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Photo Credit: Daniel Sannwald

The past few years have been filled with musical projects attempting to bridge, evade or make irrelevant the digital/physical divide. No project has been more successful in that than Sinjin Hawke and Zora Jones’ Fractal Fantasy, a platform that has grown to encompass exclusive digital zones, interactive art installations and a genuinely immersive live act that has been on the road for several years now. Considering the complexity (in sound design as much as the scope of the project) and specificity of their work, it’s difficult to imagine another artist fitting seamlessly into the FF aesthetic, but that notion was bucked with the introduction of Xzavier Stone. The Zurich-based artist was introduced in full earlier this year via the THIRST LP, a fluid, eternally bouncy collection that followed several collaborations with fellow FF members and a bootleg compilation that helped assert the musical space that Stone was drawing from.

Phrased as “a contemporary take on 2000s Rap and R&B through the lens of a European mixed race adolescent,” THIRST‘s palette will be familiar to fans of 2000s production mavens like Timbaland, Scott Storch and Swizz Beatz, a sound that both ushered in the contemporary rap and R&B production mode and was more linked to the traditional musicality of past major label studio music. And whereas Hawke and Jones often dive into the magnificent excesses of contemporary club music with reckless abandon, Stone is often more reserved, finding space for something akin to pop songwriting on tracks like “CCW” and “XLYT”. The album is strewn with overt references to regional rap musics like bounce and snap as well, introduced as loving tribute before being thrown into the blender and later manifesting in an entirely new context.

Stone’s Astral Plane Mix offers further context, drawing lines between contemporaries outside of the FF universe (Lunice, Sega Bodega, SOPHIE) and originals from Lil Uzi Vert, Mariah Carey and PNB Rock. Bits of Bangladesh production, a subdued Alkaline rendition and hyper-modern sound design interject, connecting individual nodes across time and space and drawing everyone from CYPHR and Ssaliva to Rich Boy and Trae Tha Truth into the same melange. You can download Stone’s mix here and hit the jump for a full track list.

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We decided to put a spotlight on our favorite artists from our home city of Los Angeles this Summer. Over the coming 10 weeks, we’ll feature a cross section of what the city has to offer. Far from a selection of the biggest touring entities, we hope to shine light on the individuals who brighten the airwaves and nights out on a regular basis.

To this point, AMAZONDOTCOM has existed in the interstices of a number of seemingly divergent spaces. Those spaces are geographic, sonic and conceptual and have allowed the producer and live performer to maintain an aesthetic that is distinctly her own. Geographically speaking, AMAZONDOTCOM has largely spent time between Los Angeles and Mexico City, performing at nights like Rail Up and NTS’ residency at the Ace Hotel in the former and taking her live set to a memorable Boiler Room set up in the latter that featured a slew of off-the-wall artists riffing on footwork. Those performances are hard to pin down, but display a confident grasp of club dynamics, allowing for a start-stop approach that defies traditional genre arrangements and easy emotional outputs without losing its clear dancefloor efficacy.

Releases to date have been sparse for AMAZONDOTCOM, but the material available is definitive. A joint release with Siete Catorce, the Teardropz EP for Nostro Hood System, sees the two artists complementing each other to the fullest, resulting in some of the most disarming club music to come out this year. The release is focused and arranged around a core idea, that being constantly mutating rhythms matched with minimal, spectral sound design, but it results in a complex of brilliant moments that are bound to wow and throw off listeners and dancers alike for years. Other standout moments have come in the form of single track contributions to labels like Juárez’s LOWERS and Mexico City’s Piratón“youknowhowwedu” also appeared on our own NEW YR NEW US 2 giveaway compilation at the end of 2017, a preview of a more longform release to come on Astral Plane Recordings.

The smattering of AMAZONDOTCOM releases mentioned above paint a picture of an artist who fluidly moves between a number of sounds, touching on dembow, footwork, hip hop and a more amorphous beat aesthetic without falling into the trap of emulating calcified forms. It’s a sound that is already distinctly hers and a sonic space that will rapidly expand as more material is released. Her Astral Plane Mix is a good measure of that, comprised of over an hour of unreleased AMAZONDOTCOM material that gracefully bounds across tempo and rhythmic structure without losing an ounce of focus. Distended low end, cleverly snatched vocal samples and metallic drums have all become AMAZONDOTCOM hallmarks, but this volume also introduces sections of distorted breaks and a range of pleasing textural elements, ensuring complete immersion. No track list for this one, although you can pick out DMVU’s “Flew” towards the beginning of the mix. The rest is all AMAZONDOTCOM. Download here and be on the look out for more in the near future.

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Photo: Taylor Rainbolt / NTS Radio

We decided to put a spotlight on our favorite artists from our home city of Los Angeles this Summer. Over the coming 10 weeks, we’ll feature a cross section of what the city has to offer. Far from a selection of the biggest touring entities, we hope to shine light on the individuals who brighten the airwaves and nights out on a regular basis.

NTS Radio‘s programming is littered with huge names, but it’s the station’s odd ball thematic shows that make it such a joy to listen to on a day-to-day basis. When NTS opened up their Los Angeles station, they were especially astute in bringing on Sasha Ali’s Miss Modular Radio for a monthly show. Formerly airing on Boyle Heights’ Radio Sombra, an operation housed in Espacio 1839 that is currently in a transition into a “more concrete and revolutionary media entity,” Ali’s show is focused on “womxn-powered musical selections” and has been a staple since we first came across it sometime in 2016.

The format ranges from show to show, but each hour is generally composed of interviews, loose selections from the hip hop, experimental and electronic music worlds, as well as blistering guest sessions from a range of talented club DJs. Sessions are often freeform in terms of style, genre and composition, but womxn are always centered and the resulting milieu is vibrant and varied, linked more by an earnest affect and desire to push forward than any particular aesthetic.

Contemporary DJs like Bearcat, Erika Kayne and Helikonia have all  been featured on the show, but Ali has also found space for a wider purview, inviting accomplished solo artists like Low Leaf and Kilo Kish on, as well as archivist and punk provocateur Alice Bag. Ali’s own selection are similarly varied and polychromatic, running from blissfully emancipatory jazz and soul on to the best hip hop that LA has to offer and on to a range of Latin American club musics, both classic and contemporary.

Her Astral Plane Mix takes a similarly heterogeneous approach, drawing on experimental music from womxn of SWANA (Southwest Asian and North African) heritage. The selection was born out of an opening set Ali delivered for a show called “A Night of Arabic Hip-Hop and Poetry” at the Ford Amphitheater in Los Angeles. 8ULENTINA, Deena Abdelwahed, DJ Haram, Fatima Al Qadiri, Ikonika and Thoom all contribute key passages to Ali’s mix, as do multi-talented Egyptian vocalist Nadah El Shazly and French-Algerian R&B impresario Ta-Ra. True to its original intention, the mix has a distinctly live feel, frantically leaping along an electrical wire with a core energy that supersedes groove.  Dive into Miss Modular’s essential archive here, hit the jump for a track list, and download the mix here.

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We decided to put a spotlight on our favorite artists from our home city of Los Angeles this Summer. Over the coming 10 weeks, we’ll feature a cross section of what the city has to offer. Far from a selection of the biggest touring entities, we hope to shine light on the individuals who brighten the airwaves and nights out on a regular basis.

Pete Swanson‘s Discogs page is a treasure trove for the uninitiated. Project and project unveils itself, providing a glimpse into the Oregon native’s work at any particular time. We first came across Swanson via his seminal Man With Potential LP in 2011, likely the entry point for many who were either too young or missed his dramatic, brilliantly textured early work in the duo Yellow Swans. The half dozen or so other projects that litter Swanson’s discography paint a picture of a restless artist with a indefatigable pursuit of musical knowledge. Like us, many will work their way through that discography in a non-linear fashion, taking in his early, surprisingly serene, improvisational work as Sarin Smoke (with Tom Carter), more recent soaring black metal/noise hybrids as Violent Magic Orchestra, and the multitude of releases under his own name including personal favorite I Don’t Rock At All, three insular, blistered guitar landscapes recorded in an Oregon cabin at the end of 2010.

It’s a joy to piece through Swanson’s extended work, but more recently, the Los Angeles-based artist has turned his attention and talents more towards shining light on other people’s work. Freedom to Spend is the re-issue label Swanson co-runs with Little Axe Records’ Jed Bindeman and RVNG Intl.’s Matt Werth, hosting essential ephemera and lost gems from the likes of Richard Horowitz, Ursula K. Le Guin & Todd Burns, and Rimarimba. The label is a peak into Swanson’s curatorial prowess and the depth of his record collection, the latter of which was unveiled in a brilliant Playing Favorites feature in Resident Advisor last year. For a glimpse into where Swanson’s focus in the moment is though, the best route is to listen to Pete Goes To Town, his monthly show on NTS Los Angeles. The hour long show shows only a glimpse of Swanson’s massive collection, but that glimpse is always a pleasure, sure to defy even the most jaded listener’s expectation. Truly experimental radio hours can often come off as self-indulgent, but Pete Goes To Town is as fun as it is deep, recently mining bizarro, ASRM-y vocal tracks, dub-y club music and biotic synth experiments.

It was after religiously listening in to Pete Goes To Town month after month that we asked Swanson to contribute to our Los Angeles-focused mix series. The result is a death defying combination of hardcore punk and hardcore rave with fits of organic synthesis and Jlin’s brilliant “Kyanite” slotted into the mix. Neither Swanson’s approach nor collection can be synthesized into an hour of music, but like Pete Goes To Town, his Astral Plane Mix plays the role of prism into the many dimensions that his approach offers. No track list available for this, but download your copy of the mix here.

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Oakland’s DÆMON was kind enough to join us on our latest NTS show, turning in a blistering 30 minute guest mix. Building on the raw energy of their own club/vocal experiments, the mix runs through contemporary artists (DJ NJ Drone, N1L, False Witness), as well as some of the most distinct voices in dancefloor-minding rap (Rico Nasty, Thast, Lil Reek). The first hour and a half is handled by the AP DJ Team and includes new tracks from SHALT’s forthcoming Seraphim LP, a secret for now Chants number and special new ones from Sharp Veins, Cremation Lily, Hitmakerchinx, Calvo, Rizzla and more. Hit the jump for a full track list and download here.

Astral Plane DJ Team
SHALT – Conceived on Ash
Sharp Veins – forever night rip
R. Girardin – Splashed On
Why Be x oldest unknown – HURRIAN HA (Yantan Ministry Edit)
SHALT – Seraph
Cremation Lily – In England Now, Underwater
Yves De Mey – 17 Graves
M.D. James – ???
Muqata’a – Haswet Phalasipha حصوة الفلاسفة
Eartheater – MTTM (ft. Odwalla1221)
M.D. James – ???
Bliss Signal – Bliss Signal
Lilly Kane – Administer Truth
Aisha Devi – Intentional Dreams
SHALT – Preserved in Amber
Hitmakerchinx – Arabian King
Primitive Art – Security (M.E.S.H. Remix)
Sim Hutchins – Bath Salts In The Saccharin (LOFT’s Artifically Sweetened Luv Mix)
Chants – ???
Sharp Veins – return 2 tha club [demo]
dj lostboi – D MAJOR XO LIFE (blastah Edit)
Rizzla – Inquisition
Jonathan da Nova x Ansome – Nova Geração Hitch (Clemency Blend)
HahaDavis & CalvoMuxic – Blow Up Doll
DJ Flex & BillzTaDon – Bad Ting
Lechuga Zafiro – Ita
Nunu x Kyrstyn Pyxton – NEVER ALONE (Yantan Ministry Edit)
Djurum – Waters Rising
Sim Hutchins- Dumped by Pirate Radio (Object Blue Remix)
DJ Plead – DVE (DJ Dylan Edit)

DÆMON Guest Mix
H-Ricky – endlessHail
DJ NJ Drone – Go Flame
MindPersuasion – Accelerated Thinker
N1L – Crawlspaces
Presta – Perro Sucio
Crimson – Daemon
Rizoma – ≠
False Witness – In the Dark
Thast – Play My Shit
King DouDou – Espiritos
Rico Nasty – Countin Up
Dj Darshkeeper – Patient Returning (PIN# Edit)
Rizoma – Tool
XD – Sirenxe
El PlayBoy – Ritual
Lil Reek – Rock Out
Pineal Sounds – Curtain Call

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We decided to put a spotlight on our favorite artists from our home city of Los Angeles this Summer. Over the coming 10 weeks, we’ll feature a cross section of what the city has to offer. Far from a selection of the biggest touring entities, we hope to shine light on the individuals who brighten the airwaves and nights out on a regular basis.

We saw the first M.D. James live performance at Los Angeles’ Rec Centre in December 2017. Situated early on in the night, the set was short and erratic, a raw, unencumbered burst of speed and guttural sound. Several of Matt’s previous projects had manifested in live shows, but this performance as M.D. James felt new, a departure from his DJing and the beginning of genuinely singular artistic expression. The set also felt like an ideal extension of the CAMEO nights that Matt has been throwing since February of last year, nights that featured live acts like Aisha Devi, Malibu and Organ Tapes.

Initially taking place at small bars in Chinatown and later at several DIY spaces, CAMEO has consistently brought artists to Los Angeles that might not have a broad American audience (yet), but are clearly on the cusp of their respective approaches. Backed by residents and co-live performers Baojiaxiang, Bapari and SWISHA, CAMEO has become an essential part of Los Angeles’ DIY fabric, proving that vibrant hybrid nights can co-exist alongside the myriad club nights the city has to offer.

As for the progression of Matt’s solo work, we’re excited to be working towards the debut M.D. James release on Astral Plane Recordings this Fall. We’re keeping details close at hand at this point, but “Swan” appeared on our NEW YR NEW US 2 compilation and Matt also joined us on our NTS show in January for a startling recitation of his live set. His Astral Plane Mix should also shed some light on the direction of the M.D. James project, a blend of emotionally bare weightless material, dense hardcore and a range of gorgeous, if often anxiety-inducing, vocal experiments. Like in his solo work, you’ll be hard pressed to find any easily recognizable aesthetic threads in the mix, but the general approach — an earnest take on noise aesthetics and club dynamics — is an exciting forebear of what’s to come later this year. Hit the jump for a track list, download the mix here and be sure to check out the next CAMEO (with MHYSA) if you’re in Los Angeles.

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We decided to put a spotlight on our favorite artists from our home city of Los Angeles this Summer. Over the coming 10 weeks, we’ll feature a cross section of what the city has to offer. Far from a selection of the biggest touring entities, we hope to shine light on the individuals who brighten the airwaves and nights out on a regular basis.

DIY spaces offer very particular dynamics to live performers, forcing instrumentalists and vocalists alike to contort their abilities to the room, audience and mood. More often than not, Los Angeles’ art spaces and warehouses tend to feature a barrage of dissimilar acts, often resulting in a blissful mash of cross-genre madness. It’s in these spaces where the city’s various autonomous zones — footwork, hip hop, noise, punk, techno —  tend to intersect, blend and mutate. Callie Ryan, a musician, vocalist and radio host, typifies the alchemy that goes on in Los Angeles’ myriad informal venues, drawing disparate source material into her own deeply personal, tender works.

In March, Callie released her debut album, titled HEALTH, on Outside Insight (John Carroll Kirby, Lonely Boys, SADAF), offering a recorded analog to her intimate live shows. Utilizing a range of tempos, rhythmic structures and vocal manipulation techniques, HEALTH exudes warmth without ever descending into cliche, instead pursuing a sublime uncanny valley patchwork. Her own voice is played off of samples and field recordings with club tropes — jungle breaks, rolling hi hats, dub echo) — facilitating the proceedings. The album draws on reference points that will be familiar to listeners of Callie’s weekly Dublab show, a 2 hour show covering the gamut of American club and experimental musics and featuring a range of guests including CCL, Juke Bounce Werk, KAILI, M.D. James, Maral, SWISHA, VIOLENCE and more.

It’s with both HEALTH and Callie’s Dublab show in mind that we’re excited to have her on for Astral Plane Mix 166, self-titled “I NEVER CRY”. Contemporaries like Coucou Chloe, Eartheater, Klein and Mhysa, all artists pushing vocal performance into exciting new territory, appear in the mix, as does MC G15’s absolutely stunning, DJ Kevin o Chris-produced “Lembra Daquela Mina Bandida”. Callie’s own “Marie”, a standout from HEALTH, also makes an appearance towards the end, tying the selection together before launching into the Ngcobo Sisters seraphic gospel. The mix can be downloaded here and a full track list can be found after the jump. You can also catch Callie debut her new live show on August 25 at Muse ‘Til Midnight @ LACMA and on the East Coast in October.

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We decided to put a spotlight on our favorite artists from our home city of Los Angeles this Summer. Over the coming 10 weeks, we’ll feature a cross section of what the city has to offer. Far from a selection of the biggest touring entities, we hope to shine light on the individuals who brighten the airwaves and nights out on a regular basis.

Collage has always been an integral totem of electronic music, forming both the conceptual and stylistic backbone of contemporary DJ culture. Unfortunately, as dance music has professionalized, licensing laws have strengthened and streaming platforms have gained supremacy, much of the transgressive, freewheeling sample culture has been relegated to the periphery. In the techno bro value hierarchy, mediocre original work is often valued more than genuinely innovative collage. That value system bends occasionally when startlingly new work like Lotic’s DAMSEL in DISTRESS mixtape or Maria Chavez’s mutant turntablism comes along, but is largely rigid. Fortunately, artists like Los Angeles’ Maral are embracing collage and elevating into an exciting new realm, matching folk musics with the latest in contemporary club music.

Maral has taken on many roles in Los Angeles’ musical orbit, managing bands, throwing parties, curating mix series, working at big deal independent labels and, of course, plying her trade as one of the city’s most invigorating DJs. Many will know her as one of the driving forces behind SISTER, a collective of women and gender non-comforming people “remedying inequality in our field since 2015.” Her parties, first N:}0 rules, and, most recently, Signal, have hosted both local and international talent, cosistently emphasizing artists who defy convention and breach traditional genre restrictions. Despite putting so  much time, effort and energy into both the local and virtual musical spheres, Maral also finds time to craft a near-constant stream of brilliant edits and collage work, sourcing both Iranian folk and contemporaries songs for some of the most sublimely fucked up sounding club tunes you’re likely to come across.

Past mixes for Miss Modular, SISTER and Truants offer insight into Maral’s field of reference, matching songs from Iranian legend Hayedeh with angular post-punk and banging Jersey Club. Experimenting with distortion and drastic tempo changes, Maral creates new sculptures out of the sonic mash, creating earnest new symbolisms out of dissimilar source material. Her Astral Plane Mix takes a similar tact, full of blown out  and dub-y edits like “lori lullaby” and “coy dub”. The word eccentric hardly means anything in music writing these days, but it’s hard to describe a slowed down, Jersey Club edit of Glen Campbell’s “Guess I’m Dumb” as anything else. Hit the jump for a full track list and download Maral’s Astral Plane Mix here.

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After taking July off, we’re back on NTS this month with a few special guests. Recorded in John Twells’ Malden, MA studio, we brought Boston’s illustrious DRAW crew on for an extended b2b2b2b2b session and ended up covering quite a bit of ground. The first 35 minutes are handled by the AP DJ Team and feature a few new LOFT edits, highlights from SHALT’s ʃælt ii, as well as new Alis, B.yhzz and bod [包家巷]. Stream below and download here.

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We decided to put a spotlight on our favorite artists from our home city of Los Angeles this Summer. Over the coming 10 weeks, we’ll feature a cross section of what the city has to offer. Far from a selection of the biggest touring entities, we hope to shine light on the individuals who brighten the airwaves and nights out on a regular basis.

Total Stasis isn’t exactly a Los Angeles staple having only recently relocated from Montreal, but the label has made quick work in enmeshing itself in the city’s loose sonic patchwork. Opting for a taciturn approach to public facing communication, Total Stasis has let out a slow trickle of releases over the past four years, hosting a ramshackle assortment of artists while maintaining a loose, but important aesthetic cohesion. Our entry point to the label was Elysia Crampton‘s Bound Adam ☆ 2011 and later Crampton’s The Light That You Gave Me To See You, two seminal works (originally released under the E+E moniker) that are as innovative and emotionally cutting today as they were when we first heard them. The rest of the label’s catalog forms an uneasy ecology, often subdued, usually pop-minded, but always pushing familiar forms into compelling new territory.

Tumblr has gone out of style in recent years, but the Total Stasis page holds a wealth of images, label news, skate videos, old mixes (check out the Haze World series that dates back to 2012), and quotes and passages from the likes of Jorge Luis Borges and Kodwo Eshun. The page offers insight into past sonic reference points (a DJ Screw version of Sade’s “I Couldn’t Love You More” can be found in the early archives) and points to the dubby, abstracted, yet still dancefloor-oriented sounds of artists like Aquarian Foundation, CS + Kreme, fmvee and RAMZi. Nowadays, much of the Total Stasis world can be gleaned from their NTS Los Angeles show, a monthly space for the label’s diasporic tendencies, as well as guest sessions from the aforementioned artists. The Total Stasis Astral Plane Mix offers a slight departure from those NTS sessions, drawing on a more linear dancefloor thread for 45 minutes before detaching entirely for the last 15. No track list for now, but the mix can be downloaded here. Find more Total Stasis releases at their label store here.