This inconspicuous Paris-based record label has produced first-rate music since the debut EP. Despite that, Quanta seems to be unknown to most music aficionados, at least for now. There is something bold and lovable about how this imprint approaches the music they release: there’s techno, there’s 80s synth pop, there are eerie and ambient experiments. And all of it is bloody good.
Quanta records is a group of six friends who are musicians and DJs, some of them playing together in bands or music projects: there’s Aloïs, who makes music under the Infinite Fields moniker together with another co-owner Michaël, then there’s Kevin (alias Kiwee), Ossi and Julien, a member of a post-punk duo Doppel-ganger where he plays with the sixth member of the label, Adrien (alias Schreib). The group founded Quanta in 2015 when they used to live in Paris. The intention was to release the music of Infinite Fields, helping them to take the next step as a producer duo. After two EPs, Fraction Of Time and Volna, the label continued putting out each other’s music.
The debut EP, Fraction of Time, is a colourful three tracker offering a different take on techno – from abrasive and aggressive beats through to more chilled and leisurely tunes. Their second release, Volna, is fast and stone cold techno ranging from dubsteppish lows to more groovy melodic lines, with a focus on percussive layers. The third release, Correspondances, a mini-LP by Michaël, alias αίών, works with the element of accident and error through computing and random programming in order to explore new sounds and structures of composition. This EP moves away from the previous two in terms of style, being much closer to an electro-acoustic approach rather than a club vibe. The fourth release is the first long-player and the first record made by someone outside of Quanta’s crew, a mysterious producer called Zwei Kreise. Panorama Island is built on soothing yet unsettling ambient beat collages, working with retro synthesizer sounds. Tracks like ‘North the Decay’ and ‘The Unveiler’ work with the soothing effect of repetition created by soft synth pads, whereas ‘Vanth’ or ‘Mascle’ reminiscent music from Ghost Box Records or the early Warp sound.
Another interesting aspect of the label is the music videos, which are made by their friends. My favourite one is for ‘WFS’ by Infinite Fields, which is a fresh change in the flood of black and grey abstract techno clips. While samples of words such as “Dollars” evoke ‘Computer World’ by Kraftwerk, the twisted short movie narrative accompanying a spooky, hard techno tune resembles the 1990s music videos by Chemical Brothers. All the music videos are produced by Grama, friends of the Quanta squad, and they are all brilliant in their visual style and storytelling, like the love story of Alma Alta’s ‘On The Way’ or the fresh take on the classical car driving music videos in ‘Signal’ by Infinite Fields.
This year Quanta launched Particules - a series dedicated to the electronic transformations of pop music. “We created this series so we could release really different types of music from what we were initially doing. We have a wide range of tastes and releasing pop music on a label that you could consider being more a techno/experimental one was a big step for us,” highlights Adrien. The first record is Alma Alta's EP of the same name. ‘‘The duo, consisting of Aloïs and Adrian, previously named AA&YOU, did a lot of shows in France over the years but never had the opportunity to properly record and release their compositions. The music sounds totally different from previous entries and that illustrates our common will to deal with different forms and transformations of electronic music.” The EP surprises the listener with a very raw and authentic 1980s synth pop/new wave sound, including vintage drum machines (think Korg MiniPops), dramatic echoey guitar riffs and a rich, emotional vocal with occasional Robert-Smith-like quirks.
Quanta’s podcast series is also wonderfully diverse. Prepare for all sorts of house, acoustic guitar music, traditional and modern African music, experimental and ambient, harsh techno and post-club music, soul, RnB and new wave. “There are often strong borders between different music genres, but from the listener’s point of view, these borders don’t make sense anymore. People aren’t restricting themselves to a particular genre, every category is now so easy to reach, even the ones that were really underground before,” says Adrien.
Quanta’s party series then started last year with the intention of showcasing their music live. After the first “¡ La Quanta por Favor !” party at le 9b, a bar in Paris known for its eclectic electronic program, it has become a regular thing there. “Our line-ups are made with friends and people we’re connected with. For now, all our events have been free so we didn’t book any big names. We’re not party promoters, there’s a lot of them in Paris right now, including a few doing excellent work, and we’re not striving for this status. Our events are more of an excuse to bring people together, discuss and share the music we like.” Their next party is a joint effort with Empty Spaces Records and it’ll take place at l’International on July 15th.
When it comes to the next steps for the releases and the label, the group wants to widen its focus from their own music to artists from the outside. “Zwei Kreise is the first artist we didn’t know before and got in touch with to release the music. We worked together with him and Atrois Studio, the designers who are now handling all the visual aspects of the main series, to offer an original way to present the work: it comes in a red transparent tape and a black bag with a sticker The next release after Zwei Kreise then comes from a German composer who’s worked in the contemporary music field for years, mainly creating music pieces for ballets".
I’m sure that whatever the next release will be, it will be worth a listen. Because with Quanta, it’s like a Kinder Surprise which conceals only cool toys inside.