A day of Transcendence in Antwerp with the inspiring deep D&B collective
On July 28 2023, we saw the release of Marge’s Transcendence EP. For this, Abyssal Music gathered at Lokaal Talent Antwerp for an intimate friends and family celebration.
In case you’re not yet acquainted, Abyssal Music is a Belgian label specialising in the deeper and darker side of drum & bass. Spearheaded by label boss Blanko, and regularly showcasing local and upcoming talents, they’ve grown from their ‘new label on the block’ status to a promising tour-de-force with a presence at renowned events and spaces such as Rampage and Club Vaag.
Marge’s Transcendence EP is a great example of where Abyssal is at right now both sonically and collectively. A collaborative EP that united six different artists from the label, they thought it was time for a small family gathering to celebrate. “Over the past few months we’ve really seen the label grow,” says Blanko. “So this was the perfect time to bring the Abyssal Music family back together.”
Music at this unique family gathering came courtesy of resident artist Chompz, bossman Blanko. Also present were Cynical Gene, Cedex & Higher Underground and Grintax, all of whom have tunes on the EP. As always, the label didn’t forget the Antwerp locals, so when we arrived at the release party local heroes SoundDrone and Rubix were behind the decks.
“This is an amazing concept, I’m so stoked to be a part of this,” Rubix tells us. “I’ve known Abyssal Music for some time now, and I’ve released a track on the label, it’s really great to work with them. Their parties give me energy time and time again, so I’m really happy to be here.”
After giving a platform to local upcoming talents, it was time for the real reason Antwerp gathered that day: the Transcendence EP Release. The next artist to take the stage was Grintax, who made a bootleg of Emalkay’s ‘When I Look At You’ for this EP. “This release party feels like coming home to me,” he says. “I’ve already released six tunes on Abyssal Music, so the label feels like family. Even though we don’t see each other much, the bond stays strong. Everybody here shares the same love for bass music, I love it.”
Continuing the family vibes was Cynical Gene. He wrote the track ‘Inside’ together with Marge, which was kinda fitting as everyone came running inside to support the vocalist when she picked up the mic for the first time. One of those special moments when the party came together and the vibe went up several notches, it captured exactly what Marge loves about these type of intimate events.
“When Blanko came up with the idea of a release party, I was up for it instantly,” she says. “I’m really in my element today, cause there’s such a family vibe here. Everyone knows each other, and that makes singing here very different than on bigger stages like Dour. I’m more at ease here. I don’t have that little voice in my head saying ‘What if people don’t like it?’, because I know people are here for our music.”
The rest of Cynical Gene’s set fit the cosy-but-underground vibe of the day. Even the sun decided to come back after a while, turning the scene into a bright place. “Before writing this track, I’d never worked with a vocalist before,” says Cynical Gene. “It was nice working with Marge. I got a lot of help from artists like Koax and Threts processing the vocals as well, because I had never done that before. It’s quite surreal to be here today actually, to finally have the track out after three years, but I’m happy to be here. The whole crew is here. I want to be part of the Belgian scene as much as I can, so me having a track on Abyssal means a lot to me.”
Cedex and Higher Underground were the next ones to take the stage. They brought darker and heavier vibes with ‘Divine’, one of the harder tracks on the Transcendence EP. “I’ll never forget how hard our tune went at Gentse Feesten last year,” says Cedex. “We were playing drum & bass in the middle of Ghent, not knowing what people would think. But ‘Divine’ was one of the tunes that made the audience go off.”
Both already established artists in the Belgian D&B scene, they like supporting newer labels: “We love being a part of this. We admire Blanko’s hard work. He’s working hard to put Abyssal on the map, and he’s always doing it with nothing but love for the scene.”
They followed through the darker vibe in the rest of their set. Mixing it up with lighter dancefloor tunes here and there, it was the perfect way to end the afternoon and set the mood for the rest of the evening which was taken care of by Blanko and Chompz.
Showcasing the other tunes from Marge’s EP amid the latest bangers and plenty of dubs, they brought the party together and sent everyone home with a satisfied smile on their face. This was much more than a release party, this was a genuine family gathering and a real moment for Belgium’s underground drum & bass community.
“Curating the line-up, we tried to give a platform to all the artists that are on the EP, or have released on Abyssal before,” says Blanko. “It really meant a lot for us to be able to organise this coming together. We love bringing people together, making them connect. Some of these artists had never seen each other, and for them to now play together, it’s amazing that we could make that happen.”
“Everybody is coming together as a team, as a crew,” Chompz adds. “Organising this release party, we wanted to keep it in the family, but it’s also in a public space as you can see. That way, there could be someone walking past, hearing the music, and discover drum & bass.”
With this type of approach, it’s more than clear that Abyssal Music is here to stay. In fact luring unsuspecting ears is fast becoming a signature for the label itself, as Chompz explains. “At Rampage we walked around with what looked like a bag of candy, but it was actually full of promo stickers,” he grins. “That made for quite some good laughs.”
And so the good times continue. Following Marge’s Transcendence EP, plenty more can be expected from the label. This year we’ll get one more EP, one freebie, and their first label night. Next year the label Abyssal Music will be celebrating their fourth anniversary with a massive VA showcasing Belgium’s finest artists. Their future is looking bright. “People come up to us telling us or messaging us how they enjoy the label,” Blanko smiles as the event winds down. “That’s so amazing, those are the things that keep us going…”
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