Montreal-based label Infinite Machine has made a name for itself by working harder than the rest of the field and implementing an omnivorous approach that ignores both traditional genre barriers and geography. Next up on the docket for the label is an EP from Seattle grime provocateur Korma, titled ZGMF-X19A (a sly Gundam reference) and set for a May 11 release date. The EP, including remixes from Liar and Tomas Urquieta, can be previewed here and is thoroughly excellent, another step forward for a producer whose talents have never been in question. We’ve got an outtake from the EP, a remix from Vancouver-resident Spurz, on premiere today and having run through this rework a dozen or so times, it’s baffling it didn’t make the cut. Wobbly in terms of both production aesthetic and intended result, Spurz’s take on “Dismantle” is another cross-denominational work that doesn’t skimp on the bass weight. Whereas most “grime-meets-ballroom-meets-whatever” tracks are far more interesting in theory than they are in practice, Spurz has the wherewithal and restraint to allow the sped-up “Ha Dance” sample lay dormant until the end where it hits hardest. Grab Spurz’s “Dismantle” rework below and be sure to buy ZGMF-X19A on May 19.
The second chapter in Druid Cloak‘s Lore LP series, Lore: Book Two is an extravagant journey through an imagined world, replete with cinematic flourishes and of-the-moment beat touchstones. A soundtrack sans movie, Lore: Book Two points to a number of contemporary club production techniques before eventually removing them from context and destroying them. But unlike, say, the Janus collective who follow a similar path, Druid Cloak never really brings the songs back to the club. That’s not to say that none of Lore: Book Two can or should be played out, but the album as a coherent entity isn’t exactly suitable for peak time. Out of the entire tape, “Obsidia Chroma” might just be the track most ready for the dance, a harmonically focused journey that builds into a larger-than-life crescendo that doesn’t spare the angel vocals. You can catch Lore: Book Two via Druid Cloak’s own Apothecary Compositions on May 19 and pre-order the album here.
It’s hard to believe that Rushmore‘s Trax Couture label is already at the seventh edition of its World Series, partially because each and every edition has been thoroughly on point and partially because it’s seems like only last week that the label head kicked off the series. The last three volumes have come from Air Max ’97, Akito and Dreams respectively so Vol. 7 had to come with a real punch and GROVESTREET is the perfect man to do it. Five drastically different tracks make up GROVESTREET’s World Series Vol. 7, from peak time percussive banger “Soliloquy” to “Blue Ribbon”, a bouncy, acid-tinged techno number that flips into a twinkly, beatless track midway through. And then there’s “Disqualified”, a track that announces its own grandeur within 30 seconds with a barrage of brass, sub bass and snares. Fittingly, “Disqualified” closes out Vol. 7and after the percussive madness of the previous four tracks, it could be viewed as a palette cleanser of sorts, but it could also be utilized in peak time, its swaggering cool ready to be deployed in a big room setting. GROVESTREET’s World Series Vol. 7 is out Wednesday, April 29 on Trax Couture.
Known primarily for its more well known members’, namely Neana and Sheen (formerly Georgia Girls), sparse, rough and tumble take on club music, the Gang Fatale set/label has amassed a small cadre of stylistically coherent artists from the UK and beyond. Trap Door and Kieran Loftus both cleared out space for themselves via EP releases, Emerald Dove on B.YRSLF and All Black Outfit on Paradise Rhythm respectively, while Bleaker, Clara La San, Simon Divine, Basile (formerly Prince Jean) and co-label head Ra’s Al have all released tantalizing snippets, single drops and other ephemera. We’ve got the Paris-based Basile on for this week’s Astral Plane mix and the French producer, keyboard wizard and visual artist came through with a stomping, disarmingly referential volume of his own productions, edits, loops and favorites from others.
Having already released an album’s worth of keyboard jams, new age, jazz and more than a few vocoder-heavy tracks on Astro Nautico, there’s plenty of Basile material out in the world, but that doesn’t make it any easier to pinpoint his aesthetic. There’s a little Tangerine Dream and a little Strictly Rhythm, a little Zapp & Roger and a little Principe Discos. Like his Gang Fatale compatriots, the Frenchman’s sound is an amalgam disparate of eras and genres, a geographically implacable combination of eras, genres and technological flourishes. Names like Ty Dolla $, Drake and Iamsu show up in the track list of his Astral Plane mix, but the mix is neither an out an out party tape, nor is it an abrasion-inducing club volume as the SD Laika (in edit form) inclusion might connote.
In his own words, the mix is an “inclusive” look at the club, intended to be consumed “with an open mind and a chaotic approach” and that’s exactly where any discussion of Basile should be begin. In a world where house and techno are the only true insider forms of dance music in the underground at large, the club music community has formulated itself as something of an outsider clan, banging at the doors of the establishment. And while that approach isn’t necessarily wrongheaded, it is alienating. Basile’s take on club music is as inclusive as any softball house or techno record, but he retains the jagged edge and re-inventive spirit so favored in the club music community. In a sense, this inclusive approach can be boiled down to semantics, whether or not an artist engages with a perceived establishment shouldn’t really matter, but Basile’s particular brand of populism and stylistic incorporation really does come into focus when you listen to Anumi Pause or the mix below. It’s effortless, or at least it seems that way.
Having already hosted events with Moleskin, Rushmore, Grovestreet, Rambow and more, London’s Aerial Sounds, a party throwing collective/nascent label, has begun to carve out a space in the British capitol’s crowded scene and their most recent step into releasing music, a seven track compilation called Aerobics, should only solidify that passage. With Los Angeles’ Dreams and New York’s Rambow involved, as well as label co-heads 199? and AQWEA, the tape has a bit of American flavor, both in terms of its participants and its ballroom-derived sensibility. The tape, out April 27, follows this Friday’s (April 24) Aerial 005 party, featuring Scratcha DVA in a killer headlining spot, as well as East London Club Trax. “Naughty Cat” is a co-production by Rambow & 199?, a sparse, runway-ready track that should light the floor at Power Lunches (the venue for this Friday’s venue) on fire. Find Aerobics at the Aerial Bandcamp on the 27th.
Last week, The FADER premiered Imaabs‘ “Voy”, the opening cut from Chilean producer Imaabs’ Distancia EP, out April 27 via NAAFI. Having played NAAFI’s inaugural New Years party/mini festival and been generally ingratiated into the Mexico City-based crew, Distancia comes as no surprise and comes off as a perfect fit for both parties. Today we’ve got “Densidad Cero”, another standout from Distancia that continues Imaabs’ reign as king of the paranoiac club. Unsettling in nature, Imaabs’ music is as mesmerizing as it is jarring and “Densidad Cero” epitomizes that approach flawlessly as a sleepy melody underscores driving, snare-filled percussion that really never ceases. It’s an aesthetic that we’ve come to recognize and love and while it has become more popular among the Soundcloud set, Imaabs’ work is unmatched in its singular vision, again making him a perfect fit for the trailblazing NAAFI squad. Distancia is out next Tuesday (4/27) and can pre-ordered here via iTunes.
We don’t usually cover music festivals due to the dearth of quality options in the United States and a general lack of enthusiasm for the form, but with long-term admiration fueling a prospective trip in mind, it’s a pleasure to feature Croatia’s crown jewel of Outlook Festival. Taking place in Pula, a peninsular town on the Aegean coast, Outlook features one of, if not the best, soundsystem-culture focused festival the world over, highlighting the best in dubstep, grime, dancehall, reggae, jungle, garage and much much more. This year’s festival will take place from September 2nd to 6th and features a wildly eclectic lineup with sub frequencies being the only shared trait to tie the whole thing together. It would be a Sisyphean task to try and run through every act we’re looking forward to at this point, but the latest line-up additions feature Novelist, Oneman, Spooky, Mickey Pearce, Compa, Fracture, Flava D, Elijah & Skilliam, The Bug, Chunky and many more. That’s on top of heavy hitters like Boy Better Know, Wiley, Shy FX, Digital Mystikz, Goldie and, well, I could exhaust the afternoon going on like this. Hit the jump to catch a Jpeg of the whole bill and we hope to see you in Pula come September.
In a strict sense, we don’t cover large swaths of the house and techno worlds, partially because our team is too small to cover the entire dance music realm and in part because our taste lies in non-linear club forms and less in the classic four-on-the-floor stomp. To say that house and techno, in their various manifestations, don’t enter the equation would silly though, both in terms of historicity and contemporary influence in ballroom, Bmore, footwork, etc. And recently, we’ve been enamored by a number of disparate elements, particularly in the house music world, ranging from the lof-fi boogie funk and spacey atmospherics of the Mood Hut clique to Public Possession’s polyglot proclivities and dedication to new wave in its various modern incarnations. There are dozens of other labels and artists that merit inclusion, but alas we only have time for brief mentions here in the intro.
Since 2011, French producer Krikor Kouchian has been churning out rough-and-tumble house and acid tunes as Crackboy, a deviation from his long-running project as Krikor, a project first established in wax in 1998. The Crackboy aesthetic is all drum machine texture and direct, club-focused structure, taking influence from Dance Mania’s early years and the classic French filter disco sound alike. Across solo releases and work as POV with Joakim, Krikor has developed something of a following with Crackboy, drawing fans who have disinvested from the form’s glossier side and prefer 303, 909 and RZ-1 workouts. To date, Crackboy’s best work has come on the aforementioned Joakim’s Tigersushi and Cosmo Vitelli‘s excellent I’m A Cliche, the Crackwood EP coming on the latter in 2013 and featuring still poignant jams like “Apes” and “Kiddo”.
And while Crackboy’s reach hasn’t exploded like some of his collaborators and continental contemporaries, his work in the French capitol is indisputable, from collaborations with Joakim and Jean Nipon to remixes for Para One, Blackstrobe and many more. His Astral Plane mix was recorded at Rex Club in Paris and acts as both an example of what a Crackboy club set looks like and a dissolution of his releases and influences into a consumable hour and fifteen minutes. Sparse acid arrangements are the dominant theme in much of Crackboy’s output and they find quite a bit of traction in the mix, only giving way halfway through to an arrangement of vocal performances and strict drum tracks that drive through the hour marker. The Crackboy project has only been running for a few years now, but he’s already latched onto an indelible club sound that fits right in with the rest of our series.
We’ve been a little behind on a our daily posting and while it’s been necessary to push some of that material into our monthly FACT column and various radio ventures, it would have been a travesty to miss out on covering Iglew‘s debut EP on Mr. Mitch‘s Gobstopper Records. Since hearing the demos last year and immediately signing the Leeds-based producer on for an Astral Plane mix, we’ve been readily awaiting the announcement for the Urban Myth EP and there isn’t a better place for it than Gobstopper. And while the rest of the tracks on the EP are more or less based in grime’s square wave legacy, “Urban Myth” is a solitary track built on a beatific Japanese koto sounding melody and swaths of low end pads. It’s easy to enter something of a hypnotic state when listening to Urban Myth as a whole and the title track exemplifies that best. Or as Iglew told FACT, “[I] like thinking of music in terms of escapism, whether that’s delving into your own imagination when listening individually, or becoming part of a body of individuals having a collective listening experience.” Urban Myth is out in digital and vinyl formats on April 27 via Gobstopper. Hit the jump for snippets of the full EP.
Originally part of a small crop of American artists inspired by dubstep, garage, jungle and other ‘nuum sounds, Kastle has been transitioned through multiple aesthetic iterations since he burst into the popular consciousness 6+ years ago, surviving the brostop bubble and bust and fostering a thriving touring career in the years since. Across releases for Silverback, Seclusiasis and his own Symbols label, the Los Angeles-resident has filtered hip hop and R&B through the aforementioned UK sounds, developing a sound rife with pop consciousness and a keen sense of melody, all while retaining a strong devotion to under-the-radar sounds. And while his past releases may be deemed too populist by some, it’s clear that he’s a student of dance music culture, an unfortunate rarity among larger acts in the United States.
With releases from Astral Plane favorites Druid Cloak and Kid Smpl, plus a recent turn towards more abstract, experimental sounds, Symbols is once again ascendent and the label’s next release will come from Kastle himself. Most of Kastle’s Hyperreality EP, out April 21, was actually recorded years ago, a collection garage and jungle inspired tracks dusted off an old hard drive and revitalized with a contemporary production aesthetic. The fact that isn’t outright new material doesn’t stop it from being one of Kastle’s most immediate releases to date and after months touring under the Hyperreality banner, it’s clear that the transplant Angeleno is ready to settle in for a Summer of studio work and a newfound dedication to the Symbols hustle.
The Astral Plane team wasn’t able to attend SXSW this year unfortunately, but by all accounts, the Symbols showcase at Barcelona, featuring Spurz, Kid Smpl, Kastle and more, was an unabated success, highlighting a vital injection of energy into the operation. If you attended, you heard myriad club forms, from Jersey and Bmore to disintegrating dubstep. We’ve been lucky enough to grab a mix from Kastle, in anticipation of Hyperreality, and it presciently puts forth where the label has been, but more importantly where it’s going. UK newcomers like Grovestreet, JGYB, Utah? and Tarquin all prominently feature, as do a who’s who of club music mavens, from Her Records‘ Kid Antoine to KUNQ representatives Joey Labeija & False Witness. Throughout, Kastle’s sounsystem sensibility is readily apparent, as is a fine tuned mixing sensibility developed over years playing clubs across American and abroad. Delve into the mix, but don’t be surprised by Kastle’s “new direction” because he’s been at this game for years.