In this new column, Sean Keating goes crate-digging on Bandcamp, and returns with the hottest 12”s released during the previous two months.
The 12” dance single has been synonymous with clubs and DJs since its first appearance more than 50 years ago. That’s in part due to its practical nature: It saves the DJ from having to needle-drop their way through album cuts, and its spacious grooves and speedy RPMs make it, to some ears, the “loudest” vinyl format by a long shot. (You can argue your own opinion on that statement in the comments.) And while the digital revolution has resulted in DJs choosing to carry a tiny USB stick instead of crate-tons of vinyl, a large number of labels, artists, and fans remain dedicated to the format. Below are 10 of the most exciting 12” dance releases to hit Bandcamp over the past two months, ranging from eerie mystic house to misfit Miami bass, courtesy of artists and labels from Bologna to Calgary via St. Petersburg and beyond.
St. Petersburg has long been known as the rave capital of Russia, but releases like this from local producer Maruwa remind us why the city still deserves the title. The A1, “31 Seconds,” kicks things off in fine style, with expertly chopped breaks, a weighty, bouncing bassline and a refreshingly uplifting piano breakdown that provides a welcome contrast to the song’s manic nature. On the single’s remaining tracks, Maruwa dives further into early rave nostalgia, managing to steer clear of pastiche. While all the tracks give obvious nods to the sounds of yesteryear, they also have one eye firmly fixed on the dystopian future, with Maruwa letting a wide range of influences show—whether it’s her time studying as a classically trained pianist, or her fondness for emotive atmospherics and extraterrestrial soundscapes.
Nas1 & Brothermartino
Dog Cuts EP
Bologna upstarts Nas1 & Brothermartino have been making bigger and bigger waves over the past year, with a string of crucial releases on labels like Money $ex Records, Sonar Kollektiv, and Wild Oats. Here, they present the first offering on their own imprint, Slices Of A Dog. The Dog Cuts EP dishes up four oddball heaters, complete with ethereal chord sequences, squelchy basslines, and unhinged live drum machine patterns. All four tracks deftly balance tripped-out, headsy musicality with raw club sensibilities, but it’s the pulsing rhythms and relentless bass on “NBM03” that will most likely become the dancefloor favorite. Having already garnered support from the likes of Funkineven, Max Graef, Byron the Aquarius, and more, Nas1, Brothermartino, and Slices Of A Dog are on a steep upwards trajectory.
Mystic Warrior EP
Following on from his Mystery Dub EP on Second Circle last year, Paris’s premiere dance music shaman marks the beginning of a new season on Antinote with a killer release, further exploring the mysterious sounds of the cosmic digital rainforest. The A-side features two club-ready numbers that are as funky as they are unsettling and ominous. The title track is a deep, stargazing roller, while the A2, “Elements,” is darker, with angular percussion and a classic rave bassline that contrasts nicely with lush pads and a gliding lead melody. D.K. takes the tempo down a few notches on the B-side, fully immersing the listener in the synthetic jungle sound he has been steadily cultivating. “Worries In The Dance” is just that—a paranoid, bottom-heavy soundtrack to an unsettling walk home alone after a night out. “Earth People,” which closes the EP, releases the tension built up by the previous song with a low-slung rhythm, spiraling flutes, and a more organic feel.
Nicola Conte & Gianluca Petrella
Free Your Mind EP
Nicola Conte and Gianluca Petrella join forces again for their third 12” on Schema, ahead of a collaborative full-length later this year. On Free Your Mind, Conte and Petrella pay further homage to the West African musical traditions that influence them so heavily. The duo get straight into party mode on the title track, powered by a formidable Afrobeat rhythm section and punctuated by bright horns and infectious synth lines. “Imani River” features lofty guest vocals from Bridgette Amofah over a rolling 6/8 beat, on which the duo return from the cosmos to the club, covered in space dust but ready for one last dance.
Stevie Whisper’s Donkey Milk
Yes label boss Stevie Whisper steps up for the label’s sophomore release with an EP of gritty, post-punk influenced dance music. The Belgrade-based label pride themselves on “celebrating hypnotic repetitive music to dance to” and Donkey Milk fulfills that mission. While all selections are undeniably repetitive, the subtle evolution of each arrangement holds the audience’s attention throughout. This is perhaps partially owed to the fact that the EP is a largely collaborative effort. “Public Homage Ltd.,” “Lost,” and “Cloughie” feature spoken word contributions from Wilson and Andria (the latter’s split EP with A//O was the label’s first offering). On “Lavender” and “White Button,” Whisper joins forces with 33.10.3402 and Mystee for two percussion-driven tracks that would be as equally at home in a ‘70s avant-garde horror film as they would at a rave.
Wolf Müller Meets The Nile Project
Wolf Müller Meets The Nile Project
Now something of a household name in the world of freaked-out electronics and weirdo club hits, Wolf Müller (aka Bufiman/Jan Schulte/Diskoking Burnhart McKoolski…the list of aliases goes on) delivers a remarkable joint effort with The Nile Project via Huge Mendez’s new label, Nouvelle Ambiance. The Nile Project is an initiative that works to connect people and cultures living along the Nile through a variety of projects—some of which are musical collaborations, like this one. In 2016, Wolf Müller traveled to Aswan, Egypt and recorded with Kasiva Mutua, Adel Mekha, and Rapasa Nyatrapasa Otieno to create the bones of what would become Wolf Müller meets The Nile Project. Over the course of four tracks, traditional Nubian vocals, nyatiti melodies, and other local sounds collide with Wolf Müller’s signature drum programming and bizarre synth workouts to create a truly unique pan-continental dance record. While “Mabomba Dance” is the obvious club cut, the whole EP is as enjoyable to hear at home as it is on the dancefloor.
Dublin’s Moving Still delivers four Middle Eastern-tinged club tracks via The Nail Shop. As the title suggests, With Oud takes influence from a variety of musical cultures native to the Arab peninsula, partly exploring Moving Still’s own Saudi heritage. On the A1, “Al Disco Haram,” a pulsing mizmar melody entwines itself with a busy 303 bassline. Things take a darker turn on “3awiz Tramadol,” where a gritty swinging drum pattern creates an eerie musicality, with much of the sound palette harkening back to the classic stylings of Elektroids or Drexciya. As the label says themselves: “Waneet” is “one for the Habibis and Habibtis.” A broken, syncopated drum pattern and a delicately chopped female vocal sample lead the charge, culminating in a frenetic acid workout before coming back down to a solid groove at the finish. “With Oud” leaves us on a reflective note, boasting weightless pads, G-funk tinged synths, and a body-warming sub to boot.
Textasy & Nasty King Kurl
Textasy & Nasty King Kurl provide formidable late-night weaponry on Bombers. First up is Textasy’s “Highland Park Acid,” a brutally distorted acid track complete with a deranged, anonymous sermon weaving in and out of the music. “Hold Up Wait A Minute” is an outrageously fun electro oddity on which Textasy splices a handful of lost and found vocal snippets over furious drums and an obnoxious bassline. Nasty King Kurl mirrors Textasy’s mania on the B-side with “No Thanks” and “Sucka DJs! (ft. Kiki).” The former is a scathing rant about electronic music, calling out various scenes and tropes over a relentless stripped-back beat; “Sucka DJs!” is a slice of sleazy Miami bass, sprinkled with euphoric rave nostalgia.
Burnout 2099 EP
Purveyors of all things bass music, Leipzig, Germany-based Defrostatica have been releasing cutting-edge dance music since they began in 2015. HomeSick’s most recent EP for the label, Burnout 2099, is no different. Expertly blending the worlds of instrumental hip-hop, dancehall, drum & bass, and beyond, the producer delivers an incredibly varied project that manages to sound coherent despite its eclectic range of influences. “Running On Empty (ft. So Loki)’’ is a mutant rap anthem, “Afronta!” is grimey dancehall with a heavily treated vocal loop, and “Get Back Up” is a twisted flirtation with jungle; the remaining tracks are a masterclass in treading the line between boundary-pushing electronic music and no-frills club heat.
2019 has already been a busy year for Laroye, with two releases under his belt on Magic Black and Visions, respectively. On Colombia 26a, Laroye further flexes his musical prowess with three Afro-Latin inspired house jams. As the title suggests, “Colombia 26a” takes its rhythmic influence from the South American country’s cumbia tradition, interlacing the track’s powerful percussion with chord stabs and formidable bottom end. Laroye takes things up to full throttle on “The Trickster,” a certified club banger with possibly the funkiest keyboard line this year, eventually exploding into a screaming synth solo. The release winds down with “Espiritú”; built around a hypnotic polyrhythm, Laroye employs his skill at choral arrangements to create an undulating, soulful groove, complete with trippy lap steel guitar and a nameless guiding voice.