10 Years Affine Records: An Essay

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These days Affine Records has quietly rounded off a decade. About 10 years ago, in October 2008, the Viennese music label released into orbit its catalogue number 001 with the vinyl release of Dorian Concept´s “Maximized Minimalization”. In “times like these,” a simple flowery laudation feels inappropriate and to simply play the polished keys of nostalgia falls short as well. Particularly since Affine Records was not founded in times of an exuberant spirit of optimism. The “golden years of the music industry” were known to us only by hearsay, and the ugly and grotesque face of platform capitalism was already beginning to show itself.

However, seen at large and personally, the year 2008 was still ”a time of opportunity” in a privileged environment (Vienna, Austria) with a more or less intact public sphere. A public which consisted amongst others of the developed structures of classical or subcultural media and the advantages of more mildly programmed social media algorithms. A nearly ideal hybrid for an ambitioned music label that had initially started off without a master plan, devoid of start-up mentality and basically as a typical DIY venture. A tree with extensive branches has subsequently grown from this delicate plantlet. Since then, Affine Records has in regular irregularity released music in various formats, emphasized different styles and contents, and shaped and accompanied artists. Thus, the generation of publicity was a necessary and constant companion. It was an always exciting and challenging process for both artist and label. From its inception, the ”Affine Headquarter” has had an ambivalent stance towards the opportunistic attention economy. An ambivalent stance which increasingly developed into a clearly critical attitude firmly positioned in a critique that protests against the progressive privatization, monopolization and monetization of the public sphere and the accompanying dismantling of democracy.

Since what is the use of a handful of beats when neoliberals and fascists are enforcing their perfidious agendas? And what is the mid- and long-term use of a handful of beats when artistic and cultural studios are slowly being robbed of their basis of existence, magazines are regularly forced to discontinue their operation, young creative artists and journalists are deprived of their position to develop a genuine perspective for livelihood, and marginalized groups of people in general are further pushed into an offside position while every form of discourse on the decisive sociopolitical questions remains disavowed?

To speak casually, we as a society have allowed it to come so far. However, as a solidary society we also have the power, the ability and the means to articulate a novel balance and intentionally set us in the ”driver‘s seat of responsibility.” Complicated. Simple. Both, as usual. And how will Affine Records continue? Well, it will always continue in some way or another, and we plan to stick to our core competencies. However, in the meantime we remain concerned with nothing less than the joint repression of illiberal forces and thereby the support of the development and expansion of modern democracy.

Essay: Jamal H. (Founder und operator of Affine Records)