Room to let: welcome to vakant. At least since the Sex Pistols, "vacant" has been, well, not so pretty a term, signifying the empty, the shallow, the vacuous: the hollow men, with holes for hearts and heads. But Berlin's vakant label gives the word a new meaning. Like so many electronic labels, Kompakt, Warp, and ~scape among them, vakant refuses to take space at face value, choosing instead to put a kink in the works, a kick where you least expect it, a cold compress on an 808 heatwave. At its simplest, "vakant" might stand for the spaces left between the beats. This is, after all, a "minimal" label, where melody's a thing less glaring than glanced at, where every beat is bracketed by another, be it brother, ghost, or doppelgnger. You groove to the 4/4 inevitable, you glom to the handclaps on the 2 and 4, regular as Greenwich Mean. But the swerve is in the spaces left unsaid and the hiccups that make a ritual out of happenstance. (Classical music has its accidentals; techno, born of African drumming and cranky machines, takes the idea into a new, rhythmic realm, and vakant's riding shotgun the whole way.)
But vakant is also and more importantly a label that leaves that crucial space for the very idea of "minimal" to develop, that recognizes its place in a lineage (after all, we've been doing this minimal thing since Rob Hood, people; since Baby Ford, since "Baby Wants to Ride"). "Minimal," the descriptor, is already wearing out its welcome, wrinkling under overexposurehow do you spread SPF60 on a nonentity? But vakant's one of those labels that still realizes that minimal is a strategy, not a tag; a way of linking all those micro-events and incidental sounds into something coherent and moving and yeah, still quite surprising. A way of spinning peaks and troughs into something warm and fuzzy as a cat's purr (or, for that matter, as final as a crack in the ice underfoot). vakant, valorizing open space, has also become a place for known entities to explore alter egosfor top talents to fashion other sounds. Links, connectors, crossovers: vakant is filling in the empty spaces. There's always room at the top.