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.

The ability to traverse multiple genres, tempos and sound palettes is becoming the norm in bleeding edge electronic communities. What likely started as a rejection of staid DJ practices has expanded into artist’s production approach and it’s hardly uncommon to find 3-4 different tenuously conjoined sounds on someone’s Soundcloud feed these days. The principles behind this approach are an unassailable desire to move forward at all costs, as well as more cynical strategies to attain bookings and recognition, but it leads to homogeny nearly as often as it does innovation. The truth is that few artists have the talent and/or put the time into cultivating not just one, but an entire range of aesthetics. This (often faux) polymath approach has delivered some of the most dynamic club and experimental music to come out in recent years and Cairo-born, Berlin-based producer and visual artist Kareem Lotfy is a prime example, working from minimalist ambient on one end of the spectrum to buoyant, full frontal bubbling on the other.

Many fans of Lotfy’s work will have likely come around to it via PAN’s Mono No Aware compilation, a release focusing on divergent strains of ambient that was led off by Lotfy’s “Fr3sh”. The track’s wistful, finite qualities have engendered it to fans across the electronic music spectrum, becoming a staple for ambient fans and even drawing praise from the legendary Ryuichi Sakamoto. Further efforts have arrived via his own Soundcloud page and a side project, the latter home to his most time stretched, blissful efforts. “Power Bass Bubbling”, since removed from Soundcloud but available in various mixes and blends, was our introduction to Lotfy and hits a far different note than his ambient excursions. Embracing the Dutch bubbling sound, “Power Bass Bubbling” gets straight to the point, all high key energy, rhythmic thrust and deft sample looping. It’s an efficient track and like Lotfy’s abstracted beats it utilizes a relatively small amount of sonic elements to great effect.

Lotfy’s Astral Plane mix falls firmly in the general ambient sphere, eschewing his more rhythmic impulses for spaced out synths, vocal murmurings and pleasant drones. Gorgeous efforts by legendary Egyptian American composer Halim El-Dabh highlight the mix which also incorporates spacious tracks from Yves Tumor, Monolake and Takahiro Kido. Bits of harp can be found around 2/3 of the way through and Lotfy fins time for tracks that scrape and bump along as much as they glide. It’s an engrossing 30 minutes that highlights the breadth of his approach without tail spinning into genre mish mash. Download the mix here and check out a track list after the jump.

Read More

Last Friday, the Astral Plane DJ Team hopped on NTS for a two hour solo show before running over to the Los Angeles Contemporary Archive to play a pre-recorded piece called ‘Canopy’. We also intended to play the piece in the last bit of this session, but forgot to load it up on the USB. Instead we ran through a load of new LOFT dubs + forthcoming E.M.M.A. (very soon), Chants (very soon) and SHALT (soon). Hit the jump for a full track list and download the show here.

Read More

2015’s Empty Airport LP, Christina Nemec’s second album under the Chra moniker, arrived like an anvil upon release, a dense slab of intricate individual motions and slithering organic and digital noise. A longtime participant and devotee to the European avant-garde, Nemec has participated in punk, industrial and experimental music scenes for over two decades, having run the Comfortzone label and participated in groups as divergent as Bray, Shampoo Boy and Pasajera Oscura. Progressing through grizzly ambient noise, pulsating kicks and field recordings, many recorded at an abandoned house in the Carinthian countryside, Empty Airport explores the contradictions in which we consume media and particularly the horrific violence that exists only a few hundred miles away, but that could be taking place in a completely different world than the urban artistic enclaves many of us live in. As Chra, Nemec approach is all-consuming, bringing a human edge to topics that can hardly be reckoned with. The densely layered, constantly in motion tracks on Empty Airport nail down an alienation that few artists have been able to comfortably address.

Also in 2015, Chra delivered a mix to the Secret Thirteen platform, self-described as a feminist history of avant-garde. The mix is representative of much of Nemec’s project, especially her work behind Comfortzone which has consistently pushed female and queer voices to the fore. Her Astral Plane mix, titled “New Europeans” isn’t as explicit in its direction, but takes a similar tone to the Secret Thirteen mix, drawing from her own work as well as contemporaries like Klara Lewis, Thomas Brinkmann and Yves de Mey, as well as a brief, exuberant break for Depeche Mode. Her own work with Irradiation, as Pasajera Oscura, plays a key roll in the mix’s progression with tends to gurgle along non-linearly, drawing on drone eccentricities and the sorts of interweaving textures that the best beatless music tends to imbue. Chra is an alumni of the SHAPE platform and has spent recent months touring on her own and as Pasajera Oscura. She also released a four tracker called Wounded Deer on JMSE earlier this year, a tape that hints at the increasingly oblique direction her work might take in coming years. Hit the jump for a full track list and download Chra’s Astral Plane mix here.

 

Read More

There are many entry points to the multidisciplinary practice of British-born, Berlin-based artist Steven Warwick. Dance music fans will have surely come about Warwick’s work through the Heatsick moniker, home to the majority of Warwick’s solo recordings and easily his most functional and dancefloor-focused project to date. Birds of Delay, a collaborative project with Luke Younger aka Helm, explored the outer ranges of noise and other harsh electronics, pushing texturally dense, alienating experiments on a series of releases for labels like Alcoholic Narcolepsy, American Tapes and Tronics. Fomented in 2012, a partnership with Bill Kouligas’ PAN label has seen the release of several Heatsick releases, and most recently, Warwick’s most personal work to date and the first under his own name. Xeroxed art books, a Snapchat-recalling video shot in a mall and a book, written with Nora Khan, utilizing the X-Files as a prime source for examining the rise of fear during the 1990s and subsequent right wing conspiracy theory movements.

Nadir, described as a mixtape by both label and artist, arrived at the tail end of 2016 and couldn’t have been timed better. Eschewing the hardware specific formation and coyly gleeful sonics of the Heatsick moniker, Warwick is at his most open on Nadir, utilizing oblique electronics and his own voice to weave depressive poetics over creeping, disjointed rhythms. The album is a dense, often difficult listen, but its core themes are readily accessible throughout and Warwick not only offers observations on life under late capitalism,  but a clear eyed vision of emotional disaffection and degradation that follows the pressures of wage labor, an inescapably fearful media climate, millennial placelessness and urban isolation. As mentioned before, these themes can be found in all of Warwick’s various projects previous to Nadir, but there’s a particular clarity to the grimness evoked throughout the mixtape that has had us returning over and over again in moments of acute dislocation.

Warwick’s Astral Plane mix is a curious affair, a series of live recordings that lead into club-friendly selections that range from Geko’s buzzy, Summer-ready “Right Here” to classic Steve Gurley and Tommy Genesis’ sad girl anthem “Empty”. The original works range from heavy, piston-like techno to soporific arrangements that recall Heatsick at its most muted. The composition is distinctly club-focused, but comes from a left field perspective that combines the jittery disposition and spoken bits from Nadir with crunchy, all out drum machine rhythms and a decisive forward momentum. Eclectic contemporary selections like Cruel Boyz, Celestial Trax, Orlando Volcano and Niagara also show off a willingness to mine the frontier of experimental club forms, particularly ones outside the worlds of house and techno. Unlike Nadir, exultant moments abound in the mix, but a sense of unease, found across Warwick’s various projects, exists at a constant simmer just below the surface making it a fitting progression for an artist who has managed to mirror the dysphoria of life in 2017 across so many mediums. Catch Warwick at the following dates and hit the jump for a full track list…

 8th June – CTFO, Monarch Berlin ( DJ set )
10th June – Berlin Torstrassenfest
16th June – Antwerp TRAP w/ DJ Burrnesha
23rd June – Bristol Fiddlers w/ DJ Burrnesha
24th June – London Cafe Oto w/ DJ Burrnesha
29th June – Edinburgh Paradise Palms w/ DJ Burrnesha
1st July – Glasgow Art School

Read More

This Friday (5/19), the Astral Plane DJ Team is heading to Milwaukee to play Precognition, thrown by our good friends Close Up of the Serene. We’ve been looking to collaborate with Close Up on something concrete for a good while now and the opportunity to head out to their Midwest home base was too good of an opportunity to pass up. Thoom and Itsï, out of Chicago, round out the lineup and we’re beyond excited to hear what kind of demonic frequencies they have planned for Friday night. Check out their collaborative track “Abyzou” and Thoom’s recent “Asthmatic”, which was featured in our latest For Club Use Only feature in FACT. In anticipation of Friday, we grabbed a guest mix from Thoom for our NTS show, which went down at the usual Highland Park last Friday. The Astral Plane DJ Team’s section also includes brand new Chants, E.M.M.A., Acre and SHALT, all forthcoming on Astral Plane Recordings. Download the full session here and catch a full track list after the jump.

Read More

Due to some scheduling peculiarities, we’re in a slight lull in the Astral Plane Recordings release schedule, which makes our monthly NTS show the best outlet to hear new music from the label and label-related artists. We hopped on NTS on Good Friday (April 13) with a collection of devotional music (Alkaline, v1984, Arca, MC Pikachu, etc.), as well as a wonky, pitch/reality bending guest mix from Los Angeles’ AMAZONDOTCOM and Mexicali’s Siete Catorce. Also look out for a new LOFT edit, a Chants x Ophex collaboration, some unreleased SHALT and the usual assortment of barely together edits, bootlegs and blends. We also played a favorite from Mika Vainio. I only delved into Vainio/Pan Sonic later in the Finnish artist’s career, but have come to appreciate his work as one of the fundamental building blocks of what we do as a label and how I’d live to envision experimental music as an individual. Paul Smith and Andrew Ryce both wrote wonderful pieces in the aftermath of his passing and I highly recommend newer listeners to stop what they’re doing and to spend the day with Vainio’s myriad projects. He will be missed.

Read More

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.

Read More

E.M.M.A.’s Astral Plane Recordings debut is out now. Get it here.

London’s E.M.M.A. is one of the most celebrated producers to rise out of the British capitol in recent years, conjuring vibrant sonic landscapes and breathtaking dancefloor-driven formations in equal measure. Glacé marks her arrival to Astral Plane Recordings, offering a glimpse into a wealth of new material recorded in recent years. Never one to accept the status quo of her surroundings, E.M.M.A. has also delved full on into radio and hosting production workshops for young women as co-host of the Angel Food show on NTS and founder of the Producer Girls workshops respectively. It’s a cliche, but half a decade after emerging from the London underground, E.M.M.A. has turned her focus to the community around her as she continues to push bleeding edge sounds on her own terms.

Glacé came about in the midst of those efforts, born out of the on-the-ground energy of both projects and informed by a desire to make something one step removed from daily routine and reality. Richly layered synths are the name of the game on “Glacé”, a colorful melange of percolating highs and mids that pulse and quiver as the track progresses. The percussion is influenced by classic new wave sounds, providing a flexible structure for the dense textures to unravel around and for the listener to grab onto. A beatless version and a spacious, tactile remix from Gobstopper artist Iglew round out the package, which is out in full now.

E.M.M.A. – Glacé
APR109 | Out Now
Apple Music
Bandcamp
Bleep
Juno
iTunes
Spotify

x-o-daisy

Vancouver, B.C. isn’t exactly known as a powerhouse for cutting edge electronic music, but in recent years it has become exactly that; home to a small, but fertile scene of artists pushing a deviant take on ambient, industrial and pop forms. City, Sentinel, Baby Blue and x/o are all based in Vancouver and despite not sharing a set of readily definable characteristics there is a certain kinship built out of personal relationships, shared mix track list placements and a general spirit of experimentation. Odd beat trials, bedroom pop narratives, angelic ambient bits and tensile, algorithmic tracks all find a home in this loose consortium’s output, which has found its place on labels like Halcyon Veil, Quantum Natives and Apothecary Composition. x/o has particularly drawn us in, cultivating a sound that combines sonorous, disembodied vocals, insectile, creeping sound design and an uncanny, almost classical, sense of drama.

2015’s startling Angel In Ruins introduced us to x/o and in the year and a half since, she has turned in standout mixes for SISTER and Bala Club, as well as contributing one of our favorite tracks of 2016 to Quantum Natives’ The Danelaw compilation. Most recently, x/o featured on the remix package for Eaves’ Verloren, turning in a gilded choral take that absolutely commands attention. To date, the B.C.-based artist doesn’t have a lot of music out, but if you pay attention to mixes from like-minded artists you’ll likely begin to hear her unreleased tracks, equally likely to be fitted in between tracks by Toxe and Eaves as they are Aaliyah and Moby. Her Astral Plane mix should enlighten listeners further,  a metamorphic affair that begins with Kingdom Hearts and ends with one of the strangest FDM edits we’ve ever heard. Unreleased Toxe, Oli XL, Baby Blue, Balasa and Mobilegirl can be found across the mix’s 40 minute run, blurring the lines between club functionality and epic poem in almost reckless fashion. x/o’s own tracks in the mix exemplify the whole composition’s brilliance, achieving a duality of fragile sheen and commanding presence. New York fans will get a taste of the x/o experience on April 14 at a secret PTP show, of which more details should follow. Hit the jump or a guide/track list to the mix and download here.

Read More