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maral-photo

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.

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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.

Driven by a Puritanical 2 AM closing time, much of Los Angeles’ most exciting nightlife occurs at the margins, taking place in repurposed industrial spaces and lofts throughout the city. Unfortunately, much of the city’s warehouse scene push trad house and techno and does little to create inclusive, safe and open spaces for participants. Fortunately, a collection of parties, including Cameo, Directory and Rail Up, have ventured to break up the monotony, building out into new spaces, eschewing tedious music policies and putting in the labor to bring new audiences into the fold. KAILI is one of the most electric DJs to emerge from that milieu, initially as half of Club Strategies and now as a solo entity.

Working with a range of Afro-Caribbean, Afro-Portuguese, and other rhythm-centric sounds, KAILI’s approach exudes joy, creating space for both anthemic sing-alongs and tightly wound club cuts. It’s not an exceedingly new approach, but KAILI takes it on without pretension, highlighting the idiosyncratic sonic cues in tracks from Vybz Kartel, Destra and Aidonia while simultaneously making space for the likes of FAKA, precolombian and DJ Lycox. Stepping away from the slower, more languorous material featured in previous mixes for the Sleeper Cell NTS LA show and Malibu Motorsports, her Astral Plane mix is an invigorating mash of polyrhythms, leaping head on into baile funk, kuduro, gqom and UK funky. It’s impossible to reduce it down to an “LA Sound”, but KAILI’s driving, hybridized approach has clearly been bringing the city’s most adventurous dancers out of the wordwork. Find more KAILI mixes here and grab a download of her Astral Plane mix here.

Lyzza – Been That Bitch
Lil Silva – One Twenty
MozziOh! – Arm & Hammer ft. JaxSnoww
NKC – HD Anthem
Gracious K – Just Flex
Dinamarca – 9pm
Pedro – Batimento
MC Kitinho e MC 7Belo – NGDP M.R. (Nahshi Edit)
Djsleyabove ft Mulatoh Produções – Como q’ela vai
L-Vis 1990 – Do My Ting ft. Mista Silva (Funky refix)
Doc Daneeka – Hold On
Kodak Black – Tunnel Vision (Lycox Remix)
MORPHINE X RESPIRATOR X WILHELMINA X PRECOLUMBIAN
FAKA – Uyang’khumbula
HEAVY-K feat. Bucie & Nokwazi – iNDE
Florentino – Sientelo
Art of Noise x Gucci Mane (APRIL BOURNE mashup)

dj-noir

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.

The weekly club night is a near impossible undertaking in this day and age. Beyond the obvious time and energy depletion, maintaining fresh line ups week in and week out take real imagination. Los Angeles has been home to a number of successful weeklies, from long-running drum & bass haven Respect to the iconic and sadly recently terminated Mustache Mondays. For the past several years though, the finest weekly has been Juke Bounce Werk‘s Rocksteady night, taking place every Tuesday night, first at Little Tokyo’s Tokyo Beat and now at Chinatown’s Grand Star Jazz Club. DJ Noir, Jae Drago and Sonic D have built a temple for footwork and juke, built on the symbiotic relationship between dancer and DJ and featuring a remarkably broad selection of what the genre has to offer.

The gospel of Rocksteady is spreading and while most know that footwork and juke are native to Chicago, fewer know how well it has thrived in Los Angeles. Rocksteady has hosted a who’s who of legends and contemporary heroes (DJ Earl, DJ Spinn, Gant-Man, Jana Rush, JLin, RP Boo, Traxman), but doesn’t shy away from extending into other genres, bringing on a range of contemporary club music’s finest (Anna Morgan, Ase Manual, DJ J Heat, Massacooraman, RudeBoyz). Regulars will know that it’s the residents and artists from the Juke Bounce Werk universe (Kush Jones, Neuropunk, SWISHA and DJ Noir, Jae Drago and Sonic D themselves) that often shine the brightest at Rocksteady though and that fact carries over to the JBW as a label.

The JBW catalog exists as a testament to the breadth of footwork, featuring everything from overt jungle hybridizations to sub bass-heavy abstractions and everything in between. More traditional manifestations of the Chicago sound can be found throughout four years of releases as well, but it doesn’t feel out of place with the newer derivations. More than anything else though, the JBW catalog demands to be played out and when it is people notice. It’s no surprise that the whole operation grew out of a meeting at Respect because JBW is rooted in Los Angeles’ rave lineage and that understanding is part of what keeps people coming back week after week.

Few DJs represent that approach better than DJ Noir, matching a deep appreciation for jungle and drum and bass with a passion for footwork and juke. There’s no room for filler in DJ Noir’s tightly coiled mixes, which slickly join cerebral soul sampling material, battle tracks and hardcore continuum-inspired numbers into the same passages. You’ll be hard pressed to find a DJ who utilizes the cross fader to such devastating effect and that shows in her Astral Plane Mix which runs through 45 minutes of exclusively Juke Bounce Werk material with fiery energy. No track list at this point, but download available here and the essential Juke Bounce Werk catalog here.

 

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The conversation between dance music’s totemic house/techno scenes and its on-the-cusp and more internet-focused “club” scenes hasn’t always been consistent or fertile. Or genial for that matter. More often than not, artists are seen to age out of the latter to move into the comfortable confines and consistent booking schedules of the latter. Chicago’s Ariel Zetina has flipped that model on its head, thriving in the hallowed halls of four-on-the-floor while simultaneously pushing boundaries via her own productions and nights.

Zetina is a resident at Chicago’s smartbar where she throws the Diamond Formation night, hosting artists like DJ Lag, Mobilegirl, Nkisi and Ziúr at the venerable club. She also throws Rosebud at Berlin, Ariel’s Party at the Hideout and is a resident at the traveling Rumors night. Ariel is busy, and across all of that, brings a verve for matching the best and most energetic components of the house/techno canon with ballroom, Bmore/Jersey/Philly Club and the latest hybridized creations.

Her own productions are the lynchpin to the whole act, starting with the anthemic, London Jade-featuring “Addy” (released on Boukan Records) and on to “Binary Twink”, a pounding collaborative effort with Imp Queen from a performance of the same name. Ariel’s tracks have also appeared on compilations from Club Chai, Gays Hate Techno, SHXME, Sweat Equity and TRASH CVLT, forming a suitably broad constellation of her work. Her next release will be out on Houston’s Majía, an adventurous move for both artist and label.

Not surprisingly, Ariel’s Astral Plane Mix is a full frontal affair, jumping out of the gate with Karen Finley’s iconic “Enter Entrepreneur” performance piece before leaping through Alden Tyrell, Green Velvet and Marlon D on one end of the spectrum and Precolombian, Kid Cala and LSDXOXO on the other. With the exception of a disarming pause in the form of Korma’s “Skin Horse”, the mix is lithe and energetic, full of long blends and bizarro juxtapositions. Zetina covers a ton of ground, but everything included has an inherent bounce to it, unbridled kinetic energy that forms a bond between disparate forms. Don’t miss the recent volume of “Addy” remixes from the likes of False Witness, FOOZOOL and Max Holiday and be on the lookout for major moves from Ariel over the coming weeks and months. Track list after the jump. Download here.

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DJ Pitch has made an indelible mark on London’s club and experimental landscapes over the past several years, but more often than not, the Watford-born DJ, producer, label head and promoter has operated behind the scenes. Pitch has quietly amassed an impressive catalogue of original productions, blends and mix work though, much of it settling in at the unpopular 120 BPM range and almost all of it showing a nous for rhythm and pleasing vocal manipulation. Of course, most will be familiar with his work with Tobago Tracks (TT), the label he co-runs with Gribs, and the context that we first came across his early work as Pitcheno, including an intoxicating collaboration with Organ Tapes that we still rinse to this day. It’s been a while since we’ve heard Pitch’s singular voice, but that may be changing soon.

TT has been popping up on the timeline quite a bit recently and rightfully so, having curated a jealousy-inducing series of events at Peckham’s Rye Wax venue (think Ziúr, Stud1nt, M.E.S.H. and more) and trailblazing a cross-UK promoter collaboration between Liverpool’s Cartier 4 Everyone, Manchester’s Mutualism and Leeds’ Come Thru. The label’s recent releases have also been particularly striking, covering everything from DIY afrobeat (Don Sinini‘s Grove Centraal) to grand, synthetic ambient landscapes (Lucaufer‘s EP1). That sort of idiosyncratic approach to A&R work has always been at the core of the Tobago Tracks with releases from the aforementioned Organ Tapes, a collaborative mixtape with Oakland’s 8ULENTINA and forceful, Cardi B-tinged techno machinations from Object Blue in their release catalogue. It’s an approach that is also born out in the TT mix series which has been a staple for outré club manipulations and is one of the few must checks in the cluttered Soundcloud sphere.

It’s no surprise that Pitch’s Astral Plane mix also covers quite a bit of ground. Mixed on Technics 1210s and a 2 channel mixer (no FX), the selection is split into two sections, the first featuring slower, lighter sounds from Pitch’s childhood, as well as more recent contemporary British sounds, and the latter featuring an array of artists attacking the dancefloor from different angles. The previously mentioned Lucaufer’s “Pupa”, featuring Yma, starts off the selection in sublime fashion and Pitch covers a startling amount of ground in under 40 minutes. Check out more of DJ Pitch’s solo material here and if you’re in London, don’t miss the next edition of the TT x Rye Wax residency featuring M.E.S.H., Object Blue, LOFT, Malin, Iceboy Violet, MtMt and Helge. Tickets available here.

BSNYEA

New York and its surrounding areas have been a source of innovative club music since the advent of electronic music, but it has been particularly fertile in the 2010s, spawning refreshingly new sounds with regularity. In January, we featured a driving mix from Brooklyn’s Epic B, one of the foremost proponents of flex dance music (FDM), and our love for the city’s ballroom sound and neighboring Newark’s Jersey Club scene is well established. Today, we turn our attention to Litefeet and BSNYEA, the former being the notorious musical companion to New York’s subway dancers and the latter a producer pushing the sound into exciting new directions. Like FDM, Litefeet is intrinsically coupled with its dance form, developing in response to dancer’s needs and eventually mutating into a genuinely symbiotic relationship.

BSNYEA’s music seems to always fall distinctly on the front foot, usually falling in a comfortable 105-110 BPM range and drawing on classic hip hop references as much as contemporary production techniques. It’s hip hop with a flashy, dancefloor-turned verve, akin to New Orleans Bass and Miami Bass in its raw, stripped back efficiency. Edits of Drake, Nicki Minaj and Trippie Redd are uploaded at a rapid pace and juxtaposed with  flashy originals with titles like “Break It Fix It”, “Tap Step” and “Bartender Please”. BSNYEA’s sound fits in Litefeet’s current trajectory (the Swizz Beatz influence is palpable), but also takes on a new dimension, infusing a start-stop sensibility and enough space to bring out the weirder dancers. His Astral Plane Mix is an exhibition in solo excellence, featuring an unrelenting stream of edits and originals featuring his signature take on the Litefeet sound. It’s pure body music so throw this one on and get ready to move. Download is available here. No track list.

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The intersection of rap and hardcore dance music has been fertile for years now with artists like Dark0, DJ NJ Drone and Drippin all putting a spin on everything from drill to gabber. As time has passed, some artists have expanded beyond the club track format to explore the outer reaches of the sound, digging into the interstices between era and genre with the goal of crafting narrative-rich long form pieces. Amsterdam’s Know V.A. in particular have impressed with their desire to draw substance from extended original pieces, releasing two separate editions on Signal Life (“RIP”) and DISPLAY (“Reification”) respectively. Those compositions utilize familiar forms (grime synths, 808s, trance riffs, dembow arrangements), but push towards abstraction, allowing reproducible tropes to extrapolate over a wider space. At times, the releases come across as a standard mixtape as tempos and energy is revved up, but the peaks and valleys of both tapes are unpredictable enough to allow the listener to consider their more nuanced qualities.

For their Astral Plane Mix, the Amsterdam duo has crafted an entirely new original piece, titled “Purity” and this time extended to 54 minutes. Fueled by the gabber and trance they listened to as youngsters, the piece takes on an epic quality, simultaneously exhausting and invigorating as it crescendoes over and over again. In a text sent over by the artists, the piece explores “losing the spontaneity of life and the randomness of nature” that follows a “drive towards perfection in the manufacturability of the outer world and the inner self.” That hyperreal emptiness is felt throughout “Purity” as layers of sheen crumble into grotesque noise and club constructions emerge, fizzle and burn. Unlike other sci fi-minded music though, Know V.A. smartly stray away from cliched vocals and narration, keeping the composition entirely instrumental and maintaining its all important sense of enigma. No track list but you can find more Know V.A. here.