2014 Recap

year end thing

Over the past 12 months, this site has matured into a stronger entity as a whole and has coalesced around several key themes. As the increasingly world of instrumental grime has expanded beyond the genre’s original contours and expectations, as kuduro has expanded beyond the lusophone diaspora, and as the monolithic kicks of jersey club have become ubiquitous in club music the world over, our focus has shrunk and, we hope, has begun to not just mirror the various genres and scenes we cover, but influence, instigate and reflect the general sense of propulsion inherent in the avant-garde fringe. In the next year, we’ll be releasing even more original music under the umbrella of our blog/label and will continue to pump out mixes from the artists we hold close and dear.

We’ll be launching several new features and a new locality-specific mix series over the coming month or two as well as several volumes of Heterotopia remixes that we can’t wait to get in your paws. A TON of exciting producers, both long-held favorites and producers relatively new to the spectrum, contributed remixes and the project will be released in three distinct volumes, each with brand new art work, over the first and second quarter of 2015. Expect news regarding the first volume and a first taste of the project in around two weeks.

Interestingly enough, as our role in covering music has expanded, the scope of our pen has shrunk. It would be nearly impossible to define the range of music we cover, but club is a term that seems to come up again and again and seems to epitomize our attitude if not the actual sound(s) found in our pages. Whether a club is the physical manifestation of the dance music locale or a virtual environment fabricated out of sound and CGI comes down to the creator-listener continuum.

Our seventh and final edition of Astral Plane Radio, a collection of recent club compositions has been included below. Hit the jump to continue reading our 2014 club round up…

Scrolling through the 39 guest mixes we featured this past year, punctuated by the odd pairing of Keyboard Kid and JLSXND7RS, several coherent threads begin to appear. The first is grime, both in the classical and more newfangled sense, a genre/sound that we would return to ad nauseam and an attitude that inflected nearly everything we wrote on/about this year. To map out the various sub-genres, influences and sonic similarities, or more importantly, dissimilarities, of the grime world in 2014 would be nearly impossible, but you could probably assign a mix from our series to every key junction if a map did exist.

Jersey and Bmore club, as well as ballroom, comes next, both in its organic, insular incarnation and in the international sense as labels like Fade to Mind, Her Records, Lit City Trax and NAAFI push and mutate the sound into ever unfamiliar territory. The dialogue is ongoing between the largely European appropriators and the locals of Newark and Baltimore, but with strong leaders like Uniique and Nadus pushing the literal scene and more ambiguous concept of club music forward, it’s far easier to ignore the unfortunate reality of the zoologically inclined masses.

Slowly, and sometimes painfully, folded in with the aforementioned club styles is dembow, kuduro, batida, bachato, baile funk, tarrachinha and other styles that seem to rebound across the Atlantic with reckless abandon, hybridizing and reestablishing themselves in ever-reinforced manifestations. It’s this constant dialogue, played out on Soundcloud, VK, Kasimp3, Datafilehost and innumerable forums, that has blurred the lines between the formerly distinct genres we cover. It’s why certain British agents have objected to the grime label, pointing to the reductive nature of a single, umbrella term for a wide, ever-growing array of music.

Coming from Los Angeles (and formerly Seattle), we reside largely outside of the main foci of the club music world. Of course, labels like Body High, Private Selection and Hesperian Sound Division are pushing club-oriented sounds, but the city’s enthusiasm for the aforementioned club styles is paltry compared to New York and lacks the history and organic verve of cities like Chicago and Baltimore. And as far as garage, grime and its various offshoots, it goes without saying that the United States as a whole plays something of an awkward cousin roll.

So it goes without saying approach a good deal of the music we cover as outsiders, constantly inundating ourselves in the culture and lexicon in order to properly cover and give fare due to the individual representatives of each respective sonic foci. Which is where labels like grime, club and kuduro come in, not intended as a function of verbal reduction, but as organizational techniques to order a large and unruly world for our own mediated consumption. Without the ability to attend Boxed, Thread, Principe Discos parties, etc. on a regular basis, we often rely on second hand information and the word of friends to decipher a wholly indecipherable series of cultural touchstones.

Furthermore, we write for an international audience, many of whom are way more far flung than Los Angeles. Recently, a number of prominent DJs, label people and general club music personalities, have ridiculed the younger crust of club music producers, essentially isolating themselves from the transcontinental dialogue that occurs on the internet everyday. Beyond general questions of snobbishness and elitism, these attitudes create a fundamental block in the ever-open world of club music, closing open doors and blocking passage to aspirational producers from the world over.

It’s our goal to function as a door opener and a platform for counter-hegemonic club music producers, labels, proponents and spaces. We’ve realized that its far easier to act in a negative fashion, even on the part of figureheads, but the huge array of talented musicians out there make promoting the club-verse at large a positive pursuit.


1.) Felicita, Frenemies EP

Felicita’s 19 minute EP was released on pretty yellow vinyl but I don’t care about that! I want the glow in the dark drawstring bag. There were only 25 copies made. That’s so rare. It’s the perfect place to store Lush™ Bath Bombs, Sour Skittles, and mystic aphrodisiacs. Plus it comes with a Frenemies digital download (duh). I don’t know if there are any left but if any loved ones of mine are reading this there are still two days of Hanukkah!

2.) Cakes Da Killa, Hunger Pangs

Cakes played a show at my college earlier this year and I drove to pick him up from the airport. We got Chipotle together while waiting for MikeQ’s greyhound to get in. He was very nice and I had a great time. Later that night he tore the place down with whiplash bars that were sharp enough to make anyone bleed between the legs. Cop the deluxe edition of Hunger Pangs on these 4GB sticks (1000 songs).  Keep it coochie.


3.) Slugabed, Coolest EP

Has anyone bought one of these? Does Slugabed own one? Coolest EP is free. £50 is a lot of money! Maybe one day we will be able to get high-quality beach towels with our EPs for the low. This item is for the true collector/beach bum.

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4.) Deru, 1979

Every other item here is (arguably) supplementary to the listening experience, but Deru’s 1979 is made to be experienced in its Obverse Box form. Diverging from the enclosed space of the time capsule, the Obverse Box is a projector made with the intention of experimentation and transformation. Each song from the 1979 album has received a unique visual treatment that mimics memory and follows Jackson Sonnanfeld-Arden’s Nine Pure Tones.

Honorable Mentions:

Wu-Tang Clan, Once Upon a Time in Shaolin

The elephant in the room…

Astral Plane Recordings, Heterotopia

Beautiful collage artwork from Jesse Treece wraps around our most formal effort yet. Re-imaginings of the cover will accompany re-workings of the songs come 2015!

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Around six months ago, I graduated from college, move to Los Angeles and began working at an independent record label. I had previously been attending uni at a school in the suburbs and the move has allowed me to attend shows, parties and other music-oriented events on a near-constant basis. The fact that nearly every touring act hits Los Angeles exacerbates the glut of quality shows. More so, the city has a glut of sprawling warehouse districts, neighborhoods ride for seedy, all night parties featuring globe trotting deejays and warm PBR in equal measure. Unfortunately, LAPD’s vice squad has taken a special interest in the city’s warehouse circuit, cracking down with a brute force that has sent promoters scurrying to find legitimate venues in the peripheries of downtown. Los Angeles’ late night dance scene seems to be in a mode of major flux, but that doesn’t mean that you often have the pick of the litter party-wise, often a choice between several visiting house and/or techno dons. The city lacks somewhat in ‘nuum culture and club music, but that almost seems like an unfair criticism considering the opportunities created and taken away by the aforementioned circumstances. I decided to lay out my favorite moments in the club this year, the club being a broad space filled by dancers, dancing and dance music. The following three nights stuck out to me for entirely different reasons, but each will play a huge roll in shaping how I look back on this time in my life at large and how I devoured dance music in particular. Find the rest of our 2014 coverage here.

1.) Jack J @ loft space several blocks from my home

Hailing from the inimitable Mood Hut crew, Jack J’s Looking For You/Take It To The Edge rocked the house music world to its core, essentializing the sound to its most affecting core elements. When the address for his recent Los Angeles date was fired into my inbox, I realized that the party would be taking place at an odd block of lofts snuggled into several bare distribution centers. With assistance from Los Angeles’ own Suzanne Kraft and Parker, the party was a sure hit and the fact that it was walking distance from my LA River-bordering house was an extra bonus that resulted in cranking our home system a little too and imbibing a bit too much tequila. With the booth set up on the several floor overlooking the dancefloor, free snacks and some lovely foliage, a number of twenty-somethings, LA house cognoscenti and incomers from outside of the city limits began to amass, throwing themselves into Kraft’s turbid house and disco numbers while devouring a table of free snacks. The room was certainly not intended for dancefloor efficacy, but with a bar snuggled under the stairs, several adventurous early night (midnight) dancers and widespread anticipation for Jack J’s set, the space contained an overarching air of barely concealed excitement. By the time the one and only Jack Jutson stepped on stage, the room was already beginning to resemble a single swollen mass, swayed side to side by a massive fan in one corner and Jutson’s wavy concoctions from above. The set was full of Mood Hut material from the past year and each and every Hashman Deejay, Pender Stree Stepper’s and Aquarian Foundation tune was met by a gleeful response from the now packed room. Predictably, “Looking For You” sent the dancefloor into rapture, giving the night a sense of genuine remembrance and elevating beyond the glut of late night excursions this particular club denizen has taken in the past 365 odd days.

2.) Private Selection Party feat. Bodymasters, Arkitect, Dreams & Aerial @ sweltering storefront in Echo Park

With an odd Echo Park-based address in hand and the prospect of witnessing brand new live act Bodymasters take over a small space on an calm Friday night, Private Selection’s (Dreams, Arkitect, Aerial) September party was something of an unknown quantity, but in hindsight has been elevated in my mind into one of the most memorable club experiences of the year. Upon entry, the space seemed to take the quality of a sweltering, leafy bodega, replete with half clad dancers and claustrophobic smoking area. It seems silly to riff on it at this point, but this party was HOT. Like, nearly unbearable, especially considering the force with which Bodymasters were pushing sharp, angular techno out of their analogue rig. Acid basslines and the sharp kick of the 909 ruled this night and while the crowd might not have looked the part of an all-night rave crew, they certainly moved like one, slurping down Coors Light or merely re-appropriating the frozen beer as a coolant. After one or two close calls with the police, Dreams and Arkitect closed out the night with fervor drawing together British-style techno, East Coast club music and West and South African rhythms into an intensely pleasurable melange. The Private Selection fellows are closing out 2014 with another party featuring the aforementioned residents as well as LA Club Resource representative Delivery on New Years. One not to miss, especially considering the general lack of quality across that particular date.

3.) NAAFI and J-Cush @ outdoor art space near the river

Another party easily walkable from my humble abode (unfortunately, quite rare) on an odd Wednesday night, the NAAFI crew (Lao, Paul Marmota and Mexican Jihad in this case) took over art gallery 356 Mission’s outdoor space and brought Lit City Trax head honcho J-Cush along with them. Essentially a large, fenced in parking lot, the space didn’t seem to bother any of the performers and the crowd, aided and abetted by free Modelo, was as ready to leave their respective shells as an LA crowd ever will be on a Wednesday night. More than the previous two parties listed here, NAAFI’s LA appearance hit my wheel spot with force, bringing out the dembow, kuduro, dancehall, ghetto house and grime I so rarely am allowed to obsess over in a club setting. The fact that the venue was very much un-club-like didn’t diminish my excitement at all, especially considering the Future Brown member’s midnight set. As the night got chillier, J-Cush brought up the tempo, clashing DJ Deeon with Youngstar and moving my more house and techno-oriented friends to ask, with a bewildered look on their face, if this is how club music is intended to be mixed. After all, it might seem natural to a deejay who spins across a number of tempos and feels comfortable mixing Bmore, grime and kuduro across a 10 minute span, but that frenetic pace is often is shocking to many punters, especially those used to the aseptic world of four-on-the-floor beats. Despite the odd placement on a Wednesday night, Lao, Marmota, Mexican Jihad and J-Cush turned the bizarre space into a fantastical open air club-cum-how to relate to the body.


Over the course of the past twelve months, the trans-continental South/Central American dance scene seemed to grow in both confidence in recognition as producers from Chile to Mexico flexed their various reinterpretations of folks musics and dance forms. Moreso, artists like Lao and Paul Marmota, Tomas Urquieta and Imaabs transgressed the traditional world of house and techno, drafting up wildly creative takes on dance music that subverted the hegemonic, often racially inferred physical and technological spaces in their respective cities of Santiago and Mexico City. We snagged Imaabs to lay out his favorite releases of the year, drawing source material from Chilean, Mexican, American and British producers. Enjoy and excuse the language barrier!

A selection is always a constellation, each track has to be able to open dimensions, generating movement, shouts, expressions, the body into a future, that does not subtract and multiply , but rather becomes intense; several of these tracks are instrumental, very percussive, others have voices that produce some recognition, voice, usually on a track is a face in which we identify.

This selection of the 10 most important tracks for me in 2014 focuses on links that open. For example, Rushmore’s “Bitch Please” has been apex at parties I played in Chile and Mexico; Marmota with “Malianteo” reopens a recognition territory between Chile, the apocalyptic vibes and Latin America ; the masterpiece called “Black Jesus” of Vaskular & Valesushi, two Chilean friends, thrill mixed with a Latin-Dembow dimension with Deep House vibes. Meanwhile, Kid Antoine is very European, but an expert in a post-apocalyptic latin dimension and that reminds me of Marmota´s Nueva EP (out now on NAAFI), resonating in such extreme places as Mexico and Denmark.

With transformations in mind, a song from the last quarter is “How About” of Dinamarca x Zutzut, Kassandra’s soft voice resonates much to the work of Kelela, but achieves a density and quite distinct flavor. Tomás Urquieta, my fellow battles, built one of the most consistent Eps I’ve managed to hear in this last year, beyond thinking about the Club, this EP is out of it, or at its limit; Somebody called it a kind of Post-club. Future Brown, opens a window and a way of doing pop, thinking of the club, and this track, Wanna Party, is but a manifesto of those osmosis. Another track that impressed me was the 2014, is the remix by Cyphr to “Moments XTC” of Zutzut and Lao (Extasis/Her), and the original track had struck me, but when he left the remix… I Said: amazing.

Inevitably you can not do a review of 2014 without mentioning Neana; means most of the old continent as USA, considered him as someone to must be listened to; the consistency is not enough, and successes are needed hits to the expected visibility and consolidation; the remix he makes to SPF666 is required in any dj set. Finally another great Latin American producer going to have to talk this 2015, what impresses me greatly is the expertise that takes into percussions, I think unusual and very unlike anything that has been done regarding club music.


With Resident Advisor throwing the spotlight on South African house music and British artists like Piri Piri and Moleskin pushing specific, regional sounds, kwaito, gqom and other forms have been brought to the forefront as of late. That being said, no external purveyor could elucidate the polyrhythmic complexities of the aforementioned sounds without the power of the internet, specifically Kasimp3 and Datafilehost. These sites act as both host and archive, as well as the face, of gqom, kwaito and other South African dance forms, allowing artists like DJ Lag, DJ Sdunkero and Altra to flex out their tunes in a public forum. The notorious lack in sonic quality of many tunes on both respective sites has only added to the legend, a fervor wildly inventive 96kbps clips, tracks and songs, some taking the form of instrumental sketches and some coming out as fully formed pop entities. We asked Matt Lutz, DJ and curator of online club music conversation hub and community Classical Trax, to compile his favorite Kasimp3 finds and he came through with the following classics and rare finds. These are some of the best tracks on the site, but its only a quick dip into the depth of quality that Durban, Johannesburg and other South African cities have to offer. Find the rest of our 2014 coverage, including contributions from Riley Lake and Tomas Fraser (of Coyote Records) here.

I recently discovered this incredible genre of South African house music, mainly based in Durban known purely as IGQOM  or Gqom. The music is raw, banging and sounds pure and rugged. I wanted to put together five of my most played tracks that I have discovered from this past year. Finding these tracks can be a hassle, but using sites like Kasimp3 and Datafilehost along with numerous searches on Facebook and Soundcloud can bring some much needed treasures for your sets.I hope everyone will find their own favorite tracks and please support the artists!

(No Particular Order)

1. Altra – True Colors

I discovered the young producer Altra through the amazing label Goon Club All-Stars and Moleskin as he has done a few powerful mixes and will be releasing some tunes in the near future from some of these artists. True Colors is unlike any track I have heard before and will make you earn for more. Download “True Colors” here.

2. Local Boiz and Ma-Leven – 1st Gathering

This track has a incredible broken glass intro effect and then just goes off into another dimension perfect for dancing and club atmospheres.

3. C&C Music Factory – Keep It Coming (DJ Lusiman Remix)

The track was made 3 years ago but taking the durban house sound and mixing it with a 90’s house track just seems to be a good fit! Download Lusiman’s “Keep It Coming” remix here.

4. DJ Lag – Ice Drop

Lag has so many rhythmic blast songs and off kilter noises that its hard to pick a favorite but Ice Drop is one of his tracks that i enjoy the most and is perfect to mix in with some modern day club! Download “Ice Drop” here.

5. Ice Boiz – Places

I don’t know much about the Ice Boiz…but Places is a incredible track which uses a lot of raw sounds and a typical sounds. Download “Places” here.


Continuing our year end coverage, we asked Tomas Fraser, head of breathtaking grime outlet Coyote Records, which 2014 songs he wished he could have signed. It’s a bit of a silly hypothetical, but while signing a “Take Time” is almost always a heartbeat decision, the amount of factors that go into a label signing are often overwhelming. Tomas does an excellent job with Coyote and while he couldn’t snag the following, Mumdance x Novelist, Murlo, CYPHR, Visionist or Gantz x El Mahdy Jr. tracks this year, his label has turned out quality releases from Chemist and Spare, as well as their annual compilation, Coyote Kings 2. Check out Tomas’ selection below and hit the jump to stream Rejig’s contribution to the aforementioned compilation. Also, be sure to peep Riley Lake’s Fave Discontinued Hardware from yesterday!

Mumdance ft. Novelist – ‘Take Time’ (Rinse)

Would loved to have released a record on this based primarily on the fact that it single-handedly gave power back to the MCs – it proved that MCs could do the intricate, new world of contemporary instrumental grime production justice and vice versa. Don’t think we’ll fully appreciate it for a few years yet either.

Murlo – Cold Stroke (Oil Gang)

Spent the last 10 months or so fast-forwarding mixes just to reload ‘Cold Stroke’ – it’s just one of those tracks that I’ll always love. Was chuffed to see it get a proper release because I still think it stands as one of his best pieces of production to date.

CYPHR – Sun (Her Records)

Went under the radar a bit this one but it blew me away listening to it for the first time. The way the track builds and all the components intertwine is genuinely beautiful – even my boss bought the EP after I played it in the office. Says it all really.

Visionist – More Pain (Lit City Trax)

Visionist has my favourite production aesthetic in the game and ‘More Pain’ is probably the best example of how he goes about his work. It reminds me of a prayer of sorts in the sense that it’s gothic and moody and haunting and almost spiritual, all at the same time – it’s this sense of emotional urgency that makes him stand out from the rest for me.

Gantz ft. El Mahdy Jr – Rising (Deep Medi)

Not my usual bag but I know Gantz is a great producer and alongside El Mahdy Jr, something clicked for me. There’s a real tangible sense of spirituality about ‘Rising’ – perpetuated by Mahdy Jr’s enchanting vocal – and the way Gantz joins the dots between the classic Medi template & the sounds of his own heritage and culture is first class.

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Because you’ve been reading our words all year long, and, let’s be real, we can get a little monotonous, our year end coverage will consist of commentary from a number of friends and associates. The commentary will sometimes be delineated in a numerical, vertical manner and sometimes it will consist of blocks of text, audio files and moving images. Today we have our good friend and sometimes contributor Riley lake with us, bringing some cheap hardware finds that you Ableton-dowloading folk should get to know. We can’t all afford a LinnDrum after all… To top it off, Riley included a cheeky pack of hardware loops and clips from each piece of hardware listed below for your listening pleasure and even potential functional usage. Expect a debut solo release and big things throughout Mr. Lake throughout 2015. Download Riley’s loops and clips package here.

During 2014 I found out that I possess a burning desire for hardware music production but will also always spend all my disposable income on weed. As this realization has settled in, I’ve stopped tragically searching for the typical apples of the analog fetishist’s eye and started figuring out how to make shitty, cheap tools work together to make weird and wonderful noises. In an age where producers focus on cleanliness to the point of sterility, for me 2014 was all about grit and noisy signals and sounds that don’t fit neatly into boxes, and my In honor of the journalistic instinct to make lists of commodities at the end of a temporal cycle here is my list of 5 pieces of underrated discontinued hardware that I discovered in 2014.

5. Alesis Midiverb iii

I copped this one off a nice guy on Craigslist for 30 bones and I couldn’t be more satisfied. This rack mount unit does everything from lovely, weightless half minute chamber reverbs to short metallic clangs, with some wacky, unpredictable gated and reversed settings for some bonus flavor. Furthermore it’s got full midi control over all parameters as well as a simple intuitive interface on the front of the unit. Versatile, timeless vibes.

4. Casio rz-1/boss dr-660

K so these two digital drum machines which make up a big chunk of the percussive palates of ghetto house classics, and have received their fair share of accolades. L-vis made that one kinda boring track for mr. Edgar’s label that was presumably an rz-1 jam (he didn’t even use the sampler like c’mon) and gear lord legowelt has given a strong cosign to the dr660 (which looks like an oversized scientific calculator). Nonetheless they make the list because I really like the idea of these machines (along with something like the 707) as the antithesis of the grotesquely overpriced tr808/909. Rock solid, iconic drum sounds and sequencing that can be sent sent around to your chosen arsenal of signal processing tools. The rz1 has the added bonus of useful performance tools and 2 low bitrate sampling slots that will drench anything in character.

3. Guitar stompboxes

Reverend Richard D James said in an interview earlier this year that no digital system could quite match analog distortion and it’s true, ain’t shit a bunch of 1s and 0s can do against the sound of a circuit being pushed to saturation or starved of current. A good friend let me borrow his stomp boxes and I’ve been obsessed since the moment I put them on an effects send. A little tweaking can make the blandest keyboard spring to life and make any hi hat slice through a mix. Plus turning knobs is fun!

2. Digitech vhm5

Literally the sickest thing ever. The first or second affordable pitch correction/harmonizer ever to be rolled out and 20+ years later it still goes hard as fuck. 127 modes of infinitely tweakable vocoding/harmonizing/pitch correction will make yo ass sound like James Blake guaranteed. It can be played in a tactile way via keys on the front of the unit or controlled remotely via midi. Most preset patches give a lush stereo spread to the harmonized doubles. $70 shipped off eBay and I’ve used it on no lie every recording since I got it. I almost feel like I shouldn’t be spilling the beans on this one it’s so good. Big shot out man like ross oldenburg for putting me on to this 1.

1. 5 pin midi cables

If u don’t have a midi cable from your computer/sequencer to every piece of gear in your studio with a 5 pin midi in port, u fuckin up. A fully midi connected studio basically makes all of your gear as “smart” as the midi master, so for most of us that means we have the potential to let a supercomputer control things instead of doing such mundane tasks as playing keyboards. Even something as simple as getting all of your gear on the same clock unlocks all sorts of compositional and performance strategies by making those built in sequencers that you may have disregarded before actually useful. Midi cables are how you take advantage of the tactile goodness of hardware without sacrificing the limitless possibilities of making music with control of a computer.

~~~Honorable mention~~~

Soldering iron:

Here’s the fun thing about analog synths. They aren’t even that hard to build! U just need some patience and a temp controlled soldering iron.  Google “moog low pass ladder filter schematic”; it ain’t even that complicated. Most components are dirt cheap, and the synth diy community is skrong af and will provide u with endless designs and support. They all hang out on a forum called muffwiggler. Instead of buying a 303 for way too much money, just cop the xox-heart (303 voice+filter for like 60 bucks) and port a sequencer to a microprocessor that’s hooked up to the analog shit. Build midi in and a little box for all of it and voila u have a near perfect 303 clone for the extra low. Shots out to my man Jason Nanna for showing me that this is a thing.