Natural Sciences has been peddling mutant electronics with subversive intent since its inception in 2015. Consistently placing individuality over financial gain, we’ve been treated to tape-damaged dancefloor wreckers, Japanese psych, ambient emissions and Memphis-leaning dungeon rap. The remit might be broad, but it all makes sense under the Manchester label’s umbrella. 5 years in the game, 50 releases deep, no compromise.
New compilation Age in Decline marks the milestone. A 20-tracker comprised of unreleased cuts and tracks cherrypicked from the label’s Future Works series, it’s imbued with the same disregard for trends and fuck-off attitude that we’ve come to expect. Out now, NS founder Alex Hall dons his Character Collapse alias for a mix inspired by its title.
Hi Alex, can you tell us a bit about the mix?
Sure, the mix is loosely themed around the name of the comp. Tried to pull together records which leaned on spoken word-style loops that go into things like voter fraud, technological dependance and sleazy chat up lines. Some of humanities worst traits condensed into 60 minutes.
When and where was it recorded?
It was recorded in my home in Manchester at the start of October. Mainly on records but there’s an unreleased label track towards the beginning. Usually do mixes in one go and leave it pretty rough n ready. The way it’s supposed to be.
How would you recommend listening to it?
It starts on more of a club tip but goes into minimal wave and more home listening jams. It’s like a lockdown night out before getting a taxi before the curfew kicks in. Just watch that decibel count.
Can you tell us a bit about the Age in Decline compilation and how it came to be. What’s the significance of the title?
I’ve been working on the comp long before the pandemic started, but it’s obviously taken more significance as this year has progressed and the government has left club culture to rot on the sidelines. It’s hard not to think that everything has gone to shit when you look at the environment, mainstream politics, social media etc. – not feeling that optimistic about the future of humanity right now. In general, the idea was to make a release that brought together club sounds and also more ‘home-listening’ cuts to make something that would work in both settings. Also to present stuff like hip-hop, r&b, techno, wave, body music etc. and bring these sounds into a cohesive whole. I really like listening to compilations and wanted to do something that summarised five years of the label into twenty tracks and also where we’re heading to in the future.
50 releases in 5 years is quite prolific in terms of output, but what is it that you look for in a Natural Sciences release?
If I like it within the first 30 seconds then usually that’s enough – go with a gut instinct and that’s what defines a NS release. Then everything else falls quickly into place – tapes are obviously much quicker to get going than records. Luckily I only have to answer to myself.
Do you have any process when it comes to sourcing new music? Any specific places you look or favourite spots to go digging?
For buying records, my favourite local spot is All Night Flight which is in Stockport / 10 mins from my home in Manchester. Always an unpredictable selection of records but ticks the boxes of punk, new wave, noise and experimental stuff which are my go-to.
How about the last record you bought?
Been digging this Reducer record which is this wild industrial dub band that was originally recorded in the ’80s but only pressed up now. Then this insane compilation on Kashual Plastik which is a mix of contemporary noise and outsider electronics but sleeved in this chain metal outer. Drew blood getting it home.
How did you source the music played in this mix?
Acquired over the last few years – as I said most is vinyl from my collection.
And finally, given the current situation, how has Natural Sciences fared lately given the challenging circumstances we find ourselves in?
Luckily I don’t rely 100% on the label to keep the power on, so compared to most I’ve been very fortunate. I’ve scaled things back a lot, changed format on a few things and had nights pulled – the usual shit. But nothing compared to what everyone else is experiencing. Government is leaving music and small businesses to rot. Be only Tescos and Amazon left. What more signals an age in decline.
Age in Decline is out now on Natural Sciences | Buy it here