We’ve written extensively over the past few years on the growth of Jersey Club from beloved regional dance genre to global phenomenon and have been lucky enough to feature a few of our favorite producers from Jersey. Kayy Drizz and DJ J Heat have turned in two of our absolute favorite Astral Plane mixes to date and today, we’re lucky to have $JAYY in the mix. For the unfamiliar, $JAYY has gained notoriety through consistency and work rate, pushing out edits and originals through his Soundcloud with startling efficiency. To boot, he’s experimented with everything from slouched, stoned out hip hop to frantic footwork for labels like TAR and Like That and, most recently, self-released an album of edits and original work called Acid Club. Those familiar with artists like UNIIQU3, TRICK$, SWISHA and Ase Manual, all of whom $JAYY has collaborated with, will find comfort in his full force drum arrangements and uncanny touch with samples, which, as far as we’re concerned, has set the pace for Club music at large.
His mix contribution, recorded in the midst of a busy finals week, encapsulates everything we love about Jersey Club, running the gamut from hyped up, stripped back floor burners to more restrained, melodic ideas. Familiar dance moves and call-and-response can be found throughout, as can the requisite edits of a huge chunk of the past year’s rap hits. Several collaborations with Gutta and DJ Tray punctuate the mix nicely, as does an unreleased Mike Gip track and material from DJ Sliink, Ase Manual and DJ Jayhood. At 34 tracks in just 40 minutes, it’s a kinetic mix, but it’s hard to imagine Jersey Club mixed any other way and the frenetic pacing is met by quality at every turn. Grab a download of the mix here and check out more $JAYY here.
In the age of Soulseek and Traktor, the concept of hybrid DJing isn’t exactly new, but few DJs embody the schismatic spirit and energy that the Internet and contemporary mixing technology enables. Just because someone has access to the right material and software/equipment doesn’t mean that they’ll be able to use it properly, both in terms of laying out a narrative and technical ability, and more often than not the result will be clunky and unappealing from the get go. New York’s (by way of Austin, Texas) Brandy-Alexander aka Miss Kenzo, a relatively new name with an immediately recognizable voice, does not fit within that trend of. Offering a fresh take on what is a distinctly New York sound, Miss Kenzo’s sound is built on Ballroom and Club music, the two forms forming dual backbones for her to insinuate threads of the hardcore dance spectrum. Fans of crews like KUNQ and Club Chai will find solace in the storytelling quality of Miss Kenzo’s past mixes and her entry for Mask Mag, titled “Belladonna of Madness”, is a great place to start.
Beyond DJing, Brandy-Alexander is a model who has entered the fashion world with the express goal of shedding light on issues affecting black, queer and trans people in her community. The connections between the fashion world and hybrid DJing styles are well established (see here, here and here) and the Miss Kenzo project feels like a natural extension of ground set out over the past decade, allowing her to explore the the tensions between euphoria and violence inherent in queer club scenes and music, often through brilliantly laid out non-linear narratives. On top of that, her mixes bang, supremely functional arrangements and surefire function starters. Her Astral Plane mix doesn’t pull any punches, leaping into breakneck hardcore before settling into a breakbeat and crash-laden groove, punctuated by trance loops and constant stylistic curveballs. It’s 45 minutes of pure energy that bares repeat listens, if for no other reason than to decipher MK’s intricate arrangements. Download the mix here and check out more Miss Kenzo here.
The world of experimental electronic music is both rife with artists seeking to present their work in an immersive light and completely lacking in the funding and professionalization needed to make large scale audio-visual projects possible. DIY scenes exist on the margins without access to suitable venues and spaces while both public and private funding often constrain creative aspirations, or in the case of the United States, are largely limited to more traditional artistic expressions. French producer and composer Eric Raynaud aka Fraction feels like an exception to the aforementioned rules, an artist whose work is immersive in both its live and recorded incarnations and who has a deep understanding of the intersections of audio, visual and physical space.
With only two official releases in the past decade, Fraction’s work doesn’t fit into the traditional music business model, but one only has to read about and watch video from performances like ENTROPIA and DROMOS to understand the level of conceptualization (not to mention time and effort) that goes into each of Raynaud’s respective projects. ENTROPIA, initially performed at the IX Symposium in Montreal, features a geodesic sphere outfitted with audio-reacted LEDs, all situated within a room complete with projection walls. The video alone demonstrates the all-encompassing nature of the project, while Fraction’s music, spacious and glitched out, is transportative in and of itself.
For his Astral Plane mix, Raynaud gathered a range of music from China, drawing on everything from abstracted sound design to fractalized beats and more overt peak time club moments. It’s a vivid selection that feels like a natural extension of his own recorded work, both tactile and always in motion. Familiar rhythms weave in and out of the mix, interspersed with granular noise and a smattering of organic instrumentation. Fraction is an alumni of the SHAPE Platform. More info of his involvement can be found in an interview on their website.
Lycox at Unsound Festival in Krakow
After an almost five month hiatus, the Astral Plane Mix Series is back up and running and we’ve recruited one of our favorite artists from Lisbon’s Principe crew. DJ Lycox has been a longtime favorite, appearing constantly in our For Club Use Only feature for FACT and becoming a quick staple in Astral Plane DJ Team sets. Born in Portugal and based in the Paris suburbs, Lycox is a prolific producer, initially emerging as part of the Tia Maria Produções trio before setting out on his own. Working mainly within a kuduro framework, Lycox’s productions are intensely melodic, introducing an element of euphoria and pop song writing to the genre’s intricate percussion arrangements and forceful energy. On November 17, Lycox’s debut solo album will be released by Principe, a coming out party of sorts for an artist who has become an underground favorite and a release that will surely establish the Portuguese producer as one of the most respected kuduro artists alongside the likes of Marfox, Nidia, Nigga Fox and Firmeza.
Lycox’s Astral Plane mix exemplifies what Lycox is all about, a 30 minute ride that blows by before you know it and functions as the perfect soundtrack to the melancholic last tendrils of Summer. Heavy on original productions, Lycox links irresistible hook after irresistible hook, bridged by the loping gait of his expertly arranged kuduro rhythms. It’s a breezy selection that performs an idyllic counterpoint to much of kuduro’s sweaty pomp, leaving trace elements of each respective hook as it drives onwards. Pre-order the Sonhos & Pesadelos LP here and dive into Lycox’s Soundcoud for a heap of divine original productions. No track list for this one so you’ll have to look out for the album.
We hit the NTS studio for the second time in September last Friday and brought along Julien, a DJ and producer spending the summer in Los Angeles. With releases out/forthcoming on Tobago Tracks and Apothecary Compositions, the Denver resident brought a deluge of hardcore techno to the table for his 45 minute session, ratcheting up the tempo and bringing out a brutalist energy. His mix begins at the 45 minute mark and runs until 1:30. Our session features new Bell Curve, VIOLENCE, Torus, Dane Law, Fatima Al Qadiri, Alex Compton and more. Download available here and track list after the jump.
No guests and no worries on this month’s edition of our NTS Los Angeles show. This was recorded after driving out of (near) a forest fire so the mood is slightly uneasy/ominous for the first 45 minutes. Excuse the abruptness of the start. It was hot in the studio. We also played out the entirety of SHALT’s new ʃælt single, out now on Astral Plane Recordings. You can get that one here. We’ll be back on NTS on September 30. Full track list after the jump.
If you’ve tuned into our previous NTS shows you’ve almost certainly got bits and pieces from Dane Law’s various projects, whether it be a hectic trance experiment or glitched out hardcore released through the Quantum Natives platform. We were lucky to grab a guest session from the British producer for our latest show and his ‘Digital Paganism’ mix has not disappointed, joining elegiac ambient forms with Wicker Man samples and a perfect blend of mania and serenity. The guest mix starts around 35 minutes in and runs for 35 minutes. As usual, the Astral Plane DJ Team handles the rest of the show, which features a few tracks from SHALT’s upcoming return to APR and LOFT’s debut 12″, also out via our in house label.
The ability to traverse multiple genres, tempos and sound palettes is becoming the norm in bleeding edge electronic communities. What likely started as a rejection of staid DJ practices has expanded into artist’s production approach and it’s hardly uncommon to find 3-4 different tenuously conjoined sounds on someone’s Soundcloud feed these days. The principles behind this approach are an unassailable desire to move forward at all costs, as well as more cynical strategies to attain bookings and recognition, but it leads to homogeny nearly as often as it does innovation. The truth is that few artists have the talent and/or put the time into cultivating not just one, but an entire range of aesthetics. This (often faux) polymath approach has delivered some of the most dynamic club and experimental music to come out in recent years and Cairo-born, Berlin-based producer and visual artist Kareem Lotfy is a prime example, working from minimalist ambient on one end of the spectrum to buoyant, full frontal bubbling on the other.
Many fans of Lotfy’s work will have likely come around to it via PAN’s Mono No Aware compilation, a release focusing on divergent strains of ambient that was led off by Lotfy’s “Fr3sh”. The track’s wistful, finite qualities have engendered it to fans across the electronic music spectrum, becoming a staple for ambient fans and even drawing praise from the legendary Ryuichi Sakamoto. Further efforts have arrived via his own Soundcloud page and a side project, the latter home to his most time stretched, blissful efforts. “Power Bass Bubbling”, since removed from Soundcloud but available in various mixes and blends, was our introduction to Lotfy and hits a far different note than his ambient excursions. Embracing the Dutch bubbling sound, “Power Bass Bubbling” gets straight to the point, all high key energy, rhythmic thrust and deft sample looping. It’s an efficient track and like Lotfy’s abstracted beats it utilizes a relatively small amount of sonic elements to great effect.
Lotfy’s Astral Plane mix falls firmly in the general ambient sphere, eschewing his more rhythmic impulses for spaced out synths, vocal murmurings and pleasant drones. Gorgeous efforts by legendary Egyptian American composer Halim El-Dabh highlight the mix which also incorporates spacious tracks from Yves Tumor, Monolake and Takahiro Kido. Bits of harp can be found around 2/3 of the way through and Lotfy fins time for tracks that scrape and bump along as much as they glide. It’s an engrossing 30 minutes that highlights the breadth of his approach without tail spinning into genre mish mash. Download the mix here and check out a track list after the jump.
Last Friday, the Astral Plane DJ Team hopped on NTS for a two hour solo show before running over to the Los Angeles Contemporary Archive to play a pre-recorded piece called ‘Canopy’. We also intended to play the piece in the last bit of this session, but forgot to load it up on the USB. Instead we ran through a load of new LOFT dubs + forthcoming E.M.M.A. (very soon), Chants (very soon) and SHALT (soon). Hit the jump for a full track list and download the show here.
2015’s Empty Airport LP, Christina Nemec’s second album under the Chra moniker, arrived like an anvil upon release, a dense slab of intricate individual motions and slithering organic and digital noise. A longtime participant and devotee to the European avant-garde, Nemec has participated in punk, industrial and experimental music scenes for over two decades, having run the Comfortzone label and participated in groups as divergent as Bray, Shampoo Boy and Pasajera Oscura. Progressing through grizzly ambient noise, pulsating kicks and field recordings, many recorded at an abandoned house in the Carinthian countryside, Empty Airport explores the contradictions in which we consume media and particularly the horrific violence that exists only a few hundred miles away, but that could be taking place in a completely different world than the urban artistic enclaves many of us live in. As Chra, Nemec approach is all-consuming, bringing a human edge to topics that can hardly be reckoned with. The densely layered, constantly in motion tracks on Empty Airport nail down an alienation that few artists have been able to comfortably address.
Also in 2015, Chra delivered a mix to the Secret Thirteen platform, self-described as a feminist history of avant-garde. The mix is representative of much of Nemec’s project, especially her work behind Comfortzone which has consistently pushed female and queer voices to the fore. Her Astral Plane mix, titled “New Europeans” isn’t as explicit in its direction, but takes a similar tone to the Secret Thirteen mix, drawing from her own work as well as contemporaries like Klara Lewis, Thomas Brinkmann and Yves de Mey, as well as a brief, exuberant break for Depeche Mode. Her own work with Irradiation, as Pasajera Oscura, plays a key roll in the mix’s progression with tends to gurgle along non-linearly, drawing on drone eccentricities and the sorts of interweaving textures that the best beatless music tends to imbue. Chra is an alumni of the SHAPE platform and has spent recent months touring on her own and as Pasajera Oscura. She also released a four tracker called Wounded Deer on JMSE earlier this year, a tape that hints at the increasingly oblique direction her work might take in coming years. Hit the jump for a full track list and download Chra’s Astral Plane mix here.