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the dance pit

“Club Etiquette Vol. 1 grew out of both micro and macro frustrations in the club” – Intro to Club Etiquette Vol. 1

On September 2nd, we’re hosting a night with Dummy at the Ace Rooftop in downtown Los Angeles and couldn’t be more excited to add The Dance Pit and Nargiz to the lineup. In anticipation of the night, we’ve asked both artists to record a mix for us, providing joint entries for Astral Plane Mix 120. Find more info on Dummy Presents: The Astral Plane here and RSVP here.

In dance music lore, the club is treated as hallowed space; an elevated plane that exists far from the biases, contradictions and power structures that pervade day-to-day life. Anyone who has attended a club/venue/bar/warehouse recently knows that the reality is much more complicated. Everyone has had a drink spilled on them or had a taller individual block their view and a nasty lack of respect between security, bar staff and club-goers often circulates. More importantly, predatory behavior is often allowed to run rampant, unchecked by both security and male patrons, making the club a fundamentally unsafe space for female, LBTQ and non-binary folk. These issues are systemic and won’t be fixed over night, but Anuradha Golder aka The Dance Pit is putting in overtime to address and discuss a battery of subjects ranging from personal space on the dance floor, safe (and fun) drug use, and a simple set of rules and expectations for both throwing and playing shows. At six editions, the beautifully drawn Club Etiquette zine is a necessary, and thoroughly enjoyable, read, providing an erudite critique of the myriad issues facing modern club land.

As if offering up others a guide for to engage with club spaces, throw shows and interact with other DJs wasn’t enough, Golder throws Club Etiquette parties and DJs as The Dance Pit, building a literal space to try and exemplify the ideals espoused in the zine and to promote likeminded producers and DJs. Astral Plane favorites The Large, MM, Abby, Lechuga Zafiro, Nargiz and more have all touched down at Club Etiquette parties since the first edition in August 2015 and a free/$5 donation to leave policy is integral to maintaining an open and inclusive spirit. As a DJ, Golder plays a range of bounce-y, floor ready material, drawing heavily from dancehall, reggaeton, soca and other Caribbean forms, all blended together in a loose style that tends to accentuate huge hooks and joyous blends.

Whether it’s because of scene politics or deep-seated misogyny, racism and transphobia, the dance music community often lacks the reflexive self-critical attitude necessary to approach patriarchy and endemic racial bias, but Golder has started and will continue to push a conversation that aims to make the club a safe, open, enjoyable space for all.

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With a catalogue that spans four years and 70+ releases, Seattle’s Hush Hush Recordings has become a staple in the electronic underground, releasing everything from grime bootlegs to formative night bus releases and a host of dreamy pop manipulations. Admittedly, much of what the label has released over the past few years has been outside of our scope, but it’s always been a pleasure to delve back into the prolific outfit’s catalogue to see who else has been brought into the fold. One of those acts, Greek duo Ocean Hope, debuted on HH in November 2015 with Chamber Dreams EP, a collection of bucolic, reverb-drenched pop numbers. On August 19, HH will release Chamber Dreams: Remixes Vol. 1, comprised of 10 remixes by label artists and friends. Madison’s Chants, who has released on both HH and Astral Plane Recordings, is among the remixes and his take, recorded just before The Zookeeper sessions, blends the percussive, impact-heavy style he’s been known for with the airy vocals and emotive, tape hiss drenched instrumentation of the Grecians. Stream Kid Smpl, Keep Shelly In Athens and Kimekai’s takes on Ocean Hope here and pre-order Chamber Dreams: Remixes, Vol. 1 here. Another volume of Ocean Hope remixes from HH family and friends will follow in September.

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Miami’s Exit Sense has recorded some of the best mixtapes/collages of the past few years and we couldn’t have chosen a more optimal artist to jumpstart our mixfile series. Amor 107.5 sits at a jarring meeting point between major pop moments and classical motifs, gabber kicks, video game samples and hyper-stimulating hardcore moments. It’s available now as a continuous mixfile or as individual tracks for free download. Starting off with Rihanna and finishing with Future, Amor 107.5 is a fitting follow-up to Nunu’s Mind Body Dialogue and the next step in the APR universe.

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London’s Tobago Tracks outfit always seems to be bringing new faces into the mix, whether through their regular club nights at venues like HUB16 and the Alibi Room, their regular shift on Radar Radio, or an always-impressive mix series. Nonetheless, the label is still selective with who it chooses to bring on for official releases and despite hosting mixes from Brood Ma, Asmara (fka MA Nguzu), The Dance Pit and beyond, TT is just passing the 10 release mark after launching in mid-2014. This Friday (July 15), Londoner AF85 will join the TT roster with plazamayor, a three track effort featuring two long form nu age ambient sessions and a collaboration with Organ Tapes. Comprised of six stanzas, “plazamayor (Side A)” is laid out over eight and a half minutes, full of wispy choral vox, gorgeous layered pads and plinking strings that rise seductively out of the depths of the mix. plazamayor is orchestral in composition and disarmingly pristine, briefly interrupted by a monologue delivered by a daughter who has lost her mother to gun violence. That moment is underlaid by morose pads and followed by a small, gunshot-recalling pop, the piece’s clear nadir and the sort of emotionally direct moment so rare in electronic music’s cryptic annals. Having only released short pieces to this point, the longer format of plazamayor befits AF85’s extensive affective range and with Organ Tapes playing the role of bridge on “Air It Out”, the tape fits comfortable in the avant-pop-dance world of Tobago Tracks.

foreverLeicester’s shapeshifting Grade 10 collective only launched last May, but have already inserted themselves into a number of conversations, insisting on a quality-over-everything model that prides a somewhat understated collective voice over individual bombastics. Through their generally excellent Radar Radio show and a slick, but hard to pin down collection of releases, G10 is certainly on an upward trajectory and on July 15, Coyote Records affiliate Forever will release his debut Coarse single on the label, a vinyl-only two tracker with a remix from house legend Mr. G. Like a more subdued take on the Keysound 130 rollage sound, “Coarse” engages amicably with jungle, garage, dubstep and grime, utilizing all manner of floating synths and a focus on groove more reminiscent of house than any ‘nuum styles. With only a few remixes and mixes to draw from previous to Coarse, this release isn’t the ostentatious original debut we’ve come to expect from many young artists, but Forever and G10 are all the better for that approach and if this Midlands-based producer can continue to churn out work as innately gorgeous as “Coarse” then he’s primed for plenty of future success. Check out Mr. G’s remix of “Coarse” here and more from Grade 10 here.

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Photo by Marc Krause

Following up the barefaced intensity of his HPE EP, Melbourne’s Air Max ’97 has contributed a key remix to Ziúr’s Taiga EP, out July 1 on Infinite Machine. Following up an expansive US tour and with an EU and Asia tour on the way, AM97 seems to quite literally be all over the place these days, but that hasn’t seemed to effect his indomitable work rate and along with the aforementioned release on his own Decisions label, he’s also found time to remix Swimful and Habits to great effect. With Taiga out a week from today, we’ve got AM97’s take on “Lilith”, made up of a solipsistic kick pattern, the battered refrains of vocalist RIN and icy choir-synths that increase in their ferocity and begin to stab through the mix at the midway point of the track. On the whole, Ziúr’s has worked magic with an industrial sound palette and willingness to always ratchet up the severity of her productions a little bit further and AM97’s twisted contribution is situated perfectly at the end of the release. Look out for AM97 in Europe/Asia over the coming months and grab Taiga on July 1.

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Comprised of JX Cannon, Stress and Plebian, New York label/party Sweat Equity has slowly insinuated itself as an important voice in the East Coast club music circuit, bringing out the likes of DJ Delish, Leonce, Miss Modular and Sudanim to their Club Austerity parties and releasing tracks from crew members, as well as Ali Berger and Cole. Balancing a range of floor-focused ballroom, ghetto house, Jersey, Bmore, Philly club and other drum-heavy dance forms, the crew has created a space for themselves in an increasingly crowded club space, diversifying outside of the Sweat Equity confines and continuing to bolster their credentials. For his part, Cannon will arrive on brand new Loveless Records sub-label Materia next month, a venture intended to step away from the Brooklyn outfit’s house and techno foundation. The Tanked EP is an a/b single in the Dat Oven “Jet Set” mold, two bassline-forward four-on-the-floor cuts accompanied by intriguing remixes from Byrell the Great and DJ Haram. We’ve got “Tanked” on premiere today, a big room ready effort accentuated by blaring horns, French vocal refrains and a ringing telephone. The result is hectic, almost like being in a club, and the track’s insatiable energy is sure to carry many late night parties over the coming months. Tanked is out exclusively through the Loveless Bandcamp on July 8 and everywhere on July 15.

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Working on the fringes of electronic music for the past few years, Nunu has developed an approach to club forms that is at once deeply familiar and intensely dissociative, subverting traditional elements in his fundamentally untraditional productions. Having experimented with a range of percussive, dancefloor-oriented forms, the Strasbourg native has ventured into more abstract territory as of late, filtering an infatuation with artificial intelligence and cyborg technology into his own communicable aesthetic. The result of that work is the Mind Body Dialogue EP, six unrelenting efforts out July 1 on Astral Plane Recordings.

Today, THUMP has the premiere of Mind Body Dialogue opener “Punani”, referring to the track’s “insectoid dribbles of blurred tone” and shining some light on the human-machine intimacy explored through the release. Be sure to check out Nunu’s mix for Endgame’s Precious Metals show on NTS a few weeks back and be on the look out for Mind Body Dialogue on July 1!

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As far as qualitative writing on the weird, dark nether regions of techno (and its various industrialized offshoots), you’re not going to find a better website than Stray Landings. Abutted by a must listen podcast series and a burgeoning label, the London-based outfit has managed to expand into new arenas over recent years without compromising their aesthetic integrity and they’re just as dedicated to the bleak, bludgeoning and discombobulating as they were in the early days of the blog. Take Theo Darton-Moore and George McVicar’s (two key members of the SL team) latest venture, the opaquely titled Aa3_tzt.[RN500] and the accompanying Aa3 Recordings, a new artist project and label taking influence from the “bold and futuristic yet murky and ambiguous” nature of abandoned industry in Eastern Europe and beyond.

Northmoor is the first full project from the duo after their “Hinkley Point” track appeared on 2014 Stay Landings compilation Parallel Stress and its cohesive vision belies the fact that its essentially a debut. The sound of Northmoor is suitably greyscale, four tracks of droning sirens, odd sonic detritus and the submerged vocals a striking miner’s choir. “Röntgen [Rg]” is a favorite from the EP, although Northmoor is best taken as a whole, all harrowing metallic energy and degraded kicks blurting out into cavernous space. Like the nuclear silos Aa3_tzt.[RN500] look to for inspiration, the song is at monolithic, but also deeply interested in the particularities, existing in almost constant motion as the aforementioned choir rises in the mix and the churning noise provides rich and, at times, jarring texture. Northmoor is out July 8 on Aa3 and can be previewed after the jump.

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A resident at Los Angeles’ Cybersonic night, Sha Sha Kimbo has been making waves in the Southern California club scene for the past few years, showing off a chameleonic ability to work a huge range of material into her high-energy DJ sets. As a producer, Sha Sha has shown an impressive work rate, releasing singles and remixes on a seemingly weekly basis and constantly refining a sound that borrows as much from LA rap’s 100 BPM bounce as it does grime, jungle, footwork and Atlantic club forms. Enlisted by Prague-based label Meanbucket, Sha Sha’s latest remix work tackles Nobel and DJ Tuco’s “Hamco”, working out the prickly original’s squeaky vocal sample and menacing bassline into a heavy hitting piece of four-on-the-floor 130 rollage. Like most of the Los Angeles producer’s work, the remix is aimed squarely at the dancefloor and is centered around an indomitable groove, ready made for immediate club play. The remix will appear on Nobel and DJ Tuco’s forthcoming Hamco / Scr33nshot single, which also features a remix from Ase Manual and is out July 12 on Meanbucket.