Lycox

Lycox at Unsound Festival in Krakow

After an almost five month hiatus, the Astral Plane Mix Series is back up and running and we’ve recruited one of our favorite artists from Lisbon’s Principe crew. DJ Lycox has been  a longtime favorite, appearing constantly in our For Club Use Only feature for FACT and becoming a quick staple in Astral Plane DJ Team sets. Born in Portugal and based in the Paris suburbs, Lycox is a prolific producer, initially emerging as part of the Tia Maria Produções trio before setting out on his own. Working mainly within a kuduro framework, Lycox’s productions are intensely melodic, introducing an element of euphoria and pop song writing to the genre’s intricate percussion arrangements and forceful energy. On November 17, Lycox’s debut solo album will be released by Principe, a coming out party of sorts for an artist who has become an underground favorite and a release that will surely establish the Portuguese producer as one of the most respected kuduro artists alongside the likes of Marfox, Nidia, Nigga Fox and Firmeza.

Lycox’s Astral Plane mix exemplifies what Lycox is all about, a 30 minute ride that blows by before you know it and functions as the perfect soundtrack to the melancholic last tendrils of Summer. Heavy on original productions, Lycox links irresistible hook after irresistible hook, bridged by the loping gait of his expertly arranged kuduro rhythms. It’s a breezy selection that performs an idyllic counterpoint to much of kuduro’s sweaty pomp, leaving trace elements of each respective hook as it drives onwards. Pre-order the Sonhos & Pesadelos LP here and dive into Lycox’s Soundcoud for a heap of divine original productions. No track list for this one so you’ll have to look out for the album.

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We hit the NTS studio for the second time in September last Friday and brought along Julien, a DJ and producer spending the summer in Los Angeles. With releases out/forthcoming on Tobago Tracks and Apothecary Compositions, the Denver resident brought a deluge of hardcore techno to the table for his 45 minute session, ratcheting up the tempo and bringing out a brutalist energy. His mix begins at the 45 minute mark and runs until 1:30. Our session features new Bell Curve, VIOLENCE, Torus, Dane Law, Fatima Al Qadiri, Alex Compton and more. Download available here and track list after the jump.

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No guests and no worries on this month’s edition of our NTS Los Angeles show. This was recorded after driving out of (near) a forest fire so the mood is slightly uneasy/ominous for the first 45 minutes. Excuse the abruptness of the start. It was hot in the studio. We also played out the entirety of SHALT’s new ʃælt single, out now on Astral Plane Recordings. You can get that one here. We’ll be back on NTS on September 30. Full track list after the jump.

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Coming at the end of an almost year long hiatus, SHALT returns to the fold with ʃælt, the first in a series of singles focused on sound mechanics and loop-based dance forms. A sonic extension of the sheer physicality and cataclysmic sound design introduced on his two previous Astral Plane Recordings releases (Acheron and Inertia), ʃælt sees the recent London transplant exhume those forms from the narrative realm in order to experiment with functionality, crafting a series of absolutely cracking club tracks in the process.

BPMs are kept low across ʃælt‘s three tracks and fans of SHALT’s mix work, for the likes of Solid Steel and Truants, will recognize the microwave warm lilt of “Warm Chaos” and the crunching dramatic sway of “First Pulse”. Like all of SHALT releases, rhythms tend to emerge from a dense field of electricity, but the drums are more immediately accessible on ʃælt, lending a sense of distinct movement to the corporeal intensity his previous work has introduced. The “outsider” label is rather contrived at this point, but if this isn’t an outsider record for peak time then we don’t know what is.

More details on ʃælt via RA

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LOFT arrived in 2016 like a shot out of a cannon, presenting a clearly defined aesthetic on the Turbulent Dynamics EP (APR105) that combined a level of dancefloor-focused cohesion and rippling abstraction that artists twice his age rarely meet. Named by Resident Advisor as the number eight song of 2016, “Heffalump” led the release and introduced many to LOFT’s distinct push-pull approach, throwing listeners into a world of disarmingly charming melodic elements and a rhythmic quotient that brilliantly unfolds over the track’s seven minute run time.

Released on July 28, “Heffalump” is on vinyl for the first time, playing the a-side role on Astral Plane Recordings’ first ever white label 12”. The hand stamped, hand numbered 12” is backed by the equally jarring “I Am Bouyant”, a hairbrained proto-jungle track that will be familiar to fans of LOFT’s all-originals mix work and his lauded live sets around the Manchester area. Turbulent Dynamics is a forcefully original release that treads well across the dancefloor into more adventurous spheres, but grabbing “Heffalump” and the brand new “I Am Bouyant” for APRWH001 feels right for the Los Angeles label’s debut on wax.

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E.M.M.A. PROMO SHOT

LA Mermaid is E.M.M.A.’s second official release for Astral Plane Recordings and arrives on July 14. Comprised of five drama-filled, hallucinatory compositions, LA Mermaid is a microcosm of the glistening, magical aesthetic Emma has worked tirelessly to fine tune. The result is music that is larger-than-life, while simultaneously insular and immediately graspable. E.M.M.A.’s music has always existed in these brilliant margins between, and LA Mermaid is a definitive statement of ownership over that space.

Coming on the heels of March’s Glacé single, also released through APR, LA Mermaid is a triumphant statement of intent for E.M.M.A., a release that draws threads from 2013’s Blue Gardens LP and pitches them into ever more vivid shapes. Jump started by the dramatically arranged, long-awaited “Magna Kanye”, LA Mermaid’s bombast is tempered by sequences of quiet brilliance, juxtapositions that are tied together by E.M.M.A.’s signature arpeggiated synths.

“This EP covers a lot of different moods and atmospheres. Themes which have inspired me are dreamy things I can’t quite grasp like the allure of Hollywood, mermaids, the illuminati, the open sea, the composition of the earth, and diamonds” said E.M.M.A.

“Magna Kanye was made after I saw some inspirational footage of Kanye in the studio, like it was a life or death situation, which is how I want to be when I’m in the studio” she added.

With the continued excellence of her Angel Food show on NTS and the huge industry support for her Producer Girls workshops, Astral Plane is delighted to shed some light on the cosmic creations of an artist who has made a conscious decision to not to be prolific in the face of disposable internet culture. As well as previously unheard material, some of these tracks have been eagerly anticipated for some time. The body of work should remind many why this London dweller has long been lauded as one of the era’s most unique talents.

E.M.M.A. – LA Mermaid
APR110 | Out Now
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If you’ve tuned into our previous NTS shows you’ve almost certainly got bits and pieces from Dane Law’s various projects, whether it be a hectic trance experiment or glitched out hardcore released through the Quantum Natives platform. We were lucky to grab a guest session from the British producer for our latest show and his ‘Digital Paganism’ mix has not disappointed, joining elegiac ambient forms with Wicker Man samples and a perfect blend of mania and serenity. The guest mix starts around 35 minutes in and runs for 35 minutes. As usual, the Astral Plane DJ Team handles the rest of the show, which features a few tracks from SHALT’s upcoming return to APR and LOFT’s debut 12″, also out via our in house label.

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Coming on the heels of the Glacé single, E.M.M.A. has a brand new EP on the way via our in house label. Titled LA Mermaid, the five tracker is a striking statement of intent for the London-based artist and blends quietly assured arpeggiated synth work with a distinct flair for dramatic progressions and crisp sound design. Far from the obvious banger of the collection, we’ve decided to announce LA Mermaid with its title track, an effortlessly melancholic number that lopes along in hushed tones more than it shouts. You can stream “LA Mermaid” below and pre-order the EP via Boomkat here. We’ve got plenty of more material from the EP, mixes and interviews on the way so stay peeled.

The ability to traverse multiple genres, tempos and sound palettes is becoming the norm in bleeding edge electronic communities. What likely started as a rejection of staid DJ practices has expanded into artist’s production approach and it’s hardly uncommon to find 3-4 different tenuously conjoined sounds on someone’s Soundcloud feed these days. The principles behind this approach are an unassailable desire to move forward at all costs, as well as more cynical strategies to attain bookings and recognition, but it leads to homogeny nearly as often as it does innovation. The truth is that few artists have the talent and/or put the time into cultivating not just one, but an entire range of aesthetics. This (often faux) polymath approach has delivered some of the most dynamic club and experimental music to come out in recent years and Cairo-born, Berlin-based producer and visual artist Kareem Lotfy is a prime example, working from minimalist ambient on one end of the spectrum to buoyant, full frontal bubbling on the other.

Many fans of Lotfy’s work will have likely come around to it via PAN’s Mono No Aware compilation, a release focusing on divergent strains of ambient that was led off by Lotfy’s “Fr3sh”. The track’s wistful, finite qualities have engendered it to fans across the electronic music spectrum, becoming a staple for ambient fans and even drawing praise from the legendary Ryuichi Sakamoto. Further efforts have arrived via his own Soundcloud page and a side project, the latter home to his most time stretched, blissful efforts. “Power Bass Bubbling”, since removed from Soundcloud but available in various mixes and blends, was our introduction to Lotfy and hits a far different note than his ambient excursions. Embracing the Dutch bubbling sound, “Power Bass Bubbling” gets straight to the point, all high key energy, rhythmic thrust and deft sample looping. It’s an efficient track and like Lotfy’s abstracted beats it utilizes a relatively small amount of sonic elements to great effect.

Lotfy’s Astral Plane mix falls firmly in the general ambient sphere, eschewing his more rhythmic impulses for spaced out synths, vocal murmurings and pleasant drones. Gorgeous efforts by legendary Egyptian American composer Halim El-Dabh highlight the mix which also incorporates spacious tracks from Yves Tumor, Monolake and Takahiro Kido. Bits of harp can be found around 2/3 of the way through and Lotfy fins time for tracks that scrape and bump along as much as they glide. It’s an engrossing 30 minutes that highlights the breadth of his approach without tail spinning into genre mish mash. Download the mix here and check out a track list after the jump.

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Last Friday, the Astral Plane DJ Team hopped on NTS for a two hour solo show before running over to the Los Angeles Contemporary Archive to play a pre-recorded piece called ‘Canopy’. We also intended to play the piece in the last bit of this session, but forgot to load it up on the USB. Instead we ran through a load of new LOFT dubs + forthcoming E.M.M.A. (very soon), Chants (very soon) and SHALT (soon). Hit the jump for a full track list and download the show here.

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