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Self-described “NEW BAROQUE DIGITAL BITCH TRAP AMBIENT BALL” artist RIVA released his Fast Life EP yesterday through the record label/club night/clothing line/post-physical place to be, SEAPUNKGANG. While SPG is #tumblrwave, they have created a very real, very tangible place in this world recruiting Groundislava, Cid Rim, and Panteros666 to be poster children. 

“Fast Life / 速い 人生” starts off the EP with pikachu crying over four on the floor bass before a stuttered euphoric wash leads the way for the RIVA to riddle off “fast life, chemical addiction.” The song comes together with a space battle sounding hardstyle beat that clears all misconceptions about what Fast Life is. “1993″ might be RIVA telling us his life story over a slow, but the slow, growling techno beat and occasional kandi dipped synth explosions make sure we don’t get too close. The three-piece ends with “White Magic / 白 マジック”. Heavier in sound and content than the other two, White Magic is the emotional breakthrough from the Milanese producer; ascending out of the party that traps the other two. Stream RIVA’s Fast Life EP below and download for the price of a like here.

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One of the most pervasive criticisms of American club music is that it lacks a level of maturity. American grime and dubstep producers don’t respect the history of their respective genres. Ballroom and footwork are functional sounds produced to assist a dance and nothing more. Jersey club is a bed squeak sample and nothing else. We call bullshit. These criticisms have been rampant since Uncle Luke and Miami bass were demonized and, unfortunately, there will also be a semblance of racial rhetoric in these discussions. Former member of Westside Schmucks and current Atlanta resident Jay Murphy knows a thing or two about club music in America and has quietly positioned himself at a major axis point of a number of scenes and sounds.

These days, Murphy goes by Legion and reps crews like Brick Bandits, Tomahawk Chop and Freshmore. In the past, Murphy has dealt mainly in the mid-Atlantic sounds of ballroom, Jersey and Bmore, but under his Legion pseudonym, he has refined his sound is a gritty amalgam of both British and American sounds. As far as DJing goes, you would be hard pressed to find someone more voracious for dubs, exclusives and wonky bootlegs, resulting in a fun, unexpected result in all of his mix work. Legion’s Astral Plane mix touches on why American club music has to be taken seriously without coming off as presumptuous, marauding through 23 tracks from members of his own crews, as well as AP favorites like Grovestreet, DJ Milktray and Inkke. The mix is breakneck and angular, settling into an aggressive modus operandi early on and never letting up. Stream/download below and hit the jump for the full track list.

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On May 27, J-Cush’s Lit City Trax imrpint will release DJ Marfox’s Lucky Punch EP, the first non-Portuguese release from the Lisbon-based artist. “Terra Batida” is the first taste of the EP, which should (hopefully) launch Marfox’s defining sound into a whole new arena. Lit City has progressed through footwork and grime already and Marfox’s myriad kuduro/tarraxhina hybrid tracks should fit in perfectly with the label’s idiosyncratic vision. Stream “Terra Batida” below and prepare yourself for May 27.

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If you’ve followed Cairo Liberation Front over the past year, you’ll have surely noticed their willingness to expand their sound into new territory and have especially shown a willingness to experiment with American rap. The Tilburg-based trio are the first act outside of Egypt to take on electro chaabi (otherwise know as mahragrant) and have taken to the wedding music-born style with an intense fervor. For more on electro chaabi, see Generation Bass’ ahead of the curve coverage, The Quietus’ exposes, or Mumdance’s recent crossover mixtape. There’s a wealth of information (and misinformation) on this rich musical style and at this point, we’re certainly not the outlet to be making definitive statements on it. Anyways, CLF recently released their first official remix, a take on Amsterdam-based duo SDMG. Playful handclaps and a childishly captivating synthesizer melody set off SDMG’s Dutch rapping, which is incomprehensible to my ears, but sounds wonderful in this context. Stream and download below.

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Jumping on to the map with a co-sign from genre-line toeing Micachu, London newcomers MOLLY release Better Halvesa 12 song, 20 minute mixtape. The duo, made up of Raisa K and Evian Cafun, doesn’t find a happy medium; instead it thrashes between Evian’s pointed afro-punk rap and Raisa’s stripped down, industrial production. It is chaotic and it is feral, but it is alive and it pulses. MOLLY will need to refine their craft, but hearing Evian say “Balance is the answer” in response to Raifa’s “I am half made up of you” on the mixtape’s title track, it is easy to imagine their trajectory. With hits in “Apparently You’re Mental Pt. 2″ and mixtape closer “Beast”, MOLLY will (hopefully) soon find themselves working alongside affiliate Tirzah on Greco-Roman taking over UK charts. Watch the video for “Better Halves” below and stream the full mixtape on Soundcloud after the jump.

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In the words of Goddollars, co-founder of Los Angeles polysexual disco A Club Called Rhonda, “we’re currently experiencing a total mainstreaming of dance music in America.” Fewer and fewer LGBT and minority stakeholders control clubs and record labels, while the festival circuit has effectively sublimated dance music’s distinctly black, gay heritage into something more palatable for the $2000 Coachella ticket buying masses. Immerse yourself in Divoli S’vere‘s music for a few minutes though and you’d be hard-pressed to agree with the above statement. Raised in New York and presently residing in Atlanta, the dancer, producer, DJ, vocalist and graphic designer has become one of the mostly hotly tipped artists in the New York-centric ballroom/vogue realm, although he would attest that he’s “not in the scene.” And while Divoli did come up as a dancer, his production acumen has more in common with Brick Bandit originals Tim Dolla and DJ Tameil than the slower, more linear form of music oft-played at balls (for a quick rundown of contemporary ballroom lingo and history, see here).

Divoli grew up in the mixtape rap and dubstep era of American music after all and it’s readily apparent in his music and DJing, which is often comprised of manic quick chops and an un-compromising ferocity. Ckuntinomksz”, now four volumes deep, is Divoli’s free mixtape series and sounds like the meeting of DJ Mustard, late-1990s Dance Mania and a mutant extrapolation of Masters at Work. The mixes have a strong pop sensibility and often include contemporary rap and R&B, but Divoli’s slinky, licentious vocal work generally dominates both his single and mixtape work. His laugh, often utilized as a producer tag, has become ubiquitous in Fade 2 Mind mixes over the past few years and Divoli has become one of the most sought after vocalists in the greater ballroom world. MikeQ, the F2M representative and ballroom ambassador, certainly noticed and snapped Divoli up for his Qween Beat imprint and the two collaborate often.

With the “mainstreaming” (read: whitening) of America’s dance culture in mind, Divoli S’vere and Qween Beat rise above the bullshit, not only because of their superior musical aesthetic, but because of the all-inclusive, collaborative, open-source and DIY ethos they bring into what they do. The production, vocals, visual design and dissemination are all doen in-house and all done right. You don’t need to be able to afford bottle service to enjoy, produce or play out ballroom, but you do need to understand its roots and respect its musical and dance form. Without further ado, Divoli ran through 26 manic tracks in just over half an hour in his Astral Plane mix. You’ll hear plenty of the holy trinity, Beyonce, Britney and Rihanna, as well as unreleased bits from various Qween Beats artists. After all, anyone can enjoy ballroom music, but don’t expect your duck walk to be described as ckunt unless you really bring it.

Side note: the art work was devised as a collaboration between our team and Divoli : )

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At some point over the past two years, Anthony Naples crossed the threshold from “talented newcomer” to “New York City dance music talisman”, but you’d be hard pressed to point out exactly when the transformation occurred. From his very first release on Mister Saturday Night (the Mad Disrespect EP), people flocked to the young, modest producer and by the time the “P O T” single was released on Proibito in 2013, a full blown Naples folklore had developed. It doesn’t hurt that Naples exclusively releases on reputable outlets like Rubadub and The Trilogy Tapes along with the aforementioned Mister Saturday Night and Proibito, was recruited by Four Tet to open his U.S. tour, and has garnered plaudits from just every publication on either side of the Atlantic. But the truth is that much of the Naples folklore has arisen organically as a result of the outstanding quality of each and every release since the barnstormer that was “Mad Disrespect”. In May, Naples will release his second EP on The Trilogy Tapes, anchored by the following “Perro”. It’s dusty, roughhewn and slightly psychotropic, all too common descriptors for a Naples song, but ones that function for a reason.

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In a land with rife with failed labels and half-baked marketing ventures, it’s always a pleasure to come across an outlet that appreciates the simple things and puts its focus solely on turning out a coherent, well-conceived final product. Fresh faced London imprint Club Soda Records fulfills that ethos, drawing lines across myriad UK “bass” genres, but touching on grime and garage primarily. In february, the label released parjo01‘s Shadows EP, a tightly wound affair with a high quality dub and some aggro patois chatter. On May 5, the label will release Hollow Legs’ Grillin’ Me, a patient EP with a razor sharp amphetamine edge. “Don’t Send Me”, the EP’s closer, might be the heaviest effort on the release, featuring punchy kicks and grime-worthy bass hits. It’s all about club sensibility here and it’s clear that Hollow Legs and Club Soda know a thing or two about what sounds good and right on a large rig. Stream/download “Don’t Send Me” below and hit the jump for a preview of the full Grillin’ Me EP (which also features remixes from Clueless and Blnd!).

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On first listen, Grenier and Archie Pelago seem an odd pairing, the former cultivating a strong following in the ambiguous West Coast “bass” scene under both his Grenier nom de guerre and his DJG alter ego, while the latter’s live instrument-based house output have endeared them to the NYC faithful. That being said, Grenier has released his fair share of chunky house and Archie Pelago show an unrestrained willingness to collaborate and experiment so maybe that reactionary observation isn’t so accurate after all. In May, UK label Melodic will release Grenier meets Archie Pelago, a 12 track effort that promises to usher in Summer with a light-hearted, meticulously textured take on the four-on-the-floor blueprint we all know and love. The album was conceived on a “hazy, early spring afternoon in the basement of an art gallery in San Francisco”, but that doesn’t mean it’s full of dense, elegiac house that is only fit for the most adventurous dance floors. Instead, Grenier meets Archie Pelago is an immediately accessible, gratifying affair, featuring alluring strings, twangy bass and a cohesive Summer sun thread that rejects the pastiche that come of live instrumentation in dance music.

“Swoon” is the first single from the album and epitomizes everything noted above, from the tightly wound rhythmic structure to the melancholic string work. On a simple level, the song is elegant and beatific, offering up the perfect soundtrack for a day party, but that’s not all it offers. In its composition and instrumental arrangement, “Swoon” conveys a range emotional concepts that belie the melancholy strings that makes up the brunt of its melody. There are hints of triumphalism in the horns and an obstinate digital futurism in the synthetic bleeps. Overall, the song’s whole is far more valuable than its constituent parts. The album won’t be released until May 19, but you can stream “Swoon” now and pre-order the full LP here.

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Los Angeles-based producer and sometimes Body High affiliate Sage Caswell released a strutting new EP this week on French label Decabaret, his first official release of the year. The EP, Tribute 2 CC Archer, builds on the rough-around-the-edges house template he’s manufactured (often alongside Cromie), but adds a certain flair that allows the music to rise above the dusty drums + cyclical chord melody + ethereal vocal sample template. “Street Lite” does not appear on Tribute 2 CC Archer, but the track is a belter in its own right, a chugging scythe-like number that matches rusty nail percussion with a dose of filter-heavy chord work. Like most of Caswell’s productions, it fits in perfectly with the late night club aesthetic and that’s right where it belongs. Stream below and head over to XLR8R to download “Street Lite”.

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