One of the most eye-catching independent dance music labels currently in operation, in under 10 years Lobster Theremin has solidified its golden reputation for an imaginative and varied output. Whatever style of music the label decides to release under its distinguishable cartooned crustacean design, the sounds masterfully bridge the gap between the listener at home and the raver in the club. After cutting its teeth with thundering house and techno, Lobster Theremin has gone on to put out everything from smokey ambient to rinse-out jungle, hazy trance to nostalgic hardcore.
Led by label boss Jimmy Asquith, Lobster Theremin has built itself a formidable roster. Offering a debut platform for many artists from every corner of the globe, wide-ranging acts include Palms Trax, Route 8, Maruwa, Ross From Friends, Amy Dabbs, Tim Reaper, D. Dan and DJ Seinfeld.
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Along with the main brand, Lobster is also home to a division of sub-labels, each fostering a different variant of their diversified sonic aesthetic. This approach to connect with communities around the world has also allowed Lobster Theremin to serve as a distribution company for hundreds of other labels, while their record store in London serves as a grail for devoted vinyl junkies.
Since its first release back in 2013, Lobster Theremin has carved out a consistently excellent back catalogue. Mixmag has chosen 20 of the best...
Palms Trax ‘Equation’ (2013)
The first EP to ever be released on Lobster, ‘Equation’ immediately put both the label and the EP’s creator Palms Trax on the map. Inspired by the rough-edged bridge between Chicago and Detroit house and techno, Trax masterfully debuted his talents, chiselling ear-pounding drum patterns and swooping synths out of his home studio. ‘Equation’ is a sensory rush, with the melodic line running through the centre of the track sitting upon a foundation of claps. What’s left is an eccentric piece of dancefloor house, cut straight from the end of the 80s.
Route 8 ‘Pacific Paradise’ (2014)
Budapest-based Route 8 debuted on the London label in April of 2014 with a deep nose-dive into the depths of his craft. The skittish, pulsating drum machine loops of ‘Pacific Paradise’ are optimised by the hazy, crystalised synth lines that ebb and flow. The four-track EP is really a trip into the unknown; a sonic journey through textures and atmospherics.
Daze ‘Drag Ball’ (2014)
Renowned as one of the undeniable hits from Lobster’s early output, ‘Drag Ball’ saw mysterious Australian producer Daze take a journey through dance music’s history, bridging the gap between America’s foundations and the UK’s experimentalism. The track toes the line between house and techno, with a pounding bass, sharp snares and uncanny synths that crackle and pop. The rough and ready sketch brilliantly layers sound, creating a raw but immersive jam.
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Privacy ‘New Wake Trace’ (2014)
Lobster continued its knack for sourcing exciting, up-and-coming talent when acquiring the services of Berlin-based Privacy for the ‘Hypertext’ EP. Building upon a foundation of Detroit techno and industrial soundworks, the new wave producer drew significant traction for his beat engineering. ‘New Wake Trace’ is the eight-minute long behemoth with roaring mechanics that maintains velocity through a stomping electro groove, while rave synths pierce the rigid, sequencised 909 patterns, offering stabs of relief.
Route 8 ‘Relaxed’ (2015)
Route 8 later returned to Lobster following his previous EPs on the imprint. While other tracks from his original ‘Dry Thoughts’ EP were masterfully reworked, the good times summer banger ‘Relaxed’ appeared on the release’s B-side. Route 8’s dynamic approach to production puts emphasis on the small details. A synth here, a clap there, and a maraca shake for good measure. An instant pick-me-up, ‘Relaxed’ instantly catches a vibe and rolls through for seven minutes of heavenly house.
nthng ‘Soms’ (2016)
Long-time collaborator nthng showed both his and Lobster Theremin’s versatility with this ambient journey maker called ‘Soms’. The mysterious atmosphere builds and builds, enveloping the track in a hazy cloud of swirling synths, while the delayed stretching of notes and experimental space-age sampling ensures you’ll play it over and over without ever getting tired. The result is a track that perfectly demonstrates Lobster’s capabilities for releasing beats that work just as well on the dancefloor as they do through a pair of headphones.
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TRP ‘Pano’ (2016)
German house music exponent TRP made his debut with Lobster with the brilliantly balanced ‘Pano’. The rolling claps keep the rhythm, while piano keys add some fresh ethereal stability. The industrial, metallic hits give the overall sound some bumping energy, while the vinyl crackles and philosophical vocal samples amp the atmospheric value up to a ten.
DJ Seinfeld ‘Feel De Bum Slap’ (2016)
Released in collaboration with another superb independent label, Meda Fury, Lobster once more debuted an artist with bucket loads of potential - DJ Seinfeld. Known as an early example of the lo-fi house sub-genre that was categorised because of its open-minded approach to rhythmic structure and use of over-driven drum organisation, Seinfeld’s smoky 4x4 EP is full of variety that subverts the traditionally clean house mixdown. The pick of the EP is the playfully named ‘Feel De Bum Slap’; a sultry yet destructive number combining thundering drums and tribal percussion slaps.
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Ross From Friends ‘In an Emergency’ (2017)
Ross From Friends returned to Lobster with his ‘Don’t Sleep, There Are Snakes’ EP, extending his sound palette with a collection of lucious house bangers. An excitable chop of drum arrangements, woozy synths and keys and an unforgettable vocal loop ensure ‘In an Emergency’ is a warm, jaunty number, perfect for sunny days.
Slacker ‘Amen To The Lonely’ (2017)
Slacker is a young producer based in the musical hotspot Bristol. After creating a notable buzz online with dynamic offerings of choppy breaks and crunchy acid, he featured on Lobster Theremin at the start of 2017. ‘Amen To The Lonely’ is the exceptional title track; an ode to the mid 90s where jungle met intelligent drum and bass. With a clear nod to Bukem’s Good Looking Records, the track’s raw, blistering drum organisation is softened by a beautifully haunting melancholy.
Sweely ‘Stronger Than Me’ (2017)
French producer Sweely closed out proceedings in 2017 with his ‘Nice Archive Traxx Vol. I’ EP. The highlight of the bumping five-track shaker is the title track, ‘Stronger Than Me’. The jacking house foundation set by the skipped snares is punctuated by a smooth jazz flavour with keys and a saxophone taking pride of place. The vocal cuts add a soulful depth to the track but don’t take away from the laid-back boogie.
90 Process ‘No Warehouse Needed’ (2018)
Former duo 90 Process battered down the doors with their ferocious ‘No Warehouse Needed’ EP back in 2018. The title-track takes the biscuit, cranking up the BPM with its thundering hardcore breaks. Heaving bassy drops and speedy snare rolls power the track forward, while the Prodigy-esque vocal interludes behind the beats give a playful touch to the overall sound.
Bakground & Sangam ‘90s Living’ (2019)
Taken from a four-track cut from Lobster’s rave-inspired white label series, ‘90s Living’ is a dreamy opener which will have any listener yearning to be transported back down memory lane. The tranquil breakbeats are dynamic and punchy without upsetting the overall balance of the sonic aesthetic. Light, airy and haunting, the layered, melodic soundscape is the embodiment of an early morning beat as the sun just starts to rise.
Maruwa ‘On My Mind’ (2019)
One of Russia’s most promising new talents when it comes to giddily potent rave anthems, Maruwa hails from dance music hotspot St. Petersburg. Her effortless groove is an instant call to strap on your ravin’ shoes, navigating breezerly through the tropes of raw house, breakbeat and trance. ‘On My Mind’ is a dreamy mood-lifter that delivers all the classical feels but reimagined in a twenty-first century setting.
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D.Dan ‘Mutant Future’ (2020)
D.Dan’s most recent venture on Lobster Theremin saw him deliver a four-track slice of raw, dystopian psychedelia. ‘Mutant Future’ is an absolute rave weapon; slamming low-end, stripped-back synths and a punishing tempo drive the track forward down a tunnel of warped evocation. The unforgiving track attacks your senses for over five minutes before the paranoia breaks and you find yourself catching your breath and wiping the tingling sweat from your brow.
Coco Bryce ‘Ma Bae Be Luv’ (2020)
Dutch producer Coco Bryce has spent the best part of the millenium channelling the spirit of the UK’s hardcore scene to recreate majestic memories of 90s nostalgia. Taken from his playful debut on Lobster Theremin, ‘Ma Bae Be Luv’ balances sweet, vocal samples with bubbling breakbeats and soaring soundscapes. The result is an energetic, sun-kissed groover, destined to keep you moving your feet in a dance or recurrently nodding your head to at home.
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Tim Reaper ‘Cityscapes’ (2020)
Tim Reaper has been at the forefront of jungle’s renaissance with his prolific output that draws inspiration from the genre’s early years at the start of the 90s. Reaper’s use of chest-rattling breaks and melodic groove has won plaudits across the dance music community, while his willingness to experiment with fast-paced 4x4 techno makes his appearance on Lobster’s roster an obvious choice. ‘Cityscapes’ is the title track of his first soiree, with the icy flourishes of melodic synths accompanying his rinse-out breakbeats.
Narciss ‘Sundowner (Body 2 Body Mix)’ (2020)
Another of Lobster’s German contingent, Narciss showcased his blend of 4x4 techno and mythical trance on the ‘Language of Love’ EP. The razor-sharp riffs and uplifting lines of ‘Sundowner (Body 2 Body Mix)’ give off the feeling of being stuck within a warehouse party, where the laser-filled big room beats are punctured by a hypnotic acidic groove. Proper intergalactic journey music!
Amy Dabbs ‘No More Distractions’ (2021)
Versatile British artist Amy Dabbs debuted on Lobster’s sub-label Distant Horizons with her showcase of house music, pulling influences from the 80s and 90s to reimagine them in the twenty-first century. ‘No More Distractions’ comes from the ‘Girl Like Me’ EP; a heady rolling beat with incessant groove is created through the dynamic use of revitalised vintage synths.
Denham Audio ‘Retort’ (2021)
Taken from the Sheffield-based trio’s ‘Transcendence’ EP, ‘Retort’ is an eclectic blend of blistering breakbeats and hedonistic acid house sound palettes. Their futuristic interpretations of nostalgic, euphoria-inducing rave tracks are renowned for crossing the realms between a host of different genres. Their dizzying fusion of imaginative club sounds perfectly represents the harder edge of Lobster’s output.
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Paddy Edrich is a freelance writer, follow him on Twitter