A key part of the genre blurring wave of artists that emerged in the early 2010s, Moscow-based Pixelord has never sat comfortable in one scene or sound, partially due to his constantly wandering interests and partially due to his position as a fervent proponent of sounds outside of his city’s hegemonic house and techno culture. Cursed by the faulty nomenclature of post-dubstep and bass music, the hybrid-focused sound of the early aughts has been derided by many as soft and directionless, but many of today’s most influential artists and labels arose out of that supposed morass, capitalizing on the lack of a dominant sound to expand their and their listeners’ sonic horizons. Six or so years down the road and Pixelord, the head of the Hyperboloid and Terminal Dream labels, is a prime example of that fertile era, coming to age on labels like Car Crash Set, Error Broadcast and Leisure System and going on to release two albums through his own channels, the latest of which was released in September.
Utilizing elements of electro, garage, trap, footwork and more, Pixelord’s approach to Human.exe, his second full length for Hyperboloid, is clear from the get go, a deeply technological approach to club music that coalesces around a singular sound palette even as tempos and structures fluctuate. Tracks like “Telepathic” and “Axis” are both digital and metallic without falling into the trap of sounding cheap, fully formed club tracks with a somber edge that tends to enunciate the cyborg themes that dominate the record. Pixelord’s music has always had a vivid quality to it, a natural focus on the widescreen realized in his rich synthesizer tones and patient approach to song progression. Predictably, Pixelord’s entry into our mix series is chameleonic from the get go, 45 minutes of bent-but-not-broken rhythms that both recall and build on the themes brought up throughout Human.exe. Like the album, Astral Plane Mix 126 starts fast and percussive before settling into a more easygoing groove, bridging album tracks with likeminded material with a deft touch that more-often-than-not flatters both. Much has been made over the state of “underground” electronic music in the aughts and while many observers have retreated to the safe confines of accepted four-on-the-floor forms, artists like Pixelord continue to expand and experiment, testing out new collisions with the enthusiasm of a true believer.
Having already contributed an Astral Plane mix under his Roller Track alias in Summer ’15, our affections for Fisky are well documented and whether the Moscow-based artist is working as Roller Truck, Fisky or 297787, his stripped back club efforts almost always hit the right spot. On May 16, Frolov joins the Hyperboloid Records roster with the Traektoria EP (12″ / digital), a six tracker dealing in various contemporary and nostalgic club mutations. At this point, it’s not always easy to distinguish where the Fisky, Roller Truck and 297787 projects all begin and end and Traektoria could conceivably fit under all three, full of rave stabs, punchy drum programming and a generally ominous atmosphere borrowed from various strains of the hardcore continuum. Intended to “[create] a personal cyber club for everyone,” Traektoria will be accompanied by a VR 360 video and is apparently the result of an extended stay away from club spaces for Frolov. We’ve got “Diesel” on premiere today, a dense number built around a brassy, foghorn-esque sound that plays the sub bass roll while febrile claps, 808 bells and ha chants drive the top end of the productions. Like his work as Roller Truck, Frolov draws from a number of trans-Atlantic club forms on “Diesel” and whether it builds up a cyber club space for everyone it would go off IRL in most clubs. Check out “Diesel” below, pre-order Traektoria here listen to previews of the full release after the jump.
There are plenty of places to start when attempting to decipher web savy duo BWWWOYS, the ostensibly Russian act peddling in PC art and strong arm grime. There’s the Flickr account, a collage of Tumblr art, concert imagery and hair metal cum-Nike motifs. There’s the VK account, the Russian equivalent account where the Future Brown album was leaked months before its release and countless less-than-upstanding wormholes exist. They’re also on Twitter and have their own website, but the confines of Soundcloud are probably where the BWWWOYS aesthetic is best realized and best kept. The constrained image template, never-ending flow of recommended tracks and desperate social apparatus all seem essential to BWWWOYS and their loud, busy take on southern rap, grime and R&B only begins to illuminate where the project begins and, assumedly at least, ends. With only one official release to their name, last year’s #LONGLIVEINTERNET EP, BWWWOYS also don’t have a lot of set-in-stone material to go off of, but via haunting reworks of Thomas White and Vjuan Allure and collaborations with Pixelord and Endgame, their talent has begun to proceed them.
And if the project initially seems like groundless internet posturing, one only has to delve into their Astral Plane mix, a grunting, high strung amalgamating of grime in its most contemporary form, coming off like a submerged version of the aesthetic NAAFI pioneers Lao and OMAAR have achieved. And with a whose who of grime and up-and-comers splayed across its 54 minutes, BWWWOYS entree proves them at worst well researched. On request, no track list for this mix so be sure to pay close attention.