It’s only been a few days since we dropped Heterotopia Remixes Vol. 2, but it’s hard not to look on to the next and final volume in the series. That being said, it almost seems like we’re getting a rhythm down with these releases and it’s a pleasure to see a good deal of our readers coming back for each of our first three releases. You can check out the full release down below, as well as the tracks that hadn’t been premiered previously after the jump, or just head straight to our Bandcamp for the free download. Thanks to everyone involved, including our own team of Sam and Will. Can’t wait to announce Vol. 3!
With less than 24 hours until release, we’ve got a roundup of a few more tracks from Heterotopia Remixes Vol. 2. The first is Air Max ’97’s bootleg version of Jacque Gaspard Biberkopf’s “Public Love”, premiered by the good folks at Liminal Sounds this morning. Because of a hard drive crash, the Melbourne-based producer was forced to go off of the MP3 version of Biberkopf’s original, but that just made his kinetic flip even more inventive. Second is Gobstopper signee Iglew’s take on Celestial Trax’s “Illuminate”, the most grime-leaning attempt from Vol. 2 and a peak time banger if I’ve ever heard one. Vol. 2 can be found here tomorrow (Tuesday) morning. Enjoy.
After teasing out remixes for the past two weeks, it’s our pleasure to announce that Heterotopia Remixes Vol. 1 is now available for free download (or pay what you want) at The Astral Plane Bandcamp. Remixes from Druid Cloak, Iglooghost, Sharp Veins, Patrick Brian, Fraxinus, She’s Drunk and Chants feature and we couldn’t be happier with the imaginative way each respective artist flipped a track from the original Heterotopia. Check out Druid Cloak and Patrick Brian’s reworks, the only two that have not been revealed to date, after the jump.
Luckily, this is only the first volume of remixes we have for you and Vol. 2, slated for an early March release, will feature a tantalizing array of our favorite producers! A lot of words have been spilt by us on these remixes so far and now that release date has come we can’t wait to let the sounds percolate through to all of you.
Release day is always a bit bittersweet, because, despite all the dithering and busy work that goes into releasing music, it means that the process is almost over. That being said, Heterotopia has been a passion project of ours for quite some time now and it’s with great, treacly pleasure that we finally get to unleash it on all of you. Heterotopia is inspired by Michel Foucault’s essay of the same, but not to the extent that the compilation is imprisoned within the French philosopher’s admittedly problematic framework. The tape is positioned to guide the listener into an alternate reality, not in the science fiction sense, but in the liminal, distinctly body-oriented manner of the club-verse. It was our intention to gather a group of transcendent, progressive musicians and the artists who participated in the project took the conceptual framework to heart and drafted 12 polyglot heat rocks that have continued to defy our expectations on nearly every listen. This sort of language is hyperbolic, but for those of us who take pleasure in the expectation, aftermath and release of the club context, this topic truly is important. Heterotopia is a free release, but if you do happen to have a few spare dollars to spend on otherworldly club constructions in your monthly budget, it would always be appreciated. And while this is release day, Heterotopia will continue as a project of ours in the coming weeks and months. Expect more soon on that front and enjoy.
Since its inception in August 2013, Druid Cloak‘s Apothecary Compositions imprint has become something a meeting point for artists from across genres, continents and sensibilities. The label has a credence for pushing out a physical product after all, cassette and vinyl mostly, and brings in a number of disparate remixers for virtually every release. The physical element, combined with Druid Cloak’s strong sentiments for jungle’s diffracted contemporary form, has led to the likes of Addison Groove, Om Unit, Visionist, Helix and others taking on remix duty, aiding and abetting relative newcomers like Imami, Galtier and, most recently, Wild Kid. The latter is a new kid on the block residing in New York and plying his trade in milky, Port Arthur-referencing beat work. The New Bethlehem EP is his first on Apothecary Compositions and while the entirety of the tape is easily digestible and a closing Slugabed rework adds some heft to the palate, Celestial Trax’s remix is the crown jewel of the package. A patois vocalist is sent into the mix to match up with Bun B’s invectives and CT flips the lead melody from couch slouching pleasantry to schizogenic, back alley menace. It’s quite a transformation, but considering CT’s recent output (and upcoming track on our own Heterotopia compilation), it comes easy for the New York transplant. Pre-order Wild Kid’s New Bethlehem EP here and peep Apothecary’s web store for a number of limited deals on past physical releases.
The “is grime a sub-form of hip hop?” debate has raged for years now and while nearly all of the genre’s major players have had their say, the dregs of forum culture are still ablaze with cathectic “controversy”. And while countless words have been scribed in an attempt to contextualize grime’s past and future, the fact of the matter is that the genre is only ten-plus years old and, essentially, needs more time before its legacy can be analyzed with any sort of clarity. A far more worthwhile goal in 2014 is to draw tangible connections between disparate sonic and cultural elements within both grime and hip hop. The atmospheric rattle of gun shots in both Lil Wyte’s Memphis odysseys and Jammer’s best instrumental work. The joyously over-the-top chipmunk sampling techniques utilized by Dipset production duo The Heatmakerz and Blackjack. The contemplative, dagger-like wordplay of Trim and Scarface. The fact of the matter is that the Atlantic is less a cultural barrier than a short wall meant to be leapt over, chipped away at and, eventually, torn down.
New York-based producer Celestial Trax has, quite literally, leapt over the wall after spending time living in London. His latest EP, Paroxysm, was released on Rinse and features what he considers a “rainy gloomy London night” vibe, but he’s hardly a purest and often, both directly and indirectly, references hip hop, jungle, footwork and contemporary R&B in his productions. The influence of American luminaries as disparate as Young Chop and James Nasty are reticent on Paroxysm alongside the more obvious Devil Mix and Metalheadz influences and the EP thrives when it picks up a particular emotion and expounds on it. For most of the EP, that emotion is anxiety and Paroxysm can be viewed as a genre-blended explication of disquietude. On Paroxysm, that anxiety is directly rooted in the physical environment of the aforementioned “gloomy London night,” a tangled web of apprehension and sublimated hysteria. Unfortunately, in electronic music, the subject has been touched on ad nausea and while the kitchen sink approach to Paroxysm is its greatest strength, the emotional superficiality gives it a peripatetic monotony at times.
Which is exactly why the move to New York has done wonders for the Celestial Trax sound. Vocal-like melodies drowned in squarewaves no longer take on the maudlin character they used to. Every kick, metallic swipe and chime seems to have fallen into place and his work with vocalists has taken on a singular focus. Anxiety is still the dominant emotion, but it’s a far more nuanced anxiety. His Astral Plane mix is made up of twelve original tracks, features MCs Shady Blaze and Tynethys, and, considering his adherence to crafting “songs” vs. “tracks”, is more of a production mix than something a DJ’s DJ might put together. Again, the strain of the austere urban environment takes center stage, but it’s appended this time with desire, loss and just enough melancholy. With a small, but effective hardware set-up, Celestial Trax has synthesized his influences into a sound that functions with or without a vocalist and with a breadth of affecting inputs and outputs. Realist hip hop (“Stargate”) sits alongside druggy, elegiac edits (“I Don’t Sell Molly No More”) and foreboding, on-the-cusp grime instrumentals (“Illumination”) that could easily find a home in a Visionist set. The wealth of influences are still palpable, but they have been compounded into a sound that Celestial Trax can proudly call his own.
Coming off the jagged success of the Paroxysm EP on Rinse in April, New York by-way-of London resident Celestial Trax has let loose an unceasing stream of one-offs and edits that highlight a fascinating willingness to experiment as well as an adept hip hop sensibility that is all too rare among producers who deal mostly in ‘nuum genres. Most recently, he took on Makonnen’s millenially-reticent hit “I Don’t Sell Molly No More”, imparting melodrama on the rapper’s Strawberrita-drenched rhymes and yearning boasts. Makonnen’s decision to let loose the song’s acapella has proven a wonderful experiment and CT’s remix is only one of dozens of intriguing re-interpretations to hit the Soundcloud/Bandcamp-verse in recent weeks.
if you’ve spent any time on Celestial Trax’s Tumblr, it’s easy to see where the Brooklyn-based producer draws inspiration from. Fluttering GIFs, Grecian imagery and a fixation on facial disfigurement dominate the page and offer a startling visual complement to deeply affecting take on grime, hip hop and other club forms. Vocals bring human form to his music, but are utilized more as a foil for rounded kicks and sizzling synth work than a singular, evocative entity. Last month’s Paroxysm EP, out now on Rinse, established the former London resident’s grime credentials, comprising four tracks of clicking, gun waving action that seems to explode in every possible direction. “Swallowing Smoke” sees him take a breath and step down from Paroxysm‘s spastic intentions, twisting a spindly vocal sample around Angelic pads. It’s tense and tightly wound, but also ephemeral, seemingly on the verge of blowing away at any time. Don’t sleep.