Posted on july 7, 2023
In Depth with WNCL Recordings
Words by Oisín Campbell/ Design by Michael Savage
WNCL Recordings continue to soar with their current 2-track 10” vinyl series pushing soundsystem weaponry from the likes of LMajor, Ténèbre, and Hooverian Blur, as well as a forthcoming feature from Skin Teeth.
We spoke to label head Bob Bhamra about the imprint's beginnings, the path to over a decade in business and the operational hurdles faced within that time frame.
Since its initiation back in 2010, West Norwood Cassette Library has pronounced itself as a sure home for unadulterated rave and club tracks. With over a decade of dance infantry to reference back to, WNCL houses an eclectic selection of productions, from the sultry house of Girls Of The Internet, to to the shrieking breakbeats of Mani Festo.
Bob Bhamra IS West Norwood Cassette Library, both in an alias sense and as the person who makes the whole operation tick.
Take a quick dip through the archives of WNCL and you can journey through the many manifestations of the UK sound from the last decade and a half. Covering the essential subjects of dubstep, breakbeat, hard house, techno, jungle, hardcore, & many mutations of all the above, this is the glue that holds it all together.
In fact, when you filter through the annual release channels, there's an audible voyage through the 2010’s constantly evolving rave trends, crossing the dubstep era into 2012’s hard house sounds and so on into the jungle and breakbeat revival towards 2020.
For Bob, the path to creating the platform was induced by the mass infiltration of dubstep around 2010. ‘The founding of the label was the follow on from being consumed by that sound - dusting off the decks, getting back into record shops, getting back into clubs, getting back into the studio, cutting dubplates, doing a podcast, doing a blog … a record label was the next logical step’.
Last Friday’s Hooverian Blur release (see here) marked the 43rd full feature on the catalogue that has also produced a number of free download tracks and sample kits. Bob’s brainchild now stands as one of the leading labels in UK rave. Does it surprise him? ‘Getting as far as 002 exceeded my initial expectations so it’s always nice to hear that the label has any stature at all outside of my flat’.
(Pictured: Bob Bhamra)
The latest string of releases sees a slight shift in style and production with a new series of fast moving, no nonsense 2 trackers coming out on 10” vinyl. So far it's featured some of the UK and beyond’s hardest hitters with London’s LMajor, Warlock’s Hooverian Blur moniker, French producer & WNCL regular Ténèbre, plus a forthcoming breakbeat frenzy to come this month from Skin Teeth.
The label’s constant flow of music continues to thrust even during the current wave of economic concern. For Bob though, and surely for many others in the industry, it’s more of the same challenges that already lay in place. ‘Putting out records has always been tough. It was difficult at the beginning and it’s difficult now because of the usual stuff - rising manufacturing costs, poor sales, terrible lead times’.
Few labels can flex the jewels that Bob and his WNCL machine have manufactured over the years. 13 years and counting in operation. It’s the kind of longevity that garners an underground as elite.
The menacing sounds continue to pour out. If you’ve not been following the movement, there’s plenty for you to catch up on.
Discover the extender WNCL catalogue here: https://wnclrecordings.bandcamp.com/