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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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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.

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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.

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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–

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It was around this time last year that we were putting into motion SHALT’s Acheron EP, the debut release on Astral Plane Recordings and a stunning record that set the tone for the rest of the year. Physical music that doesn’t fit into existing structures has become our calling card and we’re extremely proud of each of the six releases we’ve worked on this year. It’s been a pleasure to work with SHALT, Chants, Nunu, Exit Sense and LOFT and each respective project corresponds to emotions felt throughout what was an intense year for many. It’s become second nature to follow the happenings, minor and major, of the music world, but we fully understand that the process is time consuming and arcane to many so we decided to gather up details on all of our activity this year and collate them in one place.

The following mixes, videos and other audio-visual detritus from the past 12 months follows something of a linear timeline. They paint an overview of what we and our artists have been up to and it turns out we were busy for pretty much the entire year. It’s not easy to run a small, independent label, but it’s made far easier when the people around you are constantly hustling their asses off both in public and behind the scenes. Nunu has been particularly busy this year – both in an active and removed sense – with his Mind Body Dialogue twisted up by the likes of Why Be, Elysia Crampton, Kablam and more. Meanwhile, LOFT came through with a self-directed, reality-distorting for “Zissou”, a highlight from the British artist’s Turbulent Dynamics EP. SHALT remained busy on the remix/edit front as well with takes on Rizzla and Kid Smpl that have become favorites on our various mix and radio appearances.

APR artists also stayed busy on the mix front, although you’ll have noticed that none take part in any traditional scene per se and none of them are what could be called a straightforward DJ. SHALT started off the year with a huge entry for Solid Steel and was serendipitously matched up with Autechre. Chants turned in a release-themed mix for NTS in April while our resident DJ team put forth their first studio mix for the Symbols label. Throughout the year, Nunu turned in angelic volumes for Endgame’s Precious Metals show, Disc Magazine, Jerome and our own series while LOFT stayed quiet with the exception of a manic, no fucks given session for our debut NTS Radio LA show (all Astral Plane radio can be found here). We’ll be following up tomorrow with round-ups of our official releases and we hope this little review proves helpful in sussing out what exactly we’ve been up to this year. Thanks for tuning in.

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In recent years, Paris has become home to some of the best parties in the general club music sphere, becoming an outpost for artists big and small to play out. The result is an ever-growing circle of producers and labels developing their own sound in the French capital, a sound that might be 100% unique to France yet, but that is certainly on its way to idiosyncrasy. Tommy Kid’s [Re]Sources label is a prime example of those developments, an operation that grew out of the party series of the same name and has featured artists like Chaams, Nunu, Dehousy and She’s Drunk on its compilations and solo releases. Lil Crack is the latest artist to join the [Re]Sources ranks, coming through the dancefloor-focused Inner Flight EP, four sleek, cutting original efforts joined by remixes from Endgame, Spooky and Pixelord (catch the first two at [Re]Sources tonight in Paris). “Tactical Violence” is the most stripped back, minimal of the release, three and a half minutes of ratcheting percussion and trap shouts that seem to reach into the deepest recesses of the body. Most dance music is programmed to elicit a certain emotional/corporeal response from the listener and Lil Crack’s arrangements on “Tactical Violence” are a perfect example, matching raw energy with a call to arms felt in both sonics and naming language. Pre-order Inner Flight here, out December 9 on [Re]Sources.

loft

We headed up to Highland Park this past Friday for our debut show on the brand new NTS LA station, bringing along an absolutely mad LOFT guest mix and a USB full of our favorite synth, weightless, ambient, noise and beatless music. It was a pleasure to use the new studio for the first time and we got a chance to run through favorites from DJ Lostboi, Dedekind Cut, CLU, Yves Tumor, JG Biberkopf, 0comeups, SKY H1, Sharp Veins, Abyss X and more. We also rinsed a few off of SHALT’s new Inertia EP, out the some day on Astral Plane Recordings (available here). Meanwhile, LOFT’s guest mix is an all-original affair, offering rebooted version of tracks from his Turbulent Dynamics EP (available here) before descending into stuttering, clattering breakbeat insanity. Both Inertia and Turbulent Dynamics exist entirely on their own wave and were a pleasure to bring from conception to release. Hit the jump for a full track list. We’ll be back on NTS LA on December 23.

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Every so often, the bubbly come ons of SPF666’s “Here Little Kitty” remix or his own “Tsundere ツンデレ” will rise through the mix at the club, an always-welcome interjection and a reminder that the Portland-based artist has turned in some of the most indelible entries to the less conventional end of the club music spectrum. It’s been a few years since the release of his Scorpion Cache EP and while original music has been few and far between, the Club Chemtrail representative has stayed busy, contributing excellent writing and mix work to FACT’s Originators series and showing up with the occasional cheeky remix.

Last Thursday, we received the largest transmission from the SPF666 universe in quite some time, a Halloween Horror-themed mixfile for Martha’s Radar Radio show. Comprised of edits and blends of music from Friday The 13thLost BoysThe Hills Have EyesTetsuo The Ironman and more, SPF666’s takes range from dembow to hardstyle and are as rooted in legitimate study and affection for those genres as they are campy experimentation. We’ve got both the vocal and riddim versions of the “Childs Play Riddim” and “Glass Box Riddim” on premiere today, the former featuring Popcaan’s “Way Up” and the latter resuscitating Cassie’s classic “Me & U”. The perfectly swung lurch of the dembow beat form the backbone of both and choral pads (on the former) and haunting charms (on the latter add more than enough of a creep element. The riddims would be silly if it they weren’t so well produced and the vocals didn’t fit so seamlessly over the top, a welcome reminder that self-serious music doesn’t have to be stodgy. Find the full show after the jump and catch a track list here.

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Logo by Rap Simons

A key node in Australia’s small-but-dedicate map of boundary pushing club music producers, DJs and promoters, Sydney’s Body Promise show airs weekly on FBi Click radio and this Friday they’ll expand into label territory with Harmony From A Dominant Hue, a 15 track compilation featuring artists from across the electronic music spectrum. Named after an early 20th century color theory manual, the compilation traverses a number of moods and textures with artists like Jikuroux, Marcus (Not Singing) and Kimchi Princi providing drastically different takes on club and club-adjacent material. Body Promise’s Amelia Jenner sent over the following statement on the release, which reads like a mission statement:

What started out as a humble radio show on FBi Click in Sydney, Australia has now turned into a fully fledged label focussing on boundary pushing club music. Tired of hearing the same bro dominant house and techno that has become the norm in Australia, Body Promise emerged as another platform for this incredibly diverse community that doesn’t always get the attention it deserves. The time has come for them to unleash their debut compilation into the world. Over a year in the making, the compilation is the culmination of everything Body Promise stands for. It is adventurous, transportive, and unpredictable.

It doesn’t focus on one certain genre in particular but rather on a vibe, opting to work with artists who have the same attitude towards music as they do.The act of arranging these seemingly different tracks into one complete body of work means that complementary sounds, moods, and textures become apparent in ways they not have been seen otherwise.

Longtime listeners will be familiar with this ethos, one born out in the crew’s own selections and their guests which have recently included DJ NK, Mina and Svani, as well as a host of Australian talent. We’re lucky to have Mya Gomez & Felix Idle’s “T2 Meltdown” on premiere today, a highlight of Harmony From A Dominant Hue and a collaboration that seems to haunt long after it ends. Heavy breathing, distant firecrackers and wind make up the atmosphere on “T2 Meltdown”, skewing towards the baroque before ratcheting drums and diaphanous effects take over. Look out for Harmony From A Dominant Hue this Friday and don’t sleep on the Body Promise show.