It was around this time last year that we were putting into motion SHALT’s Acheron EP, the debut release on Astral Plane Recordings and a stunning record that set the tone for the rest of the year. Physical music that doesn’t fit into existing structures has become our calling card and we’re extremely proud of each of the six releases we’ve worked on this year. It’s been a pleasure to work with SHALT, Chants, Nunu, Exit Sense and LOFT and each respective project corresponds to emotions felt throughout what was an intense year for many. It’s become second nature to follow the happenings, minor and major, of the music world, but we fully understand that the process is time consuming and arcane to many so we decided to gather up details on all of our activity this year and collate them in one place.
The following mixes, videos and other audio-visual detritus from the past 12 months follows something of a linear timeline. They paint an overview of what we and our artists have been up to and it turns out we were busy for pretty much the entire year. It’s not easy to run a small, independent label, but it’s made far easier when the people around you are constantly hustling their asses off both in public and behind the scenes. Nunu has been particularly busy this year – both in an active and removed sense – with his Mind Body Dialogue twisted up by the likes of Why Be, Elysia Crampton, Kablam and more. Meanwhile, LOFT came through with a self-directed, reality-distorting for “Zissou”, a highlight from the British artist’s Turbulent Dynamics EP. SHALT remained busy on the remix/edit front as well with takes on Rizzla and Kid Smpl that have become favorites on our various mix and radio appearances.
APR artists also stayed busy on the mix front, although you’ll have noticed that none take part in any traditional scene per se and none of them are what could be called a straightforward DJ. SHALT started off the year with a huge entry for Solid Steel and was serendipitously matched up with Autechre. Chants turned in a release-themed mix for NTS in April while our resident DJ team put forth their first studio mix for the Symbols label. Throughout the year, Nunu turned in angelic volumes for Endgame’s Precious Metals show, Disc Magazine, Jerome and our own series while LOFT stayed quiet with the exception of a manic, no fucks given session for our debut NTS Radio LA show (all Astral Plane radio can be found here). We’ll be following up tomorrow with round-ups of our official releases and we hope this little review proves helpful in sussing out what exactly we’ve been up to this year. Thanks for tuning in.
If you’ve got caught one of our recent Radar Radio shows, you’ll surely have caught at least a glimpse of “With Eye Contact, the luminous closer of LOFT’s forthcoming Turbulent Dynamics EP. Out this Friday on Astral Plane Recordings, Turbulent Dynamics is LOFT’s official debut and the fifth release of the year for APR, a release that has been in the works for the entirety of 2016 and that has gone through a number of forms on its way to its current incarnation. Turbulent Dynamics on the whole is an immersive listen and “With Eye Contact” is a perfect example of that, a patiently unfolding effort that holds a grotesque beauty, digging under the proverbial skin as much as it soothes. Stream “With Eye Contact” below and pre-order Turbulent Dynamics here.
Hailing from Strasboug, a city placed near the France-Germany border, Nunu is part of a rising collection of young European producers quickly reimagining how club music can and will exist on the Continent and its relationship to the regional forms it has so often been informed by in the past. The days of daft Bmore and footwork attempts, while not a thing of the past, have certainly been surpassed by a new approach, one that prides decentralization, equal amounts of an almost naive experimentalism and pop adoration, and a flair for performance rarely found in DJ communities. On July 1, Nunu will release the Mind Body Dialogue EP on our own Astral Plane Recordings outfit, his official debut and the most coherent and complete example of his artistic vision to date, drawing on a rich and often confused lineage of AI and cyborg representation in popular culture to imagine intimacy, love and sex within, outside of and between humans and machines. Its six songs are at times brutal, but also with a carefully constructed internal beauty, bore out in between frenzied percussion and an almost minimalist approach to composition. It’s visceral music intended for the club with an intensive narrative background that can be felt in the harsh, alien worlds of tracks like “Punani” and “Hateful” but hardly infringes on its immediate, tactile effect in physical space.
A recent mix for Endgame’s Precious Metals NTS show put the French artist’s work in line with artists like Lotic, Why Be and Exit Sense and showed off his willingness to embrace hysteria, its near-30 minute run time comprised of chasmic sub bass, whirlwind percussion and, if anything, an abiding sense of chaos. His Astral Plane mix functions on a different level, exposing the sneaky beauty mentioned above and the delicate nature of tracks like “Mind Body Dialogue” and “Cog” (which closes out the mix). This time, its v1984, Mechatok and Miley Serious that provide the context, producers that pride melodics more than the aforementioned group, but approach their pop-leaning work from anything but a traditional angle, whether it’s in the grotesque Arca-esque realm or more in the twisted Metro Boomin school of thought. The sound is at times angelic, especially when Sega Bodega’s “Sun Loop (Angel Mix)” peaks halfway through the mix, but there’s always an edge there, always something sinister and discomfiting about the overt display of affection. Check out “Punani” from Mind Body Dialogue over at THUMP and look out for the full release on July 1.
Having previously plied his trade as a drummer, beatsmith for rappers and emotional producer extraordinaire, Chants is something of a musical polymath and while his work extends into a number of cultural, geographic, social, etc. contexts it always seems to push boundaries and ask questions. The Zookeeper is the Madison-based artist’s latest work and we couldn’t be more excited to release this outsized, bludgeoning, heaving piece of club music. It’s certainly not a release for the faint of heart, but if you’re ready to have your organs and or blood-brain barrier reorganized then this is the release for you. The Zookeeper is out now on all digital streaming and download platforms and is probably already in the darkest rave near you. We’ve also just launched a revamped Astral Plane Recordings website, designed by Sam Meier and featuring an incredible, synapse overloading music video for “Crushed Lollipop” by Isaac Chabon. It’s our goal to offer up a complete a/v experience and the sheer physicality of Chants’ music was the perfect opportunity to institute that vision in full.
Chants has been a longtime favorite of our operation, appearing among the Heterotopia bonus tracks and contributing a remix for Mike G’s “Limestone” on Heterotopia Remixes Vol. 1. Over the years, the Wisconsin-based artist has become one of our most covered artists and when he sent us a nearly-finished bundle of manic, outsized tracks, we knew that it was important to bring him on for an official release. The Zookeeper is out on April 29, but Dummy has the jump on “Silencer Magpie”, a track that has had us in fits since first listening. If you’ve been following our shows on Radar, you’ll surely recognize this one and we’d be surprised if it didn’t infiltrate the more adventurous end of the DJ spectrum over the coming weeks and months. Head to Dummy to catch an insightful interview with Chants about the genesis of The Zookeeper, stepping away from producing for rappers and the influence of David Mitchell’s Ghostwritten.
Our monthly show on Radar Radio aired last night and in the first time since November, we didn’t bring out any guests and just ran out a whole show of tracks Astral Plane Recordings, friends and artists/labels that we admire. If you’re curious about what kind of vibe we’re going for with the label you’re not going to find a more coherent sense of that vision (for now). Besides new label material, new tracks from Hex, Lamont, Sami Baha, Celestial Trax, Eaves and JT The Goon wowed us this past month and really made for a fun two hour session from our home base here in Boyle Heights, Los Angeles. In the next few weeks, we’ll be back on FACT with a February edition of For Club Use Only and will be announcing a very special 100th Astral Plane mix, featuring our very favorite DJ duo and a crew that has been on it since day one. Also look out for news on APR102 which was mastered in a secret studio in Milwaukee over the weekend. All going to be very special. Thanks for listening. Hit the jump for a full track list.
If you’ve listened to SHALT’s Astral Plane mix or his recent, more dancefloor-oriented mix for Ninja Tune’s Solid Steel show on NTS Radio, you’ll have caught on to just how acute SHALT’s ear is. Whether he’s bringing in dancefloor smashers from contemporaries or isolating the sheer physicality of more abstract works, every bit of the process is deeply considered from a thorough spatial perspective. Today marks the release of the Acheron EP, a work that functions as both a fully formed narrative and a vessel for a discussion surrounding artificial life extension and its potential consequences. Interviews with FACT and THUMP offer insight into the project, but the best way to experience Acheron is to listen in an isolated setting and while it’s too much to demand uninhibited attention in the contemporary media landscape we can assure you that this extended player is best heard in focus.
Last Wednesday, The FADER premiered the title track from SHALT’s Acheron EP, the first track from the Lausanne-based artist’s forthcoming release on Astral Plane Recordings. Coming in as APR101, Acheron is the first solo release on our platform and will be out digitally on January 29. Isaac Chabon contributing the breathtaking cover art and Sam Meier led the artistic direction of the project while Riley Lake put his inimitable talents forwards for mastering. Out To FACT, RA and THUMP for all picking up the news of the release and spreading it around to their respective readers. We’ll be back with more on the record in the new year so keep and eye out and enjoy “Acheron”.