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Author Archives: Gabe Meier

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Alis has spent over a decade exploring the intricacies of performance-oriented club music, releasing on labels like Don’t Be Afraid and Planet Mu, and becoming a staple in the Berlin and London scenes. Out now, Papercuts is her Astral Plane Recordings debut, comprised of five lush, intimate tracks that are both entirely removed from a dancefloor-context, yet deeply preoccupied with groove and movement.

Honed at her Sunday System nights at London’s Rye Wax, Alis’ interdisciplinary practice comes to the fore on Papercuts with vocals extending far beyond their linguistical potential into a broader, more textural realm. Songs like “Status” and “BCC: me” walk the line of sonority and dissonance, nearing the precipice of abstraction without falling into the abyss. “Papercuts” and “Water” on the other hand offer a more concise narrative vision, proffering a version of hookwriting that fluctuates between meditative and commanding.

Recorded across several continents, it’s no surprise that Papercuts tends to enliven interstitial spaces and Alis’ unique disposition makes the cerebral accessible. Papercuts is out now on APR and will be available as digital EP and full color cover 12”.

Alis – Papercuts
APR115 | Out Now
Digital | 12″
Bandcamp
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In the unconventional and eccentric ends of the electronic music world, artistic voice can often be drowned out in a drive towards peak aesthetics and production-oriented acceleration. This has lead to a number of important sonic divergences, but oftentimes songwriting is put on the back burner at the loss of the listener, DJ and dancer. Portuguese artist Odete has only recently entered the conversation, but has already emerged as one of the most distinct and confrontational voices around, drawing on ballroom linguistics, personal narrative and a novel approach to rhythm. Utilizing various regional club musics in her compositions and mix work, Odete’s approach feels genuinely theatrical, comprised of individual dramatic movements based on the trans femme experience. Even while listening from afar, the urge towards stage performance is clear in her work, which will be displayed in live sets later this year following the release of her debut album.

It was December’s Matrafona EP (out now on naivety) that initially drew us to Odete though, full of short, kinetic ideas, and the sort of jarring voice/spoken experiments that only work when coming from an assured voice. Classical and avant garde ideas meet pop samples through the work, which harkens back to a more protean era of collage. The EP followed Not Worried With The Production of Evidence, a more scattered, but similarly striking self-release out earlier in 2018. Mixes for Discwoman, Jerome and Rinse FM, as well as a number of deeply personal and instinctive self-release mixes, have followed, with technical nous slowly catching up to the expansive, often abrasive freeform tracks on Not Worried With The Production of Evidence. Throughout the two EPs and mix work, Odete has shown a unique surrealistic ability to examine internal pain and externalize it in all of its brutality. The grotesque is certainly not shied away from on tracks like “There’s Pain Under My Wig” and the “Folklore Collage”, but a concrete dancefloor streak remains throughout.

Odete’s Astral Plane Mix comes as natural extension of Matrafona, drawing on a range of polyrhythmic and hardcore dance forms in its structure, while finding time for intimate moments, drawing from more acoustic traditions. The mix also functions as personal exegesis, opening with spoken word examining the trans body under capitalism and patriarchy before launching into a series of vocals from Bjork, Frank Ocean and more. Throughout, Odete refuses to shy away from a through line of emotional rawness, brought out in both moments of tenderness and intensity. Download the mix here and hit the jump for Odete tour dates in March and April.

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céci

We celebrated the release of CÉCI’s Vortex EP last week with a very special, contextualizing guest session on our monthly NTS slot last week. Slow jams, fine textures and a range of circuitous melodic structures abound in her 30 minute mix which runs from the hour mark. AP DJ Team handled the first hour and last thirty minutes and slotted in plenty of slow-fast and fast-slow tunes including new Slikback, blastah, Lee Gamble, Simo Cell, HNRO and more. The last thirty also includes forthcoming Chants, that stunning LOFT Charli edit and a few new ones from DJ Plead’s upcoming Nervous Horizon tape. Download it here and hit the jump for a full track list.

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Artists making and playing out regional Club music constantly come up against a dance music hegemony that only rarely accepts it into the halls of booking agencies, festivals and legacy labels. Language of openness, experimentation and freedom is unavoidable in this sphere, but stray outside of the tasteful confines and you’re likely to be shunned and looked down upon. This has led to bizarre phenomenons like the EDM world’s fleeting embrace of Jersey Club or Footwork artists often getting more play at beat scene functions than actual clubs. Crews like Juke Bounce Werk, Principe and Nyege Nyege have worked tirelessly to create their own autonomous platforms, but most artists don’t have access to those resources. This is the context in which a techno artist playing jungle or a former indie darling playing kuduro is viewed as a radical act, while those cultures themselves, mostly occupied by working class participants, are almost exclusively ignored.

Los Angeles’ So Drove, formerly known as Schwarz (born Adam Schwarz), has spent their life pushing up against and outright rejecting the dance music world’s notion of taste. While living in Baltimore, the producer, vocalist and DJ championed the city’s more eccentric Club proclivities, working with artists like Abdu Ali, Blaqstarr and TT the Artist, while releasing a near-constant stream of genre fudging bootlegs, blends and covers. 2017’s Everyday Is A Winding Road, released through their own Nina Pop label, is a great place to dive into the Schwarz discography, but it’s hard to go wrong with a deep dive into the Soundcloud annals. A whirlwind of sounds including pop punk, industrial, bounce, ballroom, snap rap and more can be found in Schwarz’s work, all imbued with an emotional clarity and a deep felt devotion to the source material.

Since relocating to Los Angeles and starting the So Drove project, songwriting, rap production and a new series of collaborations have become Schwarz’s main focus. Effortlessly buoyant productions for the likes of Cupcakke, Kreayshawn and Nezzy have brought them to a wider audience, but the project also hit a recent high point with Solano Canyon OST , their longest and most personally expressive work to date. Named after the serpentine East LA neighborhood they lived in for a year, the album features as many big hooks, provided by Schwarz, Nezzy and Saturn Rising, as well as a standout performance from Memphis legend La Chat, as it does insular moments. Extrapolating on themes introduced on early Schwarz bootlegs, the album is 100% honest and 100% emotionally vulnerable, charting a personal, everyday path over a series of joyfully idiosyncratic productions.

So Drove’s Astral Plane Mix charts a similarly distinctive path, taking a more high strung path than Solano Canyon OST‘s low slung arrangements and maintaining a high wire act of cross-genre transitions and brash curatorial choices. Longtime fans of their mix work won’t be surprised by the fusion, but new listeners may be a bit startled by transitions from new era Club artists like DJ Diamond Kuts and Calvo to Butthole Surfers, the Grateful Dead and Sleigh Bells. Bootlegs of Lil Uzi Vert, Princess Nokia and Rico Nasty tie the affair together, while a Korn vs. Dem Franchise Boyz blend provides a high energy mark midway through the session. Throughout, Schwarz exploits, twists and builds out from familiar pop formats, making quick cuts into and out of raw dancefloor tracks while maintaining a focus on the odd ball vocalists strewn throughout the selection. Eclecticism is an overwrought trope in dance music and is more often manufactured than evolved naturally, but So Drove is a genuine one-of-a-kind and boldly stands out against gatekeeper-led monotony. Download Astral Plane Mix 185 here and hit the jump for a full track list.

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The conversation around safe club spaces, particularly for womxn, non-binary and queer people, has progressed in leaps and bounds over the past few years, but many large cities, not to mention smaller hubs, still don’t consistently offer comfortable, accessible venues and nights for those communities. The consolidation of venues under corporate umbrellas, gentrification and unhelpful local municipalities has led to a severe lack of smaller, community-oriented spaces and raised tensions between venue owners and promoters. Whereas similar issues have led to widespread anhedonia in adjacent cultural spheres though, a range of nights, spaces and artists have worked tirelessly to build club culture in their image.

London’s New Scenery has been a key player in that fight since launching in 2018, pairing international talent (think coucou chloe, MikeQ, Toxe, Ziúr) with an array of UK offerings while drawing on the experimental fringe without losing sight of what moves the floor. DJ, producer and video artist Jasper Jarvis is one of New Scenery’s organizers and residents and the first artist to debut on the platform’s label arm. Released last week, Finty is an amalgam of hardcore motifs, soundtrack-ready arrangements and re-contextualized pop moments, functioning as a stark debut for an artist finding their production legs. Tracks like “~” and “Trauma” in particular build out a madcap energy, showing that Jarvis is more than willing to push the intensity to uncomfortable levels and test dancers’ resolve.

Jarvis’ mix work, previously heard in New Scenery’s native series and the excellent SISTER series, is similarly wide ranging and holistic, matching their own edits with hits from the club sphere, tracks from contemporaries and soundtrack excerpts. The result is hectic and functions on a mood level more than a rhythmic one, grafting affective bonds through a maze of drum patterns. Their Astral Plane Mix covers a lot of ground, even by the standards established by the type of artists New Scenery books, touching on Jersey Club classics from DJ Sliink and DJ Tiga, Hans Zimmer, Slipknot and a slick Merzbow edit from Emma Lee. Excerpts from Finty put a personal touch on the processions, providing emotional high points to the up and down selections. Hit the jump for a full track list and grab a download of Astral Plane Mix 184 here.

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céci

With CÉCI‘s Vortex EP out this Friday, we figured it’s a good opportunity to drop the second single and release opener from the project. “Force” epitomizes the prickly energy that the Danish artist brings throughout Vortex and will be followed by an equally special music video. If you haven’t caught the Emilie Alstrup-directed video for “Heartbeat”, then head here to have your senses torn apart and reconstructed.

CÉCI – Vortex
APR118 | Out February 15
Listen to “Force”
Pre-order EP

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We’ve maintained a fairly insular approach to label curation over the past few years, releasing music from a core group of artists and slowly bringing new individuals and approaches into the fold. It’s a deliberate way of working in an extremely cluttered/top down music media environment and it clearly hasn’t limited the scope of the sonic ecology we push.

That said, going into our fourth year in existence, we’ve decided to open up the gates a bit and let some new voices ring out. Over the coming months, we’ll be introducing four new artists into the APR family, bringing everything from algorithmically designed string music to fuzzed out Iranian pop.

The first of those artists is CÉCI, a Danish, London-based vocalist and sound artist who we’ve partnered with across a number of projects already. If you’re in London, you may have caught one of her Celestite nights at Rye Wax, featuring a combination of performance and DJ sets from some of our favorite artists in the city.

Vortex is CÉCI’s debut on APR and a jarring introduction to an artist we’ve tipped for some time. The sound is as enticing as the production is angular and across six short songs, CÉCI snakes her way through major hooks, resolute sound design and a range of inward facing affectations.

Today, we’re unveiling “Heartbeat”, the first single from Vortex and our initial introduction to CÉCI’s work. The single is accompanied by a striking music video directed by Emilie Alstrup and is a fitting introduction to CÉCI’s artistic voice and tactile approach to production. Relevant links below and much more to come.

CÉCI – Vortex
APR118 | Out February 15
Stream “Heartbeat”
Watch “Heartbeat”
Pre-order EP

1.) Force
2.) Foreveralone
3.) Taste
4.) Wait
5.) Want
6.) Heartbeat

“The Danish-born, London-based artist swathes her voice in intricate, prickly electronics on her new EP for Astral Plane, which sounds both massive and intimate.” – Resident Advisor

“Her music—a stripped-back, skeletal type of pop—is built from mind-bending sound design, haunting vocals, and ethereal energy that draws you in on first listen.” – XLR8R

“The London-based artist, who has a background in sound design and dance, employs motifs from a variety of contemporary club styles and a broad vocal approach.” – FACT

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Pittsburgh’s Boo Lean has been a fixture in the Midwest club music fabric for years and recently, her expertise and passion for putting on aspiration, experimental-minded music festivals has expanded to Vancouver’s New Forms. Born Lauren Goshinski, she’s also a force behind the decks, claiming a residency at Pittsburgh’s legendary Hot Mass and showing off a talent for a tightly wound, percussive mixing style. It was serendipitous that Lauren reached out to us with a guest mix the week of our most recent NTS show and we can’t think of a better way to jump off 2019 than with her “Winter Eclipse” selections. The first hour of the show is handled by the AP DJ Team and features forthcoming material and holiday smashers from CÉCI, LOFT, Chants and SHALT, as well as recent faves from BFTT, bod [包家巷], crystallmess, Don Sinini, Emily Glass, jjjacob, Nkisi, SCAM and Ytem. Boo Lean will also be playing at CTM Festival next month, as well as in Galway, Ireland with Gash Collective. Find details on both dates below. Download the show here and hit the jump for a full track list.

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Photo by Manuel Uthoff

Mexico City has functioned as an incubator for some of the most exciting threads in contemporary dance music, home to a number of labels and crews pushing against Western/Anglo hegemony and looking to create a stable, self-contained musical ecology. There are a few obvious touchstones in the DF’s sonic culture, but there are also artists who flit between scenes and avoid categorization, welding on new components until a brilliant new whole emerges. OLY has stood out as one of the city’s most talented producers and DJs for several years now, releasing a sparse stream of perplexingly vital singles and becoming an absolutely stand out peak time DJ in the meantime.

OLY productions tend towards minimalism and a slinky sense of fun, wringing kinetic energy out of rhythms laid bare. 2015’s Náyade EP was our first taste, two rich, low end heavy efforts as situated in the beat scene as they are in DJ-driven dance music, but possessing an inescapable groove nonetheless. Singles and compilation tracks for <//-(HYPERSONICS)-//>, Cintas Coagula, Classical Trax, COCOBASS and NAAFI have followed, exploring everything from acid-tinged industrial to placid ambient and on to a full bodied funk carioca take. A distinct rave aesthetic is present on most OLY club tracks, although they rarely reach the full rev of a straightforward peak time banger, instead teasing out their intent (or not) over the entire run time.

OLY’s mix work is where the embrace of club music at its most full throttle enters, showing off her keen sense of which rhythmic concoctions will most efficiently set the floor off. Various strains of hardcore, both classic and modern, juke, bubbling, soca and more tend to pop up in OLY mixes, all mixed with a deft touch to avoid the obnoxiously jarring hybridities that many DJs fall for. Her Astral Plane Mix takes a particularly rave-y track, matching a range of left field techno and trance with a smattering of juke killers and some choice bootlegs. In typical fashion, the reference points are kaleidoscopic, but they’re all there, subsumed in OLY’s own production work and despite the lack of original tracks in the mix, it’s still a work distinctly her own. Download Astral Plane Mix 183 here and hit the jump for the full track list.

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It’s easy to get bogged down in the constant balkanization of contemporary dance music. Keeping up with the lexicon alone is a formidable task and while classification is important, jargon is almost always utilized as a means of keeping the uninitiated out. Understanding dance music as a continuum of mechanized global rhythms, grafted, hybridized and superimposed into new forms, offers a key to the madness though, offering a path that sees not homogeneity, but the similarities in the constituent elements of seemingly disparate material. It’s a skill that Sydney’s SCAM has brought to his work as a writer, DJ and producer, building out from the clunky “global ghettotech” terminology of the late 2000s to make innate connections between seemingly dissimilar rhythmic logics.

2018 saw the release of his debut Vibrio EP on DECISIONS, a body of work matching “OTT emotionality and TMI sentimentality” with a focus on slime and the chemical interactions that lead to effects like bioluminescence and petrichor. Seayams provides vocals for two tracks, grounding the work’s frisky bio-chemical motions with a distinct humanity and allowing its two instrumental tracks the space necessary to flourish. American R&B and rap are obvious reference points, but EP closer “QQ” is also based on a Coil sample and the skittish drum programming throughout recalls the angular constructions of a range of regional club music.

The bonds created throughout Vibrio continue to be explored in SCAM’s edits, works that offer subtle mutations on post-punk, rap, dancehall and techno. It’s these edits that allow ESG to sit comfortably with Stefflon Don in a SCAM mix, making rhythmic links between ostensibly dissimilar tracks and offering a correction to the temporal and spacial record in the meantime. His Astral Plane Mix does exactly that, making simple connections across recent time (Araabmuzik into Dinamarca couldn’t be wrong) and drawing in contemporaries like Air Max ’97, Emily Glass and Fridge into an assemblage of familiar vocals twisted into new shapes. The mix offers a curatorial approach devoid of the pretenses of the critic, allowing new forms to develop at an instinctual pace and hybridities to develop naturally. Grab a copy of Vibrio here and download AP Mix 182 here. Track list after the jump.

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