‘Wiretribe’ is Joburg-based leftfield electronica label Subterranean Wavelength’s (SubWav) debut label compilation. Featuring exclusive unreleased contributions from the label’s roster, the compilation is an introduction to the artists and their unique sounds, and captures the colourful variety of electronica emerging from the Joburg scene at the moment.
Founded by Micr.Pluto, Edward Kgosidintsi and Tribal Rebul Ludi, Subterranean Wavelength initially wasn’t meant to be a label, but organically grew into one from the compilation series of the same name, the first volume of which dropped in 2014. Featuring Hlasko, Watermark High, Obligations & Hawkword, it was a showcase of Joburg’s beat scene in its infancy, part of the reason for starting the compilation. A desire to release music beyond compilations resulted in the formation of the label in 2016.
Whereas the ‘Subterranean Wavelength’ series of compilations was a showcase of the beat scene in general, ‘Wiretribe’ focuses on the SubWav roster. “Everyone on ‘Wiretribe’ are people who we are actively working with on the label. Who are signed to the label, either with our bookings or as artists,” explains Micr.Pluto. As such, ‘Wiretribe’ is a showcase of what the SubWav family has to offer. “We have a bit of everything because we’ve got rappers, vocalists, beat makers, producers. I’d say most the vocalists we work with are on the super experimental tip. Our beat makers are on that tip. I don’t think we have an artist that has a mundane output with their music, everyone is actively pushing boundaries in their sound, trying out new shit, experimenting all the time,” Micr.Pluto continues.
While SubWav’s artists cover a range of styles, the fact that they all hail from the same label is evidence of how well the compilation flows. From the bouncy opening track ‘Glitch Memories’ by Daev Martian x Tribal Rebel Ludi to the dubby ‘Listen’ by Eye – On Feather x Nandi Ndlovu, the beats of Micr.Pluto and Kajama’s soulful experimentations, there is an underlying laid-back vibe to the Subterranean Wavelength.
Outside of the releases the label also hosts its SubWav Live which focuses on the live aspect of the beat scene. “The concept is to uplift that in Joburg and place an emphasis on that specifically. We also make sure we have live sets and DJs around that to keep the party vibrant,” says Micr.Pluto.
Apart from ‘Wiretribe’, Subterranean Wavelength is looking to release a number of projects including a solo project from Kajama’s ‘Nongoma’ (a project from Eye-On Feather) as well as a new project from Micr.Pluto, alongside a newly signed vocalist.
While the growth of the label is an indication of the growth of leftfield electronica locally, Micr.Pluto believes there are positive and negative aspects to this growth. “I’ve actually seen crowds swell and get really huge for the beat scene type movement. But I also feel like it’s kind of evolved into something different in a sense. It ended up merging with everything and everyone is jumping on the bandwagon of the beat stuff. In a sense I feel like it hasn’t grown to have its own crowd, it’s own market. It’s still got a long way to go to where people can host parties or throw events that are purely based on leftfield electronica or experimental beats, there’s always gotta be something thrown in there to make it accessible, but [we’re] getting there.”