Hidden Gems: El Plvybxy, “Abya Yala”

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Like an EDM Janus, El Plvybxy’s Abya Yala EP faces forward and back, pairing post-club production with a pre-Columbian mindset. Released on Houston’s MAJIA label, it’s an intricate hybrid of techno, trance, and traditional South American rhythms. El Plvybxy—a founder of the visionary Buenos Aires netlabel/collective AGVA—drew on his Argentinian and Brazilian roots for these tracks, which the producer crafted amid his travels through both countries.

Field recordings—captured by El Plvybxy in the Regiao dos Lagos region of Brazil— feature heavy into the mix. On-site wind and water sounds are translated into melodic synth parts and combined with regional percussion patterns and fragments of human voice. These techniques ground the production in living history and physical terrain. The title itself references land; Abya Yala is the name used by the Guna people to refer to their region, both before European colonization, and today.

The album, however brief, abounds in sonic detail: the percussive lattice and mournful sliding techno driving “Febre,” the adrenalized ecosystem humming  with life on “Lazos,” the relentless static coursing through “Veneno.” Elsewhere, “Paraiso Entre Rocas,” a collaboration with the vocalist Morita Vargas, finds the producer deftly uncoiling tightly-wound synths as if on autopilot; naturally, the accompanying remix, from Lao, delivers a sprawling, trance-like listen, too.

The eye is drawn to the EP’s evocative cover image: sun, moon, owl, and planet, stylized in black and white. It’s a flag inspired by indigenous symbols, forming a perfect visual for the production’s sense of reverence and style.

-Mike Pursley

Ex Hex’s Mary Timony is Real

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Photography by Josh Sisk

“Our names are so similar. Where is your family from?”

That’s Mary Timony, guitarist and leader of D.C. power trio Ex Hex, whose musical career stretches back nearly 30 years. She’s on the phone with me, Mariana Timony, to talk about her band’s latest record, the radiant It’s Real. And I’m about to make a really cringey confession.

Some backstory first.

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Antwerp’s Surrealist Underground

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Elko B. by Danny Willems

“Last night I had a dream,” says Antwerp producer and restaurateur Roman Hiele, squinting into the February sun. “We were all playing hide and seek. All the people that make music in Antwerp were trying to hide from each other.” We’re sitting in the square in front of Table Dance, the fine-dining snack bar and music venue Hiele runs with his partner Michelle Woods. The plaza used to be the center of Antwerp’s now gentrified red-light district, and Table Dance has become a focal point for the scene. “It can feel like Groundhog Day,” says fellow producer Milan W. “In the last two months, I have been to this club, Forbidden City, every Friday.” “At this point, I don’t even say goodbye anymore, because I run into everyone 12 hours later,” adds Hiele. “That’s probably why I had that dream!” 

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Seven World Wonders From Discrepant Records’ Global Experimental Universe

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By Gonçalo Cardoso’s own admission, his label Discrepant’s output can often appear frantic—scattershot even. “Someone once described the label as like a crazy dog running in every direction,” Cardoso says excitedly over Skype. “I kind of see it that way, too.”

Since Discrepant’s 2011 inception, the label has released a slew of willfully strange but no less captivating records from artists around the globe. The synth and guitar experimentations of Beirut’s Charbel Haber rub shoulders with the haunted loops of Turkey’s Koray Kantarcioğlu. Syria’s Rizan Said, a trailblazing dabke musician, sits next to the washed-out beat collages of Istanbul-based El Mahdy Jr. Mastering duties are handled primarily by Rashad Becker at Berlin’s Dubplates & Mastering studio, who preserves the individual grit and rawness of each recording. Despite such sonic differences, it’s possible to trace a line—even if it zig-zags and doubles back on itself—throughout Discrepant’s nearly 10-year history.  Continue reading

Album of the Day: KOKOROKO, “KOKOROKO”

In the Nigerian dialect Urhobo, kokoroko means “be strong,” and the strength of this eight-member London-based band lies in their deft balance of sweeping horns, jittery guitar lines, and jubilant vocals. On their latest EP, the traditions of African musical luminaries like Fela Kuti and Ebo Taylor are carried on by their contemporary descendants, on four songs that create rich, colorful worlds of sound, and make a case for Afrobeat’s transatlantic connection.

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Brazil Avant-Punks Deafkids Unpack Bolsonaro-Era Anxities On Tense New LP

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Photos by Jean Ribeiro

“Most people spend their lives believing that all of their feelings should be expressed only through three or four instruments,” says Deafkids’ drummer Mariano. He’s not passing judgment here; after all, his band’s earliest roots were in straightforward, D-beat punk. Rather, he’s musing on the question of how the heavy music community can free itself of the Eurocentric framework in which it has been forced to operate for decades, and embrace a wider diversity of musical traditions the way that he and his bandmates have done. For a Brazilian band, signed to an American label, who is gearing up to release its third album internationally — and appear at a Dutch festival next month, it’s a question worth considering.  Continue reading

Jade Bell, ANOHNI, and J. Ralph Release New Song “Karma” to Benefit Jade’s Kids

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Today, Jade Bell, Academy Award-nominated composer J. Ralph, and ANOHNI have released “KARMA,” the proceeds from which will benefit Jade’s Kids, a non-profit organization founded by Bell to help creatively inspire young people. One of the organization’s keystone programs is the Salty Rock Music Recording and Mentorship Program, which gives youth in the Southern Gulf Islands the opportunity to record their songs professionally, empowering them through creativity.

The roots of Jade’s Kids are deep and personal to Bell. In 1997, a drug overdose left him both blind and immobile; in the years that followed, he began making presentations on the dangers of substance abuse to students across Canada. In 2008, Bell formed the group Blind Focus, pairing his poetry with folk and blues arrangements. Last year, Bell reached out to ANOHNI, who was so moved by Bell’s story that she and J. Ralph began writing “KARMA,” the lyrics to which are drawn from Bell’s original poetry.

“Jade is so great, and his work reaching out to kids is having a real impact,” says ANOHNI. “Living in the world today can be tough. So many more kids, as well as adults, across the world are addicted to painkillers and pharmaceuticals that can kill us so easily It wasn’t hard to to get behind someone with as much guts as Jade, who is helping young people to reach for creativity instead of heroin or fentanyl. Please buy the single, and donate whatever you can afford to support Jade in his service to the community. I did it as a way of connecting to and caring for others as part of a larger family. You can too.”

Album of the Day: Tamaryn, “Dreaming the Dark”

Listening to New Zealand-born Tamaryn’s Dreaming the Dark feels like a borderline spiritual experience—which makes sense, given her upbringing. Though the singer-songwriter hesitates to use the word “cult,” her communal childhood was anything but traditional, an environment which instilled within her a deep sense of music’s ability to heal. This ethos permeates Dreaming the Dark—there is an echoing depth at the album’s core that feels similar to New Age drones, which comes fully to the fore “Fits of Rage” and “You’re Adored,” where Tamaryn decelerates from the album’s otherwise steady pace.

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