Force Inc. / Mille Plateaux has released hundreds of LPs, CDs, Albums, EPs, Compilations. Having operated continuously since 1993, their repertoire is about as vast as it gets for underground. However, the fascination or success of this label is not just limited to the label running for so long, or releasing so many works, but instead, it must be recognised that Mille Plateaux was at the centre of the glitch and micro world, and their library reflects a history of the development of those ideas, a guided tour of minimal electronic music from 1994 until the present. Take, for example, “Living Vicariously Through Burnt Bread”, released in 2003 by “Twerk”. In one track, entitled “from Green to Brown”, the sounds are of the quintessential glitch aesthetic that remains popular to today. There are tracks from 1994 by “G.E.N”, such as “Times Square” that is a clear predecessor to Donato Dozzy, with a hypnotic deep techno sound. In the same year, you can find clear prototypal rominimalism, with tracks like “Salvation” by “Geeeze ‘n’ Gosh”, or “Rolleiflex Part I” by “Global Electronic Network” , or Sweet Pink Lemonade part 2” by “Khan” (1994) or “act your age” by “Kid606” (2001) ; Ricardo Villalobos didn’t pull his sound out of nothing, he was exposed to all of this, and the stripped back, broken style is reminiscent of later works to come by yet-unfounded Perlon, another iconic label that came from the same place as Mille Plateaux, Frankfurt. Despite being at the centre of the original early 90s Intelligent Dance Music (IDM) movement, somehow the label is lost in the canon, although it is undoubtedly linked to the staunch anticapitalism and anticonsumerism that the label and the organisers live and breathe.
You can get lost in the library, and it is recommended that you do, as its existence seems to call into question common electronic music narratives, and the absence of Mille Plateaux from the recognition of anyone besides Simon Reynolds further adds to this spooky situation. Whatever you like about modern Techno, whether it be the experimental, grinding darkness of noise, whether it be the gentlest of sonic microdroplets with “Twerk”, breaks, acid, robotic pulses, ambient, hard techno, trip hop with “Zulutronic” , dub with Ian Pooley, anything. “Zauderberg” by “Gas” is a clear predecessor to Dorisburg. Whatever seems new, has been done by Mille Plateaux: can anyone say with any certainty that we have advanced any further than “Rolleiflex Part 3” ? or that we have outdone the inquiries of the masterpiece album “Timeline” by “Edith Progue” ? Is Giegling any further ahead than “Raute” by “Farben” in 2000? To clarify, “Farben” is now better known as “Jan Jelinek”, a highly respected glitch/ambient/minimal electronic music producer. If you took the outro loop of this track “Raute”, and looped it, you could easily be fooled into thinking you are hearing something by “Arapu” or “Leafar Legov”. This is not by any means a way of saying things were better back then, as the retromania we are engaging in now may seem to suggest, but rather a way of supporting the work of Mark Fisher when he exclaimed the future has disappeared (a). In many lectures, Fisher agrees with Reynolds, that the huge stylistic gap between Punk and Jungle, a time gap of just 15 years, seems to represent 200 years of progress by today’s standards (b). What he means is what we see now, that we haven’t pushed the electronic music concept much beyond what was already being published by Mille Plateaux when I was 6 years old.
It is not all the work of Achim Szepanski, regardless of how impressive his covert legacy can seem, as Mille Plateaux’s unique character is forged between multiple interlocking entities. Mille Plateaux is named after Deleuze & Guattari’s “Thousand Plateaus” , a book which describes a rhizomatic reality, where everything is made up of a decentralised, non-hierarchical clustering of assemblages and networks, and in a way that testifies to this origin, the label head Mille Plateaux reflects a decentralised clustering of entities. Mille Plateaux is a composite of “Force Inc.”, “Blue”, “Chrome/Position Chrome”, “Clicks n Cuts”, “Cluster”, “Electric Ladyland”, “Ritornell”, “Force Intel”.