In recent years, Paris has become home to some of the best parties in the general club music sphere, becoming an outpost for artists big and small to play out. The result is an ever-growing circle of producers and labels developing their own sound in the French capital, a sound that might be 100% unique to France yet, but that is certainly on its way to idiosyncrasy. Tommy Kid’s [Re]Sources label is a prime example of those developments, an operation that grew out of the party series of the same name and has featured artists like Chaams, Nunu, Dehousy and She’s Drunk on its compilations and solo releases. Lil Crack is the latest artist to join the [Re]Sources ranks, coming through the dancefloor-focused Inner Flight EP, four sleek, cutting original efforts joined by remixes from Endgame, Spooky and Pixelord (catch the first two at [Re]Sources tonight in Paris). “Tactical Violence” is the most stripped back, minimal of the release, three and a half minutes of ratcheting percussion and trap shouts that seem to reach into the deepest recesses of the body. Most dance music is programmed to elicit a certain emotional/corporeal response from the listener and Lil Crack’s arrangements on “Tactical Violence” are a perfect example, matching raw energy with a call to arms felt in both sonics and naming language. Pre-order Inner Flight here, out December 9 on [Re]Sources.
Since emerging as a solo artist at the tail end of the 2000s, Sabina Plamenova has released a wealth of material, albeit under two separate aliases. The Italian-born, Berlin-based producer has releases on Planet Mu, Don’t Be Afraid and Astro:Dynamics, a curious collection of labels, but ones befitting of each of Plamenova’s respective efforts. Since laying to rest the Subeena project, Plamenova has directed her attention almost exclusively to Alis, most recently releasing the Corporeal LP through Athens, Georgia-based Plus100. Bleary eyed ambient, stunted vocal experiments and earthy synth pop are the sounds du jour on Corporeal, which is both Plamenova’s most emotionally coherent record to date and the clearest synthesis of the different aesthetics she’s worked with in the past. That means more of Plamenova’s own voice on Alis tracks, more audio-visual projects and more mixes featuring bizarre collissions of genres and georgraphies.
The Alis project debuted on Plamenova’s own Opit label in 2012 and has touched on Detroit-flavored techno, drone and what could be described as a contemporary update on post-punk in the years since, ideas she’s stuck with and added to in the years since. More recently, a keen taste for the abstract, noisey end of contemporary club music has become Plamenova’s go to mix fodder, pairing Kamixlo, Arca and Angel-Ho with her own hyper-emotional originals and floor filling classics by the likes of Manix, DJ Sneak and Aphex Twin. Hardly a gimmick, the screams and clangs of the former artists tend to mesh flawlessly with Alis’ own productions and form a tenuous, but functional balance with the latter, more linear tracks. And despite the clatter of influences, peers and eras involved, Alis’s original material, tracks like “We are back” and “Excuse Me” (as Subeena), tend to shine through the mix. Plamenova has described the Alis project as her most personal yet and it’s hard to disagree when listening the gorgeous expanses of Corporeal and Things Next Door. Narrowing down on one particular sound has clearly never been of interest to Plamenova and the direction she might take the Alis project next is an exciting premise.
We headed up to Highland Park this past Friday for our debut show on the brand new NTS LA station, bringing along an absolutely mad LOFT guest mix and a USB full of our favorite synth, weightless, ambient, noise and beatless music. It was a pleasure to use the new studio for the first time and we got a chance to run through favorites from DJ Lostboi, Dedekind Cut, CLU, Yves Tumor, JG Biberkopf, 0comeups, SKY H1, Sharp Veins, Abyss X and more. We also rinsed a few off of SHALT’s new Inertia EP, out the some day on Astral Plane Recordings (available here). Meanwhile, LOFT’s guest mix is an all-original affair, offering rebooted version of tracks from his Turbulent Dynamics EP (available here) before descending into stuttering, clattering breakbeat insanity. Both Inertia and Turbulent Dynamics exist entirely on their own wave and were a pleasure to bring from conception to release. Hit the jump for a full track list. We’ll be back on NTS LA on December 23.
The studio mix has played a major role in the development and presentation of a number of genres and sub-cultures in the history of electronic/dance music. Mix CD series — like Fabriclive and DJ-Kicks — offer, at least ostensibly, the most polished studio mixes around, proposing near-album levels of focus and conceptual underpinning, but in the last half-decade platforms like Mixcloud and Soundcloud have effectively removed the limitations on who can compose a mix, what can be included (not being beholden to the licensing process, or at least less beholden), and what sorts of outlets can host mixes. Today, the best mix series tend to be hosted on an array of blogs, magazines, online visual art platforms and labels, providing an almost-constant stream of new material from every genre, geography and technology imaginable. This is undeniably a positive development, but it does lead to issues of quality control, both on the part of DJs and hosts.
Simon Docherty aka Pure Joy has composed a series of complex, densely studio layered mixes over the past year, starting with “E M P Y R E A L” in February. Techno, angular club forms, contemporary synth music and bizarre corners of the avant-pop comfortably fit together, often in blend form, in Pure Joy mixes, which tend develop with the tensile quality of a methodical art film. Songs are introduced and quickly unraveled, matched with unlikely partners and boiled down to the essential elements needed for that particular segment of the mix. Docherty is a mathematician by day and a self-described “techno logician” so it shouldn’t be a surprise that his mixes are so cogently thought out and meticulously planned, but Pure Joy mixes manage to miss the predictable quality of so many ostensibly mathematical techno mixes, offering a range of color and emotion more often associated with DJs working in grime and other club forms.
I think the simplest explanation for what I do is that I aim to do the kind of things the best grime DJs do in the blends, for lengths of time more associated with techno, with music that isn’t necessarily anything to do with either of those two genres.
Alongside Docherty’s solo aspirations with the Pure Joy project are his work with the Truants website, specifically the Functions of the Now series, a sadly defunct mix/interview series focused on the experimental extremes of contemporary club music, and the Wild Combination party, thrown in conjunction with partner Maya Kalev. Both projects, the former running from July 2013 to December 2015 and the latter beginning in January of this year with guests Nidia Minaj, DEBONAIR and Reckonwrong, offer insight into Docherty’s personal taste, but are more indicative of an open approach to dance music that prides artists who have established their own idiosyncratic path over those who are, as Docherty notes in our interview, “simply a cog in the dance music machine, outputting genre exercises.” We exchanged emails with Docherty about Pure Joy, Wild Combination, London club culture and the qualities he looks for in a DJ. His Astral Plane mix is the fourth in a series that began with “E M P Y R E A L” and includes “P H Y S I C A L” and “C O L L A P S E” (hosted by Tobago Tracks). All are well worth your time and feature some of the best blends you’ll hear all year. The next Wild Combination party features SKY H1, MM, Yamaneko, Dis Fig and a special guest. Attendance is required for our London readers. Hit the jump for our full talk and a track list that features Abyss X, Air Max ’97, Hodge, Lexxi and more. Enjoy.
Paris has been a dance music hotbed for years, but it was only until recently that its club music exports began to reach a global stage, led by ambassadors like Teki Latex and Bambounou and represented in a thriving ball scene and in the radio archives of the excellent Rinse France. Paris, and France in general, has a glut of young talent at the moment, from producers like Basile, Oklou, Firaas and our own Nunu and on to DJ talent like Betty, Crystallmess and DJ Ouai and from afar, it appears to be a rich and rapidly growing scene that congregates around nights like Betty’s Bonus Stage and Tommy Kid’s [Re]sources, nights that more often than not mix homegrown artists with international DJ talent from around the EU and beyond.
Lately, DJ Ouai, Carin Kelly, Miley Serious and Oklou’s TGAF radio show, which airs on online station PiiAF, has become another important node, a divergent program that features themed shows (“Wild Style”, “Justin Bieber”), as well as more straightforward hours of contemporary pop ephemera, club bits and experimental flourishes. TGAF stands for “These Girls Are On Fiyah” and each respective DJ in the crew has quickly shown off their respective skill sets and knowledge bases, which range from late 90s party rap to, as mentioned above, Bieber deep cuts.
For her part, DJ Ouai tends to reach for more eclectic club material, which means plenty of foley effects, scything rhythms and the occasional emotional zouk banger. Previous mixes for Disc and LVLSRVRYHI have featured a measured sound that borders on club compatibility without foregoing the intricacies of home listening. Astral Plane Mix 130 delves even deeper into that space, unveiling an abstracted sound that tends to creep under the listener’s skin as the mix progresses. Titled “from point zero to antarctica”, the volume features a range of aspirational, but geographically dispersed, artists including Klein, Embaci, Exit Sense, TCF and Corin, sketching out a vivid sonic map drawn together more by a shared vision of beatific pop than any tangible earthly connection. Hit the jump for a full track list/reference guide and be on the look out for DJ Ouai solo productions in the not so distant future.
Photo by Ollie Kirk
The idea of the collective has been irrevocably changed in an era defined by the constancy of online networks and the near-total saturation point of cheap mobile devices. Groups can coalesce around taste, identity, shared career goals or boredom, transitioning from isolation to a virtual communality within days or even hours. In the electronic music world, collectives emerge, impose their vision, grow exponentially and fall by the wayside with remarkable frequency, leaving only abandoned Soundcloud accounts and loose memories in their wake. There’s nothing wrong with this intensely digital approach of course — much of the most interesting music has come about due to fleeting online connections — but these outfits exist on an almost entirely different plane than what we might call a traditional collective like New York’s Qween Beat, London’s Night Slugs or Philadelphia’s ATM.
Based out of Leicester and London, Grade 10 certainly falls into the latter category, a cohort of musicians and visual artists bound by friendship, shared values and geography. Comprised of Prayer, Forever, Kollaps, 8Ball, Unslaved, Classic Coke, Loosewomen and Nokia Boys, Grade 10’s vision is regularly born out on their monthly Radar Radio show and at large-scale events like Outlook Festival in Pula, Croatia and a Radar Radio showcase at the Tate London. On first listen, a listener might be confused as to what ties the collective’s sprawling individual projects together, projects that have involved footwork, jungle, emotive instrumental grime, sun-kissed house music and sunken R&B manipulations since the launch of their label arm in July 2015, but they insist in interviews that it’s the personal connections and sheer amount of time spent together that ties the whole affair into a cohesive bundle.
Previous pieces in Dummy and The FADER have noted how important the monthly Grade 10 Radar Radio show is to the collective on both a personal and external level, an outlet for each respective artist to flaunt their skill-set, a regular slot to establish a visual aesthetic and an excuse for the crew’s Leicester-based members to regularly get down to London. It’s hard to disagree while listening through the archives of the regular show, each one seemingly showcasing a different assortment of the crew and, invariably, a different approach to genre, mixing and sound design that seems to unravel and expand into new sonic territory on every show. As for releases, Grade 10 will hit number six in its catalogue this Friday with Classic Coke’s GTi006, four enthusiastic footwork efforts that follow 12″ from Kollaps, Loosewomen, Prayer and Unslaved. When paired side-by-side with the haunting R&B vibes of a track like “Misery”, it might be difficult to see a tangible sonic connection between Loosewomen and Kollaps, but the Radar show tends to tie disparate ideas together, both in the context of the show’s two hours and the collective’s greater ethos.
The Grade 10 Astral Plane mix is a further distillation of that ethos, just under an hour’s worth of genre-hopping mixing and highlights from the crew’s quickly growing catalogue. Equal parts nostalgic and forward facing, the mix fits comfortably into a continuum of British dance music without bequeathing creative control to tradition, preferring to offer new offshoots of classic house and jungle sounds instead of wrenching the last bit of quality out of old formats. It’s hard to follow the paths of most web-based collectives, but Grade 10 make it easy for the casual observer, showing up at the Radar studio every month, putting out 12″ with regularity and maintaining a consistent level of artistic integrity and cohesion that defines their work in an era of dislocation.
Having spent years in London and Berlin as a writer and DJ, Flora Yin-Wong is deeply engrained in the world of experimental electronic music, but many were introduced to || FLORA, Yin-Wong’s latest musical alias, earlier this week. That was when New York’s PTP (fka Purple Tape Pedigree) dropped the fourth edition in their CELL Audio Codex series — part mixfile, part recipe book — featuring City God, a gorgeous 15 minute composition by Yin-Wong. On City God, the || FLORA project, previously teased in mixes and edits, comes into focus, an exploration of identity, technology and history born out through lithe electronics and smartly integrated sample work recorded on a trip to east Asia. City God is available here and more || FLORA material is set to be released through Objects Ltd on the not so distant horizon.
Born and raised in London with Hong Kong and Malaysian heritage, Yin-Wong plays the dual roll of personal historian and curator in her musical output, displaying macro historical narratives alongside her own recordings as a way of investigating the entangled nature self-identity, culture and language. It’s somewhat cliche, but || FLORA shows the fingerprints of an artist who has spent a good portion of time writing, editing and working behind-the-scenes for labels (most recently PAN), a dedication to detail and a reticence of both what is fleeting and what is contemporary.
Her Astral Plane mix splits from the intensely personal, but functions equally as a personal document, providing a roadmap to Yin-Wong’s peers (Abyss X, Soda Plains, Hex, Organ Tapes, etc.) and re-contextualizing her original work in what is an extremely effective club composition. Tresillo rhythms, Jersey club structures and glossy synth work dominate the 128th Astral Plane mix, a jarringly beautiful and distinctly modern path through myriad club genres that seems to heave and convulse in its own skin. It’s the manic analog City God assured confidence, teetering on the precipice without fully falling, a somewhat stressful place-of-being that keeps the listener constantly on edge. Full track list is after the jump and more || FLORA material can be found here.
Logo by Rap Simons
A key node in Australia’s small-but-dedicate map of boundary pushing club music producers, DJs and promoters, Sydney’s Body Promise show airs weekly on FBi Click radio and this Friday they’ll expand into label territory with Harmony From A Dominant Hue, a 15 track compilation featuring artists from across the electronic music spectrum. Named after an early 20th century color theory manual, the compilation traverses a number of moods and textures with artists like Jikuroux, Marcus (Not Singing) and Kimchi Princi providing drastically different takes on club and club-adjacent material. Body Promise’s Amelia Jenner sent over the following statement on the release, which reads like a mission statement:
What started out as a humble radio show on FBi Click in Sydney, Australia has now turned into a fully fledged label focussing on boundary pushing club music. Tired of hearing the same bro dominant house and techno that has become the norm in Australia, Body Promise emerged as another platform for this incredibly diverse community that doesn’t always get the attention it deserves. The time has come for them to unleash their debut compilation into the world. Over a year in the making, the compilation is the culmination of everything Body Promise stands for. It is adventurous, transportive, and unpredictable.
It doesn’t focus on one certain genre in particular but rather on a vibe, opting to work with artists who have the same attitude towards music as they do.The act of arranging these seemingly different tracks into one complete body of work means that complementary sounds, moods, and textures become apparent in ways they not have been seen otherwise.
Longtime listeners will be familiar with this ethos, one born out in the crew’s own selections and their guests which have recently included DJ NK, Mina and Svani, as well as a host of Australian talent. We’re lucky to have Mya Gomez & Felix Idle’s “T2 Meltdown” on premiere today, a highlight of Harmony From A Dominant Hue and a collaboration that seems to haunt long after it ends. Heavy breathing, distant firecrackers and wind make up the atmosphere on “T2 Meltdown”, skewing towards the baroque before ratcheting drums and diaphanous effects take over. Look out for Harmony From A Dominant Hue this Friday and don’t sleep on the Body Promise show.
In a recent interview with RBMA’s Lauren Martin, former Vex’d member and Knives boss Kuedo discussed futurism and its roll in electronic music: “I don’t believe it’s the essential job of music that calls itself “futuristic” to literally attempt to reach into a future and bring us back a piece of it early.” In a genre where the vast majority of releases are proposed in the context of a relentless push forward, the future is a near-constant trope, brought up and considered in an infinite array of subtle and not so subtle ways. As Kuedo notes though, futurism does not have to envisage an or preview what the future holds and more-often-than-not, it’s a far more apt tool for understanding and contextualizing the personal and the present. Which brings us to Kid Smpl, the San Francisco-based artist who will be releasing his second full length, Privacy, through Kastle’s Symbols label on November 11.
Never one to sit on his laurels, Privacy comes on the heels of a mixfile release on Smpl’s own Display label, a collection of hardcore techno experiments, and a smattering of radio and remix work. From his first releases on Seattle’s Hush Hush Recordings, Kid Smpl’s music has balanced an ardent futurism with an innate sense of the present and Privacy is the fullest realization of that project to date, an album that deals with day-to-day digital life, in all its complex inconsistencies and contradictions, through searing surround sound epics. The sonic tropes from previous works are all there, especially the strangled vocals, but like his recent “Promise Emulation” mixfile, they’re rendered on a larger scale, We’ve got LP standout “Riven” on premiere today and it’s a prime example of Privacy‘s expansive scope and present-day futurism, a futurism that attempts to represent the grotesque nature of the present far more than any predictive stab at what is to come. Pre-order Privacy here and check out a full track list for the album after the jump.