As autumn approaches, we take a look back on the artists and labels who have been busy readying releases for enjoyment at festivals, clubs, and parties during the long summer nights. Below are our 10 favourite 12” dance releases from July and August, from artists and labels who dedicate themselves to pressing these dance floor offerings to wax.
Joey G ii
The Ghost EP
New York’s Orphan Records co-founder Joey G ii takes the reins for the label’s fourth release, an EP packed with charred, garage-leaning percussion and celestial instrumentation. Across all four tracks, Joey G ii manages to integrate somewhat peculiar elements—like the list of R&B stars whose names are recited on “Working Aspirations (ft. Klein Zage)””—into dance music that’s bursting with soul and personality. Another pleasantly surprising feature of the EP is its prominent use of guitar. While this may sound like a recipe for disaster, Joey G ii’s playing is both intricate and graceful and raw and dirty, uniquely complementing the other components of each song. The entire release is an expertly executed collision of sounds, all presented in such a way as that it works just as well at home as it does on the dancefloor. Certified weirdo Reckonwrong steps up for remix duties on “Ridgewood B,” with his signature bizarre-o tendencies turning the track into a stuttering bounce, intermittently punctuated with delicate strings and piano lines.
West Friends’ sixth release comes from the fast-rising Siren affiliate MOONBOW. “BNND WDTH” is a pulsing trip through a digitally rendered solar system, powered by skipping breaks, walloping kicks and bass weight, ensuring that—as the album notes put it—“no nearby drinks are safe from spillage.” The track’s unforgiving drums and bottom end are beautifully contrasted by twinkling pads, spliced vocal samples and whirling, misty-eyed melodies, making it a valuable addition to the arsenal of any DJ tasked with keeping things punchy yet ethereal in the wee small hours. Montreal’s Ciel provides a “Bali Sunrise Mix” of “BNND WDTH,” which opens as a stripped back half-time take on the original, then quickly flips into a breaks-driven gallop.
Monty & Post Traumatic Drum Disorder
Flippen Disks is a new Amsterdam imprint run by Red Light Radio resident Monty. Their debut EP consists of four tracks from the label head himself, along with Post Traumatic Drum Disorder, as well as a remix from Düsseldorf native DJ Ungle. The tracks themselves weave hints of EBM, Goan trance, and booming percussion into dark, hazy grooves. Polyrhythmic beats start off the nine-minute “PTDD,” traversing a sonic landscape made up of muted snares and glistening arps, only to be broken down and then built back up again. This distinguished haziness is continued in “Tamboe,” a smartly designed track where percussion takes the main stage, delivering a highly danceable, floor-focused beat. “Haybo” begins dreamy and balearic, before bubbling into dark and trippy territory over the course of almost eight minutes. Lastly, DJ Ungle provides the remix for “Tamboe,” a shamanistic rework with pure trance glee.
After a formidable outing on Martyn’s label 3024, Yak returns to Düsseldorf imprint Version for two weapons-grade club tracks. There is no messing around here: Both “Umbra” and “Kaepora” get right down to business with finely tuned percussion and tight subs designed to cause damage wherever and whenever they’re aired. “Umbra” is built around a loose, almost half-time groove, dotted with darting snares and another deadly sub, while on “Kaepora,” busy hand drums fly around a hypnotic three-note motif, resulting in what Timbaland might sound like should he decide to slip into the hardcore continuum.
Devils In The Dust
X-Kalay is a south London label which has been releasing strong single after strong single since its inception three years ago. The most recent comes from Qnete, a Leipzig based artist with other offerings on labels like 777 records, Drowned, and Lobster Theremin to name but a few. With his latest release Qnete, aka Martin Uhde, does not disappoint. On Devils In The Dust, many different club sounds are tied together to create a well-rounded EP that, despite its versatility, never feels overwhelming. Standout “Sand Progression” delivers a pulsing batch of 606 house grooves, with rolling drums and vocals reminiscent of ‘90’s trance. Melodic pads allow for introspection on “Atacama Behemoth”; that song softly rolls into “Air Progression,” a modern-day take on jungle breaks with shimmering chords building up to an acidic breakdown. The EP winds down with “Touching Down, Taking Off”, a more melancholic, moodier cut with fragmented glowing scales set to a tribal rhythm.
“The UK’s Herbie Hancock” returns with a simmering four track EP packed with the kind of mind-boggling keyboard chops and musical energy Tatham became known for nearly two decades ago, as part of Bugz In The Attic. Serious Times kicks off with “The Cost of Living,” a rambunctious broken jazz/dance masterpiece that features an arrangement so bonkers, it’s guaranteed to leave even the most restrained of listeners with a permanent screw-face. Tatham keeps the energy levels high on both “Don’t Cry Now” and “Sugar,” utilizing his trademark soaring melodies and sophisticated harmonic expertise to mold tracks equally suited to nightclubs and music conservatoires. “Zallom” eases the tempo considerably, with a DJ Premier-esque groove backing up even more life-affirming chord changes, nicely cooling things off as the syncopated odyssey that is Serious Times draws to a close.
Man On Mountain
Man On Mountain is Karen Gwyer’s third release on Don’t Be Afraid, and her first offering of original material for the label since 2016’s Prophase Metaphase Anaphase Telophase. The four-track EP offers a thrilling insight into Gwyer’s creative process. “Faces On Ankles” begins with earth-shattering, off-center drums that are tied to an ascending polyrhythmic chord pattern, subtly morphing into a frantic techno roller before slyly switching back again. The exciting and unconventional arrangements are perhaps one of the disc’s strongest features. Gwyer consistently switches up the elements that make up the tracks in a way that feels smooth and natural. “Cherries On Shoulders” is a prime example, with its ever-evolving instrumentation going from introspective to anthemic to down-right unsettling. “Ian On Fire” and “Ribbon On Neck” starkly contrast the rest of the EP’s intensity as beat-less explorations into a murky synthesized world.
K15 & Simbad
Earth State EP
K15, Simbad, and Apron Records—a meeting of three names so well-respected that expectations were high the instant this EP was announced. Two remarkably versatile and talented producers whose ear for warped synths and intricate drum programming paired with a genuine love for a huge variety of music makes for an exciting creative prospect. Earth State is as good as a fan of either artist might hope. “Dry Mango Pt1” introduces the listener to the world of Earth State: Lush, swelling chords morph into each other while squealing lead lines build to a refined synth bass part that manages to keep things funky, despite the lack of drums. From there, the pair set off on an interplanetary voyage through gleaming chords, raw, jolting percussion, and dense bass, managing to feel organic and futuristic at the same time. The EP closes with arguably the most exciting track, “Dry Mango Pt2.” Picking up where its predecessor left off, the track sprints toward the finish line with urgently off-kilter drums and stargazing keys, led by a synth melody that sounds so hot its practically melting.
Lurka’s latest release on Wisdom Teeth is an homage to Bristol’s dance music heritage, cleverly reinterpreting that timeless sound while staying true to its spirit. Ambient drones and reverb drenched vocals start off “Stay Let’s Together,” which leads to a breakdown that pulls through steady percussion and glitchy electronics. “Plenty” lays glistening chords amidst broken techno, its bouncing drums gradually slipping away from one another. “Bodied” feels as if the percussion is being pulled even further apart, leaving space in between dubbed-out beats. Fresh talent is emerging once again, paving the way for a distinct new Bristol sound.
Australian electronic music polymath Andras serves up a dish of sizzling club music for Munich’s Public Possession. As the title suggests, Boom Boom is full fat dance fodder with rugged drum machine patterns carrying euphoric chords and melodies throughout the EP. While there’s a lot to gush about in terms of how dancefloor-ready this release is, it’s probably the opening track “Jingo” that will get the most rotation. With its percussion and irresistibly funky two note bass line mimicking each other throughout, Andras uses a sparse list of ingredients to cook up a stripped-back, gloriously fun club smash. Both “Conch” and “Rubber” are sure to be popular floor-fillers as well, with the former’s sundrenched chord breakdown and dirty synth snarls and the latter’s squelchy wriggling bassline making them a joy to dance to.