Looking back on the Silverback Recordings catalogue, it’s hard not to see the Belgian imprint as something of a scene-defining force, releasing debut and breakout EPs from the likes of Nguznguzu, Jean Nipon, Grown Folk, Jack Dixon and more as far back as 2010. The fact that the label has been around for over four years makes it a veteran in the club music scene and its piety, as far as release schedule goes, and foresight, the roll call of artists above is as impressive as they come, has allowed the label to skate relatively below the hype circus that has touched many of its contemporaries. The latest Silverback release comes from Chicago-based producer Taskforce (see: Zebra Katz, Le1f), a fitting four track excursion into Kowton-esque analogue techno augmented by remixes from Nguzu and Renaissance Man. Firmly in the tradition of Steve Poindexter and in a similar vein as the Gang Fatale folk across the ocean, Taskforce has turned out an eminently danceable EP in Return Notice and while it might not reinvent the wheel like some past Silverback releases, its function will surely be served. Stream an EP preview below, hit the jump for the Nguzu remix and “CDJ2000″, and buy your own copy of Return Notice here.
Trax Couture has emerged as one of the finest curators of club material over the past year and its latest endeavor, the outward-focused World Series, has only solidified that status. Over the next 11 months (World Series Vol. 1 came from Trax Couture resident/label head Rushmore himself and was released earlier this month), 11 artists from all over the world will be featured in the World Series, their music released on a 3D printed, hand painted USB, as well as a limited edition, three part vinyl series. In a fitting progression, World Series Vol. 2 comes from another Astral Plane fave, tireless Chilean producer Imaabs (both have tracks on our own Heterotopia compilation!), and features a rash of brazen, analogue-sounding club material. The EP doesn’t re-write the handbook Imaabs has been refining since the release of the Baroque EP (out on Diamante) last November, but it does represent a rare diligence that manifests itself in his ability to match disparate elements, the bare kick drum triplets and the raunchy staccato hook are both part of important, organic traditions on both sides of the Atlantic, in a manner that is at once natural and progressive. On Vol. 2 highlight “Grafito”, Imaabs marries dark, warehouse-driven UK techno with Jersey club, with a verve not all that dissimilar to way in which Pearson Sound, Objekt, Peverelist and others mutated dubstep in the mid-2000s. Gaunt and percussive in nature, the track is as close to straightforward techno as the Santiago-based producer has come, but I wouldn’t expect the mans to crossover into the world of purists any time soon. World Series Vol. 2 is out November 28 (this Friday) exclusively at the Trax Couture store.
After a lengthy hiatus and a few dozen scrapped drafts, Astral Plane Radio is back with a Heterotopia-heavy hour-plus of club-and-not-club-tunes. Initially, our DJ “team” believed this series to be an easy side track, a quick mix pounded out every other week or so. After spending hours and hours downloading MP3s, testing out mixes and recording unsatisfactory editions, we’ve gained a huge amount of respect for the deejays with weekly radio shows. Keeping it fresh, light and engrossing every once in a while takes time and preparation, but to do it on a weekly basis is an act of inhuman willpower we can only hope to attain. So this edition of Astral Plane Radio is out to the real radio deejays, the folks at Rinse, NTS, Berlin Community Radio, Radar, etc. keeping up so the rest of us don’t have to.
This edition will be track list-free for at least the first fee days. Many of the songs are recognizable, but some are from recent or upcoming releases from Yamaneko, Taskforce, Murlo, Rushmore & many others, songs, EPs and albums that deserve your attention in the singular sense. Furthermore, leaving the track list blank, especially with regards to the “track ID bro????” culture that Soundcloud has cultivated, can be fun at times, building anticipation in a manner that scanning a list of dubs just can’t do.
Over the past few weeks, we’ve been lucky to proffer up our debut compilation, Heterotopia, and disseminate it to all of you. We’ve also been joined by Apothecary Compositions to release a cassette version of the compilation, a somewhat arcane pursuit in the modern day, but an endeavor that has added physical depth and a collectors item sheen to the whole process. When we made the decision to release Heterotopia on cassette, we reached out to two artists, Piri Piri and Chants, who were unable to contribute to the original tape for several reasons. Earlier this week, we brought you Piri Piri’s contriubtion, the Gqom-inspired “Low Earth Orbit”, and today we have Chants’ churning “U Had Rhythm”. While largely peddling in sumptuous, sample-heavy hip hop modifications, Chants takes a strong right turn turn towards industrial clubland on “U Had Rhythm”, drafting up an excuse to eschew melody and revel in the madness of frantic, yet spatially aware percussion. While the Wisconsite leaves little to no room to breath in between the crashing, reverb-heavy kicks and cyclical, generator-like sub frequencies, there isn’t a single moment where “U Had Rhythm” feels overbearing. Instead, the track takes on a protean quality, settling into an established snare pattern for several bars before tossing it to the wind and reestablishing a new groove. As physical a track as they come.
We still have a few copies of the Heterotopia cassette available in the Apothecary web store, but they won’t be around for long. With your cassette, you’ll receive exclusive downloads of “Low Earth Orbit” and “U Had Rhythm” and alternative art work from Jesse Treece.
As a popular culture force, dancehall looms over the group of genres we cover here at The Astral Plane, having splurged from its homely confines in Jamaica to the rest of the Caribbean, and later the world, several decades ago. Despite having a global fan-base, true global icons and the backing of multiple major labels, there’s a general sense that bashment is constantly under attack, whether from white prime ministers in the United Kingdom, or, well, white journalists in the United States. It’s all too easy to flip an endemic culture of homophobia and violence, with its all too easily forgotten roots in colonial Britain, into cheap political points and, unfortunately, the practice has swept dancehall under an ill-begotten fuzz of mistrust, neo-colonial criticism and public-private walls prohibiting travel, performance and proselytization on the part of the bashment massive.
That being said, commenters are equally likely to paint the dancehall world in broad strokes of social activism, urban heroism and class conflict. Of course, the real picture is much more difficult to ascertain let alone paint and we here at The Astral Plane don’t profess to have the knowledge, experience or wherewithal to wield the brush. The Large aka Suze Webb, on the other hand, is doing more than just about anyone else on this side of the Atlantic to promote, curate and present dancehall to the masses, especially the discerning, dance music listening masses. Suze is the founder of London (where she used to reside) club night/website/t-shirt boutique Shimmy Shimmy and, more recently, label manager at the Dre Skull-helmed Mixpak Records, flexing her curatorial skill on both sides of the ocean. When behind the decks, Suze goes by The Large and peddles a wide variety of Caribbean, British and American riddims, specializing in the soundsystem continuum.
Which makes Suze the perfect representative of the sonic (and classical) miscegenation constantly occurring at Mixpak and Shimmy Shimmy, a process that sees dancehall embraced, altered and invested in by residents of New York, London, Bristol, Sydney and beyond. It also makes her work as The Large one of the most tantalizing deejay projects around, an unabashed journey through riddim culture that dates back to 2012. Suze’s “Gas Pedal” and “2 On” mixes, her two recent and two most accomplished efforts, are a veritable crossing and re-crossing of West African, Caribbean and American influences, drawing lines from Aidonia to Youngstar and back to Tinashe. Tempo is the obvious shared signifier in the mixes, but Suze’s deft touch at threading the schizogenetic needle through the geographical hinterland is the real accomplishment.
Today, we have another offer in tandem with the fine folks at IHC Presents to bring you tickets to this Friday’s (11/21) edition of the Team Supreme night, featuring Machinedrum, Doctor Jeep, Grenier & Petey Clicks’ collaborative project Nevermind and a host of Los Angeles residents. Over the past years, Team Supreme has mutated, expanded and splintered, the beat collaboration project taking on, losing and amassing new members with ease. The Team Supreme club night, on the other hand, has become something of a Los Angeles outpost for the bucket hat-clad masses, drawing kids from across the Los Angeles and San Fernando basins to Echo Park’s Echoplex. This week, the crew has brought out Ninja Tune’s own Machinedrum, fellow New York bassline roller Doctor Jeep and LA collaborative project Nevermind to the table.
While often delving a bit too deep into the droll neverscape of Southern California beatwork, Team Supreme have put together a lovely lineup this Friday and the folks at IHC have granted us with a pair of tickets. All you have to do is comment below with your favorite Machinedrum track and we’ll let the winner know their booty has been won Friday morning.
If you’ve been following the Boxed massive on social media, listened in to any of the crew’s recent Rinse show, or attended one of their eponymous club nights in London, Yamaneko is likely household name; for everyone else, the London producer is a tantalizing obscure figure. Drawing on new age meditation music, grime-but-not-grime samples and a vivid spatial awareness, Yamaneko’s debut release, the Pixel Wave Embrace LP, has garnered support from a who’s who of prominent Anglophiles on either side of the Atlantic. Pixel Wave Embrace is also a Local Action release, a somewhat surprising step for Tom Lea’s dancefloor-centric (see: Finn, DJ Q, T.Williams) imprint, but one that fits in with the previous narrative established by Lil Jabba‘s Scales, Slackk‘s Palm Tree Fire and Shriekin‘s Gold And Featherwork. “Calotype Process” exhibits the beatific prowess of Yamaneko’s work, a punchy, bewilderingly flat reinterpretation/conflagration of Wiley’s respective eskibeat and devil mix styles, arguably his two longest lasting production innovations. Pixel Wave Embrace will be released in MP3 and cassette form on November 24 and can be pre-ordered here.
A few weeks have passed since the release of our debut compilation Heterotopia and the response has been overwhelming. From each and every listener who has gone out of their to contribute to our slush fund via Bandcamp to the thousand-plus who have streamed, downloaded and shared the tape in full. Part of our mission here at The Astral Plane is to provide a consistent stream of original content and while our low budget, low staff approach doesn’t always allow us to keep the blog updated, we hope that our weekly mix series has filled the gap. On the compilation front, we were lucky to receive to late contributions, which, keep in mind, are from end of process tack-ons. Piri Piri and Chants, two artists we’ve engaged with numerous times in the past, came with the strong on “Low Earth Orbit” and “U Had Rhythm” respectively, two distinct club trax that fit snuggly into the framework established by the first 12 songs. The two songs have already appeared in physical form on the Heterotopia cassette tape, which you can still order (only a few more copies left!) via the Apothecary Compositions web store, but we figured it would be beneficial to give it up to the streaming masses. “Low Earth Orbit” is Gqom/Durban-inspired, drawing on South Africa’s rich, polyrhythmic house music history and adding their distinct, South London bent to the affair. February’s Patterns EP (out now on Silverback Recordings) is one of the year’s best efforts, but the future is much brighter for this ready-to-dig duo.
And remember, this will be our only production of the Heterotopia cassettes, so grab yours before it’s too late.
Ever-prolific Seattle imprint Hush Hush Records has built quite a stable of Pacific Northwest artists, ranging from the moody garage-inspired work of label star Kid Smpl to the cold brewed theatrics of Cock & Swan and its lead singer Ola. Hanssen, Slow Year, Korma and DJAO, who have all released on Hush Hush in some form, are also Seattle residents, feeding their respective takes on beat music, grime and Houston screw tunes with mixed results and affects. Outside of the friendly confines of the Northwest though, the Hush Hush family has expanded, from Wisconsite Chants (whose tune on our very own Heterotopia compilation will be revealed soon) to the imprint’s latest and most far flung signee, Polish producer Lowhitey.
It’s clear that Hush Hush has touched on a particular moment and sentiment in Seattle, building a brigade of deft producers to carry out a sound that both mirrors the drudge of the city and a greater human affliction. Now it’s time to see if the label can mirror and expand upon that sense of hopeful paranoia, warmth and desire in its future ventures, starting with Lowhitey’s stunning Alone With My Thoughts EP. The EP will be released this upcoming Monday (November 17), but the good folk at Hush Hush have gifted us a premiere of the aforementioned Chants remix contribution to the tape. Taking on the brilliant slow burn of “Studnia”, Chants flips the swishing water field recording into a foundation block for cracking boom bap percussion and unguarded meat grinder synth work. Chants’ take will also appear alongside remixes from VVV and The Phantom. Pre-order Alone With My Thoughts here and stream Chants’ rendition below.
With two EPs already in the bag this year, Brooklyn-resident Seafloor is gearing up for his most high profile release yet, the year closing Drift EP on Montreal-based imprint Infinite Machine. Utilizing skills as a producer, vocalist and drummer, Seafloor has crafted a group of jungle-inflected 160 tunes that bounce and swim through a haze of recognizable samples, and sawtooth synth riffs. And like some of the best jungle/footwork crossover material, Drift maintains a certain elegance, balancing the extremist sentiments of the junglists and the jello aesthetic of footwork with aplomb. While certain tracks reach a level of linearity where they would not be out of place on a festival stage, Seafloor’s sonic approach doesn’t allow the EP to fall into a monochromatic trap. Drift is set for a December 1 release, but for now you can stream snippets from the effort below and download “It Continues”, an EP outtake that has been gifted to us by the good folks at Infinite Machine.