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.
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.
Jumping on to the map with a co-sign from genre-line toeing Micachu, London newcomers MOLLY release Better Halves, a 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.
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 : )
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.
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!).
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.
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”.
London producer Tsvi first caught our attentions through an exuberant edits package that captured the adventurous spirit of devil mix grime, only if it had the propulsive nature of percussive techno. Lacking any pretension, Tsvi’s has an intangible immediacy to it and despite having a relatively small footprint, it’s clear that he has the panache to join a rarified stratum of artists. “I Married The Woman Of My Dreams” is the latest Tsvi jawn and, for now, the only track on his Soundcloud. In a recent Bok Bok interview, the Night Slugs head honcho referred to an aesthetic he calls the “hyper-real”, a distinctly hi-fi sound that retains an innate natural sensibility. It can be seen in the Classical Curves cover art, Girl Unit’s Hysterics project and, as far I’m concerned, “I Married The Woman Of My Dreams”. While Bok Bok’s use of the adjective “wooden” is a little convoluted, the conflagration of metal, earth and space in the aforementioned projects in undeniable. We might have a hyper-real movement on our hands so keep an eye out for Tsvi.
Over the past few years, it’s become apparent that Soundcloud has become the dominant form of sharing and funding unreleased dubs and radio rips. While Youtube still holds a place in the collective consciousness and radio stations like Rinse, NTS and Berlin Community Radio continue to shine, Soundcloud is the real digger’s paradise these days. It doesn’t rile the imagination like pirate radio or offer physical substance like acetate, but Soundcloud does at least offer a relatively comprehensive database for unreleased material, often uploaded only minutes after being rinsed on an online radio station like Sub.FM, RWD FM or Nasty FM. Essex resident Gundam, a member of the RawSense collective, has taken a special liking to the Soundcloud platform, uploading numerous radio rips, reposting whole shows that feature his music and regularly offering free beat tapes and remixes to his fans.
As far as aesthetics go, Gundam fits into a cadre of modern classicists that includes JT The Goon, Major Grave and others, taking what was so effective about grime’s early years and giving them a contemporary update. That being said, he also dabbles in hip hop production and clearly has a keen interest in breakbeat-led forms and the percussion-heavy machinations of producers like Neana and Akito. He’s remixed pop stars Drake and Beyonce to great effect (trust me) and also accumulated nods from Flowdan, Slackk and Son Raw. His nom de guerre elicits images of larger-than-life robots and his music is equally massive, both mechanical and fluid, a far from linear course leading from grime’s past and into its future. Gundam’s Astral Plane mix exemplifies this ethos, picking and choosing key elements from the formative era (in the form of Blackwax’s “Pulse X” remix) and contiguously mixing them with hyped, but untested new tracks (William Skeng’s “Symbiotic Wetsuit Riddim”). If you’re looking for a comprehensive account of where grime has been, is and will be, then look no further.