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shalt press shot

Coming at the end of an almost year long hiatus, SHALT returns to the fold with ʃælt, the first in a series of singles focused on sound mechanics and loop-based dance forms. A sonic extension of the sheer physicality and cataclysmic sound design introduced on his two previous Astral Plane Recordings releases (Acheron and Inertia), ʃælt sees the recent London transplant exhume those forms from the narrative realm in order to experiment with functionality, crafting a series of absolutely cracking club tracks in the process.

BPMs are kept low across ʃælt‘s three tracks and fans of SHALT’s mix work, for the likes of Solid Steel and Truants, will recognize the microwave warm lilt of “Warm Chaos” and the crunching dramatic sway of “First Pulse”. Like all of SHALT releases, rhythms tend to emerge from a dense field of electricity, but the drums are more immediately accessible on ʃælt, lending a sense of distinct movement to the corporeal intensity his previous work has introduced. The “outsider” label is rather contrived at this point, but if this isn’t an outsider record for peak time then we don’t know what is.

More details on ʃælt via RA

E.M.M.A. PROMO SHOT

LA Mermaid is E.M.M.A.’s second official release for Astral Plane Recordings and arrives on July 14. Comprised of five drama-filled, hallucinatory compositions, LA Mermaid is a microcosm of the glistening, magical aesthetic Emma has worked tirelessly to fine tune. The result is music that is larger-than-life, while simultaneously insular and immediately graspable. E.M.M.A.’s music has always existed in these brilliant margins between, and LA Mermaid is a definitive statement of ownership over that space.

Coming on the heels of March’s Glacé single, also released through APR, LA Mermaid is a triumphant statement of intent for E.M.M.A., a release that draws threads from 2013’s Blue Gardens LP and pitches them into ever more vivid shapes. Jump started by the dramatically arranged, long-awaited “Magna Kanye”, LA Mermaid’s bombast is tempered by sequences of quiet brilliance, juxtapositions that are tied together by E.M.M.A.’s signature arpeggiated synths.

“This EP covers a lot of different moods and atmospheres. Themes which have inspired me are dreamy things I can’t quite grasp like the allure of Hollywood, mermaids, the illuminati, the open sea, the composition of the earth, and diamonds” said E.M.M.A.

“Magna Kanye was made after I saw some inspirational footage of Kanye in the studio, like it was a life or death situation, which is how I want to be when I’m in the studio” she added.

With the continued excellence of her Angel Food show on NTS and the huge industry support for her Producer Girls workshops, Astral Plane is delighted to shed some light on the cosmic creations of an artist who has made a conscious decision to not to be prolific in the face of disposable internet culture. As well as previously unheard material, some of these tracks have been eagerly anticipated for some time. The body of work should remind many why this London dweller has long been lauded as one of the era’s most unique talents.

E.M.M.A. – LA Mermaid
APR110 | Out Now
Apple Music
Bandcamp
Bleep
Boomkat
iTunes
Juno
Soundcloud
Spotify

 

Coming on the heels of the Glacé single, E.M.M.A. has a brand new EP on the way via our in house label. Titled LA Mermaid, the five tracker is a striking statement of intent for the London-based artist and blends quietly assured arpeggiated synth work with a distinct flair for dramatic progressions and crisp sound design. Far from the obvious banger of the collection, we’ve decided to announce LA Mermaid with its title track, an effortlessly melancholic number that lopes along in hushed tones more than it shouts. You can stream “LA Mermaid” below and pre-order the EP via Boomkat here. We’ve got plenty of more material from the EP, mixes and interviews on the way so stay peeled.

Threads of hardcore music abound in contemporary club forms, ranging from the disembodied hardstyle kicks found throughout the work of artists like Kablam and coucou chloe to more traditional (in a relative sense) stabs at hardcore genres like hardstyle and doomcore by Kilbourne and Nkisi respectively. It could be argued that all fast club musics fit under a hardcore rubric, but there’s no doubt that more common signifiers of hardcore — in both the term’s dance/electronic and rock/punk/noise contexts — abound. We initially caught onto Estoc’s work through a tip from Alex Compton and after diving into a few swirling blends (Arca, Brandy and Monica, Rabit and The Knife), we were floored by collaborations with Kilbourne and Swan Meat respectively. Residing in Olympia, Washington at the southern tip of Puget Sound, a town known for its leftist student body and ant-fascist activism, Estoc’s music takes in contemporary club music, hardcore forms and a range of vocal inspirations and spits out something powerful and angry, a scalding final product that is at once approachable and deeply desensitized. Gabber, the hyper-aggressive, Rotterdam-born genre, finds a particularly large space in Estoc’s aesthetic and the explanation of her name functions dually as a potential explanation for what has drawn so many to the genre in recent years: “This idea of creating a tool to defeat those with more power and protection than you is really appealing to me as it fits into the narrative of anti-fascist and anti-imperialist ideology, being able to look at what seem like insurmountable odds and coming out ahead with the right tools.”

That spirit abounds in Estoc’s original music, much of which can be found on her Soundcloud page. There are the aforementioned blends and collaborations, as well as a series of harrowing pieces under the d e s o l a t i o n moniker that are more space/texture-oriented than Estoc’s other work, but that she doesn’t necessarily see as being separate from the Estoc project. Her mixes often feature the work of artists like Pharmakon and The Body, acts that are seemingly finding more relevance in electronic music circles as scenes trend darker and denser, while contemporary hardcore producers like Sei2ure and Mad Dog often punctuate especially intense passages. In Estoc’s own words, her Astral Plane mix is a “best attempt at creating a narrative around what I experience in terms of mental illness,” describing the gabber passages as emulating “moments of sheer panic.” But there are also glimpses of richly hued brilliance, fascinating leaps from four-on-the-floor insanity to almost-soothing breakbeats and more than enough blends and edits of contemporary favorites to draw in even the most timid listener. The mix’s conceptual value is imbued from its opening passage, but its individual components, many created specifically for the occasion, are all worth revisiting and meditating on. Estoc’s music is rife with major themes — subversion of power structures and personal mental health in particular — but it’s worth noting that it also exists on a purely visceral/corporeal plane. And whichever way you choose to approach her Astral Plane mix, that visceral spirit will undoubtedly hit you. Click below for our full chat with Estoc and a must-read track list.

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E.M.M.A.’s Astral Plane Recordings debut is out now. Get it here.

London’s E.M.M.A. is one of the most celebrated producers to rise out of the British capitol in recent years, conjuring vibrant sonic landscapes and breathtaking dancefloor-driven formations in equal measure. Glacé marks her arrival to Astral Plane Recordings, offering a glimpse into a wealth of new material recorded in recent years. Never one to accept the status quo of her surroundings, E.M.M.A. has also delved full on into radio and hosting production workshops for young women as co-host of the Angel Food show on NTS and founder of the Producer Girls workshops respectively. It’s a cliche, but half a decade after emerging from the London underground, E.M.M.A. has turned her focus to the community around her as she continues to push bleeding edge sounds on her own terms.

Glacé came about in the midst of those efforts, born out of the on-the-ground energy of both projects and informed by a desire to make something one step removed from daily routine and reality. Richly layered synths are the name of the game on “Glacé”, a colorful melange of percolating highs and mids that pulse and quiver as the track progresses. The percussion is influenced by classic new wave sounds, providing a flexible structure for the dense textures to unravel around and for the listener to grab onto. A beatless version and a spacious, tactile remix from Gobstopper artist Iglew round out the package, which is out in full now.

E.M.M.A. – Glacé
APR109 | Out Now
Apple Music
Bandcamp
Bleep
Juno
iTunes
Spotify

After recording February’s show in a rain storm that knocked out the studio internet, it was a relief to jump on NTS last Friday on a beautiful day in Highland Park with our good friend Alis. In town from Berlin, we were lucky to get her in the studio before she left for the airport and the resulting 45 minutes is a whirlwind of rhythms, textures and her own distinct edits. The remainder of the show features recent and upcoming music from Suda, Kareem Lotfy, WA?STE, astvaldur, Englesia, 2K, x/o, SHALT, Endgame, Kala & RIOBAMBA, DJ Jayhood, DIVORCE and Liquid City Motors. We also played a load of our favorite Lechuga Zafiro tunes in anticipation of his set at Club Chai x Astral Plane this Saturday at the Starline Social Club in Oakland, CA. If you’re in the area and haven’t grabbed a cheap advance ticket yet you can do so here. Stream the full show below and grab a download here. We’ll be back on April 14.

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spurz

Having flit around the periphery of a number of sounds in recent years, January 27 will see the release of Canadian producer Spurz’s debut album on Apothecary Compositions, a self-described exercise in opposites and juxtapositions. Now residing in London, Spurz’s sound can generally be considered within a UK sphere of influence (grime, jungle, dubstep, etc.), but the Loud Futures LP is anything but a strictly hardcore continuum-derived record and generally thrives in abstraction, tying in dancefloor relevance to the sorts of bizarro synth escapades and punchy drum programming that is best described as state-less. “Damu Recall” is a case in point, a minimalist track that starts with organic bits of percussion and hoover bass before transitioning into a high energy stomper that ends just as abruptly as it begins. Like much of the recent material on Apothecary Compositions, the song and album fall into an intriguing middle ground between home-and-club, UK and US, relevancy and abstraction, etc., which are exactly the sort of complicated juxtapositions we tend to enjoy delving into. Loud Futures is out January 27 and can be pre-ordered here.

balasa

Photo by Jesse Ray Guillory

New Orleans’ Balasa, the joint project of Zayn Shaikh and Ashe Kilbourne, has been fomenting since July 2015, but it wasn’t until September 2016’s Teri Duniya single that we became fully aware of its power and potential. “Difference is intrinsic to the project,” says Shaikh, pointing to one of the project’s overarching concerns and an element that’s both apparent from the point of introduction and vital upon closer examination. Musically, Balasa works with extremity and contrast — Teri Duniya is a collision of Sufi music and bubblin’, the Dutch style comprised of sped-up dancehall constructions and edits — and in a short email conversation, Zayn and Ashe discussed the complex arrangement of a white and brown artist working in tandem, filial reconciliation and making music in and in response to a post-9/11 America. Collisions of noise and culture make up the backbone of each of Balasa’s three tracks to date and the internal struggle between the artists is apparent throughout as Kilbourne’s hardcore impulses (a jumpstyle version oif “Teri Duniya” almost came into being) either manifest or are rejected by Shaikh.

Fans of the KUNQ collective will likely be familiar with Kilbourne’s work and on New Years, the duo debuted at the New York crew’s party. 2016 also saw the release of Kilbourne’s Sourland, a brilliant take on hardstyle that brought a genuine enthusiasm to the form and showed off an aesthetic built on raw noise and dramatic flair. Shaikh’s solo efforts come under the Besharam, where they have delved into the “intersections of islamophobia in mainstream LGBTQ movements” and collided a range of contemporary club music in several clutter-heavy mixes. Both projects tend to deal with themes of dislocation at length, but Shaikh points to reconciliation as a major component of Balasa, pointing out that every Balasa track “has a strong connection to my childhood or my relationship to my parents.” It’s these sorts of conflicts and contradictions that Shaikh and Kilbourne seem to be dealing with both discursively and musically and it’s an attitude found throughout their Astral Plane mix, which was given the title ‘Glacial Reign’. We had a quick email chat about the origins of the project, bubblin’ and the idea of difference. Hit the jump for the full conversation and a track list that jumps from Calvin Harris to The Body and Sheila Chandra.

Hi Ashe and Zayn, how are you? Where are you answering these questions from?

Z: Hi! We’re answering from our living room in NOLA, everything is kind of strewn about and it feels like an accurate representation of my brain at the moment. 

A: I’m aderall’d out, but sleepy.

Introduce yourselves and the Balasa project. We’ve been pretty obsessed with both mixes of “Teri Duniya” obviously, but I’m not sure all of our readers will know the background of the project and your respective solo projects.

Z: I’m Zayn, my solo project is called Besharam (it means “shameless” in Hindi, but it’s also an insult used in Bengali households by angry mums). Both of these projects are about reconciliation for me, with my family and my seemingly #opposing identities. Every Balasa song has a strong connection to my childhood or my relationship to my parents (i.e. trying to make them proud while pursuing a path that many people in their community consider to be against the grain)/filial responsibility. Balasa began in July 2015, right after I moved here. I was sharing some Ghazals and Sufi music with Ashe and we came across the Nooran Sisters and were immediately drawn to a song called “Ae Khuda Teri Duniya De”. We’d been toying with the idea of creating music together, but until then we didn’t really have a starting point. There were many, many drafts—including a really terrible jumpstyle version.

A: Which was my fault. I’m Ashe, my solo project is called Kilbourne, and hardcore is my life. Zayn and I share music with each other and talk about it so much it just makes sense to work together. That said, it takes a lot of communication for Balasa to function. Collaborating as a white person with Zayn who is brown is super loaded, especially when Balasa operates in a scene that I’ve been participating in for longer (even though we were both making punk/noise stuff before any of this). As a white person there is so much social capital to gain through being associated with artists of color, and rarely in music do white artists and audiences allow for an equal exchange of power.

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“S/O Ali Berger for mastering and being a good pupper.”

Arriving at the tail end of 2016, 2Lanes‘ Diamonds in the Rough EP, released via Escape From Nature, is a perplexing release, a marriage of natural tones and sharp angles intended to represent and reflect the environment of his hometown of Detroit. Devils Dub II — the second live set in a series that will culminate with a performance at Bossa Nova Civic Club in New York this Wednesday — is the latest project from 2Lanes and his most definitive statement to date, 65 minutes of meditative techno inspired by drum machine/space echo videos on Youtube and intense sensory experiences. It’s an incredibly deep, physical set that trends far more towards a head nod crowd than the rave, but there’s a heft to the project reminiscent of the digi dub experiments of the late 80s and 90s. Like “Jet Slit” off of Diamonds in the Rough, the set maintains an uneasy quality throughout, embodied in the fluttering bird calls that are more Hitchcock than “Pacific State” and the gut wrenching sub bas that intermittently rises from the deep. RSVP for the Boss Nova gig, which will also feature sets from AceMo and Olga, here.

new-yr-new-us

We’ve always been a huge fan of the informal tangle of edits, blends and bootlegs that fly around both public and private channels. The constant deluge of Rihanna takes might annoy some, but there’s nothing better than hearing “Sex With Me” flexed in and out in every way possible. One of our favorite developments of the past 12 months was seeing our own releases informally bootlegged and blended in some genuinely odd directions. We heard Mechatok and Cupcakke, Nunu and Illapu, and SHALT and The Supremes — takes that would have been inconceivable until they came to fruition. To celebrate the new year and all of the wonderful support we’ve received, we gathered a few of our favorites from family friends for a free giveaway project titled NEW YR NEW US. We’ll be back on the official release train soon enough, but in the meantime we grabbed Why Be, Nunu, SHALT, Kablam and LOFT for this short entry. You’ve likely caught a few of these in our radio sets, as well as sets from the artists involved and they have just as much raw energy removed from that context. Hit the download link below and share around if you’re so inclined.

APR pres. NEW YR NEW US
1.) SKY H1 x NUNU – I THINK LOUD (WHY BE BLEND)
2.) NUNU – CORE x COG
3.) JAM CITY x M.E.S.H. – CITY HUMMINGBIRD (SHALT EDIT)
4.) BEY x NUNU – WE RUN THIS MAMAMAMAMA (KABLAM MESSUP)
5.) LOFT – A SALAAM MALE GENIE

–Download–