By Rebecca Bulnes
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By Chuck Strouse
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Schematic Records. Upon seeing such a name, any rational consumer would deduce a record label with a distinct plan, a blueprint. And why not, considering the increasingly high degree of regimentation electronic music has exhibited over the past three decades. Except Miami-based Schematic Records celebrating its tenth anniversary during this Winter Music Conference/M3 with the aptly named All Night Wrong party was forged more to tell the industry to fuck off than from any concrete plan of how to make things take off. First as Soul Oddity and then Phoenecia, Schematic's cofounders Romulo del Castillo and Josh Kay set out to put out eerie, abstract anarcho-electro unfettered by the commercial leaps and bounds that label executives expected from regurgitative robofunk.
"[Schematic was] started in the wilderness, now going back," says del Castillo by e-mail from the label's base of operations occupying creative space somewhere between frenetic multidiscipline design, arrhythmic perversion, and the Sheffield IDM (intelligent dance music) of Warp Records fame. Listening to the label's laptop contortionists purveyors of broken-thermometer melodies and rimjob rhythms, such as Phoenecia, Richard Devine, Secret Frequency Crew, Otto Von Schirach, Hearts of Darknesses, and Dino Felipe one can believe that wilderness was a desert of metal filings where two magnetic horny toads rutted with abandon.
"Schematic is about specialized advanced listening experiences," e-mails Atlanta-based Richard Devine, long-time architexturalist, A&R agent, and mastering engineer for the label. "The blueprint is for mechanical sex-fuck music and working it on the dance floor."
It's "pimping the experimental disco gore," according to Miami mentalist Otto Von Schirach, always drizzling another platter with fractal vinaigrette. As if he were Crockett and Tubbs, von Schirach is just one of the many Schematic artists into Miami vice. To Otto, the Magic City is the perfect environment for Schematic's digitally crafted dementia to have weathered the seasons, for he has described everything from Cuban coffee to 2 Live Crew as "extreme."
"Sound has pissed all over Miami," observes Dino Felipe, one of Schematic's bioengineers. "I turn off everything, and all I hear is those train horns or whatever the fuck those people install into their cars." Schematic and its artists draw from those white noise spasms, Tourette's torrents of blips, and woozy miasmas of melody.
Over the past ten years, Schematic sound engineers such as Devine may admit to having gone from being obsessed with stockpiling pawn-shop drum machines and samplers to buying lighting fixtures from IKEA. But these topographers of polar opposites can still splay corrugated and crisp beats across compilation after compilation. During the past decade, del Castillo and Kay now in their thirties have maintained a more-meat-than-mustard integrity, releasing nearly 50 critically acclaimed collections, securing distribution for specialized titles that sell in the low thousands, and organizing DIY tours that, like Schematic's music, undergo mecho-organic mutation and adaptation rather than adhere to any one static blueprint.