Copenhagen-based producer Kid Antoine has been garnering accolades from across the board as of late, producers and fans alike fawning over his dubs, KA edits and the Truancy Volume that debuted earlier this month. Antoine also contributed a key track to our Heterotopia compilation, which was later remixed by fellow Her member Fraxinus. Yesterday marked the release of Antoine’s debut Proximity EP through Her Records and the tape’s militant take on the club form is a tantalizing reminder that the hyper is very real. Made of four originals and a Miss Modular rework, Proximity touches on Jersey club and kuduro mainly, the two percussive templates drenched in the producer’s now-trademark searching melodies. Alongside Murlo, Antoine has done remarkable work at conjoining an almost twee focus on melody with the harsh, bang-the-box ethos that has become the Her calling card since Miss Modular’s “Reflector Pack” single. Proximity is out now and can be bought in digital form here.
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.