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Merry Christmas, cheap records!  – Gap

Merry Christmas, cheap records! – Gap

Deserved techno label Cheap Records and its offshoot Morbid Records are celebrating their birthday with a huge lineup.

© Cheap Records / Tex Robinowitz

Strange like Cheap records In fact, it is not the 30s that are celebrated, but 30 + 1. In fact, this has a more organizational background. But let's put it this way: celebrating your 31st birthday suits Vienna's legendary techno brand better anyway.

There are two particularly good pieces of news about the festivities: first, that the truly large lineup includes more than 30 live performances and DJs from Cheap and Morbid's lineup of artists; On the other hand, Patrick Bolsinger and Erdem Tunakan chose Villa Maner in Vienna's 17th district, a popular pop-up location for their party. There's also bad news: the event is sold out. Only the label operators themselves were surprised by the huge turnout. A small glimmer of hope: Rumor has it there could be another night later this year. But how did Cheap Records get to where it is today?

Wall falling

At the beginning of the 1990s, Europe was in complete turmoil. Following the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the so-called “Eastern Bloc” gradually collapsed. After German reunification, Berlin was almost completely renovated, and entire areas were given a new look. It was a chaotic time, mixed with a sense of optimism, hopes, and fears—but it was also fertile ground for a young culture, a cultural clash between East and West, and excessive underground activity. Techno has arrived. Not only, but especially in Berlin – think of flagships like Love Parade or Tresor Club and their branding. And he has come to stay. Things were different in quiet Vienna: here, after the fall of the Iron Curtain, everything seemed to remain the same. Almost everything.

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Vienna was rarely on their radar when it came to techno in the early and mid-90s. Until the cheap records came along. The label's founders Bolsinger and Tunakan had a clear idea of ​​what techno music should be and how it should sound, and they implemented their vision consistently and relentlessly. Erdem Tunakan: “All artists had to have something specific to release with us. We had to get a feel for what's behind the track, what makes it special. These sentiments were essential for a cheap release, but the power of the time is missing today, says Tunakan, who now primarily runs the brand. In the past, people were simply more courageous, “even if it was outside the parameters of technology.”

Felix Benedikt aka Alpha Tracks and Erdem Tunakan (Photo: Cristiano Tekerdali)

Status quo Vadis

Having only had a handful of releases in recent years – most recently the Tunakan EP “Broken Deck” – more are planned for release this year, including “Broken Deck 2”. The question that has not yet been fully discussed is: should the upcoming releases appear only on vinyl or digitally as before? A difficult topic for vinyl enthusiasts like Pulsinger and Tunakan. The attitude of the two can also be seen in the fact that they released the Cheap Records catalog digitally only very late – in the fall of 2021 on Bandcamp and Beatport.

Anything that didn't fit into cheap records or was too weird or too experimental had a good shot at their sub-label Morbid Records To spread. With Felix Benedikt aka Alpha Tracks, the third generation techno head took the initiative to revitalize the brand. For him, digital releases are a given. The obsessive group is just getting started: “We are continuing the tradition of experimental music in the new collection – with old and new works,” explains Benedikt.

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The concert marking “30 + 1 Year of Cheap/Geek Records” will take place on Friday, February 2, 2024 at the Manner Villa in Vienna. Unfortunately it's long gone run out.

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