Tag Archives: Guest Mix


These days, producers often make the transition into the deejay game as their songs, bootlegs, etc. gain traction online and calls for their physical presence (read: tour money) reach a fever pitch. In the United States, this trend has become the norm as prodigious, young beatsmiths garner tens of thousands of online fans before they even touch a CDJ or Technics, but in Europe and the UK, the trend is, by-and-large, reversed. Consciousness altering, outer belt raves have become the stuff of obituaries as of late and DJs, especially in the realm of ‘ardkore, jungle and drum & bass, have been forced to seek out new contexts for their music, or worse, a day job. Hailing from Besançon, France, David Monnin is one of the many refugees of the rave scene, a ragga jungle and hardcore DJ in past life who now lives in Berlin and produces under the She’s Drunk moniker. Unlike most former rave denizens, Monnin has metamorphosed effortlessly into the world of cross-genre and cross-generational club music.

With everything from mid-120s electro-styled drum tracks to Special Request-esque jungliest riddims in his arsenal, Monnin has tailored the She’s Drunk moniker to his own omnivorous music tastes, gathering influences, both contemporary and not, from across the Continent and beyond. Like some sort of dysfunctional Rube Goldberg machine for the dancing masses, the She’s Drunk sound is teetering on the brink of collapse, pinging endlessly and almost always unhinged, relying more on recognizable sound signifiers than any existing rhythmic  structure. On releases for his own Through My Speakers label/party/collective and the always-excellent, London-based Liminal Sounds blog/label, Monnin has developed a sound that reflects his years on the jungle circuit in its frenetic nature, a raw energy that can’t be attained through sitting in a room working in Ableton.

And while the usual signifiers (Jersey club, ballroom, grime, etc.) criss-cross, She’s Drunk’s Astral Plane mix, the kinetic spirit is readily apparent, mirroring the polyglot madness of his recent Physical EP (out now via Liminal Sounds). Monnin might have entered the contemporary club-verse from another time, but his real life experience playing out and open-face attitude towards production is easily discernible in his output.

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In 1968, Romanian composer György Ligeti produced “Continuum”, a harpsichord piece that, to this day, frays human sound perception. By most estimates, humans can only “digest”, or separate, 18 individual sounds at a time so Ligeti played the harpsichord at as close to that rate as he possibly could. “Continuum” is unhinged, a direct exploration of how the brain perceives perfection and how it can so often be wrong, exemplified in Ligeti’s polyrhythmic harpsichord performance. Ligeti’s fascination with polyrhythms was inspired, first by the piano music of piano music of Chopin and Schumann, but also by polyrhythmic and polyphonic dance music from Africa, specifically the Banda-Linda tribe from the Central African Republic. Taking influence from the latter’s dance forms, Ligeti’s work has formed an intriguing rubric from which to study contemporary electronic music, a rubric that places the producer in the role of perception orienter (or de-orienter). With much of modern dance music involving rhythmic elements from West Africa via the Caribbean (and vice versa), either directly or indirectly, the role of polyrhythms, broken beats and non-quantized percussion is readily apparent, but only a select few producers consciously meditate on the relationship between sound production and listener.

Recent efforts in this vein have been plentiful, from M.E.S.H.‘s dynamic “Scythians” to the percussive backflips of DJ Nigga Fox‘s O Meu Estilo EP. And many more have pressed on how conventional genre structure’s are perceived, from netting breakbeats into the fabric of four-on-the-floor techno or the ever-disintegrating percussion of Rabit‘s “Pandemic Transmissions”.  For his part, Ziro has been consciously challenging perception in dance music and the inherent assumption of perfection within the form. Preferring un-quantized percussion and unconventional, often tonal drum work, the Bristol-based producer’s work nominally transitions between techno, funky, grime and dubstep, but it’s his consistent usage of the uncanny that begets experimentation. 2012’s “Coded” (out now on Crazylegs) is a club-ready techno roller in the vein of much of the dark, warehouse-focused material being released at the time, but its characteristic squelches and crashes, often slightly dissonant from the main groove, are what make its premise so curious.

Similarly, Ziro’s latest single, the Trim assisted “Lost”, falls into the grime category, but like Gage‘s “Telo” (also released on Crazylegs), creates dissonant spaces where an MC-led track might have once fallen into line. The “Club Mix” is full of the buckshot snares and roiling low end characteristic of contemporary grime, but also involves piercing rubber ball bass hits, organized in triplets, rim shots that lead into snare rolls and, at times, a suffocating blend of disparate percussion. The song, as its title states, is intended for the club and that disposition allows it to challenge the notion of what a “club” track should sound like. And while Ziro might not be challenging aural perception quite like the seminal Ligeti, his work and general consciousness is affecting a different audience.

Ziro’s mix work also exhibits his apposite approach to rhythm, drawing from the dreary acrobatics of Vince Staples, Arca‘s odd ball theatrics and Alex Coulton‘s pulse-heavy techno in his Astral Plane mix. Like “Lost”, much of the mix draws from grime, but as much as it highlights the likes of Visionist, ISLAND and Biome, it more often utilizes them as a foil for the next rhythmic exhortation. Most listeners of the following mix won’t be moved to investigate the intricacies of polyrhythms, but if it pushes an individual to reconsider how their mind’s intake differs from its perception, then Ziro will have done his job.

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miss-modular Since the advent of the Internet, it has become increasingly difficult to step back and register one’s surroundings and comprehend the flow of history. This is true for nearly every cultural sector, but especially for contemporary dance music, a culture desperate to establish, defend and reinforce its position in the global canon. Every think piece about commercialism, capitalism, drugs, or artistic legitimacy is born out of that fundamental disposition, a disposition born out of both real and perceived marginalization. Timeline, lineage, and those infernal genre maps (the footwork one excluded) are the physical manifestations of this yearning for history, but temporal language is inherently built into the fabric of dance music. Terms like future, post, retro and the abominable “nu” run rampant on Beatport, Juno and Boomkat and have become some of the most common, and most maligned, signifiers in the dance music lexicon. The search for the “next” best thing/trend/genre/producer is often steeped in the language of sports recruiting, pointing to an artist’s potential and whether it will/can be realized. The fact that modern dance music has only been a semi-coherent industry for three odd decades now makes comprehension all the more difficult and the proclivity to assign false historicity all the more common.

Miss Modular, co-head of Her Records, is at the vanguard of a brash, young coalition of UK producers pushing the boundaries of club music. Along with compatriots Sudanim, CYPHR and Neana (to name a few), MM is often pointed to as a member of the Night Slugs generation (the line has, and will be, trotted out again and again), but as much as they are following the early steps of Bok Bok, Jam City and Girl Unit, they are flouting their forebears and writing an original blueprint. At the beginning of their excellent interview with Tom Lea for FACT, MM, Suda, CYPHR and Fraxinus point to the “obvious genealogy” from Night Slugs to Her, but then flip the script and lambast a general willingness to follow the former label’s Club Constructions series. While their literal “fuck you” to the British dance music establishment is slightly impulsive, it also acts a figurative breakpoint between Her and everything that came before it (and might come after it).

When Miss Modular’s Reflector Pack/Cruzer Edge single was released last December, Her was still a relatively unknown entity. Two compilations and several hit-or-miss EPs dotted the label’s Bandcamp, but the now ubiquitous “Reflector Pack” started off a string of wildly inventive releases that continued with Sudanim’s The Link EP, CYPHR’s Brace/Gloss Finish and, most recently, Her Records Volume 3. With only a semblance of traditional label framework, MM, Suda and CYPHR developed a sonic environment all their own, drawing bits and pieces from Jersey club, dancehall and hyper-crisp Atlanta/Los Angeles rap production. Those aren’t the label’s only tangible influences of course, but the fact that all three are definitively modern sounds is an important factor in the development of Her.

For his part, MM is the most indebted of the Her crew to the sounds of Jersey and his contribution to our mix series highlights that relationship. Overtures into dancehall and grime jumpstart the mix, but stomp box kick drums and stark vocal cuts are the bread and butter of this 40 minute composition. It’s difficult to perceive a physical environment outside of the club for MM and Her, but I imagine a hi-tech trans-continental expressway that features stops in Newark, London, Lisbon and Kingston. Lanes are demarcated by a crisp, effervescent linearity, but due to the geographical impossibility of the expressway, also feature a number of interstitial “portals”. There has to be some explanation for how these South London polyglots developed their sound after all. If you’re in London, catch MM along with Pinch, Preditah, Riko Dan and more this Friday. Check below the jump for MM’s idiosyncratic track list.

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The precepts of sonic progression rarely go hand in hand with commercial success in the contemporary music industry, but since its establishment in 2010, Tom Lea’s Local Action Records has transformed from a promising, yet scattered, subset of London’s Phonica Records to a monolith in the UK underground and a constant reminder of how to properly release music. One side of the Local Action coin shows well-oiled house, garage and bassline releases from T. Williams and DJ Q, the essential backbone of the label alongside Throwing Snow and Artifact. The other side of the coin, the side that’s been facedown in a Lewisham (or Cicero) gutter, is represented by Slackk and Lil Jabba, renegades of grime and footwork and the artists that give Local Action its untrammeled edge. Lea’s curation is largely grounded in the aforementioned ‘nuum stylings, but a lucid listener can also unearth coherent strands of Timbaland, The Neptunes and The Heatmakerz (the production duo beyond some of Dipset’s most memorable hits). R&B is an obvious touchstone for DJ Q’s Louise Williams-assisted crossovers, but the minimal roots of early Timbaland productions are readily apparent in Slackk’s makeup and the austere, hypnagogic narcissism of The Neptunes is a recurring theme in Lil Jabba’s work. As label head, Lea does little to enunciate Local Action’s intentions via social media or in interviews, but through means of keeping a tight circle and superior A&R work, the outlet has become synonymous with the built environment of tasteful dance music.

With such an impressive cadre of releases to its name, it would be a simple assumption that Local Action is Lea’s main project, but the London-resident spends his days editing FACT and providing what are some of the most illuminating interviews and thought-provoking reviews in the whole damn game. He has inculcated himself in the shapeshifting Boxed crew (although he is not a resident) and allied with a number of “new school” grime producers including Finn (who’s Keep Calling EP dropped on LA earlier this month) and Inkke (who’s Crystal Children EP is also out now in digital form). Alongside Slackk, who is also a journalist, Lea can be viewed as a central beam in the recent grime revival, a reputation easily fomented courtesy of impeccable interviews (Her Records most recently), Rinse FM guest slots and bolstered by the recent commercial success of DJ Q’s Ineffable LP. It would be a stretch to point to Local Action as the sole harbinger of what’s to come out of the grime world, but it’s undeniable that Lea’s ear is firmly where the action is.

On September 1, the label will release Slackk’s Palm Tree Fire LP, the producer’s debut full-length and an ambitious project in that instrumental grime albums represent near-untouched territory. Most labels coming off a successful crossover album would never touch a full-length project from a non-commercial entity like Slackk, but the release represents the stringent EP to album progression Lea prefers as well as his willingness to stick with his guns through thick and thin. And one only has to look to Lil Jabba’s brash Scales LP, the label’s first footwork release, for a precedent for success in un-tread territory. Lea’s Astral Plane mix can be viewed as both an encapsulation of the disparate sounds that make up Local Action’s foundation and a sort of tastemakers delight, blending classic Bmore and contemporary club weapons with forthcoming label material. It’s an eclectic, genre-hopping mix that contrasts UK and American sounds as much as it draws lines between the two and even finds room for synth-enthusiasts and sometime-krautrockers Tangerine Dream. As head of FACT, Lea has lead the magazine in an admirable direction and his journalistic acumen is readily apparent in his A&R work with Local Action. Nonetheless, it’s his willingness to buck industry convention that has transformed the label into the monolith it is today.

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Around eight years ago, a young man from the informal Cairo neighborhood known as Salam City began experimenting in the Fruity Loops DAW and jumpstarted a movement that now electrifies the streets of Egypt’s capitol. Ahmed Farid, widely known as DJ Figo, is widely viewed as an innovator of the electro chaabi sound, a loose development of the chaabi (populist folk) that reached peak popularity in the post-war environment of the 1970s. Electro chaabi, also known as mahraganat (which translates to festival) to the younger generation, includes elements of dancehall, hip hop, grime and other wide-ranging cultural motifs. Mahraganat artists, almost all in their 20s or younger, utilize rapid fire bars in Arabic over unconventional time signatures, involving air horns, occasional 8 bar structure, and a boundless package of effects and sounds drawn from cracked copies of Fruity Loops and Sony Acid. Auto-tune is wildly popular, giving many mahraganat songs a sheen that isn’t entirely different in its poppy diffidence from Chicago’s bop sound. Mahraganat finds a physical home at street festivals, weddings and other public gatherings, but has also reached a level of popularity where it can be heard coming out of radios and makeshift speaker systems on virtually any corner in Cairo. Earlier this year, the British Council joined with Rinse.FM and the Cairo-based 100 Copies record label to bring together Brits like Mumdance, Pinch and Kode9 with the aforementioned Figo, as well as Sadat, Diesel and Knaka. So far, a wildly inventive Boiler Room session and Mumdance’s “Cairo Calling” mixtape are the two main outcomes of the project, but the meetings have supposedly betrothed a wealth of fascinating material.

Across the Mediterranean, Dutch trio Cairo Liberation Front have publicized the electro chaabi/mahraganat sound en masse and have infused an American hip hop mentality to the whole affair. Inspired by spastic keyboardist Islam Chipsy and educated via blogs like Matb3aa and Showqna, CLF began playing house parties across the Netherlands, bringing the festival atmosphere to their performances and lacing Dutch crowds with the sounds of Cairo. In tandem with The Quietus’ excellent John Doran, CLF’s Joost Heijthuijsen traveled to Cairo to study the sound and involve themselves in the grassroots movement that now involves dance and fashion. Heijthuijsen and CLF don’t profess to be experts in the history or development of mahraganat, but they have been struck by the effect that is had on the marginalized youth of Cairo and have strove effortlessly to spread the gospel of electro chaabi. Nowadays, CLF play shows all over Europe and interface with Egyptian artists regularly. They also bring a rather unique contemporary hip hop spirit to the affair, bringing left-field major label icons Future, Riff Raff and others into the mix. DJ Figo, Sadat and the hilariously named Allaa 50 Cent will never be as popular outside of Cairo as they are within the Egyptian capitol, but with an increasing number of ambassadors including Doran and CLF, the movement is rapidly expanding into new rings of global society. The internet has made mahraganat available to anyone with a computer and the scene’s defining youth has made the web a source of material, inspiration and collaboration. Stream/download below and hit the jump for the track list.

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If an observer were to theorize about the political context of Danish musician Why Be‘s output, the obvious answer would be dystopia. Alarm bells, gun shots and blood curdling screams are only occasionally interrupted by brilliant moments of calm, perhaps denoting a rapidly dissolving state or the supernal disposition of a natural disaster. Foreboding rap cuts echo out of the carcasses of motor vehicles as helicopters circle endlessly above, but while ensconced in the world shattering violence, Why Be’s world is pockmarked by moments of supreme beauty. The all-caps, un-Google-able world of Why Be is difficult to decipher, but like Janus resident M.E.S.H. and recent Astral Plane mixer Drippin, it’s a world that unnerves and disorients with deliberate abandon.

With only one semi-official release to his name, the collaborative fam EP in conjunction with E+E, Triad God and Godlink, and a sprawling collection of, at best confusingly tagged edits, remixes and mixes, Why Be has flown under the rainbow of the club music cognoscenti. Nonetheless, the Copenhagen-based producer’s tracks have ended up in a variety of high-profile mixes and each successive “chop”, “fix”, or “libsent martian attack” uploaded to his Soundcloud solidify his credentials as a bonafide contributor to the zeitgeist. If concrete-hewn, blood splattered dystopia isn’t your game, the brief moments of resplendent beauty in Why Be’s mix work offers catharsis. In his Astral Plane mix, it comes in the form of JT The Goon‘s “Twin Warriors”, albeit mediated through Rabit’s blipping remix, and Palmistry‘s foreboding, melancholic “Lil Gem”. The appearance of grace in a landscape of destruction doesn’t necessarily offer respite from the septic state of being, but it does mirror the paradoxical nature of modernity. At only 24 minutes, Why Be’s Astal Plane mix is brief, but you would be hard pressed to concoct a more accurate representation of destructive club music. Hit the jump for track list and be sure to hit up Why Be’s Youtube channel for a collection of songs, live recordings and other ephemeralia.

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Bristol has generally been perceived as dubstep’s second city, a concrete-hewn outpost of everything rough, dark and ponderously weighty. Slightly outside of the influence of the capitol, Bristol legends Pinch, Peverelist, Joker, Appleblim and more have carried the mid-sized city into a surprising position of influence within the greater bass weight-focused dance music scene. In a similar fashion to the trend of aforementioned producers rising to prominence in parallel to their counterparts in London a decade ago, a new breed of Bristolian has begun to experiment with grime and techno with a uniquely insolent outlook that both bucks the influence of the capitol and draws on its more aggressive strains. Rope is a new name in the Bristol game, but the producer’s upcoming EP on also-brand-new Parison Records is one of the most mature, properly conceived releases to come out of the city in recent memory. Taking direct influence from anime soundtracks, Rope artificially designs an urban environment heavy on futuristic decay and out-of-control technology. Every movement carries a coinciding physical counter-movement, whether that be the scything snares that come in flurries on “Slugface”, or the desperate, immaculately textured rubber ball bass hits on “Cotham Warrior”. For his Astral Plane mix, Rope offers a proper overview of his contemporaries and slots his own originals effortlessly alongside modern classics along the lines of Gage’s “Tello”, Blackwax’s “Grimace” and Mumdance and Novelist’s “Take Time”. Bristol-bred dubstep and grime will always have its denizens, but the new breed, led by Rope, has an opportunity to raise the metropolis beyond second city status. Hit the jump for the track list and pre-order Cotham Warrior/Slugface here.

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He’s been producing for over ten years and has made his mark on nearly every sub-genre imaginable, The Fader called him “post-regional”, and Fade to Mind and Keysound have each brought him into their respective folds. His name is Gremino (otherwise known as boi-a-gutz) and over the past few years, few artists have had the indelible effect that this Finnish producer has had on dance music’s myriad sounds. First garnering attention on a large scale in 2011 via a series of EPs on Car Crash Set, as well as a hotly tipped Jam City remix, Gremino was one of the early driving forces for the kaleidoscopic sound currently being pushed by Keysound, Her and Rinse’s label arm. Coalescing grime, garage, dubstep and techno, he has spoken about replacing the staid sounds of misnomer UK bass with an “edgier”, darkly intoxicating final product and that spirit has placed him firmly in the crosshairs of some of dance music’s most respected entities. In 2012, Fade to Mind released the Let’s Jack 12″, a Hadean take on grime and bassline with a focus on industrial rhythmic work and dancefloor shelling squarewaves. Let’s Jack is far from the first release one thinks of when Kingdom’s label comes up in conversation, but Gremino’s anxious compositions have set the stage for much of the imprint’s more recent output (e.g. Nguzunguzu’s Skycell, Dat Oven’s Icy Lake) and led to a placement on both the Keysound Allstars EP and the This Is How We Roll compilation.

Since 2012, Gremino has worked to diversify his bonds and has recently exploded into the fissure opened up between footwork and jungle, especially the TB-303 driven form, under the boi-a-gutz sobriquet. Favoring clipped rhythms and furious acid workouts, the experiment has seemed effortless and can be heard in this recent mix for Long Clothing. For our money though, Gremino’s wheelhouse is still squarely in the realm of 130 and for his Astral Plane mix, the mans came through with an erudite selection of dubstep classics, darker-than-dark house and ethereal tear out grime. The mix effectively functions as a follow up to this selection and is as much a genuflection to British ‘nuum culture as it is a genre-bending shred job. Gremino hasn’t had a proper release in several years, but expect new material in the not-so-distant future and indulge in the past and present of dance music history.

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The dancefloor is rarely considered in terms of media consumption and more often than not is reduced to a linear relationship between physical location, deejay and patron. More often, critics call on religion, philosophy and sociology to try and explain the weekly mass exodus to clubs, warehouses and homes wherein people from all over the world sedulously drop everything in order to flail their extremities. One facet of the dance though, for better or worse, is that it is form of media consumption and represents many of the characteristics of contemporary mass media. Televised sports, print media and advertising are not the preferable modal counterparts to dance music, but the fact that it is, by-and-large, a commercial entity, mass produced and consumed by the  totality forces its consideration among the aforementioned mediums. That being said, contemporary club music, especially from the Atlantic seaboard, Chicago and Lisbon, deliberately challenges dance music’s position in the mass media sphere. From their minority position, Divoli S’vere, DJ Nigga Fox, Lotic and Total Freedom challenge the notion that club music is a top –> down form of capitalist media. From Newark to Berlin, producers and DJs have shown a willingness in recent years, in direct opposition to the consumerization of dance music in America, to subvert accepted societal structures of how music should be made, played and danced to.

Alongside the aforementioned artists, Berlin’s Jacques Gaspard Biberkopf has instilled an avant-garde approach to his club material, refusing to genuflect to the house and techno constitution the city he calls home insists upon. Instead, the Lithuania-born Biberkopf proposes a deconstructed club-verse built on sensuous human vocal manipulation and crashing industrial noise. In interviews, Biberkopf likes to reference autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR), the visceral physical pleasure some encounter when exposed to certain noises, somatic and hypothetical space, and the affectations of the human voice. Biberkopf’s most recent mixes, for aqnb and Truants’ Functions of the Now series, are largely removed from the club space, instead floating in a deeply resonant realm denuded of treacle and extraneous elements.

When we asked Jacques to contribute to our mix series, the expectation was similar: something in the vein of Lotic’s “pissing people off” club mutations or his own odd ball Jersey-influenced productions. Instead, Biberkopf turned in a mix that directly challenges the manner that dance music is consumed and how analogous it is to sports highlight shows, another sensationalist form of mass media. NBA Top 10 highlights resound in the spaces between grime, Jersey club, kuduro and ballroom with disarming effect, both challenging and reinforcing club music’s inherent commercial value. With ASMR and the human voice in mind, the highlight snippets work on the pleasure nodes in our mind in a similar manner to dance music. It’s a deceptively provocative stance that challenges the conviction that the dancefloor is a sort of “outsider” space. Whether Biberkopf intended these political intonations or not, they are readily apparent in the mix and come to a fever pitch towards the end of the selection, a disarray of ballroom, highlight vocals and fragments of “Kiss Me Thru The Phone”. It’s the realization that mass media and mediated sub-culture are not entirely different worlds and actually intersect and flow back and forth more than is apparent on the surface. Discerning listeners are few and far between in 2014 and if the economic, political and social ramifications of our collective consumption habits aren’t shown in a proper light, then dance music will go the way of Sportscenter. No track list available so speculate as you will.


In Marshall McLuhan and Quentin Fiore’s essential The Medium Is The Massage: An Inventory of Effects, espouse that “our technology forces us to live mythically, but we continue to think fragmentarily, and on single, separate planes.” McLuhan and Fiore point to media’s ability to allow depth, but warn that modern technology’s inherent structures model our consumption habits. The words were published in 1967, but are startlingly prescient today and apply directly to both the means by which we consume and produce electronic music. A segment of dance music is aimed at metaphysical transcendence through body movement and while McLuhan would criticize the mass consumption methods of mega clubs and festivals, it’s undeniable that the dance has the ability to connect individuals through technology. In the late 1980s, Manchester group 808 State had a clear vision of dance floor transcendence and their revitalizing acid, house and trance forms acted as the manifestation of resistance against the technological constraints McLuhan so succinctly points out. The fact that the group took their name from one of dance music’s most prevalent machines only made their message more coherent.

Today, trance music has evolved into an unrecognizable monster that has captivated the clenched jaw masses via tactless largesse. Hailing from Cascais, Portugal, Ursa’s Reef is 2014’s answer to the conceptual enlightenment of 808 State, Robert Hood and Drexciya, melding aquatic language with deceptively robust four-on-the-floor rhythms. Major chords make up the floor of the music, while the cosmos and hallucinogenic transcendence find a home in the stupor-inducing filter sweeps and acid squelches. Fortunately for us, the Portuguese producer turned in the longest guest mix to date; nearly an hour and a half of brilliantly composed throwbacks and modern ventures that the fellows from 808 State would be proud of. Ursa’s Reef is still a small name today, but savoir faire trance has shown inklings of returning to popular music in recent years and he might just be on the cusp of collective brilliance.

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