live at robert johnson
Live At Robert Johnson is the in-house label of Frankfurt's famous techno club Robert Johnson. As the label name suggests, the label's output intends to capture the atmosphere of the legendary club institution with mix albums by artists like Roman Flügel, Chloé and Arto Mwambé. LARS was first launched back in 2003 for a couple promo mix CDs, but it wasn't until 2008 and 2009 that is became a full time label. The idea to launch the label started with the first "official" compilation series in 2009. The basic idea was to make it possible to take home that Robert Johnson feeling in a materialized way. Therefore we had to establish a "proper" label with Robert Johnson artists, EP’s and albums.
Legend has it that Robert Johnson made a deal with the Devil to obtain his mastery of the guitar. Judging by the uniformly excellent output of the label that bears his name, one might suspect that Atanasios Christos Macias and Oliver Hafenbauer, the brains behind Live At Robert Johnson, made a similarly Faustian bargain. A more rational explanation points to their years of experience in the Frankfurt dance music scene.
In addition to decades spent DJing and running record shops, Christos (known casually as Ata) was a founder of the esteemed Ongaku Music, Klang Elektronik and Playhouse imprints. Together with Hafenbauer, he’s also operated the no-frills-all-thrills club for which the label is named. Their combined experience and recruitment of Roman Flügel, Arto Mwambe, Massimiliano Pagliara, and B.H.F.V has made LARJ yet another scene-defining label: a unique corner of house music which never shies away from melodies or songwriting and has proven that mix CDs can still be greatly desired products. LWE reached out to Hafenbauer to pick his brain about the label’s aims, its plans for the future, and the importance of record art. Label staple Roman Flügel was also kind enough to provide Talking Shopcast 11, a thrilling hour of bleep-filled techno and electro that reveals the continued relevance of Network and Warp Records.
Frankfurt’s Robert Johnson is one of Germany’s key clubs whose label Live At Robert Johnson has just released its first compilation of sparkling house jams.
As for its in-house label, Live at Robert Johnson, the list of artists who have recorded mix CDs—Chloé, Prins Thomas, Ivan Smagghe, Roman Flügel, Dixon, Thomas Hammann & Gerd Janson, Arto Mwambe, and founder Ata—suggests the scope of the club’s open-minded aesthetic. Since 2009, LARJ has also built up a fine catalog of left-field house and techno releases, ranging from The Citizen Band’s ramshackle circus tunes to Flügel’s Duran Duran-sampling "Brian Le Bon". Lifesaver is the label’s first compilation, and it reinforces the idea that Robert Johnson represents not so much a sound as a state of mind, where the wooden dancefloor acts like a springboard to a magical world.