A tribute to 50 Weapons – One of the leading electronic labels of the decade
We all knew this day was coming. When 50 Weapons began in 2005 it was their sole intention to have a limited lifespan, and throughout their presence in the music industry they managed to carve a niche in electronic music. The past ten years have seen 50 Weapons curate EP’s and albums from the likes of Benjamin Damage, Cosmin TRG, Bambounou, Truncate, Marcel Dettmann, Addison Groove, among others; all bringing forth a forward thinking and innovative approach to underground electronic music.
50 Weapons had style, grace, and was always at the forefront of musical exploration. It can be a sad moment when something special like this comes to an end, but rather than mourn the closing of 50 Weapons we choose to honor the musical legacy they’ve left behind.
In our tribute to 50 Weapons, we’ve selected some of our favorite tracks over the years…and trust us when we say this…it was no easy task. Enjoy some of our personal favorites from the 50 Weapons catalog, and make sure to take a closer look into their expansive musical library to find your favorites too.
From the first beat, Up is the type of track that brings elation to the dance floor. An invigorating chord pattern continually strikes through the atmosphere of reverberated ambiance and bliss, with drum programming that perfectly suits the main rooms. Up then kicks things into high gear during the break where Benjamin Damage opens up the filters and let’s the gritty resonance occupy the stereo spectrum, only to bring the dance floors back to equilibrium with the forceful kick and techno groove. Benjamin Damage is no stranger to works like this, but he truly went above and beyond for the 36th release on 50 Weapons.
Individually, Cosmin TRG and Legowelt can stand alone and have great bodies of work. But with those two names appearing on one track for a 50 Weapons release, was there any doubt that a masterpiece was in the making? Legowelt’s interpretation of Terminus Abrupt is the eloquent fusion of classic house and techno with a modern synthetic twist. Classic rave stabs and modular sequences come together in an old meets new way, which aligns very nicely with the ethos of 50 Weapons.
Sad happiness. I guess you could say this was the feeling we had when we heard news of 50 Weapons closing. Sad for obvious reasons; no more incredible music from 50 Weapons! But there is also a level of happiness because of the achievements the label accomplished while sticking to their mantra and ethos since inception. Sad Happiness breaks the mold of traditional four-to-the-floor techno, and showcases various styles such as breaks, drum and bass, and dub elements. The pads evoke distant emotions, and Phon.o’s cohesive arrangement makes for a great piece of electronic music.
Marcel Dettmann was a staple artist on 50 Weapons, and Ellipse marked a milestone for the label. Ellipse was the 25th release marking the halfway point for 50 Weapons, and Dettmann expressed some serious techno craftsmanship for the release. Starting with nothing but the kick, Marcel Dettmann starts to ease in the various elements in the form of the filtered lead, tambourines, synth stabs, and eventually throws it into high gear with a massive bassline accompanied by open 909 hats. It’s the type of track that feels like the epic half way point for both the party and the label release.
It was only a matter of time before LA based artist, Truncate, found his way onto a 50 Weapons release. With a deeply filtered modular sequence and crispy drums, Pressurize packs a forceful punch on the dance floor. It’s also a refreshing techno track that doesn’t adhere to the typical four-by-four formula, filling a void in the night as a standout moment in any set. We imagine this one being best heard in a dark warehouse with like-minded people. When looking at the entire 50 Weapons catalog from the outside there are clearly a lot of tracks, but it’s ones such as this that stand-out and make a lasting impression on the listener.
If the album art and name of Addison Groove didn’t already give it away, Ass Jazz is a heavy 808 jam primed and ready for action. The track is one of many off the album Transistor Rhythm, and while some may consider it simple, it still withstands the test of time when it comes to a proper dance floor tool. In Ass Jazz the 808 programming stands at the center, but there are moments of surprise when a few jazzy stabs come in to the arrangement and mix things up. If it’s one thing we can take away from this track, it’s that the power of the drum machine is alive and well.
I Feel Like This has been described as the perfectly stripped back club track. That holds mostly true, but don’t confuse this as a typical tech house or minimal club groover. As always, Bambounou injects a certain level of personality and emotion even into a “stripped back club track”. The vocal remains constant among the off beat hat pattern as a very light LFO treated pad hovers low in the mix. The kick is introduced and you can feel the track moving into a powerful direction, and when the bassline changes and the hat groove takes a 180 degree turn you can see why this is an absolute monster of a track.
Fluid 67 is breaks techno at it’s finest. When your in the middle of a techno marathon and a breaks track comes through the sound-system you can’t help but lose yourself. In Shed’s track, Fluid 67, the listener is exposed to dusty drums and ethereal house chords that take on dub like elements in terms of the effects processing. Every space and gap of the audio spectrum is occupied here, allowing one to truly hone in on the complexities of Shed’s production. This one definitely embodies the old school UK rave atmosphere, and is an excellent weapon among the 50 Weapons catalog.
Techno veteran, Laurent Garnier, takes things in a rather moody direction for the 34th release on 50 Weapons. It’s a tense introduction comprised of a growling bassline and various tones, with the sounds never seeming out of place. Tracks like M.I.L.F prove that not every track has to follow the “club bomb” formula for it to still make a massive impact. In the hands of Laurent Garnier and other formidable DJ’s, a track like this can set the platform for a long continuous night of proper raving.
For the final track of the 50 Weapons Tribute, we reminisce on the very first release of the label from Modeselektor. According to Discogs, this one-sided vinyl release was the work of Modeselektor and incorporated the vocal of Just a Lil Bit by 50 Cent. We’ll admit…far from techno and what we’d expect after hearing the rest of the 50 Weapons catalog. 50 Weapons had a vision, and they were going to follow through exactly how they pleased.
The iconic vocal sample in the beginning says it all…
Purchase Just a Lil Bit: Discogs