‘Sticking with one style isn’t stylish’. So goes the slogan for Bungalow records, quite possibly my favourite label of the past year. Begun two years ago by DJs Marcus Liesenfeld and Holger Beier (also known collectively as Le Hammond Inferno), Bungalow has released some outstanding and outstandingly different records. Last year we had the quirky Laila France/Momus collaboration LP Orgonon, which gave us some of the best moments in a so-called Lounge Core scene that was already boring and stale, and this year has seen more avenues being explored. Bungalow may have gained their early reputation within that Lounge trend, but as their slogan suggests, things progress. Thankfully.

So in 1998 we have had the New Astronautic Sound of the Peter Thomas Orchestra, with a 10" and LP full of sounds from the future past of the mid 1960s. Full of the playful sounds so beloved of Tim Gane and Stereolab, the original soundtrack for the French TV series Raumpatrouille (Space Patrol) blasted into the stratosphere and left it’s mark at the top of the charts, thanks to Pulp’s judicious sampling on This Is Hardcore. Some excellent brief blasts of sci-fi tomfoolery with titles to match. Take ‘Picciato In Heaven’, ‘Mars Close Up’, ‘Shub-a-dooe’ and the glorious ‘Jupiter’s Pop Music’. Apt, or what? Sleeve comes with some great black and white shots of the original TV show, which on the face of it makes Space 1999 look as advanced as Independence Day.
Also appearing earlier in the year was the eponymous LP by Fantastic Plastic Machine. Ostensibly the brainchild of Tomoyuki Tanaka, this was cartoon pop for intelligent clubbers with a sense of humour. Think Pizzicato 5, think Gentle People, think the band that Bam Bam and Pebbles would have formed if the Flintstones was informed by the 90s beat boom and not the 60s one. Speaking of those references in fact, Maki Nomiya does indeed guest here, as does Dougee Dimensional and the aforementioned Laila France. Also cropping up are Luke Gordon, Maxwell Implosion and of course Le Hammond Inferno themselves, who all add their respective angles to the mixes. Great spring Pop, one for playing in the background as you mix the Pimms on the balcony.
More recently (well late June / early July to be honest) there has been the release of the challengingly titled Woman Is The Fuehrer Of The World by Germany’s Pop Tarts. Pop Tarts by all accounts are beloved by The Beastie Boys, and since they signed Bis to Grand Royal in the US, it’s easy to see why, because Pop Tarts do have a feel of the best of Bis to them. But without the tendency to overly annoying screams, which is no bad thing. Bungalow suggest that the record be filed under ‘explosively melodic take no prisoners trash pop punk’ and it’s a fair suggestion. They do indeed come across as a collision between The Ramones and Stereolab, with a bit of prime Tallulah Gosh thrown in for good measure, and as such it’s infectious melodic PunkPop noise for sure.
A fabulous introduction to the world of Bungalow is available now in the guise of the Suite : 98 compilation. Collecting unreleased tracks by a range of artists, Suite : 98 is the best collection I’ve heard in ages. Highlights? So many, but mention has to be made of the hilarious ‘the Most Important Man Alive’ by Momus, a song which catalogues a meeting with Howard Devoto, relating the influence of the man and which, one wonders, might possibly be aimed at a certain Mr Hanlon and his Divine Comedy? Perhaps, perhaps not. Also worth special mention are the short but sweet ‘Gemuese’ by Daverfisch, and Le Hammond inferno’s ‘From Imola to Monaco’, complete with screaming engine noises. Smart, knowing and with a great sense of humour. Those are but the top moments, however, and the other 10 tracks are equally worthy of attention, with barely a slip from top quality throughout the entire collection. Classy Summer Pop, and with smart tracing paper sleeving to boot. Essential.