Since we started sending out promo copies of Chants’ Amethyst Dust, we’ve consistently receive feedback relating the intensity and general loudness (in all respects) of the Madison-based artist’s sophomore release for Astral Plane Recordings. Comprised of four tightly coiled, drum-forward efforts, Amethyst Dust is arguably the most peak time-ready thing we’ve released to date, full of huge, chorus-like riffs and a sneaky sense of funk buried somewhere underneath its layers of pummeling percussion. Some of our favorite DJs including Blackwax and Amy Becker have managed to contextualize it particularly well and today Amethyst Dust is out in full worldwide. You’ve likely come to expect a certain intensity from our output your honest engagement with the music and ideas involved is always welcomed.
Astral Plane DJ Team took over our February NTS show last Friday in the midst of a massive storm. The stream cut out halfway through and Highland Park’s power grid had failed by the end of the show, but we made it through. Left a live mic and a some effects on as well. Forthcoming material from Chants, Nunu, LOFT and E.M.M.A. inside, as well as favorites from LXV & Karmelloz, Celyn June, Egyptrixx, Nargiz, Sami Baha, Capital Kaos, 2lanes, Why Be, Citizen Boy, Errorsmith & Mark Fell, coucou chloe, Xuxu Santamaria and more. Chants’ Amethyst Dust, the Madison-based producer’s second EP for APR, is our March 3.
Nine months after the release of his label debut The Zookeeper EP, (APR102) Chants is on the verge of return. With a renewed focus on realizing impact through a series of technological self-limitations, the Wisconins-based artist will open up the year for Astral Plane Recordings next month with an enigmatic, oversized sophomore EP. Before we get to that though, we have The Zookeeper: Remixed, a project we’ve been stewing on for quite some time and finally feels ready to drop. Featuring remixes from SHALT, Liquid City Motors and Sim Hutchins, as well as a hypnotic VIP of “Crushed Lollipop”, the project puts original Chants tracks in a new context, ranging from hazy, euphoric blasts of noise to a riptide breaks workout and on to a chopped up, eski-styled piano ballad. Check out SHALT’s take on “Crushed Lollipop” below and look out for a free download of the full project on our Bandcamp this Friday. Hit the jump to check out our latest NTS show, which features a guest session from Chants and healing music from the Astral Plane DJ Team.
Yesterday, we ran through a year of mixes, videos and one-off audio artifacts from our stable of artists and today we’ve got a summation of all that we’ve released through official channels over the past 12 months. Starting with SHALT’s Acheron and ending with the British producer’s Inertia, these are the releases we poured our heart and soul into and that have garnered some nice placements on year end lists over the past week and a half or so. Yesterday, Resident Advisor named LOFT’s “Heffalump” into the top ten of their annual best tracks feature and the previous week the online magazine featured APR among their top 20 labels of the year. Mixmag was also kind enough to slot us in among their top ten favorite labels of 2016, referring to our well executed “plan of attack.”
That comment felt especially on point considering the timing of the label and the feeling we had going into the year. In short, we’ve wanted to start a record label for around five years now, but never felt that we had a coherent enough vision. The timing never quite felt right until we had Acheron in hand really and fortunately everything just sort of unfolded from there. We’ve always had a bit of antipathy towards labels that function as pit stops for artists so the opportunity to build relationships with SHALT, Chants, Nunu, Exit Sense and LOFT was an absolute joy this year. We’ll be back with three projects in the first few months of the year, one bootleg package, one official remix project and one follow-up to one of 2016’s artist debuts. As always, keep an eye on this space, as well our label website and our Bandcamp. Hit the jump for details, buy/streaming links and press bits for all seven of our 2016 releases.
A key part of the genre blurring wave of artists that emerged in the early 2010s, Moscow-based Pixelord has never sat comfortable in one scene or sound, partially due to his constantly wandering interests and partially due to his position as a fervent proponent of sounds outside of his city’s hegemonic house and techno culture. Cursed by the faulty nomenclature of post-dubstep and bass music, the hybrid-focused sound of the early aughts has been derided by many as soft and directionless, but many of today’s most influential artists and labels arose out of that supposed morass, capitalizing on the lack of a dominant sound to expand their and their listeners’ sonic horizons. Six or so years down the road and Pixelord, the head of the Hyperboloid and Terminal Dream labels, is a prime example of that fertile era, coming to age on labels like Car Crash Set, Error Broadcast and Leisure System and going on to release two albums through his own channels, the latest of which was released in September.
Utilizing elements of electro, garage, trap, footwork and more, Pixelord’s approach to Human.exe, his second full length for Hyperboloid, is clear from the get go, a deeply technological approach to club music that coalesces around a singular sound palette even as tempos and structures fluctuate. Tracks like “Telepathic” and “Axis” are both digital and metallic without falling into the trap of sounding cheap, fully formed club tracks with a somber edge that tends to enunciate the cyborg themes that dominate the record. Pixelord’s music has always had a vivid quality to it, a natural focus on the widescreen realized in his rich synthesizer tones and patient approach to song progression. Predictably, Pixelord’s entry into our mix series is chameleonic from the get go, 45 minutes of bent-but-not-broken rhythms that both recall and build on the themes brought up throughout Human.exe. Like the album, Astral Plane Mix 126 starts fast and percussive before settling into a more easygoing groove, bridging album tracks with likeminded material with a deft touch that more-often-than-not flatters both. Much has been made over the state of “underground” electronic music in the aughts and while many observers have retreated to the safe confines of accepted four-on-the-floor forms, artists like Pixelord continue to expand and experiment, testing out new collisions with the enthusiasm of a true believer.
To many, Lanark Artefax aka Calum MacRae was introduced in July of this year, the month that saw the release of the Glaswegian artist’s Glasz EP, a dense five track effort released through Lee Gamble’s UIQ label. Garnering support from a host of influential DJs, ranging from Mumdance and Mary Anne Hobbs to Beatrice Dillon, Gamble and Mosca, Glasz has proven to be one of the breakout releases of 2016, drawing fans from across the electronic music spectrum to his brittle sonics and uncanny rhythmic structures. Preceding Glasz, Artefax released the Windox Rush EP, a similarly woozy, albeit less fully formed extended player released through Cong Burn Waves. For one reason or another, Windox Rush is no longer available online, making Glasz the Glaswegian’s functional debut, a fitting circumstance for a release that truly sounds like nothing else released in 2016 (or before it for that matter.)
In interviews, MacRae points to monumental IDM figures like Autechre, The Black Dog and Mike Paradinas as all having had an influence on his sound, a path through recent history and sound that seems to point more towards their approach to structure and experimentation than it does to exact sonics. In charts and other interviews, MacRae points to the expansive musique concréte of Valerio Tricoli, SKY H1’s “bleak but really lovely” sounds and UIQ label head Lee Gamble, all artists in the PAN universe, as contemporary reference points, a map of artists utilizing drastically different toolsets to approach what might be called with avant-garde music with heart. Which is exactly where Lanark Artefax and Glasz sit, a fundamentally left field leaning project that nonetheless functions on a corporal and emotional level rarely found in experimental musics. His Astral Plane mix is a case in point, a rich collage of voice, texture and rhythm that begins with work from Emra Grid, Broshuda and D/P/I and climaxes in efforts from Félicia Atkinson & Jeffre Cantu-Ledesma and Renick Bell. Of course, Mazzy Star’s “Into Mist” ends the mix, a romantic gesture that is hardly out of place in the context of MacRae’s music. Get Glasz here and catch us eagerly looking out for whatever is next for Artefax and UIQ.
With our Dummy Presents: The Astral Plane night coming up this Friday, our own Astral Plane DJ Team have contributed a mix to Dummy Mag’s inimitable series, chopping up label material from SHALT, Nunu, LOFT, Chants and more with a host of exclusives by Eaves, Imaabs, Jikuroux and more. The mix starts out with a stab at a Rian Treanor x 21 Savage blend and only gets more deranged from there, smashing in industrial dubstep with Lil Uzi Vert and PnB Rock. The following quote accompanied the mix:
Made up of tracks tested out in our living room and at nights in LA over the past few weeks, this recording touches on a lot of the more industrial-influenced music we’ve released without delving into full blown hysteric dystopia. It’s important to always leave room for light and whether that comes from sneaky ghost melodies in a SHALT tune or a moment affirming Lil Uzi Vert chorus we’ve tried to include plenty in our Dummy mix.
Violence, Maieli, Bianca Oblivion, The Dance Pit, Nargiz and the Astral Plane DJ Team are playing Dummy Presents: The Astral Plane which goes down Friday night from 9 PM to 2 AM at the Ace Hotel Rooftop in Downtown LA. RSVP here.
On Monday night, we took to the airwaves for our monthly slot on Radar Radio (fourth Monday of every month) and brought along a guest mix from Resla, one of our favorite new producers who has gotten a lot of play in previous Radar sessions and featured in our monthly column for FACT Magazine. The Chilean producer’s guest session plays out in the second hour and features almost 50 songs including new material from Astral Plane faves mobilegirl, Soda Plains, Spaceseeds, Santa Muerte and Dinamarca. It’s sent us scrambling since he first sent it over and if you can follow the rapid switch ups you might just get an early taste of a heap of forthcoming material. The Astral Plane DJ Team handles the first hour, which features some unreleased label material, forthcoming tracks from Imaabs, Kid Antoine & CYPHR and Letta, plus a quick run through of our favorite non-dance tracks of late. Hit the jump for a track list and enjoy. We’ll be back on September 26.
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.
Started in 2013, Nargiz’s every-once-in-a-while Heat Ritual parties have boasted some of the city’s most on-the-cusp lineups in recent years, drawing together artists from the NAAFI, Fade 2 Mind, KUNQ and Mixpak universes since well before media outlets like Resident Advisor and Mixmag codified them in any sort of “scene”. Previous to Heat Ritual, Nargiz was a resident at Tokyo’s Laguna Bass nights cutting her teeth in a city with a dearth of options for left field club fans. Having spent time in a number of cities including New York, Philadelphia and Tokyo, Nargiz is something of a club music nomad and her music is no less complex than her geography.
Originally from Azerbaijan, Nargiz was introduced to many via “O’youn Oyun”, a highlight from Tobago Tracks’ 8ULENTINA-curated DISMISS U compilation that was released in April and features likeminded artists like DJ Haram and foozool. “O’youn Oyun” features a drum loop from the meyxanas performance genre, a blend of repetitive drum loops and freestyle rhyming and chanting. It also features a sample from Clipse’s “Grindin” and like much of the material on DISMISS U the two elements neither clash nor mesh, instead providing an in-your-face sonic dialogue between Western pop signifiers and Azeri rhythms and vocals.
Inspired by “spending too much time in random cars on Periscope driving around Azerbaijan,”, Nargiz’s Astral Plane mix is short journey through trans-oceanic club spaces and central Asian musics, fitting 16 songs into 18 frantic minutes. Nargiz’s own edits of Young Thug are positioned against recent work by Rizzla, Florentino and Leonce, while the instrumental to Mims’ “This Is Why I’m Hot”, also a collage of sorts, fits uneasily between two atmosphere-heavy tracks by “unknown” artists. It’s a brief, but strong introduction to an artist with only a few solo productions to their name at this point and if vision and experience are anything to go by it’s easy to see Nargiz emerging as one of the most exciting new producers of 2016.