In recent years, Paris has become home to some of the best parties in the general club music sphere, becoming an outpost for artists big and small to play out. The result is an ever-growing circle of producers and labels developing their own sound in the French capital, a sound that might be 100% unique to France yet, but that is certainly on its way to idiosyncrasy. Tommy Kid’s [Re]Sources label is a prime example of those developments, an operation that grew out of the party series of the same name and has featured artists like Chaams, Nunu, Dehousy and She’s Drunk on its compilations and solo releases. Lil Crack is the latest artist to join the [Re]Sources ranks, coming through the dancefloor-focused Inner Flight EP, four sleek, cutting original efforts joined by remixes from Endgame, Spooky and Pixelord (catch the first two at [Re]Sources tonight in Paris). “Tactical Violence” is the most stripped back, minimal of the release, three and a half minutes of ratcheting percussion and trap shouts that seem to reach into the deepest recesses of the body. Most dance music is programmed to elicit a certain emotional/corporeal response from the listener and Lil Crack’s arrangements on “Tactical Violence” are a perfect example, matching raw energy with a call to arms felt in both sonics and naming language. Pre-order Inner Flight here, out December 9 on [Re]Sources.
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.
One of Russian artist Alexey Devyanin’s oldest pseudonyms, the Gultskra Artikler project sees its latest release out next Monday (12/14) on Devyanin’s newly dubbed Terminal Dream label. Dubbed ECO LAN, the new release “explores the ecological aesthetics of the internet and computers, playing with notification sounds, nature voices and lofi arpeggios,” the result a sort of retro-futurist ambient melange, distilled into four analgesic tracks. For the unfamiliar, Devyanin’s most popular project to date is Pixelord, the more beats and bass focused of his works, and he’s also worked as Computer Graphics and Hucky O’Bare in the past. Dating back to 2003, Gultskra Artikler has always been an outlet for Devyanin’s more bizarre creations, mostly traversing the ambient and drone realm, but rarely conforming to the prevailing contemporary trends in those genres. ECO LAN is the sound of green washed computer light, late night television and degraded microchips, a pleasing, albeit slightly unnerving, scape of warm “organic” drones and percolating blips, building the computerized ecology out of its most overlooked sounds. Pre-order ECO LAN on cassette or digital here.