10 essential Planet Mu releases

By in Features





Our 10 essential series sees VF and friends of VF dive into our favourite labels, artists, genres, and scenes to pick 10 essential albums, EPs or tracks for any collection. 

Created in 1995, as part of a deal between Mike Paradinas (µ-Ziq) and Virgin Records, Planet Mu has spent nearly 30 years being one of the UK’s foremost boundary-pushers in electronic music.

Read more: 10 essential Japanese reggae releases with Kay Suzuki

Despite cutting ties with Virgin in 1998, the label has blazed a path in sub-genres as varied as footwork, IDM, dubstep and breaks–giving a home and launchpad to pioneers including Venetian Snares, Mr Mitch, RP Boo and Jlin.

In an interview with FACT, Paradinas explained the different genres and sounds of Planet Mu. “I think in the beginning we had the IDM phase, then the gabba/breakcore/jungle phase, then grime and dubstep and then footwork. I think that’s how people perceive it. And within that there were still all sorts of different things at different times. We still do some IDM now, or electronica, or whatever people call it. It’s all fun.”

Back in 2015, Planet Mu and The Vinyl Factory worked together on the release of 20 Years of Planet Mu, a career-spanning compilation for the label’s 20th birthday.

In celebration of Planet Mu’s latest release, Jlin’s excellent EP Perspective, VF looks at the albums, EPs and compilations that have defined the label’s considerable discography.


Lunatic Harness

The pièce de résistance of the career of Planet Mu’s founder, Mike Paradinas aka µ-Ziq. Released in 1997, Lunatic Harness is a clear highlight of µ-Ziq’s illustrious career–an intricate, melodic introduction to the breakcore world. Tenderly bouncing across ambient lushness, spasmodic bleeps and relentless breaks, Lunatic Harness is a lo-fi package that deserves its enduring reverence.



The 1998 debut album of Dylan Nathan aka Jega. Following in the steps of his label mate and influence µ-Ziq, Jega blends genres across the breaks spectrum with a distinctly hardcore edge. Spectrum is the first release on Planet Mu and a landmark in the canon of London’s late ’90s IDM scene.


Sound Murderer

A compilation of jungle cuts from ’93 to ’97, Remarc’s Sound Murderer is an astute snapshot of the jungle and ragga resurgence as it pulls singles from labels including Suburban Base, Kemet, Labello, White House and Dollar Records. Sound Murderer scratches a different itch from much of Planet Mu’s early discography. It’s big and bold and built for straight-up raving–introspection is not on the menu. That’s not to say that Sound Murderer lacks complexity. This compilation is packed with dynamic jungle anthems and a driving sense of high-speed anxiety. Essential for all junglists.

Venetian Snares

Rossz Csillag Alatt Született

A quintessential part of Planet Mu’s story, prolific Canadian producer and composer Venetian Snares has released extensively on the label over the years. Where Venetian Snares’ output can be spotty (a likely case with someone who has released this much music), Rossz Csillag Alatt Született is a discography highlight. The 2005 album marries distorted breakcore with classical strings and brass to a perturbing effect. From the haunting sampling of Billie Holiday on “Öngyilkos Vasárnap” (a cover of the so-called “Hungarian suicide song”) to the inclusion of Franz Waxman’s “Carmen Fantasie”, this is a record that mashes together two estranged sounds for a wholly unique and intriguing outcome.

Mary Anne Hobbs, Various Artists

Warrior Dubz

Who doesn’t love Mary Anne Hobbs? This extraordinarily prescient compilation brings together Hobbs’ bets for electronic’s future as of 2006 and what an all-star cast it is. Filled with a mix of commissioned tracks for Hobbs’ BBC Radio 1 show alongside heaters already bubbling under, Warrior Dubz highlights early moments from Burial, JME, Plastician, The Bug and much more. Warrior Dubz is a time capsule taking us back to a UK golden era for breaks and bass.

Various Artists

Bangs & Works Vol​.​2 (The Best Of Chicago Footwork)

Planet Mu’s discography is littered with stacked compilations and Bangs & Works Vol​.​2 is one of its best. Taking a more house and club-oriented approach than its preceding first volume, Bangs & Works Vol.2 is a transportive portal into the thrilling footwork scene that popularised the sound far from its home in Chicago. Bringing together established icons like DJ Rashad and Traxman with, at the time, up-and-comers like Jlin and Young Smoke, Bangs & Works Vol​.​2 showcases the many faces of footwork–from moody hip-hop sampling to punishing techno tenacity.



As part of the label’s stroll away from the clutches of IDM to a more footwork-focused future, one artist lives at the exact midpoint. Machinedrum, the moniker of North Carolina producer Travis Stewart, draws from the syncopation of juke whilst embracing the immaculate production of ’10s bass music. Room(s) exists within that intersection, packed with polished yet discordant creations that feature vocal samples almost as often as kick drums. Machinedrum’s sole Planet Mu outing may not have received much acclaim upon release, but its effects can still reverberate in the accessible vocal-led dance music of the ’20s.

Mr Mitch

Parallel Memories

Mr Mitch explores grime’s fringes on his soporific debut Parallel Memories. Minimalist and downcast in its approach, Parallel Memories is a forward-looking take on how grime can grow and expand beyond its roots. Not dissimilar from the mid-tempo genre meshing of contemporary Swedish label Year0001 or the entire emo Soundcloud rap scene throughout the ’10s, Parallel Memories anticipated a desire for laid-back listening within traditionally high-energy sounds.

Various Artists

20 Years Of Planet Mu

There’s no better way to sprint through a discography than a massive sampler. 20 Years Of Planet Mu, released in collaboration with The Vinyl Factory, celebrates the first two decades of the label with an exhaustive tracklist of its brightest alumni. From IDM veteran Venetian Snares to Vex’d’s dubstep and Jlin’s experimental footwork, 20 Years Of Planet Mu highlights the exploratory ethos of the label’s artists–despite how varied their work may be. Important for both label fanatics and newcomers alike.


Dark Energy

Jlin’s debut album Dark Energy is a reinvention. Clearly inspired by the frenzied structures and rough edges of footwork, Jlin breaks free from genre tropes like relying on samples to produce something entirely original–a cinematic, alluring collection of club mastery. Since Dark Energy, Jlin has worked with artists including SOPHIE and Björk and has been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for Music but this debut was the gut-punch introduction that started it all.

Jlin’s Perspective is out now via Planet Mu. Read more of our ’10 essential’ lists.