25 Years Of Paper

British house label Paper Recordings was founded in 1994. 25 years later, Crazy P, Flash Atkins et al curate some of the highlights. Esme Bennett is suitably impressed.

In the fall of 1994, friends Ben Davis, Pete Jenkinson, Miles Hollway and Elliot Eastwick launched the British dance label Paper Recordings in the heart of Manchester. Often cited as a phenomenon in underground house music, this compilation looks back at the greats of a label which has spanned over two decades.

Paper’s success in the 90s showcased the talent emerging from the UK house scene and became home to some of the leading figures in nu-Brit house, setting a new precedent for British artists in the house game. Now hosting artists across over eight countries, Paper Recordings maintains a particular affinity for their ‘spiritual home’ of Norway.

This is Paper’s first compilation since their 2008 collection of mixes of Salt City Orchestra’s ‘The Book’, one of their very first releases. They’re back more resoundingly than ever to show how far they’ve come.  

Following the success of their first release, the label went on to release an eclectic volume spanning from deep house and nu-disco to left-field pop. 1995 was a pivotal moment in dance music. Orbital’s legendary Glastonbury performance in the summer left the UK yearning for more, and acid house was slowly fading, making way for the UK wave of house labels such as Nuphonic, Classic and 20:20 Vision. Although Paper Recordings nearly lost themselves due to lack of financial backing in 2003, they since have picked themselves up with force, looking to the future with gracious nods to the greats.

Twenty-five years on, Paper’s most recognisable names, Crazy P and Flash Atkins, curate an ode to Paper Recordings in the form of a brilliant two-part compilation featuring some of the label’s extensive back catalogue. Releasing the likes of Kenny Hawkes, Essa, and Salt City Orchestra in the late 90s, Paper Recordings were at the forefront of contemporary house at a pivotal moment in the UK dance scene.   Nottingham-based Crazy P takes on Part 1 of the compilation, with a host of original mixes from names near and dear to Paper Recordings.

Formed of Chris Todd, Danielle Moore, James Baron, Tim Davies and Matt Close, Crazy P released their very first 12”, ‘The Way We Swing/ Summer Bummer’ in 1997. Beginning Part 1 of the compilation is Paper Music, the alias of Salt City Orchestra, with a seminal nu-disco groove released two years after the birth of the label, ‘Downtime’. A hard-hitting opener which couldn’t epitomise Paper Recording’s any better. This is utterly raw, funky deep house that has only grown fresher with the decades. 

Ben Davis, co-founder of Paper Recordings, has stayed loyal to the label throughout his career, releasing mixes and under his superhero pseudonym, Flash Atkins. Curating Part 2 of the compilation, he kicks off with his own track mixed by the Emperor Machine. ‘Summer of Love’ is groovy electronic house at its finest, and sets the tone for Part 2 to be equipped for dance floor hitters. Norwegian artists are prevalent in Part 2: Ralph Myzers and the Kosmik Diamonds’ ‘Acid For Eddie’ is a 14 minute long delve into acid house, De Fantastiske To’s ‘When I Want To’, an acid fuelled vocal house track bouncing off to continue Atkins’ mix. The mix also contains Paper Recording moguls Those Norwegians’ ‘Molde Revisited’, a never before heard remix hosting tech drums and a nu-house groove to create a quick and flawless track.  

Looking into the origins of the label only serves to better inform us how timeless Paper Recordings have become in recent years. Their forward thinking attitude blends with a charisma and aptitude for discovering and developing the best, and this album showcases that celebration with vigour and style. The Paper Recordings family continues to work with an international roster of artists, from Indonesia to Argentina, and we hope they never stop releasing the impeccably produced house they have become renowned for.  

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