When I began to turn the original ideas for the book – the early features I wrote in 2008 and the Boom Bap Continuum mix from 2009 – into a series of presentations, I focused on this idea that a lot of the pioneering work from the early to mid 2000s was released on a handful of labels that walked a fine line between the electronic and hip-hop undergrounds. That includes labels like Ghostly International, Warp, Asphodel and Planet Mu.
In the book the work of these labels will likely be weaved into the second part, which focuses on the 2000-2006 period that I refer to as the experimental growth of this idea of beats. It’s a time when ideas felt limitless because the focus wasn’t on trying to define this music, which existed largely in a liminal space between what was then considered to be hip-hop or electronic music.
Planet Mu turns 20 this year and for the occasion I put together a lenghty oral history of the label for FACT. While its work has largely veered away from the main points of interest for the book, it remains home to some groundbreaking works like edIT’s debut and the Mary Anne Hobbs compilations, which were among the important documents of the beat scene’s rise to fame and its intersection with dubstep in the late 2000s.
It’s hard to summarise the importance and impact Planet Mu has had on the electronic music landscape. From IDM to dubstep, footwork to beats, Planet Mu has all too often been a lone voice shouting in the wind, long before others would hear its call over the constant noise of the music industry. Perhaps most telling is the fact that Mu has spent 20 years innovating without the same infrastructure and budget that other pioneering independent labels have enjoyed. It has been a genuine labour of love.