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Compilation of the Month: Carousel Records ‘8 years of Cakeshop’

Seoul club Cakeshop launches its in-house label, Carousel Records, with a mammoth compilation of local and international talent

‘8 Years of Cakeshop’ snarls and fizzes menacingly in its opening seconds, evoking memories of late nights on sweaty dancefloors with a smoke machine masking every face. The 16-track LP, created by legendary South Korean event space, Cakeshop, is an ode to the diverse and distinctive artists who have graced their decks in Seoul. Released through the club’s own imprint, Carousel Records, in celebration of Cakeshop’s eighth year in operation, the double-disc LP has four cuts on each side, with each disc possessing a certain thematic content. Those living “west” of Seoul generate excitement on the first part of the compilation, before Asian talent is showcased on the second.

The A/B-sides are opened with the bubbling venom of Scratchclart (better known as Scratcha DVA), who releases a rapturous and taut slice of his singular production. The drums are heavy, layered and serve as a worthy introduction to this mammoth project. Yoruba-American artist Ase Manual delivers a meditative dancefloor-filling tune in ‘World Music Part 1’, where the repetitive vocals and frenetic drums are underpinned by floor-shaking sub-bass.

It gives a sense of calm and order before Mobilegirl’s ‘Iknowalilfreak’ disrupts everything. The song’s infectious hook is laid on top of triplet hi-hats and an asymmetrical, footwork-leaning beat could be made anywhere from Quito to London to Bangkok, but with roots firmly tied to Chicago. One listen and it easily catapults itself to the forefront of best tracks to be released so far this year. If the clubs were open, this would be getting rinsed in dancefloors across the world.

Elsewhere, New York City dancer, DJ and producer Hitmakerchinx lays down a scathing edit of Beyoncé’s ‘Drunk In Love’ (dubbed ‘Watermelon’), re-imagining it as the soundtrack to a sweaty summer outdoors in NYC. DJ Python’s ‘Frogviolin’ offers a palette cleanser with its piano-laced ambient. And Mexican artist ZutZut’s bass-heavy, gunfire-laced ‘Noche En Itaewon’ rounds out the ‘rest of the world’ disc of the compilation.

Experimental Hong Kong artist Kelvin T’s ‘Ice Sculpture’ glistens as the opening track of the Asia-focused C/D-sides, before Beijing-based producer Puzzy Stack’s drum claps and pan flutes further portray the region’s abundance of talent. South Korean producers Net Gala and JNS find themselves bookending two of the weakest tracks on the compilation, but their singular production helps ably support this section. With its infectious bubbly drum pattern, ‘Epicentre’ by JNS is a particular standout, as it slowly builds to deliver a top-shelf club track which could find a home on dancefloors anywhere in the world.

On ‘8 Years of Cakeshop’, Carousel Records has created a truly singular collection. What it shows is that though the spectrum of artists who have played the event space may span the globe, they are connected by a thread of forward- thinking club music, which they are able to deliver both in a DJ setting and on a compilation.