aiming to be a sandbox for “brand new artists that are doing their own thing on their own terms” to freely experiment with their crafts. UK-based musician Dau debuts with pneumatic instrumentation on album Zed Zed, and Nigerian producer Ibukun Sunday builds walls of evocative drones on his album The Last Wave.

The second Sun Language release moves further back in time, with American ethnomusicologist Jim Berenholtz and Aztec descendant Mazatl Galindo on Temple Of The New Sun telling ancient mythologies of Mesoamerican peoples through dawn choruses of flutes and reverberant drums. Australian multidisciplinary artist Paul Schütze follows with a gathering of vibrant and experimental tracks from his 1990s period. Each track bridges the gap between different worlds, like traversing rooms filled with musical artefacts to play with.

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