Hive Mind Records are a UK based label with an enthrallingly diverse remit – their catalogue includes new music and expertly rich choices of reissues, from South America to Africa, but particularly Morocco. Their first vinyl was Colours Of The Night, the first release outside of Morocco of the last recorded studio sessions of the late, great Maalem Mahmoud Gania (1951-2015), with full support by the iconic artist’s family. He is perhaps the most acclaimed of the Gnawa musicians – a trance like music originating from the sub-Saharan regions of Africa.
Hive Mind’s latest release – a collaboration with Kai Riedl of JAVASOUNDS – brought together superb recordings of one of Indonesia’s most famed music styles of the 70s and 80s, Jaipongan. The album was recorded at the famed Jugala Studios in Bandung, Java in 2007, featuring the forwever memorable vocals of Idjah Hadidjah, the country’s most iconic singer of the genre and backed by members of the Jugala Studio’s house band.
For the first time with the label’s output, the album comes with a second disc of reworks by electronic musicians – Bana Haffar, Bergsonist, Lightbath, Sarah Belle Reid, Signals Under Tests, Fahmi Mursyid, Kai Riedl & Suny Lyons, and Ultrabillions. This could spell more exciting new collaborative directions in the future.
Somehow Hive Mind Records weaves the hypnotic percussion of Gnawa; Italian artist Nicolas Gaunin and his surreal modern Dada take (Noa Noa Noa); engrossing highlife from one of the genre’s pillars (Chief Stephen Osita Osadebe); with modern (un)classics, as well as reworks of Java’s musical pearls – again hypnotic.
Hive Mind Records is one of WTM’s most loved labels and its thread makes every release coherent and essential. Marc Teare is at the helm and has managed to link artists from all over the world to Hive Mind. Speaking to him provides a fascinating insight into the label’s direction so far:
“Well, the selection so far has been a mixture of releasing things that I have felt for a long time deserve wider exposure or to be heard on vinyl (Maalem Mahmoud Gania, Chief Stephen Osita Osadebe, Moulay Ahmed El Hassani, Sonny Sharrock), and happy accidents that just seem to fit with what I’m trying to do with the label.
“Rodrigo Tavares had self-released his album Congo as a digital album in late 2016, and as I was preparing the Mahmoud Gania album I really fell in love with Congo and felt it needed to reach a wider audience, so it made sense to try and get it out on the back of the Mahmoud Gania album. I still think that one is criminally overlooked and that it’ll come to be viewed as a bit of a classic in future.”
“Los Siquicos Litoraleños were looking for a label to release their album to coincide with a European tour they were planning, and I just really wanted to support what they do, because I feel their irreverent, fiercely DIY, prankster approach to doing things is really valuable. And we ended up with what I think is a very special album.”
WTM – Will the first LP ever get a repress?
“I’d like to do a repress of Colours of the Night, but we’ll be releasing a different set of Mahmoud Gania recordings first. An album called Aicha that has only previously been released in Morocco in the early 2000s. It’s a very deep and intimate set and we’ll be putting it out as our tenth release as a way of bringing the label full circle.”
WTM – Why, when and how did you start Hive Mind? What do you enjoy about running a label?
“The idea for the label came in 2016 and our first album came out in 2017. I’m a novice in business terms, so I’m kind of making it up as I go along, although I have a lifetime love of music and involvement with various scenes under my belt.
“It’s very satisfying seeing something you work on get an actual physical vinyl release, and even better when it does well, people enjoy it and you get good reviews and all that. I like getting to work with interesting artists who are doing exciting things, and there’s something satisfying about hopefully helping to make the world a smaller place – the label releases music from around the world as I think music helps us understand each other and to recognise our commonalities, in a way that is beyond or deeper than language. In that sense, I hope we’re making a small contribution to the war against ignorance, xenophobia and isolationism.”
WTM – As the label does have such a unique sound, do you gig/dj at all?
“I do a bit of DJing when I’m asked to, but it’s not something I really push. I’ve got quite eclectic tastes so I like to play places that have quite an open music policy, where the dance floor isn’t necessarily the focus. But then again, dancing is always a really good excuse to pull out a selection of lovely Afro-Latin stuff. I’m certainly open to more DJing as it’s always something I’ve enjoyed.”
WTM – What is your own journey through music?
“Oh man, I’ve found a love of music at a young age, initially through my parents’ music when I was a child, but then discovering my own identity as I approached my teens. All through my teen years I was heavily into the post punk/hardcore/noise/weird shit that was big through the mid to late ’80s. Bands from the time that still mean a lot me would be Sonic Youth, Butthole Surfers, the Gun Club, Dinosaur Jr, that kind of stuff. I was part of a thriving local music scene in the North of England. Got pulled into the rave/free party scene through the ’90s and then had kids young. My boys are all in their late teens and early twenties now so I’ve been able to devote more time and attention to music again. Hence the label.”
WTM – What’s coming up in the future on the label*?
“Our tenth release, which is a reissue of a vintage album by Maalem Mahmoud Gania. So, bringing it back full circle, with a very deep album of pure Gnawa trance.”
*WTM will report on a forthcoming compilation very soon.