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We’ve been teasing out M.D. James’ debut project for most of this year and Friday saw the release of his 5 Year Lapse mixtape, the first free form mixtape release on APR since Exit Sense’s Amor 107.5 in 2016. The mixtape is out now on cassette and digital and is comprised of seven movements comprised of organic and electronic composition. Nick Zhu, who has released on Knives and Quantum Natives this year as bod [包家巷], as well as contributing a series of visuals to SHALT’s Seraphim LP, features on “Summer’s End”, and Kevin Silva, Nick Flessa and Zack Crumrine appear throughout the rest of the release. Cassette design is by Caleb Ali Miller, photography by Isabelle Harada and mastering by Will Mitchell. M.D.’s Astral Plane Mix from a few weeks back is also an excellent extension/analog to this release.

M.D. James – 5 Year Lapse
APR116 | Out Now
1) Pariah
2) Dogblood
3) Summer’s End
4) Remembrance
5) Broadside
6) Carceral Season
7.) Untitled I

Cassette/Digi Availabe Here

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We released M.D. James’ “Swan” as part of our 2017 year-end free download release. Its inclusion came after we saw a live M.D. performance at one of his CAMEO parties. It was raw and unadulterated and felt no need to trade intimacy for corporeal affect. It achieved both in droves and our mind immediately wandered to our it would translate to a recorded format. 5 Year Lapse is the result of that process, a mixtape exploring the unexpected paradoxes that arise during times of self-care and healing. It’s comprised of seven chapters and will be out on Friday, October 5. AQNB was kind enough to announce the release and premiere “Carceral Season”. 5 Year Lapse is available as a digital release, as well as a limited run cassette manufactured by Cryptic Carousel in Los Angeles.

Listen to “Carceral Season”
Pre-order Cassette/Digital

Precision 12 Inch Jacket Template

SHALT – Seraphim LP
APR115 | Out Now
1) Conceived on Ash
2) Preserved in Amber
3) Seraph
4) Fleeting
5) Ardour
6) Charred, Cleansed

LP/Digi Available Here

Watch Visual Album Here

With four APR releases under his belt, SHALT turns in his longest statement to date in Seraphim, a mini-epic that unfolds over six intricately arranged, brilliantly colored acts. Once again focusing in on the intersection between the technological and the natural, the London-based producer builds a narrative around an angelic being, a visage displayed by accompanying video work by Los Angeles’ Nick Zhu. More concretely, the album delves into the contradictions inherent in technological development, ruminating over the capitalist myth of scarcity, coming (and present) ecological disaster, and the contemporary path of medical research.

Sonically, Seraphim features a fusion of the sensibilities featured on Acheron, Inertia and ʃælt, noisy effects and a barrage of rugged percussion juxtaposed with passages of melodic bliss. It’s music preoccupied with technology, but with a naturalistic ethos at its core, emphasizing our confusion over humanity’s influence on the world (even when uncynically trying to perform good deeds). That ethos is embodied in the baroque ambience of “Seraph”, as well as the impactful, multi-layered crack of “Fleeting”. It’s deeply visual music and like the best sci-fi, deals with lasting contemporary issues under the guise of futurity. As described by the Bureau of Linguistical Reality, we are living in shadowtime and Seraphim is a nod to the distinct intellectual, moral and temporal crisis of our time.

Seraphim features album art work and vinyl design by Isaac Chabon and accompanying video work by Nick Zhu and Tea Stražičić. It will be released digitally and in a limited LP press.

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Some more nice words on SHALT’s latest, which is out today on all platforms. Have a go at Nunu’s destructive take on “Nid De Guêpes” and find all download/streaming below.

AQNB: “ʃælt ii features three tracks of tactile noise with dance-friendly, post-rave touches. ‘Nid De Guêpes’ (French for ‘wasp’s nest’) is a clattering march of beats and urgent, high-frequency synth lines, while Nunu’s remix stretches out and flattens the composition, reducing it down to an ambient resonance that’s at times punctured by intense and high-speed rhythms.”

The Quietus: “The Astral Plane is another label and collective consistently pushing leftfield club music. The LA-based blog and imprint’s next release sees a return for SHALT with the second instalment of his ʃælt series. These releases see the British producer focusing on “sound mechanics and loop-based dance forms,” as the label puts it. The second instalment makes for more intense listening than the three tracks featured on the previous ʃælt volume. Lead track ‘Nid de guêpes’ crashes to life with a hail of abrasive drums. Cruising just below the 100 BPM mark, it’s carried by a rousing melody and bursts of harsh noise. ‘Liquesce’ is a slightly more restrained affair, its menacing bassline swamped by lo-fi synths and a heavily cloaked vocal line. Fellow Astral Plane affiliate Nunu rounds out proceedings with a remix of ‘Nid de guêpes’ which picks up the pace of the original while maintaining its raucous energy.”

Download/Stream here.

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Following yesterday’s announcement of SHALT‘s ʃælt ii, Mixmag has the premiere of “Liquesce”, the opener and second entry from the EP (listen to Nid De Guêpes” here). Dominated by a steady, lilting central rhythmic pattern, “Liquesce” is a perfect example of SHALT at his most functional, allowing a dense array of textural elements to swirl around a steady core. ʃælt ii is out this Friday (August 3) and is available for pre-order here.

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We’ve been fairly quiet in the aftermath of our inaugural EU/UK tour, but this Friday that all changes. ʃælt ii is the first of an almost monthly run of releases that will see a SHALT album, debut releases from Alis and M.D. James and the long-awaited return of Nunu. First though, Resident Advisor has the goodies on the second entry into SHALT‘s functional, non-narratively inclined ʃælt series. A few of these tracks were previewed in SHALT’s FACT Mix, a must listen if you haven’t checked it yet. You can find pre-order links below and be on the lookout for a very special, tremor-inducing Nunu remix.

SHALT – ʃælt ii 
APR114 | Out August 3
Stream “Nid De Guêpes”
Pre-Order EP

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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