3 years in the making together with Alex Font shaping 7 years of MINIMALER in a label « Cross The Limits » is now available and I’m the happiest to present you its overall process through this exhaustively long – yet needed – review of it.
This first chapter launching the album-only series of MINIMALER Factory has been released as Early Birds exclusively on Decks since October 10th, 2023, and it features six brilliant original creations from Alex Font as well as stunning reinterpretations from Alexis Cabrera, Dubtil and Franco Cinelli, and is now available at more vinyl stores like Juno (who wrote a truly kind review of Alex’s album) and is currently on presale at HHV.
There is a person without who MINIMALER Factory simply would not be the same : Alex Font. I’m sure many of you already know about the fascinating music teacher, dedicated mastering engineer and unique label head he is, I’d even personally say he is a stunning performer, an ace producer, a fantastic musician, and well, through all of these amazing words, this is nevertheless by his incredible human side that he’s even more standing out – and I really mean it, he’s a literal gem at all levels.
Alex Font is an artist from Valencia in Spain who is steadily working his music signature for the last 15 years by means of vinyl releases since 2008, on labels like German one Timbee and Ibiza based Oblack. This is then by 2015 that he opened his first record label called ACMÉ, on which he started to release his creations through Introductory, Inspirational, Satisfaction and Sabor opuses, which ones have been fast enough enjoyed by the artistic community. Indeed, Alex Font has been inviting over time a bunch of international artists on the following ACMÉ releases including Aron, Cezar, Dewalta, Faster, Guy From Downstairs, Lizz, Nils Weimann, Sepp, VID, Vincentiulian or Vlad Caia just to name a few.
By 2017, he gave birth to his second imprint called Third Stream, which he has developed in dedication to the real diggers, shaped with hardly any promotion in order to preserve the music to those who invest time in digging deeply and support the music industry. Through this Third Stream, he’s been already welcoming music producers like Amo, Direkt, Florian Meffert, Incolor, Lulla, Olivian Nour and Silat Beksi.
He released an exclusive remixes version of his second release titled Inspirational back in 2019 – formerly released in 2016 – which is in my opinion one of the best collaborative LPs around, in which he welcomed producers from many parts of Europe – as mentioned above Dewalta, Jack Wickham, Mihai Pol and Cezar – and added a bonus creation titled Vertigo, and well.. this one is a jewel of a creation.
Being able to produce this kind of advanced music productions does require some skills as a musician, at least some solfeggio and troubleshooting regular practice of instruments, and so in this idea by musician I mean instrumentalist, and Alex Font is a real instrumentalist as a matter of fact, he does play piano since his childhood, he plays also drums like a real maestro, and he’s also part of a Latin band of percussion aside of his performer and music producer hats.
Besides all of these, he’s also a music teacher, as he hosts masterclasses since 2020 for music production – ones that should be returning soon in 2024 – he runs everything by himself, from the structure of the classes contents to the actual software enabling him to host these masterclasses, from the knowledge and techniques to provide in a pedagogic manner, all of this being one of the most talented artists around, Alex Font this is a bit of Professor X from Marvel but for the music industry.
I met Alex Font back in 2019, first of all in a kind of digital way as he was releasing the ACMÉBOX by this time, eponymously called after his label ACMÉ, and because it was the first time I was seeing such a box full of impressive releases – and a cutie tote bag – while I was myself starting to write articles and reviews about releases on the former website, I decided to write an article about this ACMÉBOX, we got in touch through the publication of this box review and we got along super fast human wise.
Then I met physically with Alex Font in London, UK back in 2020, where he was playing in a party called Syzygy together with Nils Weimann, who is the half head of the SUBTIL label – and whom I was actually working with at the time, such a small world as they say – alongside with Cosmjn, Lizz and more for their first birthday celebration. As a matter of friendly tips, a bunch of copies from the latest ACMÉ release are still available in some vinyl stores, which includes a stunning collaboration between Alex Font and Nils Weimann remixed by Vlad Caia.
Something that is crazy about Alex and that highly impressed me since day zero, it’s his humility, his kindness and his smartness, while he’s also one of the most talented and dedicated person I’ve ever met, not only for music, I mean of course for music because it’s his world, but I’m talking for everything – as a matter of fact, one of the words he values the most in life is r e s p e c t
Over time we started to collaborate together on the mastering of prisma releases, while I’ve also had the chance to go to Valencia and meet with the amazing people there, including his ultimate wife Paula – who has a dedicated track that is not to be missed on ACME007.
During 2020 we started to talk together about the idea of making a vinyl together, the thing is that I have a huge admiration when it comes to Alex work, and the only label I had back this time was prisma, which is an unknown artist label. I think this is the kind of label that was making the most sense at the time for me to curate, nevertheless I have to say that I really wanted to credit each and every works of Alex under his name and not under an unknown artist one, and well this is a bit how the idea to make of MINIMALER a record label too made its path, it took so many directions I would not even remember each of them, however there has been a turning point making it so much clearer like straightforward : one day, Alex sent me a wetransfer link with 4 tracks inside, which were untitled as it was something like A/B/C/D.
I obviously listened to the tracks, and wellllll.. that was it..!
Even though I know Alex, his music and how bombastic it is, I’m always impressed by his new creations, and as a fact here even more than the usual as I was like wait what so Alex is really THIS diversified, I mean I knew he is but at this level it’s absolutely amazing to see (and to listen) : to me Alex really is a superstar. We never mentioned any borders or any creative lines, because I wanted this release with Alex to be resembling him as much as possible, by extension I wanted him to be as happy as possible of this one, this said I was truly mindblown when I did receive these tracks, I was definitely like wow. And well, Alex never fails in impressing me through his music, and so something like a year later, he’s been sending me another couple tracks through wetransfer minimalistically titled new music and I mean, it just left me speechless.
From this there was this feeling of let’s go further that started to take place in our minds, and on a personal level I wanted this to be a cool one for Alex, because out of many he’s really one of the most deserving human I’ve ever met.
We were then sure of it, it’s gonna be these six original tracks for absolute sure, it’s going to be an album and well now we’re at it, why not be making of the label itself an album only thing..?! Yes, this is itttt, it’s going to be an album only label launched by this huge six tracks album courtesy of Alex Font – but maybe now, you got the vibe : always more
So let’s add more.
This is once we’ve been ready with these six tracks that we’ve been thinking about adding other perspectives to Alex’s music – meaning remixes – and then we thought about who would be interested in adding his reinterpretation on the launch of the label. The idea is to make it meaningful here, so we started to brainstorm on who, close enough of us, would be happy to be a part of it.
Franco Cinelli has been the very first on board to give his vision of Alex Font music, and while he was touring across South America, he took time to spend some time in studios to shape his perspective of Malbec production of Alex Font, and sent us in just a couple of weeks his first version of it, which smashingly sounded bomb in my opinion. As a little note, back this time in early 2023, he told Alex he tried the premastered version of it in a gig he had over SA, and that the response he had was amazing – what better feedback would you have on an upcoming release not even announced yet..?!
Alexis Cabrera might not have been the first but the fastest once we mentioned the idea of bringing him as a remix to actually sending it, since it took him less than 24h after I asked it for him to send me this absolute reinterpretation of the release eponymous track Cross The Limits, and sorry not sorry, but now THIS is something of a perspective, it’s so much resembling his style, he’s so crazily talented!
In the meantime, Dubtil was also shaping his own vision of Alex’s music, as it was making the most sense to have him following our first chapter gathering in Valencia back in January 2023, where he’s been spreading his brainy frequencies alongside with Alex, Cristi – head of Playedby – and Zya.
This very first album launching MINIMALER Factory is therefore featuring 75 minutes of Alex Font delicacies adorned with the wonderful yet unique reinterpretations from Alexis Cabrera, not only the best live performer around but also one of the most creative producers – and beforehand a dear friend – Dubtil who delivered his very own frequencies in a masterful manner, and Franco Cinelli, who is not only a music legend but also a stunning human being, and we are the most delighted to present you this very first piece of MINIMALER Factory album-only series.
This is something truly special to be imagining arts in some ways to are eventually becoming physical, this is definitely what I love the most about converting musical files into vinyl : you get to left a timeless piece in this world that will travel times way beyond us ⭐︎
This new era of vinyl that became fancier lately through the rise and possibilities of distribution deals, bringing nothing less than traffic jam in pressing plants – on top of the infinite times of delays related to the post pandemic situations have led to something literally crazy when you’re a passionate of vinyl making : the time, but also the price. This has been a true subject on MINIMALER Factory overall process, but this is gonna be a topic for another article about the vinyl industry in 2023 – in case you’d be curious about it, I detailed it further within the Docu series featuring already 2 out of 3 episodes on the YouTube channel
So now let’s see how it has been manufactured, because that is a real subject too, especially today. Indeed, the production process for vinyl records is time consuming, expensive and starts way before hitting the manufacturing plant. The very first step once you’ve been shaping the music you want on your record is to master it, which basically means that you will have to clean the music featured on your release before you actually get to press it. The mastering engineer is optimizing the quality of the levels, limiting, equalizing, and sequencing of the tracks in order to allow their conversion into vinyl. I would say this is an essential step towards your vinyl production because if the masters are not sounding the way you’d like your vinyl to, then whatever you would do through the press, it just won’t be adding up.
The first mastering engineer I worked with was based in NYC, Alex Psaroudakis – who is now Latin Grammys Winner/Diamond and multi-Platinum Awards for Mastering Engineering – he was located at the Sterling Sound studios which were like on top of the Chelsea Market and I remember my little 24 years old self walking in the corridors and seeing all of the discs awards on the walls, it was absolutely crazy. I mean just as a matter of wow anecdote they were mastering the most part of the music industry since the early 70s and basically as part of their clients, they were undertaking the masterings for artists like Jimi Hendrix or the Bee Gees in their beginnings, followed by Coldplay, Muse, Rihanna, Beyonce, Lady Gaga or Madonna just to name a very few – but anyways, this is definitely the kind of one-time situation
Over time, as I was back in Europe, I got to meet and get super along with the one and only Alex Font, and let’s say one thing leading to another, it became more than obvious to work with him whenever there would be a prisma release mastering, and overall, I think it’s important to handle this mastering process together with someone understanding the core project you have, if not even you as a person.
And today we’re actually lucky to have numerous mastering engineers around in the scene, so if ever you’re wondering who to go through when it comes to the mastering process, feel free to be checking the works of Alex Font, Iuly.B, Lowris or Tripmastaz who are steadily making of this their domain of expertise. Here for the first chapter of MINIMALER Factory, together with Alex Font we were willing to go through Mike Grinser from Berlin-based Manmade Mastering, who is not to be introduced anymore as he’s taking care of the masters of many labels in the industry.
So whenever we’ve felt ready with the all of the chapter 1 album, we got in touch with the team from Manmade Mastering, who were both part of the kindest and most professional people I got to collaborate with, they were super reliable with everything and Mike Grinser took the best ever care of each of the nine productions of MINIMALER Factory’s first chapter. There are always some tiny things to adjust once you’re receiving the master and here to be honest, there wasn’t much to adjust as it was sounding absolutely stunning.
Once you’ve been mastering your music, you have to go through the lacquer cutting process, which is like the physical conversion of your music into a round ironish plate that will be used afterwards in the process of pressing your records.
For my previous label prisma, I’ve been doing this process in a separate manner, meaning the mastering was done in the first place and then my press partner was taking care of the lacquer cut. This is a good manner to prevent any damage to the laquer cut, since it would not be moved into many places until they reach manufacture, while they do know their material too so, it was reassuring me to do things like this by the time, being myself a super ignorant on those processes.
However, this time for MINIMALER Factory, together with Alex Font we wanted the mastering engineer to be taking care of the lacquer cutting side, and so here again this is Mike Grinser who was in charge of it, and defnitely in the ultimate way. It’s the first time I’m doing like this, but in my opinion it worth it because as much as the press knows about their materials, the mastering engineer knows about the music he just mastered, and to be honest I heard this many amazing things about Mike Grinser work, I also heard what it’s sounding like on the releases he worked on, so he’s doubtlessly the expert in this matter, v o i l a.
The process of lacquer cutting enables the press to provide labels test pressings prior the press of any release, so that you can control the quality and rendering of the masters on a testing vinyl. Several test pressings are sent generally, it depends obviously of the habits of your press, however this is also something you can communicate about in case you’d like to have more than their basis.
Regarding the vinyl product itself, its composition stayed roughly the same since its creation in the 30s, and so today considering the different social challenges related to climate change, basically the main area of development is to adopt the most sustainable behaviors possible when it comes to the vinyl production. This is where my amazing press partner Andre Kronert from Matter of Fact Vinyl has helped us to shape a product that would be in tune with both the quality we’re expecting to provide and the environmentally friendly behavior we’re willing to adopt. And it was obviously very meaningful both for Alex and I to be as meticulous as possible with the sound rendering, considering MINIMALER Factory is an eco-friendly oriented label through which vinyl are made out of 90% of recycled wax.
Thanks to Matter of Fact Vinyl press, we are as mentioned above able to deliver a vinyl made out of recycled materials – from the paper to the vinyl – while keeping up with the sound quality through the flawless work from the Manmade Mastering team. This first album from Alex Font has been imagined since 2020 as a collector item in and out, it is a significantly meaningful release for us which is available as a very limited 190g boxed gatefold edition since October 10th, 2023.
When you receive a test press, you’re basically listening to the whole of it like really from A to Z to make sure the tracks are well-positioned, that the tracks are well printed on the vinyl, and that there is no scratch or whatever that is not supposed to be within the music.
Let’s say you’re receiving 4 test press, you can see it as a sample test, meaning if there is no problem to highlight out of 4 vinyl, there will most probably won’t have any more out of 3/4/500 copies you’re expecting to press. And so on the other hand, if out of 4 vinyl test you already have some issues, there will in this case most probably have issues too out of 3/4/500 copies, so it’s important to control it all like meticulously, because there is no turning back once you have validated the test pressings.
Alex Font is the essence of this new label MINIMALER Factory, besides being a precious friend whom with it was overdue to create a story on vinyl together, he’s been cooking six brilliant original creations exclusively for the label launch to which we’ve been lucky to add three dazzling reinterpretations from iconic producers who gave their one of a kind perspectives to this album : Alexis Cabrera, Dubtil and Franco Cinelli.
Regarding MINIMALER1 tracklist, this has been shaped over the last 3 years, for which I doubtlessly felt in love straight with the vocals of Cross The Limits, the groove of Malbec, the sophistication of Moai and the chachacha warm vibe of El Rey de la Fechoría like literally straight. A special mention to Compa and Meyen which were the very last additions to Cross The Limits, that are ultimately bringing up these futuristic grooves matched to his solid and sophisticated basslines. And obviously the additional remixes from Alexis Cabrera, Dubtil and Franco Cinelli were literally the gift that keeps on giving, the cherry on the cake, the way cookie crumbles, you can call it the way you want, as all of them have brought to this album their seriously impeccable rhythms.
Moai is introducing this album through elegance with this 10+min production, and in my opinion it couldn’t have started any other way than along this peculiar gem from Alex Font. Indeed, this is the longest original creation he’s highlighting on his album, and this is for a reason, because the overall evolution of this one is in itself like a story, like a musical journey, as he combines together the gentleness of instruments with attractively leading notes and heavy basslines, this is most surely some Alex Font at its finest – and this is just an introduction.
Cross The Limits is coming next, not only titling this release, this one is also all about delivering spiritual messages with the purpose of pushing each others to become our better selves – while we can all agree it has a pretty serious groove. Indeed, Alex Font has been shaping this one of a kind of creation by matching together his hat of Advertisement Sound Designer, under which he grows his tool library for decades, to his cutting-edge machines in which he processes his creations to give them even more texture : he made real magic with this one, and here we are with this wordless production that is Cross The Limits. The very first time Alex Font has been playing the test pressing somewhere, this was happening this summer in Malaga for Sophie stunning festival at the Modular stage run by Calypso, where both Alexis Cabrera and Alex Font were to perform : Alex played this one track and it was simply mermerizing. Alexis Cabrera has remarkably been remixing the Cross The Limits creation, and this ultimate groove has been shaped in just a matter of hours – 15 to be precise – he just said send me the stems, I have an idea.. Well wellll look where this idea led us with this incredibly danceful one, he really reconstructed it in a way that resembles him so F much, it is sooo enrapturing with this terribly contagious groove, it truly feels like Alexis Cabrera by listening these funky rhythms and we do love his unique creativeness – as an exclusive note, he might not be stranger to the second chapter of MINIMALER Factory ♡
Malbec – the other production that has been reinterpreted – is opening the second vinyl of this album through Alex Font graceful and refined melodiousness, as he’s structuring here an ecstatic wingspan within these blissful instrumentalish leading notes, enhancing it all through this roaring bassline that is indubitably bringing both sensual and powerful grooves. Up next, Dubtil has been granting us with his cerebral perspective of Malbec by adding his modularish flows completely astounding, and actually he’s been that creative on it that he sent us 3 different versions for us to choose, and it’s been pretty hard as all of them were absolutely thunderous.
Franco Cinelli is the second artist to have chosen Malbec for his reinterpretation, and let’s say it he truly delivered a remix beyond any expectations, adding his tasteful frequencies, his masterful techniques and his unparalleled basslines to this creation, eventually really rendering a piece of his heart into it. As an anecdote, he was originally sending us a 30+ minutes version, which he shortened to 11’11 and I mean.. for every freak numbers like me, this is of great perspective, and in this situation it was definitely for the absolute best as the development of his reinterpretation is an impressive musical dissertation.
Compa is opening the E side, and in this one Alex Font has really been showing another skillful ray of his musical spectrum, here with more space-ish substances and tremendous sequences. As an anecdote, Alex really wanted this creation to have its own side – more than fair – as it thoroughly introduces this third and last vinyl of MINIMALER1, with its modern patterns, its exquisite rhythms and its raw yet refined development, it really is a great production. This one has genuinely been played by Raresh as part of one of his RPR Soundsystem appearances back this summer in Ibiza, which shows me he has good tastes : ) joke aside this is such a cool feeling to see something we imagined becoming physical and being played by artists we both admire the work from.
Meyen is the first production featured on the F side, keeping on more Alex Font grooves we do love, here featuring some dancefloor energies matched to recondite pieces of voice, this is a vibe I love like so f much, these leading backgrounded lines matching this bassline that plays with your mind, this is absolutely amazing to me. El Rey de la Fechoria is coming as the conclusion of this album, wrapping it up by highlighting a subtle mix of latin vocals and drummish rewarmed frequencies enhanced through Alex Font very own manner of designing music.
All along this album he presents his monstrous skills when it comes to create rhythms, his incomparable creativeness when it comes to produce timeless melodies and his one of a kind of eclectic personality heartfelt through each of these six original creations ✰ muchissimas gracias Grande Alex!
This first chapter launching MINIMALER Factory has been possible thanks to the talents of everyone featured on it, and obviously to the unique music producers that Alex Font, Alexis Cabrera, Franco Cinelli and Dubtil, therefore I felt interesting to share you here some of their latest appearances on vinyl, both upcoming and just released – and as usual, you just have to click on the reference to reach out to Discogs pages if ever this is of interest – sharing is caring ♡