Anyone who’s caught themselves in a moment in the corridors of a dark club — where propulsive, main room beats become muffled in the wash of ambient crowd noise and the enticing out-thereisms of Room 2 — has already felt the vibe of Alien Jams. In those moments of surfing suspense between rhythms, moods and temperatures, the dance feels dizzy with cosmic potential. It’s a feeling that Chloe Frieda’s label has bottled and sold across its 18 releases to date.
From the rumbling distortion and tape-hiss pulse of oMMM’s ‘Parallel Lines Converge’, which launched the imprint, to EPs and albums by rkss, Beatrice Dillon & Karen Gwyer, Wilted Woman and more, Alien Jams fuses techno, electro and EBM with noise, dark ambient and sound collage. The parameters of what constitutes music for the club and music for headphones are stretched to their limits across its catalogue, and the results are never less than thrilling.
Alien Jams has its origins in 2011, as one of the first regular shows on NTS Radio. Frieda, who had relocated to London from Bellingham, Washington a couple of years before, had previously held a residency on the university station KUGS FM, and wanted to start a new show exploring the history of electronic music.
Listening to early episodes of Alien Jams, the sounds of electronic pioneers like Daphne Oram, Delia Derbyshire, Morton Subotnik and Kraftwerk appear alongside cuts of post-punk, minimal synth and industrial music; Frieda digs deep into obscure scenes, as well as introducing contemporary innovators. Gradually, her interests leaned further into newer sounds, which have in turn become the label’s focus.
“When I started doing the show I was doing a lot of research into technology developing in the ’60s and ’70s, and things changing in the sounds,” Frieda says. “I still have that as part of the show, and I think it is quite nice to have that background because it is this kind of backbone — but now, I try to give a platform to newer artists. I’m interested in just showcasing new stuff.”