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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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2015’s Empty Airport LP, Christina Nemec’s second album under the Chra moniker, arrived like an anvil upon release, a dense slab of intricate individual motions and slithering organic and digital noise. A longtime participant and devotee to the European avant-garde, Nemec has participated in punk, industrial and experimental music scenes for over two decades, having run the Comfortzone label and participated in groups as divergent as Bray, Shampoo Boy and Pasajera Oscura. Progressing through grizzly ambient noise, pulsating kicks and field recordings, many recorded at an abandoned house in the Carinthian countryside, Empty Airport explores the contradictions in which we consume media and particularly the horrific violence that exists only a few hundred miles away, but that could be taking place in a completely different world than the urban artistic enclaves many of us live in. As Chra, Nemec approach is all-consuming, bringing a human edge to topics that can hardly be reckoned with. The densely layered, constantly in motion tracks on Empty Airport nail down an alienation that few artists have been able to comfortably address.

Also in 2015, Chra delivered a mix to the Secret Thirteen platform, self-described as a feminist history of avant-garde. The mix is representative of much of Nemec’s project, especially her work behind Comfortzone which has consistently pushed female and queer voices to the fore. Her Astral Plane mix, titled “New Europeans” isn’t as explicit in its direction, but takes a similar tone to the Secret Thirteen mix, drawing from her own work as well as contemporaries like Klara Lewis, Thomas Brinkmann and Yves de Mey, as well as a brief, exuberant break for Depeche Mode. Her own work with Irradiation, as Pasajera Oscura, plays a key roll in the mix’s progression with tends to gurgle along non-linearly, drawing on drone eccentricities and the sorts of interweaving textures that the best beatless music tends to imbue. Chra is an alumni of the SHAPE platform and has spent recent months touring on her own and as Pasajera Oscura. She also released a four tracker called Wounded Deer on JMSE earlier this year, a tape that hints at the increasingly oblique direction her work might take in coming years. Hit the jump for a full track list and download Chra’s Astral Plane mix here.

 

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There are many entry points to the multidisciplinary practice of British-born, Berlin-based artist Steven Warwick. Dance music fans will have surely come about Warwick’s work through the Heatsick moniker, home to the majority of Warwick’s solo recordings and easily his most functional and dancefloor-focused project to date. Birds of Delay, a collaborative project with Luke Younger aka Helm, explored the outer ranges of noise and other harsh electronics, pushing texturally dense, alienating experiments on a series of releases for labels like Alcoholic Narcolepsy, American Tapes and Tronics. Fomented in 2012, a partnership with Bill Kouligas’ PAN label has seen the release of several Heatsick releases, and most recently, Warwick’s most personal work to date and the first under his own name. Xeroxed art books, a Snapchat-recalling video shot in a mall and a book, written with Nora Khan, utilizing the X-Files as a prime source for examining the rise of fear during the 1990s and subsequent right wing conspiracy theory movements.

Nadir, described as a mixtape by both label and artist, arrived at the tail end of 2016 and couldn’t have been timed better. Eschewing the hardware specific formation and coyly gleeful sonics of the Heatsick moniker, Warwick is at his most open on Nadir, utilizing oblique electronics and his own voice to weave depressive poetics over creeping, disjointed rhythms. The album is a dense, often difficult listen, but its core themes are readily accessible throughout and Warwick not only offers observations on life under late capitalism,  but a clear eyed vision of emotional disaffection and degradation that follows the pressures of wage labor, an inescapably fearful media climate, millennial placelessness and urban isolation. As mentioned before, these themes can be found in all of Warwick’s various projects previous to Nadir, but there’s a particular clarity to the grimness evoked throughout the mixtape that has had us returning over and over again in moments of acute dislocation.

Warwick’s Astral Plane mix is a curious affair, a series of live recordings that lead into club-friendly selections that range from Geko’s buzzy, Summer-ready “Right Here” to classic Steve Gurley and Tommy Genesis’ sad girl anthem “Empty”. The original works range from heavy, piston-like techno to soporific arrangements that recall Heatsick at its most muted. The composition is distinctly club-focused, but comes from a left field perspective that combines the jittery disposition and spoken bits from Nadir with crunchy, all out drum machine rhythms and a decisive forward momentum. Eclectic contemporary selections like Cruel Boyz, Celestial Trax, Orlando Volcano and Niagara also show off a willingness to mine the frontier of experimental club forms, particularly ones outside the worlds of house and techno. Unlike Nadir, exultant moments abound in the mix, but a sense of unease, found across Warwick’s various projects, exists at a constant simmer just below the surface making it a fitting progression for an artist who has managed to mirror the dysphoria of life in 2017 across so many mediums. Catch Warwick at the following dates and hit the jump for a full track list…

 8th June – CTFO, Monarch Berlin ( DJ set )
10th June – Berlin Torstrassenfest
16th June – Antwerp TRAP w/ DJ Burrnesha
23rd June – Bristol Fiddlers w/ DJ Burrnesha
24th June – London Cafe Oto w/ DJ Burrnesha
29th June – Edinburgh Paradise Palms w/ DJ Burrnesha
1st July – Glasgow Art School

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This Friday (5/19), the Astral Plane DJ Team is heading to Milwaukee to play Precognition, thrown by our good friends Close Up of the Serene. We’ve been looking to collaborate with Close Up on something concrete for a good while now and the opportunity to head out to their Midwest home base was too good of an opportunity to pass up. Thoom and Itsï, out of Chicago, round out the lineup and we’re beyond excited to hear what kind of demonic frequencies they have planned for Friday night. Check out their collaborative track “Abyzou” and Thoom’s recent “Asthmatic”, which was featured in our latest For Club Use Only feature in FACT. In anticipation of Friday, we grabbed a guest mix from Thoom for our NTS show, which went down at the usual Highland Park last Friday. The Astral Plane DJ Team’s section also includes brand new Chants, E.M.M.A., Acre and SHALT, all forthcoming on Astral Plane Recordings. Download the full session here and catch a full track list after the jump.

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