Published Jun 01, 2000Glasgow has managed to produce more than its fair share of influential record labels over the years. From the legendary Postcard Recordings of Scotland in the early 80s to Creeping Bent in the 90s, it appears that music flows through the city like the River Clyde. The latest label to attain near-legendary status is Chemikal Underground, a label started back in 1994 by the members of the Delgados when they didn't want to have to deal with anyone else's label.
The early days were a little lonely, but over the years, the label has been blessed with records by Bis (purveyors of cartoon pop par excellence), Cha Cha Cohen (who have been described as an English Breeders), Radar Brothers (Californians with a taste for slow, mournful country) and the criminally underrated Magoo (whose schizophrenic albums almost defy description). No one could ever accuse them of having a particular label sound.
The other two bands who have really helped the label flirt with both critical and monetary success are Mogwai and Arab Strap. Mogwai's blend of melody and feedback has improved with each release, and despite the fact they are moving on to another label, they were responsible for some of the most beautiful moments in Chemikal Underground's history.
Arab Strap, on the other hand, have been telling their filthy little tales since 1996. They have a rather unique sound, with singer Aidan Moffat's drawl narrating stories from the seedier side of life over sparse instrumentation ? if you listen closely enough to cut through the thick Falkirk accent, you'll laugh, cry and probably shudder too. The band has recently extended its partnership with the label after their initial two-album deal.
Six years down the line and with about 40 releases, Chemikal Underground continue to go from strength to strength. The two most recent additions to their roster are Suckle, Francis from The Vaselines' new band and Aereogramme, a band featuring an ex member of Ganger ? both bands have the inevitable good word of mouth that everything this label touches seem to have.
Your Essential Chemikal Concoctions:
Delgados - Peloton
Bis - The Secret Vampire Soundtrack EP
Magoo - The Soateramic Sounds Of Magoo
Mogwai - Come On Die Young
Arab Strap - Philophobia