Photo by Laurance Von Thomas
It’s easy to forget that Endgame’s self-titled breakout EP was released halfway through 2015 — just under 19 months ago. It’s easy to forget because the London-based artist is on a hot streak that few can match and is a veritable star in late 2016. Endgame arrived in May ’15 with both immediacy and a fully formed vision, full of tightly coiled dembow structures and vocal assists from friends and collaborators Blaze Kidd and Uli K. It was around that time that a loose network of artists began to come into focus, based around parties and labels like Principé Discos, Swing Ting, Staycore and Endgame’s own Bala Club, and pushing a distinct combination of South and Central American and Afro-Caribbean sounds. It’s a network that can be understood more for its influence than for any concrete geography or genre connections, influence felt in the saturation of everything from dancehall and reggaeton to baile funk and candombe.
At its roots, Endgame’s sonic approach is firmly rooted in hybridity and his slick tracks rarely fit into the constraints of the Caribbean rhythmic patterns he draws from or the London reference points found on tracks like “Tears on Road” and “Sittin’ Here Redux”. That hybridity is born out in emotional content, a balance between aggression and delicacy that mines states of confusion and contradiction as much as it does love and warmth. Fans of the Precious Metals show on NTS, helmed by Endgame in tandem with a new, on-the-cusp guest every show, will recognize that hybridity, fully realized in a roughneck blend of reggaeton, road rap and the latest industrial-tinged sounds from a global cadre of producers and vocalists. Guests like Washington D.C.’s Rules, Berlin’s Nightcoregirl and New York’s Geng form another network comprised of artists pushing the very limits of club music functionality and one that can increasingly be found at club nights the world over.
Releases for PTP and Hyperdub, as well as several key contributions to the inaugural Bala Club compilation, formed the backbone of Endgame’s 2016, cementing an unmistakable sound and catapulting out of the relative anonymity of the underground club world. Long touted by insiders as one of the best DJs London has to offer, 2016 was also the year that that reputation became international, largely due to a standout contribution for FACT and the continued excellence of Precious Metals. Many try, but few attain the level of elasticity and flexibility embodied in an Endgame mix, not so much journeys through his mutating aesthetic as fuil on inundations. Astral Plane Mix 133 is no different, over an hour of balls-to-the-wall energy, a sprint through unheard original material and work from likeminded producers including Astral Plane Recordings artists Exit Sense and Nunu. Savage and Flesh will go down as two of 2016’s most important releases, establishing Endgame as one of the most admired and imitated producers anywhere and offering as clear of a distillation of club performativity as you’re likely to find. Stream Endgame’s Astral Plane mix below, download here and hit the jump for a full track list.