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DSCF6038, by Nadja Angermann

Photo Credit: Nadja Angermann

The most successful attempts at sonic collage exist as living documents that are near-indecipherable to anyone but their creator. Comprised of constantly shifting planes and ignoring the usual temporal constraints of recorded music, collage allows for a freedom of movement and shape and for its creator to take on the role of auteur or architect as much as composer, DJ or producer. Avbvrn, a Frankfurt-based, California-born artist, has based his practice in exploring the expansive potential of edited material, both his own and from myriad other sources. Currently studying composition in Frankfurt, Avbvrn’s musical universe is both constantly expanding and concerned with the hyper-specific, grafting tangential threads between Pat Benetar and Grischa Lichtenberger, while crafting an increasingly idiosyncratic aesthetic based on sheets of intricately-textured noise, sharp angles and empty space.

Releases to date on DECISIONS and JEROME, as well as a recent album-length self-release, sketch out the rules of engagement for Avbvrn’s often dysphoric original material. Tracks like “Flood” and “Containment”, both released in 2017, are claustrophobic to the extreme, comprised of ratcheting percussion, overlapping drones and a conscious withholding of groove. Avbvrn always leaves an open door for the listener to jump through though and both eventually mutate into surprisingly effective club tracks, reconstructing themselves subtly as if behind a curtain to be exposed at a later juncture. The obfuscation of intention is not carried out to confuse or condescend to the listener, but like a complicated dish, the final result is often concealed until near the end of the process. Further singles and compilation tracks for ANBA, Bio Future Laboratory, Cartridge Material, Country Music, Intruder Alert and Slagwerk continue to flesh out this approach, often aiming at a more concrete functionality, but always maintaining a coy, transformational attitude.

Which brings us to Avbvrn Snacks, a series of sprawling edit compilations featuring re-works of tracks from contemporaries, edits of edits, and some of the most beguiling blends you’re likely to come across anywhere. Functioning as an unconstrained, ever-expanding ecosystem, the packs often use familiar lenses/methods (epic collage, musique concrete, screw mixes), but rarely come off as trite or uninspired, instead maintaining a level of uncanny ingenuity. That quality extends to his mix work as well and his entry for Astral Plane Mix 179 effortlessly melds the meticulous compositional energy of his original work with the mad hat exuberance of Avbvrn Snacks. Components of the mix are familiar, but the track list only lends a sort of key to guide your way through the 57 minute run time. As a contextual project, the mix hits on a ton of recent, standout material from the global experimental music community, but more often than not, those threads are spun out into Avbvrn’s distinct web of comprehension, not so much re-contextualized as refashioned into a new whole. Hit the jump for a full track list and download Astral Plane Mix 179 here.

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The world of American experimental music is often disconsolately sprawling. Parsing a path through its endless offshoots and diversions is an exhausting pursuit in the present and diving through history posthaste is a sisyphean task resigned to those with boundless time and resources. For younger audiences, this predicament has made a label like Alex Cobb’s Students of Decay an essential roadmap, sprawling in its scope and definition, but contained, directed and beautifully arranged.

Started in 2005, SoD has released essential works from artists like Anne Guthrie, Jeff Witscher (as Marble Sky), Jefre Cantu-Ledesma and Sarah Davachi, laying out an expansive musical language that rarely shies away from intellectual pretensions, but always approaches matters of the heart with equal gusto. SoD released excellent new albums from Blue Chemise, Caroline No and Guthrie in 2018, the latter of whom’s Brass Orchids is a brilliant horror show of dripping water and retro-futuristic cranking metal, but our focus today is on a new project from Cobb.

Soda Gong is a brand new entity “posit[ing] a sovereignty predicated upon egression, naivety, and fluid understandings of the sacred and the sublime.” The project follows the birth of Cobb’s son and a process of both quitting alcohol and diving into recovery literature and was inaugurated in early November with a new Cobb solo project titled Hui Terra and under the Etelin pseudonym. In an extensive interview with JASONC at Tiny Mix Tapes, Cobb described a frustration with “po-faced quasi-academic drone music” and a desire to embrace a freewheeling curatorial ethos outside of the confines of Student of Decay’s almost 15 year release catalog.

Starting the label with the tactile warmth of Hui Terra was both a brave and natural decision, an attempt at stripping away the artifice and self-awareness of so much experimental music, not to mention arthouse film, literature and institutional art as Cobb notes.The album was recorded in what Cobb refers to as “newborn haze”, a period marked by lack of sleep and a fracturing of connection to the outside world. It’s in this interstitial state that songs like “Hour Here Hour There” and “Little Rig”, the latter largely sampled from Cobb’s infant son’s voice, thrive in, flowing between liquid and solid state and effortlessly seeping into the listener’s subconscious.

Functionally, the record relies on digital synthesizers and a sampler, a step away from previous work based on guitar manipulations and a stab at the flexibility offered by new tools. As an extension of both his own work and the SoD catalog, Hui Terra doesn’t come off as a radical shift per se, but Cobb’s altered approach shines through and continues to shine through on his Astral Plane Mix, comprised of an hour of “forthcoming, unreleased, sympathetic, and influential music.” Extrapolating the earnest breadth of Hui Terra, the mix touches on ambient, drone, musique concete and techno, devoid of traditional narrative arc, yet full of pronounced individual movements and points of divergence. The mix is a tantalizing look into a fledgling label’s forthcoming work and a composition that easily stands on its own, marking a new chapter for Cobb. Download Soda Gong’s Astral Plane Mix here and grab a copy of Hui Terra here.

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Around this time last year, we featured a blistering guest mix from New York’s Miss Kenzo and we figured it was time to have her back in AP world again this past Friday on the November edition of our NTS show. The AP DJ Team handles the first hour and thirty five and runs through a few special forthcoming Alis tunes, as well as new IceBoy Violet, Vessel, Kelly Moran, Ausschuss, Deena Abdelwahed, Lyra Valenzi and more. Snippets of Donna Haraway and Ursula K. Le Guin audio also slipped into the mix. Hit the jump for a full track list and download here.

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Club music’s influence often greatly exceeds the attention actually paid to artists from Baltimore, New Jersey and Philadelphia and despite the occasional retrospective or corporate-seeded event, producers pushing the sound forward are regularly overlooked for the watered down facsimile artists in Europe and elsewhere in the States offer. As always, both the OGs and the younger upstarts continue to impress with a near-constant steam of stylistic innovations, formal transformations and near-constant enthusiasm. Baltimore’s CalvoMusic has been making Club music since 2011 and is at the fore of a new crop of artists slowly mutating Bmore into their own image.

Influenced by the likes of BugzTheProducer, Matic808, Nadus, R3LL and Ripknoxx, Calvo is a former member and co-founder of the The Hypies and has dubbed his own sound “New Club Waves”. Sampling is often recklessly freewheeling in Club music, but Calvo takes that to a new level, often taking a medley approach by including references to multiple recognizable tracks in the same 2 minute segment. Video game music is also a source of inspiration and has resulted in some of Calvo’s best work, most of which avoids kitsch retro revivalism for a more accelerated, all consuming approach to collage. Tracks like “Atlantis Level” and “Game of Cubes”, clear in the material they’re riffing on, offer some of the most flexible and well-balanced takes on Club music in recent memory, constantly evolving across their short run times, yet aimed directly at the dancefloor.

It’s no surprise that grime motifs pop up in Calvo’s tunes as there’s an 8 bar quality to his production, manifested in the relentless switch ups and cut throat rhythmic patterns found throughout. A triton sample here and there and gun finger drum chops are the most obvious examples of the interpolation, but the influence goes beyond sampling into the basic construction of a Calvo tune. Those influences, as well as a rundown of recent pop memory, can be found in his Astral Plane Mix, an all-original rundown of the “New Club Waves” sound featuring solo edits and collaborations with DeeTheProducer, DjDizzy and more. Tracks from Calvo’s excellent recent October EP can be found throughout as can slightly older edits like his rowdy take on Sean Paul’s “Get Busy”. At times, Calvo’s edits seem to be referencing 90s Strictly Rhythm, but then a new sample cuts in and your dragged back to the present without losing a beat. Download Calvo’s Astral Plane Mix here and hit the jump for a full track list.

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Contemporary discourse around on-the-fringe club musics is often lacking in the framework it utilizes, prone to either view them as being totally non-functional or, on the other hand, beyond the functional. Older, jaded writers often view collage or non-linear styles as being outside of the bounds of the dancefloor while newer critics will hone in on perceived avant-garde elements, both ignoring the music’s potential to create new dance forms. The goal of so much of new club music after all, whether it be ballroom, flex dance music, footwork or so-called deconstructed arrangements, is to create ulterior approaches to movement, often driven by a fundamental lack or exclusion from traditional scenes. Berlin’s GIL has a keen understanding of this dynamic, an artist trained in modern dance who has imbued a tactile quality in all of his output, most of which defies categorization.

We initially heard GIL’s work via STAYCORE’s 2015 bootleg compilation and a series of edits and originals exploring divergent veins of club music followed. A trance-y version of Umm Kulthum’s “Inta Omri” (sadly no longer online) stood out in particular, while a Rihanna flip explored cerebral dembow production and others smashed ballroom, baile funk and hardstyle into single compositions. 2016’s Hibernation Fruits introduced a more focused GIL sound, impactful and narrative-oriented, but also distinctly in the zeitgeist. It was Orchids & Wasps, released later that year on Danse Noire, where the GIL sound truly flourished, escaping the bounds of previous reference points entirely.

Conceived after the Danse Noire crew saw a GIL perform at Lausanne’s Les Urbaines festival, Orchids & Wasps is almost overflowing with ideas, ideas that are often introduced in a compartmentalized section of one track only to be come up in a completely different context later in the track order. Screams, a choir and a range of atmospheric sounds back relentless, often overlapping percussion, giving the impression that each individual section could be perceived as film score or club tool depending on the listener’s vantage. Remixes for Eaves and Meuko! Meuko!, as well as a contribution to Country Music’s 8 minute, 200 BPM release catalogue, have clearly furthered GIL’s desire to work on non-linear timelines that are still clearly rested in soundsystem culture, retaining their tactile and sensual qualities no matter how far they diverge from traditional layouts.

GIL’s mix work functions as an extension of the extrapolating compositions talked about above, often creating matrices of touch that draw lines between everything from the resonant bass hits in a Kranium track to the electro-acoustic noise in Mica Levi’s Jackie OST or Ipek Gorun’s Ecce Homo. Artists exploring adjacent tactile realms like Kelly Moran, Lanark Artefax and Tzusing pop up, as do more distant reference points like dBridge, Dead Can Dance and Taeko Ohnuki. GIL’s productions and edits appear throughout, providing narrative sign posts for the listener to follow and offering a hint of what’s to come in the GIL universe. Hit the jump for a full track list and download a copy of GIL’s Astral Plane Mix here.

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Famous Eno‘s career arc doesn’t match the usual boom-bust curve that defines so many young artist’s tenure in the electronic music space. Exploring the various tendrils of Afro-Caribbean derived UK dance music and US regional club music, Eno has been a staple on the Mixpak and Swing Ting rosters since the release of his All Good FM single in 2012, constantly expanding his purview without ever losing site of the dancefloor. The Eno sound draws on afro beat, dancehall, grime and UK funky and, depending on who he’s collaborating with, traverses those with almost unmatched dexterity. Frequent collaborators like Murlo, Swing Ting and the Fractal Fantasy crew often interject their own styles, but Eno’s forceful, rhythmic backbone is always there, collecting the pieces into a whole optimized for the dance.

Most recognizably, Eno’s work has been marked by the voices of a huge range of MCs. Released in October, Music For Clubs is his longest release in years and functions as a vibrant encapsulation of the many sounds he’s experimented in. Jamaica’s Bay-C, Ghana’s Bryte and Gafacci, London’s Killa P and Trigganom, and New Jersey’s UNIIQU3 contribute their distinctive approaches, all tied together by Eno’s restrained yet anthemic production. In lesser hands, the release would come off as a hodgepodge of disparate styles, but under Eno’s tutelage it comes together nicely, pinging from one idea to the next and giving plenty of time and space for each MC to shine. It’s a sound introduced on singles like “Gangsters” and Samrai’s 2014 remix of Eno and Rubi Dan’s “Terminator”, but it truly flourishes on Music For Clubs.

It was Eno’s bootleg and remix work that initially drew us to the producer half a decade ago though and takes on Paleman’s “Beelzedub” and Sia’s “Little Man”, not to mention the unbridled mania of his and Murlo’s remix of Akito’s “Metamessage”, are still classics in our book. They’re also a good indicator of his full throttle approach to DJing, clearly rested in soundsystem culture, but not giving over too much to tradition. His Astral Plane Mix functions as both a compendium of recent work and a roadmap for those uninitiated to his approach. It begins with Music For Clubs staple “Life” and ends with a brand new remix of King Louie and Mikey Dollaz’s Zora Jones and Drippin produced “WW4” and touches on bmore, ghetto house, gqom and more in the middle. It’s a big, party-oriented sound that will be familiar to listeners of his work on Fractal Fantasy Mixpak, and Swing Ting, exploding into new territory with every transition. Download a copy of Astral Plane Mix 175 here and hit the jump for a full track list.

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Photo by Senay Kenfe

In a landscape where artists often garner acclaim online well before they actually get behind a set of CDJs, dedicated, preternaturally talented DJs are a welcome reprieve from the trainwrecking masses. Born in Philadelphia and raised between Los Angeles and Philly, SWISHA fits that bill to a T, a tireless producer and DJ who has become a go to for a range of American club styles. Now based in the Bronx, we became acquainted with SWISHA (fka Swisha Sweet) at nights in LA where he would invariably blow away every other DJ on the bill, sometimes without even wearing headphones. A member of the Juke Bounce Werk crew and a resident at CAMEO, SWISHA would regularly take over Rocksteady’s Tuesday night haunt and impress across LA’s range of warehouse bacchanals. Nowadays, we can regularly catch him on New York’s Half Moon Radio with Kush Jones and its easy to imagine him tearing it up in New York.

To summarize SWISHA’s sound would be to reduce it to something less than the whole, but in short, everything from Bmore, Jersey and Philly Club, Footwork, Juke, House and Techno are involved. His Digital Space EP, released in May of this year, is the most effective demonstration of the sound that comes across in a SWISHA DJ set, fluctuating between a dedication to American regional club sounds and an awareness of gritty rave dynamics. The EP is an extension of past work exploring similar themes, but coalesces around a singular approach more effectively than any previous SWISHA release.

That’s not to say that SWISHA isn’t offering up some of the most incisive club tracks around on other releases though and in September, he released the third edition of Assorted Flavors, a mixtape series featuring collaborations with the likes of AceMo, BASSBEAR!!, DJ J Heat and DJ Manny. The tracks are accompanied by bright, candy-themed artwork and often recklessly dive into outsized peak time sounds (see “Dat 1 Song Wit Tha Hornz”). Outside of his own platforms, SWISHA tracks and collaborations can consistently be found on JBW releases, as well as Trax Couture and DOMEOFDOOM, where he released his debut full length on cassette in 2016. He’s also recently started collaborating with the Bronx’s Papi Squad, a crew helmed by AMEN, Bassbear!!, Bojaq, El Blanco Nino, and Rainey, experimenting with a range of New York-specific mutations on club music. On the whole, he’s part of a range of contemporary movements offering up a fun loving, distinctly dancefloor-focused approach to regional club sounds that respects the source material, but also effortlessly drives forward.

SWISHA’s production catalog speaks for itself, but you kind of have to see him DJ live to get a sense of the skill and precision involved. His Astral Plane Mix, a breakneck run through the SWISHA sound that comes in at a tight 40 minutes, is a great representation of what he has to offer and will have to do for now though. Legends like DJ Deeon, DJ Slugo and DJ Stringray pepper the track and feel right at home with artists like ABE, K-Shiz and LSDXOXO, while SWISHA originals (and a few unreleased remixes of tracks from Digital Space), provide energy peaks. Blends tend to enter the frame quickly, but stick around as SWISHA bobbles between tracks and draws lines between material that might seem disparate without proper contextualization. More than anything else though, it’s fun as hell and offers insight into an artist who hasn’t let dance music’s drudgeries and hyper self-seriousness get in the way of making bops. Download the mix here and hit the jump for a track list.

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After handing over last month’s show to M.D. James, the AP DJ Team took over this month’s NTS session and ran through a bunch of recent favorites. The show starts and ends with brand new Nunu (look out for an announce on that one this week) and runs through recent E.M.M.A., M.D. James and SHALT. Snippets of forthcoming material from Alis, CÉCI and Dane Law are also chopped up inside. Beyond label/inner circle material, we’ve got some brilliant inclusions from Bonaventure, Itsï, Julz Da DeeJay, Maria W Horn, Nazar, x/o and more. Hit the jump for a full track list and grab a download of the show here.

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jasmine-infiniti

Photo by Black Plastica

Oakland has always been a hotbed of radical musics and movements and the city’s changing landscape has only made its current set of artists, producers and performers all the more vital. 8ULENTINA and FOOZOOL’s Club Chai is the entry point for many into Oakland’s varied scenes and 2017’s Club Chai Vol. 1 compilation offers an expansive roadmap to what the East Bay has to offer. Jasmine Infiniti contributed the powerful “Hapocalypse” to that compilation and has stood out from the jump, approaching both real and digital spaces with a frantic, often unmatched, energy.

After years spent in the Bay Area, the self-dubbed Queen of Hell now lives in New York (she grew up in the Bronx) and has been turning out original music and mixes at a remarkable rate. September saw the release of the sound defining SiS EP on Club Chai and Infiniti’s Soundcloud offers a deep dive into her works in progress, home recorded mixes and insanely creative edit work. Infiniti also puts a ton of effort into reposting inspiring work from other artists, an often misused tool, but a valuable one in the right hands. Beyond her original work, Infiniti is a also a member of the New World Dysorder collective and House of Infiniti, playing an important role in Oakland’s trans community and the ballroom community at large.

Infiniti’s sound is exploratory and often hard to define, but the six tracks on SiS are a good place to start. Elementally concise, the EP has a spiritual air to it with sparse drum arrangements accompanied by expansive, dissociative sound design. It’s at times forceful, but more often the mood is meditative, distinct without proffering easily graspable melodic or emotional motifs. If you followed Infiniti closely in the months before its release, you’ll have heard different versions of tracks like “Inside Me”, giving off the impression that, although SiS is an incredibly thorough, final body of work, future mutations are potentially in the works.

For many, Infiniti is a DJ first and foremost and official mixes for the likes of Boiler Room, Discwoman and FADER have put her on the map as an incisive, boundary pushing mixer. Once again though, it’s Infiniti’s Soundcloud where some of her most exciting material finds its home. Live recordings of sets from across the U.S. and beyond are a constant in the feed while mixes like “Stream of Consciousness” (a personal favorite), “Industrial Cunt” and “Voltage Drop” show a passion for the form and some of the slickest mixing around. We were lucky to grab Infiniti for a 30 minute session and the result doesn’t disappoint. Situating her own tunes in a collage of cavernous techno, cerebral house and bubbly club tracks, the mix is both extension of the SiS EP and a fitting example of Infiniti’s prowess behind the decks. It’s only one part of a larger map of material in that sense, but those new to Infiniti are in for a treat and longtime followers certainly already know what’s up. Grab a download of Astral Plane Mix 173 here and get SiS straight from Club Chai here.

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The American underground is full of DJs, producers and promoters (often the same person) pushing distinct regional styles outside of the spotlight of the dance music media. These artists are often located outside of Chicago, Los Angeles and New York, situating them even further from the ever-churning hype cycle, although it’s not outlandish to say that America’s regional scenes are the driving force behind dance music’s upsurge in this country. Savannah, Georgia’s Chris Powers aka C Powers has existed on both sides of the conversation, a seasoned practitioner of kinetic American rave sounds who has also spent time in London as No Pain In Pop‘s in-house DJ, contributed to the Houndstooth-signed 18+ project and thrown parties with a range of international talent. Powers’ personal output is as American as it gets though, melding boogie, breaks, electro and house into a singular, timeless medley.

That output has come across a series of EPs for labels like CGI Records, Niche-N-Bump and Proper Trax and are all firmly aimed at the danceloor. Powers’ sound is at times track-y, but never lacking in funk, always pulling at several thematic elements without losing sight of the core groove. It’s timeless music that takes on a particular brightness in Powers’ own mixes, lanky, freeform affairs that contextualize his influences with the flair of a natural. It’s clear that he takes the art of DJing seriously and that project has extended to Mom Radio, the label and mix series he co-runs with CH-Rom. Entries from the likes of Bearcat, Fit of Body and Space Jam litter the Mom archives, as does a standout selection from C Powers himself.

Powers’ latest release, the Love Austerity EP, comes via New York’s Sweat Equity, a logical fit for both artist and label and one that follows a standout effort from Drumloop, as well as a split DJ Delish/Macy Rodman single. Across five tracks, Powers induces propulsion and euphoria in equal measures, relying on a number of break manipulation techniques and brilliantly funky basslines to keep the party going. The arrangements are sparse, but always feel full bodied, full of disarming vocals and pleasing pads. It’s aimed squarely at the utopian dancefloor without ever giving up concerns of the body. It’s also a sound continued in his Astral Plane Mix, which lays bare the C Powers sound over an hour and eleven minutes of frenetic, joyous mixing. Periods of nuts-and-bolts trax interface with hands-in-the-air moments of rave exuberance as several decades of American dance music are collapsed into one, continuous thread. Be sure to check out Love Austerity, Mom Radio and to grab a download of C Powers’ Astral Plane Mix.