Doctrina Natura – The Hidden Power Of Reciting Mantras
Let’s be real, each new release of Oslated became over time an event on its own. Rare are the labels which can mobilise such enthusiasm: Hypnus, 012, Affin, IDO, (for us also Zodiac Music lately)… The reason? An uncompromising selection of high-quality productions, but not only: through this review, we take the opportunity to propose an overview of what makes an underground label successful, with Oslated and Doctrina Natura’s new masterpieces in the backdrop.
First, it is maybe worth defining what “success” means: a high number of followers, a large audience of listeners, big sales? Such criteria are economically and socially defensible, although, for many of us, they are culturally not relevant: our niche sound evolves in the underground electronic music context, which aims to focus on the art form more than on the capitalist aspects. In a debate we had lately on the topic in the community, Ness confirms: “Certainly we want our music to be appreciated and supported also with the act of purchasing, but running a record label shouldn’t be like running a pub or a restaurant, definitely not emulating the delusional capitalist system, which we are misleadingly limited to”. Following up on these words, “the success” could be defined as “an artistic accomplishment”, a “hype” that surrounds the label, mobilising a certain excitation – if not a passion – for its new releases. There is a subjective side of course, but art is subjective by essence.
The question becomes then “how does a label get this hype?” Deeper in the debate, Ness wisely reminded us that there is no “magic formula” for a label to be successful: “We are doing art, whose perception is totally unpredictable,” he says. It however doesn’t exclude a reflection or – say – an attempt to understand the process. Many members were highlighting that the success of a label ultimately comes from its ability to spread its sound, through premiering, social media and mail promotions, label nights, contacts with media, groups, influential producers and DJs. If “diffusing the sound” is logically important for a label to grow, we suggest on our side that “four pillars” need to be built upstream, a condition that we consider well-achieved by Oslated for instance.
Firstly, “it’s all about the music,” says a common adage. If the music is dope, it may find its way without the need to promote it. While it seems obvious, many label owners are not enough selective, because they play the quantity over the quality, because they are not patient or confident enough to refuse a track that they don’t “insanely love”. For us, Oslated‘s music is amazing since day one, but it’s only recently that label owner Jong-min Lee made it clear publicly: “Please take note that we are no longer taking any demo from inquirers in 2022, because I have a slightly different project plan, more strict,” he insisted. The South Korean influencer is now on an intentional quest to privilege a certain quality, but also to build a sound that matches more with who he is now in time, atop his 40 years of age, and in space, having moved from Seoul to Jeju Island.
Secondly: “it’s also about being authentic” would we like to add. Music lovers are not blind, they can smell from miles around when it’s “fake”, “too spammy” or “too manipulative”. Some musicians are authentic in their musical approach as much as in their real life, thinking of Ness for instance, whose sincerity and humility is palpable in all his projects, such as in his honourable “TGP“, which takes an important place in the heart of the community. Spanish artist Doctrina Natura, who has already been introduced in past articles, strongly defends the “authentic path” and adds some philosophical hints to access it: staying true to Mother Nature, connecting to her territory, to the roots, the family, remaining grounded as a whole while escaping musically.
Thirdly, having an original concept is often recommended and we confirm the importance of it based on our observations. Horo‘s owner, for instance, confessed that when he created his label, he had the idea to request the artists to give him “the tracks that they were about to throw in the bin for being too bizarre.” IO Records, Well Street Records and Astral Industries became known also thanks to their amazing – instantly recognisable – artworks: the visual of the cover pictures, often too underestimated by the labels, has the potential to reinforce the artistic side over the commercial one. Hypnus came with the mystical topic; the moon, the forest, the poetry. It’s creative but it’s also sincere: these elements are the label owner’s real/authentic refugees and interests… It can be a “sound signature” also: Oslated breathes the humid nature of Jeju Island with its tribal and organic sonorities, including in Doctrina Natura’s album. The label has also built a strong visual identity over time through the artworks of talented French artist Clément Davout AKA Adhémar, also at work in the present release.
Last but not least, we believe that a great label owner is “a networker” more than “a promoter”: someone who is capable to build a community around his project. Hypnus has reunited a huge one thanks to its original concept, but also by deploying various resources for the producers. Oslated also created a big one by being turned towards the music of others as well, through emblematic podcasts, a premiering service and from the natural supportive nature of its owner, very passionate.
Those are considerations based on our observations and made to provide some reflections, not “specific models to follow” of course: we know some labels that work well with the spammy behaviour for instance. These thoughts are also maybe too serious, when we are invited to get lost in the new “quality release” of Oslated: “The Hidden Power Of Reciting Mantras.”
In his fourth album, Doctrina Natura remains true to himself, in a contemplative journey full of crannies to explore. Unsurprisingly, his complex music connects with nature, through evocative field recordings and tribalism, through the polyrhythmic patterns of the African percussions and some folk sonorities. The vibe is intriguing, while its richness opens a wide mental landscape. Through the headphones, it takes up the whole space and totally immerses the listener into the author’s peaceful ecosystem. The walls of modern life collapse during the journey, the trip being so strong. In the preamble, the artist philosophically suggests getting lost in life’s timeline without trying to resist destiny, and his music totally succeeds to release the tensions of the day, at least during the 48 minutes of listening, which are set to grant a warm feeling of freedom. Miranda Rincón’s cello in the outro is wonderfully supported by the drones and closes the release with a high touch of elegance. Well-thought, it however doesn’t take away the frustration to leave such a mesmerising forestal orchestra, but happily, the player usually has a loop button…
WRITING BY: CEDRIC FINKBEINER | 7 FEBRUARY 2022