jasmine-infiniti

Photo by Black Plastica

Oakland has always been a hotbed of radical musics and movements and the city’s changing landscape has only made its current set of artists, producers and performers all the more vital. 8ULENTINA and FOOZOOL’s Club Chai is the entry point for many into Oakland’s varied scenes and 2017’s Club Chai Vol. 1 compilation offers an expansive roadmap to what the East Bay has to offer. Jasmine Infiniti contributed the powerful “Hapocalypse” to that compilation and has stood out from the jump, approaching both real and digital spaces with a frantic, often unmatched, energy.

After years spent in the Bay Area, the self-dubbed Queen of Hell now lives in New York (she grew up in the Bronx) and has been turning out original music and mixes at a remarkable rate. September saw the release of the sound defining SiS EP on Club Chai and Infiniti’s Soundcloud offers a deep dive into her works in progress, home recorded mixes and insanely creative edit work. Infiniti also puts a ton of effort into reposting inspiring work from other artists, an often misused tool, but a valuable one in the right hands. Beyond her original work, Infiniti is a also a member of the New World Dysorder collective and House of Infiniti, playing an important role in Oakland’s trans community and the ballroom community at large.

Infiniti’s sound is exploratory and often hard to define, but the six tracks on SiS are a good place to start. Elementally concise, the EP has a spiritual air to it with sparse drum arrangements accompanied by expansive, dissociative sound design. It’s at times forceful, but more often the mood is meditative, distinct without proffering easily graspable melodic or emotional motifs. If you followed Infiniti closely in the months before its release, you’ll have heard different versions of tracks like “Inside Me”, giving off the impression that, although SiS is an incredibly thorough, final body of work, future mutations are potentially in the works.

For many, Infiniti is a DJ first and foremost and official mixes for the likes of Boiler Room, Discwoman and FADER have put her on the map as an incisive, boundary pushing mixer. Once again though, it’s Infiniti’s Soundcloud where some of her most exciting material finds its home. Live recordings of sets from across the U.S. and beyond are a constant in the feed while mixes like “Stream of Consciousness” (a personal favorite), “Industrial Cunt” and “Voltage Drop” show a passion for the form and some of the slickest mixing around. We were lucky to grab Infiniti for a 30 minute session and the result doesn’t disappoint. Situating her own tunes in a collage of cavernous techno, cerebral house and bubbly club tracks, the mix is both extension of the SiS EP and a fitting example of Infiniti’s prowess behind the decks. It’s only one part of a larger map of material in that sense, but those new to Infiniti are in for a treat and longtime followers certainly already know what’s up. Grab a download of Astral Plane Mix 173 here and get SiS straight from Club Chai here.

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The American underground is full of DJs, producers and promoters (often the same person) pushing distinct regional styles outside of the spotlight of the dance music media. These artists are often located outside of Chicago, Los Angeles and New York, situating them even further from the ever-churning hype cycle, although it’s not outlandish to say that America’s regional scenes are the driving force behind dance music’s upsurge in this country. Savannah, Georgia’s Chris Powers aka C Powers has existed on both sides of the conversation, a seasoned practitioner of kinetic American rave sounds who has also spent time in London as No Pain In Pop‘s in-house DJ, contributed to the Houndstooth-signed 18+ project and thrown parties with a range of international talent. Powers’ personal output is as American as it gets though, melding boogie, breaks, electro and house into a singular, timeless medley.

That output has come across a series of EPs for labels like CGI Records, Niche-N-Bump and Proper Trax and are all firmly aimed at the danceloor. Powers’ sound is at times track-y, but never lacking in funk, always pulling at several thematic elements without losing sight of the core groove. It’s timeless music that takes on a particular brightness in Powers’ own mixes, lanky, freeform affairs that contextualize his influences with the flair of a natural. It’s clear that he takes the art of DJing seriously and that project has extended to Mom Radio, the label and mix series he co-runs with CH-Rom. Entries from the likes of Bearcat, Fit of Body and Space Jam litter the Mom archives, as does a standout selection from C Powers himself.

Powers’ latest release, the Love Austerity EP, comes via New York’s Sweat Equity, a logical fit for both artist and label and one that follows a standout effort from Drumloop, as well as a split DJ Delish/Macy Rodman single. Across five tracks, Powers induces propulsion and euphoria in equal measures, relying on a number of break manipulation techniques and brilliantly funky basslines to keep the party going. The arrangements are sparse, but always feel full bodied, full of disarming vocals and pleasing pads. It’s aimed squarely at the utopian dancefloor without ever giving up concerns of the body. It’s also a sound continued in his Astral Plane Mix, which lays bare the C Powers sound over an hour and eleven minutes of frenetic, joyous mixing. Periods of nuts-and-bolts trax interface with hands-in-the-air moments of rave exuberance as several decades of American dance music are collapsed into one, continuous thread. Be sure to check out Love Austerity, Mom Radio and to grab a download of C Powers’ Astral Plane Mix.

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Photo Credit: Daniel Sannwald

The past few years have been filled with musical projects attempting to bridge, evade or make irrelevant the digital/physical divide. No project has been more successful in that than Sinjin Hawke and Zora Jones’ Fractal Fantasy, a platform that has grown to encompass exclusive digital zones, interactive art installations and a genuinely immersive live act that has been on the road for several years now. Considering the complexity (in sound design as much as the scope of the project) and specificity of their work, it’s difficult to imagine another artist fitting seamlessly into the FF aesthetic, but that notion was bucked with the introduction of Xzavier Stone. The Zurich-based artist was introduced in full earlier this year via the THIRST LP, a fluid, eternally bouncy collection that followed several collaborations with fellow FF members and a bootleg compilation that helped assert the musical space that Stone was drawing from.

Phrased as “a contemporary take on 2000s Rap and R&B through the lens of a European mixed race adolescent,” THIRST‘s palette will be familiar to fans of 2000s production mavens like Timbaland, Scott Storch and Swizz Beatz, a sound that both ushered in the contemporary rap and R&B production mode and was more linked to the traditional musicality of past major label studio music. And whereas Hawke and Jones often dive into the magnificent excesses of contemporary club music with reckless abandon, Stone is often more reserved, finding space for something akin to pop songwriting on tracks like “CCW” and “XLYT”. The album is strewn with overt references to regional rap musics like bounce and snap as well, introduced as loving tribute before being thrown into the blender and later manifesting in an entirely new context.

Stone’s Astral Plane Mix offers further context, drawing lines between contemporaries outside of the FF universe (Lunice, Sega Bodega, SOPHIE) and originals from Lil Uzi Vert, Mariah Carey and PNB Rock. Bits of Bangladesh production, a subdued Alkaline rendition and hyper-modern sound design interject, connecting individual nodes across time and space and drawing everyone from CYPHR and Ssaliva to Rich Boy and Trae Tha Truth into the same melange. You can download Stone’s mix here and hit the jump for a full track list.

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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 decided to put a spotlight on our favorite artists from our home city of Los Angeles this Summer. Over the coming 10 weeks, we’ll feature a cross section of what the city has to offer. Far from a selection of the biggest touring entities, we hope to shine light on the individuals who brighten the airwaves and nights out on a regular basis.

To this point, AMAZONDOTCOM has existed in the interstices of a number of seemingly divergent spaces. Those spaces are geographic, sonic and conceptual and have allowed the producer and live performer to maintain an aesthetic that is distinctly her own. Geographically speaking, AMAZONDOTCOM has largely spent time between Los Angeles and Mexico City, performing at nights like Rail Up and NTS’ residency at the Ace Hotel in the former and taking her live set to a memorable Boiler Room set up in the latter that featured a slew of off-the-wall artists riffing on footwork. Those performances are hard to pin down, but display a confident grasp of club dynamics, allowing for a start-stop approach that defies traditional genre arrangements and easy emotional outputs without losing its clear dancefloor efficacy.

Releases to date have been sparse for AMAZONDOTCOM, but the material available is definitive. A joint release with Siete Catorce, the Teardropz EP for Nostro Hood System, sees the two artists complementing each other to the fullest, resulting in some of the most disarming club music to come out this year. The release is focused and arranged around a core idea, that being constantly mutating rhythms matched with minimal, spectral sound design, but it results in a complex of brilliant moments that are bound to wow and throw off listeners and dancers alike for years. Other standout moments have come in the form of single track contributions to labels like Juárez’s LOWERS and Mexico City’s Piratón“youknowhowwedu” also appeared on our own NEW YR NEW US 2 giveaway compilation at the end of 2017, a preview of a more longform release to come on Astral Plane Recordings.

The smattering of AMAZONDOTCOM releases mentioned above paint a picture of an artist who fluidly moves between a number of sounds, touching on dembow, footwork, hip hop and a more amorphous beat aesthetic without falling into the trap of emulating calcified forms. It’s a sound that is already distinctly hers and a sonic space that will rapidly expand as more material is released. Her Astral Plane Mix is a good measure of that, comprised of over an hour of unreleased AMAZONDOTCOM material that gracefully bounds across tempo and rhythmic structure without losing an ounce of focus. Distended low end, cleverly snatched vocal samples and metallic drums have all become AMAZONDOTCOM hallmarks, but this volume also introduces sections of distorted breaks and a range of pleasing textural elements, ensuring complete immersion. No track list for this one, although you can pick out DMVU’s “Flew” towards the beginning of the mix. The rest is all AMAZONDOTCOM. Download here and be on the look out for more in the near future.

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Photo: Taylor Rainbolt / NTS Radio

We decided to put a spotlight on our favorite artists from our home city of Los Angeles this Summer. Over the coming 10 weeks, we’ll feature a cross section of what the city has to offer. Far from a selection of the biggest touring entities, we hope to shine light on the individuals who brighten the airwaves and nights out on a regular basis.

NTS Radio‘s programming is littered with huge names, but it’s the station’s odd ball thematic shows that make it such a joy to listen to on a day-to-day basis. When NTS opened up their Los Angeles station, they were especially astute in bringing on Sasha Ali’s Miss Modular Radio for a monthly show. Formerly airing on Boyle Heights’ Radio Sombra, an operation housed in Espacio 1839 that is currently in a transition into a “more concrete and revolutionary media entity,” Ali’s show is focused on “womxn-powered musical selections” and has been a staple since we first came across it sometime in 2016.

The format ranges from show to show, but each hour is generally composed of interviews, loose selections from the hip hop, experimental and electronic music worlds, as well as blistering guest sessions from a range of talented club DJs. Sessions are often freeform in terms of style, genre and composition, but womxn are always centered and the resulting milieu is vibrant and varied, linked more by an earnest affect and desire to push forward than any particular aesthetic.

Contemporary DJs like Bearcat, Erika Kayne and Helikonia have all  been featured on the show, but Ali has also found space for a wider purview, inviting accomplished solo artists like Low Leaf and Kilo Kish on, as well as archivist and punk provocateur Alice Bag. Ali’s own selection are similarly varied and polychromatic, running from blissfully emancipatory jazz and soul on to the best hip hop that LA has to offer and on to a range of Latin American club musics, both classic and contemporary.

Her Astral Plane Mix takes a similarly heterogeneous approach, drawing on experimental music from womxn of SWANA (Southwest Asian and North African) heritage. The selection was born out of an opening set Ali delivered for a show called “A Night of Arabic Hip-Hop and Poetry” at the Ford Amphitheater in Los Angeles. 8ULENTINA, Deena Abdelwahed, DJ Haram, Fatima Al Qadiri, Ikonika and Thoom all contribute key passages to Ali’s mix, as do multi-talented Egyptian vocalist Nadah El Shazly and French-Algerian R&B impresario Ta-Ra. True to its original intention, the mix has a distinctly live feel, frantically leaping along an electrical wire with a core energy that supersedes groove.  Dive into Miss Modular’s essential archive here, hit the jump for a track list, and download the mix 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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We decided to put a spotlight on our favorite artists from our home city of Los Angeles this Summer. Over the coming 10 weeks, we’ll feature a cross section of what the city has to offer. Far from a selection of the biggest touring entities, we hope to shine light on the individuals who brighten the airwaves and nights out on a regular basis.

Pete Swanson‘s Discogs page is a treasure trove for the uninitiated. Project and project unveils itself, providing a glimpse into the Oregon native’s work at any particular time. We first came across Swanson via his seminal Man With Potential LP in 2011, likely the entry point for many who were either too young or missed his dramatic, brilliantly textured early work in the duo Yellow Swans. The half dozen or so other projects that litter Swanson’s discography paint a picture of a restless artist with a indefatigable pursuit of musical knowledge. Like us, many will work their way through that discography in a non-linear fashion, taking in his early, surprisingly serene, improvisational work as Sarin Smoke (with Tom Carter), more recent soaring black metal/noise hybrids as Violent Magic Orchestra, and the multitude of releases under his own name including personal favorite I Don’t Rock At All, three insular, blistered guitar landscapes recorded in an Oregon cabin at the end of 2010.

It’s a joy to piece through Swanson’s extended work, but more recently, the Los Angeles-based artist has turned his attention and talents more towards shining light on other people’s work. Freedom to Spend is the re-issue label Swanson co-runs with Little Axe Records’ Jed Bindeman and RVNG Intl.’s Matt Werth, hosting essential ephemera and lost gems from the likes of Richard Horowitz, Ursula K. Le Guin & Todd Burns, and Rimarimba. The label is a peak into Swanson’s curatorial prowess and the depth of his record collection, the latter of which was unveiled in a brilliant Playing Favorites feature in Resident Advisor last year. For a glimpse into where Swanson’s focus in the moment is though, the best route is to listen to Pete Goes To Town, his monthly show on NTS Los Angeles. The hour long show shows only a glimpse of Swanson’s massive collection, but that glimpse is always a pleasure, sure to defy even the most jaded listener’s expectation. Truly experimental radio hours can often come off as self-indulgent, but Pete Goes To Town is as fun as it is deep, recently mining bizarro, ASRM-y vocal tracks, dub-y club music and biotic synth experiments.

It was after religiously listening in to Pete Goes To Town month after month that we asked Swanson to contribute to our Los Angeles-focused mix series. The result is a death defying combination of hardcore punk and hardcore rave with fits of organic synthesis and Jlin’s brilliant “Kyanite” slotted into the mix. Neither Swanson’s approach nor collection can be synthesized into an hour of music, but like Pete Goes To Town, his Astral Plane Mix plays the role of prism into the many dimensions that his approach offers. No track list available for this, but download your copy of the mix here.

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Oakland’s DÆMON was kind enough to join us on our latest NTS show, turning in a blistering 30 minute guest mix. Building on the raw energy of their own club/vocal experiments, the mix runs through contemporary artists (DJ NJ Drone, N1L, False Witness), as well as some of the most distinct voices in dancefloor-minding rap (Rico Nasty, Thast, Lil Reek). The first hour and a half is handled by the AP DJ Team and includes new tracks from SHALT’s forthcoming Seraphim LP, a secret for now Chants number and special new ones from Sharp Veins, Cremation Lily, Hitmakerchinx, Calvo, Rizzla and more. Hit the jump for a full track list and download here.

Astral Plane DJ Team
SHALT – Conceived on Ash
Sharp Veins – forever night rip
R. Girardin – Splashed On
Why Be x oldest unknown – HURRIAN HA (Yantan Ministry Edit)
SHALT – Seraph
Cremation Lily – In England Now, Underwater
Yves De Mey – 17 Graves
M.D. James – ???
Muqata’a – Haswet Phalasipha حصوة الفلاسفة
Eartheater – MTTM (ft. Odwalla1221)
M.D. James – ???
Bliss Signal – Bliss Signal
Lilly Kane – Administer Truth
Aisha Devi – Intentional Dreams
SHALT – Preserved in Amber
Hitmakerchinx – Arabian King
Primitive Art – Security (M.E.S.H. Remix)
Sim Hutchins – Bath Salts In The Saccharin (LOFT’s Artifically Sweetened Luv Mix)
Chants – ???
Sharp Veins – return 2 tha club [demo]
dj lostboi – D MAJOR XO LIFE (blastah Edit)
Rizzla – Inquisition
Jonathan da Nova x Ansome – Nova Geração Hitch (Clemency Blend)
HahaDavis & CalvoMuxic – Blow Up Doll
DJ Flex & BillzTaDon – Bad Ting
Lechuga Zafiro – Ita
Nunu x Kyrstyn Pyxton – NEVER ALONE (Yantan Ministry Edit)
Djurum – Waters Rising
Sim Hutchins- Dumped by Pirate Radio (Object Blue Remix)
DJ Plead – DVE (DJ Dylan Edit)

DÆMON Guest Mix
H-Ricky – endlessHail
DJ NJ Drone – Go Flame
MindPersuasion – Accelerated Thinker
N1L – Crawlspaces
Presta – Perro Sucio
Crimson – Daemon
Rizoma – ≠
False Witness – In the Dark
Thast – Play My Shit
King DouDou – Espiritos
Rico Nasty – Countin Up
Dj Darshkeeper – Patient Returning (PIN# Edit)
Rizoma – Tool
XD – Sirenxe
El PlayBoy – Ritual
Lil Reek – Rock Out
Pineal Sounds – Curtain Call