The Astral Plane DJ Team was back on Radar Radio last night for the second time, bringing an hour of 100 BPM-ish dancehall, rap and dembow to the London station. The track list is still in the fog at the moment, but be on the lookout for selections from Sudanim, Sami Baha, Drippin, Santa Muerte and Sinjin Hawke. For the second hour of our slot, we brought in our good friend and neighbor Arkitect and the Private Selection co-head brought an hour of blistering, all-vinyl techno. As we continue to feature more and more of our Los Angeles friends, cohorts and assistants, we hope to showcase as much of the talent, in several arenas, this city has to offer. We’ll have represenatives from the Far Away and N0 Rules cliques in the next few weeks to accompany our own selections are working on locking down a studio space to record interviews! Stay locked.
Around six months ago, I graduated from college, move to Los Angeles and began working at an independent record label. I had previously been attending uni at a school in the suburbs and the move has allowed me to attend shows, parties and other music-oriented events on a near-constant basis. The fact that nearly every touring act hits Los Angeles exacerbates the glut of quality shows. More so, the city has a glut of sprawling warehouse districts, neighborhoods ride for seedy, all night parties featuring globe trotting deejays and warm PBR in equal measure. Unfortunately, LAPD’s vice squad has taken a special interest in the city’s warehouse circuit, cracking down with a brute force that has sent promoters scurrying to find legitimate venues in the peripheries of downtown. Los Angeles’ late night dance scene seems to be in a mode of major flux, but that doesn’t mean that you often have the pick of the litter party-wise, often a choice between several visiting house and/or techno dons. The city lacks somewhat in ‘nuum culture and club music, but that almost seems like an unfair criticism considering the opportunities created and taken away by the aforementioned circumstances. I decided to lay out my favorite moments in the club this year, the club being a broad space filled by dancers, dancing and dance music. The following three nights stuck out to me for entirely different reasons, but each will play a huge roll in shaping how I look back on this time in my life at large and how I devoured dance music in particular. Find the rest of our 2014 coverage here.
1.) Jack J @ loft space several blocks from my home
Hailing from the inimitable Mood Hut crew, Jack J’s Looking For You/Take It To The Edge rocked the house music world to its core, essentializing the sound to its most affecting core elements. When the address for his recent Los Angeles date was fired into my inbox, I realized that the party would be taking place at an odd block of lofts snuggled into several bare distribution centers. With assistance from Los Angeles’ own Suzanne Kraft and Parker, the party was a sure hit and the fact that it was walking distance from my LA River-bordering house was an extra bonus that resulted in cranking our home system a little too and imbibing a bit too much tequila. With the booth set up on the several floor overlooking the dancefloor, free snacks and some lovely foliage, a number of twenty-somethings, LA house cognoscenti and incomers from outside of the city limits began to amass, throwing themselves into Kraft’s turbid house and disco numbers while devouring a table of free snacks. The room was certainly not intended for dancefloor efficacy, but with a bar snuggled under the stairs, several adventurous early night (midnight) dancers and widespread anticipation for Jack J’s set, the space contained an overarching air of barely concealed excitement. By the time the one and only Jack Jutson stepped on stage, the room was already beginning to resemble a single swollen mass, swayed side to side by a massive fan in one corner and Jutson’s wavy concoctions from above. The set was full of Mood Hut material from the past year and each and every Hashman Deejay, Pender Stree Stepper’s and Aquarian Foundation tune was met by a gleeful response from the now packed room. Predictably, “Looking For You” sent the dancefloor into rapture, giving the night a sense of genuine remembrance and elevating beyond the glut of late night excursions this particular club denizen has taken in the past 365 odd days.
2.) Private Selection Party feat. Bodymasters, Arkitect, Dreams & Aerial @ sweltering storefront in Echo Park
With an odd Echo Park-based address in hand and the prospect of witnessing brand new live act Bodymasters take over a small space on an calm Friday night, Private Selection’s (Dreams, Arkitect, Aerial) September party was something of an unknown quantity, but in hindsight has been elevated in my mind into one of the most memorable club experiences of the year. Upon entry, the space seemed to take the quality of a sweltering, leafy bodega, replete with half clad dancers and claustrophobic smoking area. It seems silly to riff on it at this point, but this party was HOT. Like, nearly unbearable, especially considering the force with which Bodymasters were pushing sharp, angular techno out of their analogue rig. Acid basslines and the sharp kick of the 909 ruled this night and while the crowd might not have looked the part of an all-night rave crew, they certainly moved like one, slurping down Coors Light or merely re-appropriating the frozen beer as a coolant. After one or two close calls with the police, Dreams and Arkitect closed out the night with fervor drawing together British-style techno, East Coast club music and West and South African rhythms into an intensely pleasurable melange. The Private Selection fellows are closing out 2014 with another party featuring the aforementioned residents as well as LA Club Resource representative Delivery on New Years. One not to miss, especially considering the general lack of quality across that particular date.
3.) NAAFI and J-Cush @ outdoor art space near the river
Another party easily walkable from my humble abode (unfortunately, quite rare) on an odd Wednesday night, the NAAFI crew (Lao, Paul Marmota and Mexican Jihad in this case) took over art gallery 356 Mission’s outdoor space and brought Lit City Trax head honcho J-Cush along with them. Essentially a large, fenced in parking lot, the space didn’t seem to bother any of the performers and the crowd, aided and abetted by free Modelo, was as ready to leave their respective shells as an LA crowd ever will be on a Wednesday night. More than the previous two parties listed here, NAAFI’s LA appearance hit my wheel spot with force, bringing out the dembow, kuduro, dancehall, ghetto house and grime I so rarely am allowed to obsess over in a club setting. The fact that the venue was very much un-club-like didn’t diminish my excitement at all, especially considering the Future Brown member’s midnight set. As the night got chillier, J-Cush brought up the tempo, clashing DJ Deeon with Youngstar and moving my more house and techno-oriented friends to ask, with a bewildered look on their face, if this is how club music is intended to be mixed. After all, it might seem natural to a deejay who spins across a number of tempos and feels comfortable mixing Bmore, grime and kuduro across a 10 minute span, but that frenetic pace is often is shocking to many punters, especially those used to the aseptic world of four-on-the-floor beats. Despite the odd placement on a Wednesday night, Lao, Marmota, Mexican Jihad and J-Cush turned the bizarre space into a fantastical open air club-cum-how to relate to the body.
It’s always a pleasure when stylistically coherent crews from across countries, oceans and language barriers collide. From the arrival of the first Kraftwerk records in Detroit (and vice versa, the first Isley Brothers records in Dusseldorf) to the widespread influence of Jamaican sound system culture in the UK ‘nuum, these clashing moments have become some of the most formative events in dance music history. The meeting of Belgrade’s Mystic Stylez with Los Angeles’ Private Selection might not carry the monumental connotations of the aforementioned gatherings, but it is remarkable for anyone who partakes in the percussive club trax, beat-less grime and analogue dreams the two respective labels/parties/crews peddle. Last October’s Advanced Rhythms Vol. 1, featuring crew leaders Dreams, Arkitect and Aerial as well as Jean Nipon, Vin Sol and other club mavens, is still a must have for any listener/producer/DJ interested in the various mutations of grime/Jersey cub/ballroom/kuduro/etc. Mystic Stylez started out as a humble Belgrade-based blog covering juke/footwork, but under the tutelage of Jackie Dagger and Feloneezy has grown up into the Balkans’ answer to Chicago, London, New York, et al. And now the two meet with expectedly ruthless efficiency with Mystic Stylez’s Dagger taking on RUEGD’s tuff-as-nails “Figy” (off of Advance Rhythms Vol. 1). Dagger’s “Kick Mix” is a simple addendum to RUEGD’s percussion-less original, both refreshing and adding some easily digestible propulsion to one of the most original tracks on the Private Selection compilation.
Over the weekend, Private Selection co-heads Dreams, Arkitect and Aerial threw a party in Los Angeles at a venue that could be considered part warehouse, part sweat lodge and part greenhouse. The party featured a rampant b2b set from Dreams and Arkitect and a debut live performance from CalArts students and hardware virtuosos Bodymasters, a combination that set the sizable crowd off despite the necessity for near-constant breaks to escape the overbearing humidity. And despite Los Angeles’ predilection for the smoother end of the house spectrum, the Private Selection sound has appeared to find a home among a certain, warehouse-party attending, longsleeve black tee and basketball short wearing crowd. Dreams’ latest cut, titled “Face Off” comes soon after the manic joy of his DJ Mujava edit and features an altered derangement born out of exactly the sort of party that occurred over the weekend. Claustrophobic, hi-pitched synth notes establish a sense of paranoia, but not quite enough to stop the ever-propulsive kick pattern so while the heat and enclosure might be infringing on base mental health, the feet won’t stop.
Los Angeles’ Private Selection crew has been making major moves in their native municipality as of late and are quickly entering the popular consciousness. Dreams, Arkitect and Aerial, the chimera that runs PS, has developed a sound that coalesces techno, electro and bits and flecks of Jersey club into a wintry stew of angular percussion and simple, hi-res synth work. With a little bit more schmaltz, it wouldn’t be difficult to view fellow Angeleno Egyptian Lover as a clear precedent (especially for Dreams), but PS certainly trends towards the frozen and austere, bringing to mind Drexciya instead. Aerial’s “Strut” is the latest track to emerge from the crew and sees the producer flex on a stomping club track that appears at once stunted and bubbling. It’s exactly the type of clean, linear aesthetic we’ve come to adore here at The Astral Plane and Private Selection is one of its premier proponents. Stream below and grab a free download of “Strut” courtesy of XLR8R.