25 YEARS OF SOMA

A timeline of one of the most influential electronic music labels on the planet.

In celebration of Slam’s live appearance at One Tribe Festival we’ve delved into the cavernous back catalogue of their longstanding record label, Soma.
From cramming fistfuls of hand printed 12 inches into hungry record shop to becoming one of the planet’s biggest trend setters,
Soma have been an instrumental voice in crafting the house and techno scenes, providing a platform for some of the most groundbreaking DJ’s, producers and bands ever to grace our speakers.

This timeline reflects that with a selection of some of their biggest moments, innovative pieces, buried treasures and outright bangers from the likes of Slam, Funk D’Void, Silcone Soul as well as the Parisian powerhouses, Daft Punk.
Now, to those of you who might pick up on the fact it’s actually 26 years since the label set up shop, well, that’s a valid point, but Soma are celebrating their 25th year until September, which, to be fair,  is about the average length of a Scottish birthday celebration.

1991. SLAM – ETERNA

Slam and all the team at Soma firmly put their mark on club culture with this seminal track that was championed from a diverse range of DJ’s the world over and also became a marker for the beginnings of the progressive house sound along the likes of Future Sound of London, React 2 Rhythm and Gat Décor.

1992. REJUVINATION – WORK

Rejuvination are a duo from UK, who alongside Dave Clarke (not that Dave Clarke), Stuart McMillan and Orde Meikle (Slam), founded Soma Quality Recordings in 1991. Glenn and Jim were originally the sound engineers on Slam’s classic cuts “Eterna” and “Positive Education” and in their own right they were responsible for tracks like “Work in Progress”, “Requiem”, “Sychophantasy”, “Dr Peter” and their “Introduction” album. But these pianos though.

1993. SLAM – POSITIVE EDUCATION

Timeless. Seminal. Positive Education is Slam’s monolith keeps resurfacing like some unrelenting Romero-esqe techno zombie, it’s been risen and rinsed and risen again with remixes over time by the likes of Carl Cox, Josh Wink and D’Julz. But let’s face it, even after all these years the original is still the best.

1994. DAFT PUNK – ASSAULT

A screaming debut EP for the biggest names in electronic music history. Their debut record finds the duo drenched in the hard edged house sounds of south side Chicago and Dance Mania.
A far cry from standing behind the Weeknd and the Grammys.

1995. FUNK D’VOID – JACK ME OFF

Debut EP from Glaswegian Lars Sandberg dropped this 1988 Armando sampling floor wrecker to a huge reception amongst DJ’s and underground pleasure seekers alike.

1996. SURGEON – MUGGERSCUM OUT

Birmingham’s master artisan of mechanical techno unleashed his signature, screamingly urgent sound to the label. This, like many of Soma’s releases got a reissue in 2011 and it hardly sounded like a day had gone by, proving that Surgeon’s music seems to have a half life similar to uranium and have just as much power.

1997. DAFT PUNK – AROUND THE WORLD

When the seminal album dropped in association with Virgin, it was quite literally felt “Around The World” (groans with pun shame).

1998. SCOTT GROOVES – MOTHERSHIP RECONNECTION

The Detroit Producer’s easily recognisable monster was an essential part of every club DJ’s record box in 1998.

1999. MFON – RUBBERLEGS

A personal highlight from delving into Soma’s back catalogue. Discovering Glasgow’s Mfon Akpan is a testament that you can get new tricks out of the old dog.

2000. SILICONE SOUL – RIGHT ON RIGHT ON

Craig Morrison and Graeme Needie buried the needle when it came to the dawn of the millennium with this sun kissed, mutant Balearic house monster.

2001. SLAM feat TYRONE ‘VISIONARY’ PALMER – LIFETIMES

A new wave of melancholic, intelligent vocal house gripped club culture around the millenium with the likes of Kosheen, Dirty Vegas and Photek in the shadow of the huge wave of tribal records imitating the sounds of New York and in particular, Twilo. Lifetimes is taken off Slam’s Alien Radio album. A record that contains gems such as ‘Fast Life’ (check ‘Fast Life’ out too)

2002. PERCY X – CLUB X

Andrew MacKinnon with this on point arpeggiated electro techno workout was a favourite with the likes of Erol Alkan and Andy Weatherall.. I just made that last part up. I’m just assuming that they would be. The moral of the story is don’t believe everything you read online. I guess.

2003. PHIL KEIREN – YOUTH.

Belfast born ginger techno tower Phil Keiren’s up-tempo stabs may not be the most famous of tracks to come out of the Soma camp in 03. I could only find 2 mins. It’s not fun skulking about looking for all these full mixes as any digital crate digger will tell you. If there is such a thing.

2004. ADAM BEYER & JESPER DAHLBACK

Swedish Techno Mafia were very much established at the time. Beyer’s famed propulsive clinical beats compliment the atmospheric leads and textures. I could be wrong with the who did what. That’s the fun, I guess.

2005. ALEX SMOKE – BRIAN’S LUNG

Electro techno from Glasgow’s Alex Smoke. While it may not be Alex’s most recognisable creation, it’s aged particularly well in comparison to many of the other records in its peer group and show’s Soma’s commitment to local talent. Good on them, aye?

2006. MY ROBOT FRIEND – DIAL ZERO (MODESELEKTOR REMIX)

New York based Howard Rigbert’s unique lo-fi trashed up grit gets a rework from the oblique strategists of techno.

2007. LEE VAN DOWSKI – THE STRIKE PANDEMONIUM

The French man landed a superb piece of energetic minimal techno that wasn’t out of place in the explosion in techno during the latter part of this millennium’s first decade.

2008. THE BLACK DOG – TRAIN BY THE AUTOBAHN (ROBERT HOOD REMIX)

Trio have a long running relationship with Soma. Although the label’s swelling with Black Dog albums, EP’s and remixes. This marries the absolute need for them to get a mention on this chart and my love for Robert Hood.

2009. HARVEY MCKAY – VESSEL.

This chord led functional piece of techno was one of the true highlights on – lets face it- what was a bit of a quiet year on the release side for the Soma imprint, but after some 18 plus years you’re allowed a bit of down time.

2010. Silicone Soul – Hurt People Hurt People (Bearweasel remix)

The right on heroes had a string of releases over the decade on Soma. This Bearwasel remix was the head-to version with its stripped back Chi-Town groove.

2011. JOE STARWARZ – CRY.

With a year full releases from huge names like Deepchord, Harvey McKay and Funk D’Void . Little known Perth based, Aussie., Joe Starwarz’ atmospheric, beatless, chillout soundscape sticks out as a bit of a mild-card in the sea of techno and house.

2012. DEEPCHORD – AQUATIC

Rod Modell and Mike Schommer are Detroit based producers that have had a long and fruitful history with Soma, making releasing a steady stream of high quality dub techno in the vein of Basic Channel.  This particular piece is a rather summery number compared to their usual signature hibernal sound-scape.

2013. GARY BECK – BRING A FRIEND

Long time friend of the Soma imprint, Gary Beck is famed for his ‘nails’ techno but his housier offerings still carry a certain urgency, building like your paranoia in an after party where you don’t know anyone. That’s just an off the cuff metaphor, but an apt one, nonetheless.
This cut was taken from Beck’s first and only studio album of the same name.

2014. Slam – Rotary

Articulated agro-house from the label curators who at this point have had 3 LP’s and countless (I can’t be arsed counting) singles and remixes. Interesting thing about these veteran producers is many of them lose their shine as time goes on. Slam haven’t needed a second wind, smashing out floor-rippers like this.

2015. DAX J – RAWFIELD

The London born techno engine, Dax J has a reputation for urgent, pounding grooves for cavernous venues across the continent. Memories of punishing eardrums and bended bodies in the early hours of sunday mornings of Berghain and Gashouder.

2016. REBEKAH – ANXIETY

What Soma have been really good at of late is putting out the big room techno sound alongside the likes of Cocoon and the signature is truly etched into this dark, arpeggiated floor-quaker from Birmingham’s queen of the warehouse, Rebekah.

The full playlist is available on our One Tribe YouTube Channel. Please subscribe for upcoming interviews, mixes and tracks from our artists, not to mention yet more thorough playlists.