The beginning of fall has seen a cluster of highly idiosyncratic dancefloor and soundsystem releases from an international group of artists. Those with patience will appreciate a compilation from the Cease 2 Exist label, raising funds for the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund, and long-form entreaties from Chrisman and MvsterMindMuzik. Dana Lu and Toumba on the other hand, have synthesized their genre-spanning work into highly original EPs, the former distilling New York area sounds and the latter exploring a range of hybrid, low-end-heavy experiments.
Ingrate and ZULI, on the other hand, make music that is almost wholly unconventional yet immediately gratifying. The former’s A Melody Inside is characteristic of an artist who has repeatedly reinvented themselves yet comes out with a refined, coherent product each time. ZULI’s Komy, meanwhile, stitches together archival tracks from the past half decade-plus in a whirlwind of high intensity trial and error. Lastly, Nkisi has been quiet for the past few years but has come through with another unsparing narrative crossing.
Stockholm record label Cease 2 Exist, home of artists like Van Boom, Varg2™, and rip ME, has released an emergency compilation raising funds for the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund. The package hosts estoc, Ytem, Chemist, Toumba, and a host of others and, while full of solemn and songwriterly contributions, doesn’t pull any punches. Overexposed synth washes from Varg2™, Spöke, Van Boom, and FAKETHIAS make up the bulk of the material, while piercing drum and breaks-led numbers from Estoc, Toumba, and Bertrand. perforate the runtime.
Compact Disc (CD)
At 35 tracks, Chrisman’s Dozage eludes synopsis in both length and sonic scope, yet the Congolese artist’s most ambitious project to date nonetheless deserves critical apprehension. Swerving fiercely between a dozen or so genres—ranging from gqom and amapiano to tarraxo and drill—Chrisman shows off both his sonic tactility and skills of collaboration, weaving between rhythmic traditions, mic partners, and dancefloor (or otherwise) intentions. The package’s title track is particularly dense and formidable number, as is “Plani” feat. Ecko Bazz and “Tech Metal,” a churning arrangement of sub bass and clicking frenzy that comes in at track 31.
Dana Lu effortlessly stitches together vernacular dancefloor and pop sounds in a sonic tableau that will be familiar to residents of the Tri-state area. As a DJ, LU sees dembow, soca, Jersey Club and house music mixed, matched, and arranged for maximum effect, a set of sounds and rhythmic ventures that saw their compositional fruition on October’s Worldwide Link-Up. Released on Queens-based label APOCALIPSIS, the five-tracker features a range of New York vocalists and producers and leaps head-first into the sweaty club sounds that redound out of windows, car sound systems, and clubs throughout the five boroughs and beyond.
A Melody Inside
A Melody Inside is the culmination of Ingrate’s highly original approach to progressive house music and centripetal melodic sounds. Previous mixes—notably ‘A Special Feeling’ and Thinking About *Progressive—saw the Danish artist mine loopy, charmingly outré guitar-led dance music, a sound reproduced on A Melody Inside in spirit if not in direct sonics. Tracks like “Fifth” and “A Melody Inside” feel at once maximal in their use of the frequency spectrum and judicious in both sound palette and pacing, while the entire corpus flits between oneiric melancholy and an almost impossibility upbeat stride.
New Jersey’s MvsterMindMuzik is one of the East Coast’s most multifaceted producers, excelling in flex dance music (FDM) but also plying his trade at a number of other regional club forms. OMNI, the first long form MvsterMindMuzik release since 2021, by-and-large focuses on FDM and few do muscular dancehall sonics better. Elastic basslines, chopped to hell vocal samples, foley effects, and reverbed-out kicks abound, while guest features from Davincii, Hazard, Uninamise, and Yokai situate the release in the broader FDM scene.
Comprised of a film-specific composition and an original piece, Nkisi’s Avebury elides staid conceptions of both film scores and club music. A-side “Ndombala,” commissioned for Stanley Schtinter’s A Journey to Avebury, is 11 minutes of time-stretched screams, baroque resonance, and pulverized breaks. B-side “Centripetal Vortex” is more direct (as Nkisi tracks go), structuring an epochal moan around pistoning kicks, only for that to evaporate into an even more dissonant sub bass and percs workout.
Amman-based artist Toumba has broken out in recent years, placing standout EPs on labels like Hessle Audio, Nervous Horizon, and All Centre. For Palestine, from which proceeds will go to Medical Aid for Palestine, collects non-release efforts, lost files and dubs into a strikingly synchronous package of patient club tracks, soundsystem workouts, and psychedelic dancefloor exercises. “Ra3i” exemplifies the spirit of the package, at once writing alternate world dubstep and plotting out coordinates for a new direction of low-end-centric music.
Komy collects tracks made by ZULI between 2016 and the present, not so much made for the constant churn of releases as it is an outlet for odds and ends. Arguably, the project is better off for it, arranging a series of collaborations, dancefloor-focused hits and soundsystem-shattering exercises and funneling proceeds to Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP). “Bo2,” with Maoupa Mazzocchetti, is an immediate favorite, all stuttering digi-funk and blasted breakbeats, a specialty of ZULI’s yet given a diffident gloss this time around.