Chants – Seven Spheres
Maral – Mahur Club
Alis – Papercuts
CÉCI – Vortex
With a background in dance and sound design, CÉCI approaches songwriting from a position that allows for both formal excellence and derivation from normative structures. Born in Denmark, but based in London, her work is deeply intimate: grounded in experimentation, but focused on exploring the human form in fine detail. Set for release on February 15 via Astral Plane Recordings, the Vortex EP is CÉCI’s most expansive work to date, a follow-up to a visual EP released in early 2018, and a body of work that has been refined via live performances in Copenhagen, London and New York.
An angular production aesthetic brackets CÉCI’s broad vocal approach, utilizing a minimalist ethos and motifs from a range of contemporary club forms to flesh out her world. Equal parts harrowing and seductive, “Force” opens the release with a bed of anticipatory sub bass and a refrain of “would you love me”, establishing an emotional grip that doesn’t let go until the closing bars of “Heartbeat”.
Accompanied by video work from Emilie Alstrup and Javier Gallego, Vortex also sees a furthering of CÉCI’s visual universe, concerned with both the finite corporeal form and hyperreal movement. With a slate of dates in Japan this December and a planned return to New York in the Spring, CÉCI’s material universe is also expanding and Vortex is the first taste of what’s to come.
Nunu – SCUM
Even though it has been over two years since the release of Nunu’s Mind Body Dialogue, the Strasbourg-based artist’s influence has been a constant. Bootlegged endlessly, you’ve almost certainly heard his piston drums and insectile sound design pop in countless edits and DJ sets, not to mention his own hyper-specific mix work. SCUM marks the return of Nunu, an EP comprised of four, condensed efforts shorn from a much larger collection of work. With a limited runtime of just over 14 minutes, Nunu explores brutality and emancipation in microscopic detail, suturing organic and electronic material together in an uneasy marriage.
This time, London’s Organ Tapes and Cologne’s DJH are introduced to the fold with the former emerging like a phoenix on opener “SCUM 2” and the latter channeling Chopin on “SCUM 6”. Both artists slide comfortably into Nunu’s angular, often unforgiving aesthetic, exploiting both its insularity and cacophony with stunning results. “SCUM 4” and “SCUM 9” round out the release, the former a natural extension of Mind Body Dialogue’s “Hateful” and the latter a fitting follow-up to Nunu’s ecstatic remix of SHALT’s “Nid De Guêpes”. Nunu sees the SCUM body of work as a personal purge and its hard not to see its exorcistic potential. SCUM is out on November 16 on cassette (art by Isaac Chabon, design by Caleb Ali Miller) and digital.
M.D. James – 5 Year Lapse
M.D. James has been a fervent supporter and participant in Los Angeles’ DIY culture for years, organizing the CAMEO nights, displaying a talent for destructive DJ sets, and, most recently, unleashing an incredibly cutting, emotionally honest live set. It was the latter that led us to ask him to put together an Astral Plane release and 5 Year Lapse, a self-styled mixtape/EP, is the undeniable result.
Recorded between Los Angeles and Maryland, 5 Year Lapse is a document encompassing the unexpected paradoxes that arise during times of self-care and healing. Comprised of both sampled and original work, it is thematically situated within a liminal personal psyche, outlining a path towards health and power that requires the invocation of trauma and perceived self-harm.
M.D. James appears throughout as instrumentalist, voice and composer, imbuing the proceedings with an intimacy and narrative grace. Sonically, 5 Year Lapse matches a disposition towards chaos with deeply musical interjections, allying itself with humanity while retaining a deep sense of suspicion. Broken up into six passages, 5 Year Lapse is intended as a single composition, but will also be released in individual components. It will be available digitally and on limited run cassette.
SHALT – Seraphim
With five 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.
SHALT – ʃælt ii
We inaugurated SHALT’s sound mechanics and loop-focused ʃælt series in September 2017 and on August 3, we’ve lined up the London-based producer’s second entry for release. ʃælt ii is comprised of two sweltering SHALT efforts and a clattering Nunu remix, building on the destructive energy the two artists shared at a late night b2b in Copenhagen a few months back. Again, lower tempos are at work, this time matched with a mass of granular sound design on “Liquesce” the and hopeful inflections and rupturing percussion of “Nid De Guêpes”. Nunu’s version of the latter adds space and an insatiable roll, offering a preview of the Strasbourg-based artist’s forthcoming work.
Chants – Carious Motion
Since turning in an Astral Plane Mix in early 2014, Chants has been a staple in our orbit, contributing a bonus track to our first compilation and going on to feature as our second signing ever. Carious Motion is the Madison resident’s third EP for the label, comprised of four tracks that draw on clashing themes of decay and movement. 2016’s The Zookeeper and 2017’s Amethyst Dust set a template for in-your-face, percussion-focused club formations, but Carious Motion exceeds both in its intricacies, finely attuned samples and self-recorded drum loops that form a superstructure around each track’s core ideas. Ballroom god tier MC BE3K features on opener “RED (Off My Chest)” while Crazylegs’ Gage provides a remix of the same track. Carious Motion is out digitally now.
LOFT – Turn My Built Dances
Featuring the A and B sides from LOFT’s Heffalump b/w I Am Bouyant 12″, the first vinyl release on Astral Plane Recordings, Turn My Built Dances (an anagram of Turbulent Dynamics) arrives on November 17 and comes accompanied by remixes APR family Alis and Chants, as well as Manchester mainstays Acre and Szare.
SHALT – ʃælt
Coming at the end of an almost year long hiatus, SHALT returns to the fold with ʃælt, the first in a series of singles focused on sound mechanics and loop-based dance forms. A sonic extension of the sheer physicality and cataclysmic sound design introduced on his two previous Astral Plane Recordings releases (Acheron and Inertia), ʃælt sees the recent London transplant exhume those forms from the narrative realm in order to experiment with functionality, crafting a series of absolutely cracking club tracks in the process.
BPMs are kept low across ʃælt’s three tracks and fans of SHALT’s mix work, for the likes of Solid Steel and Truants, will recognize the microwave warm lilt of “Warm Chaos” and the crunching dramatic sway of “First Pulse”. Like all of SHALT releases, rhythms tend to emerge from a dense field of electricity, but the drums are more immediately accessible on ʃælt, lending a sense of distinct movement to the corporeal intensity his previous work has introduced. The “outsider” label is rather contrived at this point, but if this isn’t an outsider record for peak time then we don’t know what is.
LOFT – Heffalump b/w I Am Bouyant
200 run of white label 12″ featuring “Heffalump” from 2016’s ‘Turbulent Dynamics’ and the brand new, hotly tipped “I Am Bouyant”.
E.M.M.A. – LA Mermaid
LA Mermaid is E.M.M.A.’s second official release for Astral Plane Recordings and arrives on July 14. Comprised of five drama-filled, hallucinatory compositions, LA Mermaid is a microcosm of the glistening, magical aesthetic Emma has worked tirelessly to fine tune. The result is music that is larger-than-life, while simultaneously insular and immediately graspable. E.M.M.A.’s music has always existed in these brilliant margins between, and LA Mermaid is a definitive statement of ownership over that space.
Coming on the heels of March’s Glacé single, also released through APR, LA Mermaid is a triumphant statement of intent for E.M.M.A., a release that draws threads from 2013’s Blue Gardens LP and pitches them into ever more vivid shapes. Jump started by the dramatically arranged, long-awaited “Magna Kanye”, LA Mermaid’s bombast is tempered by sequences of quiet brilliance, juxtapositions that are tied together by E.M.M.A.’s signature arpeggiated synths.
“This EP covers a lot of different moods and atmospheres. Themes which have inspired me are dreamy things I can’t quite grasp like the allure of Hollywood, mermaids, the illuminati, the open sea, the composition of the earth, and diamonds” said E.M.M.A.
“Magna Kanye was made after I saw some inspirational footage of Kanye in the studio, like it was a life or death situation, which is how I want to be when I’m in the studio” she added.
With the continued excellence of her Angel Food show on NTS and the huge industry support for her Producer Girls workshops, Astral Plane is delighted to shed some light on the cosmic creations of an artist who has made a conscious decision to not to be prolific in the face of disposable internet culture. As well as previously unheard material, some of these tracks have been eagerly anticipated for some time. The body of work should remind many why this London dweller has long been lauded as one of the era’s most unique talents.
E.M.M.A. – Glacé
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 digitally now.
Chants – Amethyst Dust
April 2016 saw the release of Chants’ The Zookeeper, the Wisconsin-based artist’s Astral Plane Recordings debut and a record full of noisy, outsized club tracks and emotive piano experiments. March 3 marks the return of Chants to the APR fold and Amethyst Dust is everything you would expect from 9 months of hard spent studio time and a series of self-imposed limitations that bore intense and awesome results.
With the four track club record format at its core, Chants’ work is dramatic and tough on Amethyst Dust, beginning with the distorted horns and lights out kicks of “Hellions” and ending with the neck snapping machinegun fire of the title track and EP closer. Meanwhile, “Whole World Crumble” is all lilting synth work and 100 BPM stumble, a gorgeous effacement of traditional dance structures and a lesson in impact.
“Irruption” rounds out the four pack, a paranoiac fit of searing synths, slippery electro-organic noise and more percussive heft. Like most of the music released on APR to date, Amethyst Dust is a record built for club play, but its creator has come to the material from a fundamentally outsider perspective resulting in a final product that is both akin to and unrecognizable from the work of likeminded artists.
Chants – The Zookeeper: Remixed
VA – NEW YR NEW US
Bootlegs, blends, edits and originals from APR family and friends. It’s a new yr.
“NEW YR NEW US is mostly a bit of fun, as these sorts of tracks are usually thrown together for DJ sets. But for anyone with an interest in this scene, the music offers another way to hear DJ-style sonic connections outside of the club.” – Resident Advisor
SHALT – Inertia
In January, we inaugurated Astral Plane Recordings with SHALT’s Acheron, a stunning label debut for one of 2016’s breakout artists. Combining a corporeal intensity with a deft touch for ghost melodies, Acheron is a release that exists entirely on its own plane and on November 25, SHALT returns with Inertia, his second outing on APR and the final release of the year for the label.
Building on the laser-focused intensity of Acheron, Inertia is an expansion in every sense, a larger-than-life slab of harsh electronics, hook-like riffs and knife’s edge sound design. Concepts introduced on Acheron (ecological destruction, the consequences of inaction, stasis vs. velocity) are expounded on at length, embodied in the virulent noise and gut punch sub bass of tracks like “Wavering” and “Inert Indifferent”.
As a club record, Inertia has the ability to dominate space, but it instead exists on the precipice between a quantifiable dancefloor quotient and an intangible world building quality. From the machine chug of “Resistant” to the solipsistic lurch of “Ouroboric”, SHALT’s vision is born out in widescreen clarity and fine-tuned precision on Inertia and all it takes to engage is to listen loud.
LOFT – Turbulent Dynamics
LOFT is the latest artist to join the Astral Plane Recordings family and will debut on October 14 with the enigmatic Turbulent Dynamics EP. With a penchant for rhizomic drum programming, sparkling synth work and hallucinogenic sound design, Turbulent Dynamics is comprised of two totemic floor burners and three interstitial efforts, ranging from cerebral polyrhythmic techno to grotesque new age manipulations. In terms of sound alone LOFT’s entry to the APR catalogue marks something of a departure, but his unwillingness to genuflect to sonic convention means he fits right in with the ethos that SHALT, Chants and Nunu have previously set out.
SHALT – Acheron Remixed
Rising from the ashes of SHALT’s Acheron EP, the first release on Astral Plane Recordings, are four towering remixes from Argentinian NON representative Moro, PAN and Janus star M.E.S.H., Berlin up-and-comer Ziúr and Symbols headliner Kid Smpl. Building on Acheron’s themes of artificial life extension, each producer has spun out their own unique take, ranging from M.E.S.H.’s noisy abstraction to Kid Smpl’s emotive hardcore techno, all while retaining the original’s all-important physicality. To top off the package, SHALT has contributed a VIP of “Hypermalthusian” as a Bandcamp exclusive, twisting the wispy original into a twisted, outsized monstrosity. Throughout SHALT’s work, a certain tactile intensity is present and we couldn’t have found four artists more willing to work through and expand on that sensibility.
Exit Sense – Amor 107.5
Miami’s Exit Sense collides major pop moments from the past few years with a flurry of gabber kicks, broken Caribbean rhythms and recontextualized classical motifs, drawing out a disturbing brilliance from the resulting mash. It’s a space where Young Thug, Rihanna and Future are paired with sonorous violin and enough foley effects to give the full tape a twisted cinematic edge. Amor 107.5 isn’t reminiscent of any radio station you’ve ever heard, but this multitude of conflicting influences is somehow culled together in Exit Sense’s distinctive world.
Nunu – Mind Body Dialogue
Chants – The Zookeeper
SHALT – Acheron
Inspired by Kim Stanley Robsinon’s Mars trilogy, SHALT’s Acheron EP is a record that manages to exist as both brilliant concept piece and fully functional club collection, four tracks of deeply physical music that fit seamlessly in the realm between dance and noise music. Taking on the theme of artificial life extension and the issues (class, physiology, ecology, etc.) that crop up with it, the Lausanne, Switzerland-based producer utilizes blasts of raw noise, unconventional rhythms and flitting, yet beatific, bits of melody to elucidate a world we might not know as well as we’d like to think. Acheron is the first solo release on Astral Plane Recordings and is out January 29.
VA – Psychotropia
Sound as mood altering substance is a well-covered trope in the annals of dance music, but rarely do the genre’s historians look beyond ecstasy when discussing how music effects/affects the mind. Psychotropia is a look at the in-between periods that make up most nights, from the literal come up and come down to countless hours spent in bathroom queues, on public transportation and waiting to fall asleep. Like the states induced by actual psychotropic substances, these instances all seem to coagulate into a singular, semi-lived experience. This compilation, through 10 idiosyncratic takes on modern club music, seeks paint a fittingly blurry picture of this psychotropic environment.
VA – Heterotopia Remixes Vol. 2
VA – Heterotopia Remixes Vol. 1
VA – Heterotopia