The trend towards dark, noisy and industrial club sounds over the past few years has been well documented to the point that an ostensible split between “constructed” and “deconstructed” has supposedly arisen. This narrative ignores larger aesthetic cycles — hardcore manifesting as jungle for example — in the history of dance music, but does hold some credence in the current moment. A question that always comes to our mind though is which artists and DJs will be viewed as the true devotees and ambassadors of this relatively new turn towards abstraction and experimentation? The forebears are easy to point out — Eugene Carolus’ excellent article on the legacy of Total Freedom outlines the globetrotting hellraiser’s influence while the now defunct Vex’d duo (Kuedo and Roly Porter) have their fingerprints all over innumerable contemporary acts and Elysia Crampton’s work is less imitated than it is revered — but the task of mapping out a younger generation is a far more difficult task.
Dis Fig is a Berlin resident and co-founder of the Call Dibs show on Berlin Community Radio. She’s also a member of the PTP crew and laid down a stand out set at their Boiler Room event in June 2016. Cuing into a sound that is at once cerebral and emotionally sincere, the American DJ has touched a nerve in the past year or so, displaying a weathered aesthetic that draws together sounds from across temporal and sonic boundaries into holy union. Blends of SHALT and the Supremes, Emptyset and Danny Brown, and Air Max ’97 and Oklou have provided momentous touchstones while every new Call Dibs, the BCR show she hosts with hunnidJAWS, features an exciting slew of hard-edged new material and guests like Chino Amobi, Soda Plains and Madam X.
Floating on the periphery of dancefloor relevance, Dis Fig mixes are dense, textural affairs, full of voices calling out of the abyss and instilled with a deep sense of pathos. A conjoined intensity is drawn from amorphous club experiments as much as soundsystem tools, as well as the occasional sultry R&B and testosterone-driven rap — an intensity that is unwavering in its connection to the core idea at play in each respective composition. As noted above a lot has been made of the darker turn in club music, but that’s a simplified take and it’s hard to think of many DJs who consistently bring together the inconsistencies in darkness and light, comfort and anxiety and abstraction and uniformity. Her Astral Plane mix is no different, beginning with reverberating entries from v1984, Club Cacao and City before exploding with violent energy and hitting a stride with outsized tracks from DJ Sinclair, Celyn June and Goth-Trad. It’s a gut punching selection and a mix that feels very much of our time, full of the sort of contradictions and delirium that have come to define public life. Dis Fig is playing Norient Musikfilm Festival in Bern, Lausanne and St. Gallen, Switzerland this weekend.
Photo by Laurance Von Thomas
It’s easy to forget that Endgame’s self-titled breakout EP was released halfway through 2015 — just under 19 months ago. It’s easy to forget because the London-based artist is on a hot streak that few can match and is a veritable star in late 2016. Endgame arrived in May ’15 with both immediacy and a fully formed vision, full of tightly coiled dembow structures and vocal assists from friends and collaborators Blaze Kidd and Uli K. It was around that time that a loose network of artists began to come into focus, based around parties and labels like Principé Discos, Swing Ting, Staycore and Endgame’s own Bala Club, and pushing a distinct combination of South and Central American and Afro-Caribbean sounds. It’s a network that can be understood more for its influence than for any concrete geography or genre connections, influence felt in the saturation of everything from dancehall and reggaeton to baile funk and candombe.
At its roots, Endgame’s sonic approach is firmly rooted in hybridity and his slick tracks rarely fit into the constraints of the Caribbean rhythmic patterns he draws from or the London reference points found on tracks like “Tears on Road” and “Sittin’ Here Redux”. That hybridity is born out in emotional content, a balance between aggression and delicacy that mines states of confusion and contradiction as much as it does love and warmth. Fans of the Precious Metals show on NTS, helmed by Endgame in tandem with a new, on-the-cusp guest every show, will recognize that hybridity, fully realized in a roughneck blend of reggaeton, road rap and the latest industrial-tinged sounds from a global cadre of producers and vocalists. Guests like Washington D.C.’s Rules, Berlin’s Nightcoregirl and New York’s Geng form another network comprised of artists pushing the very limits of club music functionality and one that can increasingly be found at club nights the world over.
Releases for PTP and Hyperdub, as well as several key contributions to the inaugural Bala Club compilation, formed the backbone of Endgame’s 2016, cementing an unmistakable sound and catapulting out of the relative anonymity of the underground club world. Long touted by insiders as one of the best DJs London has to offer, 2016 was also the year that that reputation became international, largely due to a standout contribution for FACT and the continued excellence of Precious Metals. Many try, but few attain the level of elasticity and flexibility embodied in an Endgame mix, not so much journeys through his mutating aesthetic as fuil on inundations. Astral Plane Mix 133 is no different, over an hour of balls-to-the-wall energy, a sprint through unheard original material and work from likeminded producers including Astral Plane Recordings artists Exit Sense and Nunu. Savage and Flesh will go down as two of 2016’s most important releases, establishing Endgame as one of the most admired and imitated producers anywhere and offering as clear of a distillation of club performativity as you’re likely to find. Stream Endgame’s Astral Plane mix below, download here and hit the jump for a full track list.
Having spent years in London and Berlin as a writer and DJ, Flora Yin-Wong is deeply engrained in the world of experimental electronic music, but many were introduced to || FLORA, Yin-Wong’s latest musical alias, earlier this week. That was when New York’s PTP (fka Purple Tape Pedigree) dropped the fourth edition in their CELL Audio Codex series — part mixfile, part recipe book — featuring City God, a gorgeous 15 minute composition by Yin-Wong. On City God, the || FLORA project, previously teased in mixes and edits, comes into focus, an exploration of identity, technology and history born out through lithe electronics and smartly integrated sample work recorded on a trip to east Asia. City God is available here and more || FLORA material is set to be released through Objects Ltd on the not so distant horizon.
Born and raised in London with Hong Kong and Malaysian heritage, Yin-Wong plays the dual roll of personal historian and curator in her musical output, displaying macro historical narratives alongside her own recordings as a way of investigating the entangled nature self-identity, culture and language. It’s somewhat cliche, but || FLORA shows the fingerprints of an artist who has spent a good portion of time writing, editing and working behind-the-scenes for labels (most recently PAN), a dedication to detail and a reticence of both what is fleeting and what is contemporary.
Her Astral Plane mix splits from the intensely personal, but functions equally as a personal document, providing a roadmap to Yin-Wong’s peers (Abyss X, Soda Plains, Hex, Organ Tapes, etc.) and re-contextualizing her original work in what is an extremely effective club composition. Tresillo rhythms, Jersey club structures and glossy synth work dominate the 128th Astral Plane mix, a jarringly beautiful and distinctly modern path through myriad club genres that seems to heave and convulse in its own skin. It’s the manic analog City God assured confidence, teetering on the precipice without fully falling, a somewhat stressful place-of-being that keeps the listener constantly on edge. Full track list is after the jump and more || FLORA material can be found here.
“One question I’ve been asking myself lately is what happens if our architecture pushes to be fictional, forcing our lives into fantasy.”
With his first two releases out in the past year, New York’s Eaves is a relatively new name in the constantly expanding (and blurring) world of club music, but his perspective on the form feels far more articulated than artists and critics both far older and more experienced. Last March’s Hue EP on Seattle’s Hush Hush Records functioned as a startling introduction to Eaves, a chest rattling four-tracker touching on architectural tropes and blending ambient noise (bird sounds, static, eery pads) with a myriad of different percussion arrangements. December’s Gorilla, a uniquely arranged four movement piece for Purple Tape Pedigree, both expand and expound upon his work on Hue, maintaining the spatial awareness and dystopian sonics, but involving a much wider emotional range, full of the sort of anxiety and excitement both inherent in our persons and our environments.
We spoke with Eaves via email about Gorilla, fictional architectures, and having an appreciation for EDM as a musical idea. His Astral Plane mix features a series of vaulting rises and dips in energy, cutting across over 50 tracks from a who’s who of boundary pushing producers and peppered with bizarre vocals from an EDM pack and Call of Duty respectively. Referring to his short attention span, Eaves rejects that he does not see his own art/music/culture consumption as being “a calculated, contemplative experience,” instead seeing the process in terms of “osmosis” or “indigestion” and his Astral Plane mix, along with Gorilla‘s skirting, almost spastic form, certainly reflects (enforces?) that point of view, an almost uncontrollable tumble through the canon with plenty of outside noise and peripheral interference. Check out our full talk with Eaves after the jump as well as a full image-oriented track list and indulge in his Astral Plane mix below.