Photo by Lerz Moore
Considering how quickly the electronic music world’s gaze tends to enhance and fade certain artists, scenes and genres, Jack Stevens aka Sully’s career feels like something of an anomaly, an artist who has remained productive and at or near the top of his sphere for the past decade without relying on a volatile breakthrough moment or the hype train of a “new genre.” In short, Stevens has been making some of the best dubstep, garage, grime and jungle that the UK has to offer, first as part of the Innasekt duo and, since 2007’s Destroyah EP (on Creative Space Records), as Sully. Personally, it was Sully’s jungle tunes, efforts like his remix of Ballistiq Beats and Riko Dan’s “Rise The Machine (Yardman Riddim)” and “Flock”, that made me a believer, an admitted latecomer who only has come around to necessary early cuts like “Give Me Up” (as Sully Shanks) and “Jackman’s Rec” in a roundabout fashion in the years since. More recently, Sully’s work on the Body Count show on Radar Radio, which also features Sim Hutchins and Klaar, has been an obsession, seeing his variegated approach to ‘nuum sounds matched up with an array of American club sounds and abstracted soundtrack music, drone, ambient and industrial. A few times a show, a renegade breakbeat with cut through the haze and Sully’s presence will become known, often providing the forward momentum for a show with no clear stylistic parameters.
Which is actually a pretty accurate way to look at Sully’s career. A clear devotee of soundsystem culture, Sully’s work over the past decade has come often and it has come correctly, functioning in both 12″ and album form and retaining a sound that is almost immediately recognizable as Stevens’ own. 2016 has seen the release on the Vamp EP on Black Acre, a slight step away from Stevens’ more peak time forms that nonetheless has that slightly foreboding edge, tumbling percussion and attention to textural detail that has made his work an automatic buy for so many listeners and DJs for years. Listeners of Body Count will find certain songs in Sully’s Astral Plane mix familiar with artists like Sami Baha and The Haxan Cloak popping up in the track list, mixed in with curve balls like Philip Glass’ hypnotic “Koyaanisqatsi” from the film/soundtrack of the same name and two R&B cuts released a decade apart from Ashanti and Tinashe. Far from a club mix in the traditional sense, Sully’s work places the angular sounds of artists like Lokane, WWWINGS and Forever in conjunction with recent jungle revivalism from Special Request and classics by Portishead and Squarepusher, breaking down ostensible genre and temporal boundaries with remarkable ease. Which is a talent that Sully manages to retain in all of his work, the ability to wear his influences on his sleeve without succumbing to nostalgia for nostalgia’s sake; the ability to produce music that is uniquely his own that has and will continue to be integral to the canon.
First appearing on Wallwork’s Astral Plane mix in October of last year, Lloyd SB and Wallwork‘s “The Portal” has been one of the most desired dubs around for our team so were overjoyed when the Nervous Horizon folks sent over the promo for Lloyd’s forthcoming Boida Flare EP and it included the track. With a track on the most recent Boxed compilation and support from a huge range of radio shows and DJs, the release of Boida Flare feels perfectly timed and it’s hard not to imagine the EP taking over the clubs and airwaves further over the coming weeks and months. With our longtime obsession in mind, we’ve got “The Portal” on premiere today and if this hyper speed trapped out monstrosity didn’t catch your attention back in October it certainly will now. Based on a single, insatiable lead groove, the track is both a full frontal assault and an exercise in restraint, utilizing as few elements as possible for maximum jump up energy, seeming to exist more in the jungle/drum and bass sphere despite its familiar sound palette. Boida Flare is out June 3 and can pre-ordered here.
The 10th release on Parisian label [Re]Sources, Chaams’ Untro EP is the French producers first official release to date and a fitting introduction to boot, spanning three beautiful club works aided by remixes from New York’s Celestial Trax and Atlanta’s Distal. Combining forceful drum beats and searching, minor key synth arrangements, Untro‘s three tracks show off a producer with an ear for outsized club play, bringing a slightly restrained approach to the brass and bass structures of producers like Dullah Beatz, JT The Goon and Preditah. Untro is out January 29 and can be pre-ordered here.
We’ve been listening to Resident Advisor’s Exchange podcast for years and the team’s year end efforts have always been on point, leading to new discoveries, especially in the mix department. It was quite a surprise then to find out that Ryan Keeling, the editor of RA, named Soda Plains’ Astral Plane mix as one his favorites of the year and went on to say the following.
I’ve gone for Soda Plains, the mix he’s done for The Astral Plane. I think I should be honest and say that my pick is more of a big up for The Astral Plane series than it is for this particular mix. I think the series as a whole does a fantastic job of, quite simply, presenting fresh club sounds. But I think why I appreciate them is because with the raft or endless stream of Soundcloud producers and people working in this style they are definitely a very handy filtration tool for the this scene.
Of course, he followed that up with a load of praise for our good friend Soda Plains and all he’s done, but it was a really special moment to essentially come upon one of the nicest bits of praise and affirmation we’ve received for the series to date. Check out the full podcast, which features a host of other great selections in the live performer, DJ, album, etc. departments, and check out Soda Plains’ Astral Plane mix after the jump.
This year, FACT Magazine offered me the opportunity to compile a “25 Best Club Tracks Of 2015” list and after weeks of agonizing over the selections, it went live last week to many readers’ consternation. Unfortunately, a good deal of tracks that I would have liked to include didn’t fit in to the feature’s scope, which was more of less limited to club-focused material and original works (a self-imposed limitation). The following 25 tracks either aren’t aimed at the dancefloor, fit the club-theme or just didn’t quite fit the rubric for the column. Like the FACT list, we’ve kept this one in alphabetic order and considering that these songs come from across a ridiculously wide spectrum we felt there was no need to order them otherwise. Hit the links below to listen to each respective track and enjoy. Big thanks to anyone and everyone who has stuck with us, enjoyed our releases and/or followed the FACT column.
Acre – Always Crashing
Acre x Justine Skye – Never Physically Leave (Prince Will Edit)
Angel-Ho – Yah Cunt
DJ Haram & Mhysa – No Ordinary Love
DJ NJ Drone – Banger (Fools)
Elysia Crampton – Lake
Faro – Hold U (Hi Tom Edit)
Fis – Kal
GAIKA – Sodium
Haleek Maul – Medicine (ft. Kit) [prod. Haleek Maul & Shy Guy]
Iglew – Urban Myth
Jacques Gaspard Biberkopf – Spirit
Joey Labeija – Euphoria
Kadahn – Arc Eye Matter
Kuedo – Cellular Perimeter
Lotic – Heterocetera
Mechatok – Mass Appeal
Mr. Mitch – Dru (Peace Edit)
Rabit & Myth – Lonely Backseat Love
Pan Daijing – DISEASE 疾
Pitcheno – K1. 不明白” (feat. Organ Tapes)
Smurphy – Missing2MyBB
Strict Face – Into Stone
Teeflii x Mr. Mitch – 24 Hourz x Feel (Rabit Blend)
Tim Hecker – Stab Variation (SHALT Edit)
One of Russian artist Alexey Devyanin’s oldest pseudonyms, the Gultskra Artikler project sees its latest release out next Monday (12/14) on Devyanin’s newly dubbed Terminal Dream label. Dubbed ECO LAN, the new release “explores the ecological aesthetics of the internet and computers, playing with notification sounds, nature voices and lofi arpeggios,” the result a sort of retro-futurist ambient melange, distilled into four analgesic tracks. For the unfamiliar, Devyanin’s most popular project to date is Pixelord, the more beats and bass focused of his works, and he’s also worked as Computer Graphics and Hucky O’Bare in the past. Dating back to 2003, Gultskra Artikler has always been an outlet for Devyanin’s more bizarre creations, mostly traversing the ambient and drone realm, but rarely conforming to the prevailing contemporary trends in those genres. ECO LAN is the sound of green washed computer light, late night television and degraded microchips, a pleasing, albeit slightly unnerving, scape of warm “organic” drones and percolating blips, building the computerized ecology out of its most overlooked sounds. Pre-order ECO LAN on cassette or digital here.
Scrolling through Ghost Kwini’s Youtube channel is an intense experience, his new work divided among a series of untitled tracks accompanied by digitally manipulated visuals of flowers, born again Baptisms, microscopic organisms and more, marking a path through paranoiac 8 bit grime, bizarro dembow and the sort of abstracted beat work championed by the likes of TCF, Arca and Gatekeeper. Since releasing the Dark Address EP in June 2014 on Sonic Router, the channel has been the best way to keep up with Ghost Kwini’s output and in the process has marked the way his sound has developed and mutated. Whereas Dark Address tracks like “Black Google” and “Netscape Navigator” wouldn’t have come across as out of place on a Boxed compilation, invoking many of the weightless grime tropes so popular today, the new work is far more difficult to pin down, throwing trance, glitchy noise, dancehall and more into a polyglotic mass.
Hailing from a small coastal town in the Netherlands and currently residing in Berlin, Ghost Kwini’s music resides firmly in the web space and despite wishing he could occasionally hear his music on club systems, its sonic makeup and visual accompaniments seem to fit far more comfortably inside of a Youtube stream. And like a users ability to leap from one section of the internet to another, Ghost Kwini doesn’t appear to be held down by any genre or rhythm constraints, freely jumping from one sound to another in a fashion that is as engrossing as it is hard to follow. Likewise, his Astral Plane mix hardly follows a set template, jumping from gabber, hardcore and grime to a series of infectious bubbling tunes, all tied together by an abiding digital aesthetic, an aesthetic that seems to drive forward with reckless impunity as it simultaneously crumbles. Ghost Kwini doesn’t have an official release planned as of yet, but keep an eye on his Youtube channel and follow his words on Twitter. Hit the jump for a short interview with Ghost Kwini as we discuss his relationship to grime, club music and the internet.
It has been a while since we’ve come to you with a release, but after many months of conceptualizing, working with 12 new artists and working to compile a final product, we bring you Psychotropia! The compilation is available for free download via Bandcamp and is live on all reputable streaming services. Out to Mechatok, Basile, Doline Karmelloz, Abraxas Wandering, Malibu, Fresh Paul, Soda Plains, C Plus Plus, SHALT, GROVESTREET and Organ Tapes for contributing their immeasurable skills to the project, Ellie Tremayne for offering up her brilliant painting skills and Riley Lake for always coming correct on the mastering/behind-the-scenes work. Enjoy!
In today’s club music landscape, the concept of honesty is adrift and it’s far easier to find yourself interacting with shrouded personalities and several layers of irony than you are any creative or intellectual honesty. New York’s Rizzla, part of the Kunq collective and a longtime Fade to Mind representative, has always been an outspoken social media advocate, laying down prescient post-colonial and identity critiques when few others are willing to step up. Utilizing “Iron Cages” and “Twitch Queen”, two tracks from his Iron Cages EP (out now on F2M), the video below is the sort potent statement that few contemporary musicians are willing to make, a synthesis of footage from several dozen uprisings, both from news stations and handheld cameras. Tonight, Rizzla celebrates the EP release with Kingdom, Prince Will and Dangelxxx in Los Angeles, bringing his spastic, 140+ styles to the basement of the Belasco Theatre. And if you’ve never seen Rizzla or the F2M crew throw down, you know that this one will be special, both a celebration for the release of Iron Cages and another reason why the label still has so many biters.