As we near winter in the Northern Hemisphere and clubbing season comes into full effect, we’ve been treated to a barrage of high quality dance music to help keep us moving during the colder months. Here are 10 crucial dance releases from September and October that remain committed to the scene’s favorite format: The 12” dance single.
Tom Blip & Swordman Kitala
Blip Discs return with more Ugandan fire, following last year’s release from the traditional percussion and vocal troupe Mubashira Mataali Group. A result of the same trip that introduced label head Tom Blip to Mubashira Mataali, Ugandan MC Swordman Kitala and Blip’s joint effort is a masterclass in cross-cultural club escapades. Swordman Kitala delivers a fierce vocal performance, with lyrics that skip between Luganda and English, as Tom Blip lays down perfectly programmed snare rolls and powerfully quivering bass hits. The B-side features a “Funky Mix” of the original, partially channelling the spirit of UK Funky pioneer Apple while solidly maintaining the Blip sound that has come to be ever so recognizable over the last few years.
Mor Elian delivers once again with her second release on Fever FM, the imprint she runs alongside Rhyw. The three-track EP cleverly uses sound to create a variety of textures, achieving the hypnotic synthetic atmospheres for which Mor Elian has become well known The EP begins with “Radical Spectacular,” its chiming and echoing opening eventually breaking down into glistening arpeggios and carefully placed percussion. “Wave of Alienation” is full of dark, blunt kicks that punch through metallic chimes and cackling vocal samples. Needlepoint jabs and a fluttering synth lay above dissected breaks in “Farewell to the Snare,” falling deeper into the rhythm before the track’s mesmerizing synths chime their way back into the mix.
Romaal Kultan drops a uniquely varied debut release with this fantastic four-tracker on YAM Records. Off Grid jumps from the low-slung groove of opening track “Isit” to the driving, uptempo rhythms of “New Levels”; on the B-side, Kultan tastefully unleashes a flurry of breaks across “High & Mighty” and “Turnin’.” The whole EP is packed full of daring musicality, but it never gets lost in itself or loses sight of the dancefloor. “High & Mighty” is a prime example, with its finely chopped breaks and distorted, acid-tinged bass line, creating a rock solid bed over which Romaal Kultan lays lush pads, delicate digi-flute fills, and intermittent stabs of spliced vocal samples.
Metal Glo EP
Klasse Wrecks and Pelvis join forces to release the latest 12” from fast rising Australian producer Roza Terenzi. The aptly titled “Metal Glo” is centred around what sounds like a demented, digitized percussion part being played on rusty construction scaffolding; it’s accompanied by a formidable electro beat and unhinged synth bleeps. “All Starz” is a four-to-the-floor driven stomper, complete with irresistibly skippy snares and synth bleeps, the frenetic nature of which is tastefully contrasted by some beautifully calming pads. Luca Lozano, Mr. Ho, Morgan Wright and RP are enlisted for tag team remix duties on the title track, delivering their own twisted takes on the original while staying true to its bizarre, metallic nature.
Desert Sound Colony
The Cartographer EP
Following popular releases on Nick Hoppner’s Touch From A Distance and Futureboogie earlier this year, Desert Sound Colony delivers what are possibly his most pronounced and individual productions to date as the inaugural release on Scenic Route. The Cartographer EP is as sonically striking as it is functional. The title track oozes sleaze, steadily building to an overpowering cacophony before stripping it all back again for the final hurdle. “Gypsy Moth,” with Guava, is sure to be the club favorite, led by gritty and highly syncopated drums, melting agogo bells, and an undoubtedly British two-note bassline. DSC leaves things on an ominous note with “Budapest,” where an unsettling arp and pads combo sits atop jilted percussion, while an unintelligibly deep voice intermittently chimes in to make the track all the more unnerving.
After his debut on the label with Drama in Decay, Gamma Intel returns to Brokntoys with another slamming four-track EP. The Rotterdam-based producer delivers a wide array of sounds that join the dots between EBM, breakbeat, electro, and acid. “Automatic Illusion” is built on a pulsating, ominous bass beat which, combined with its crispy snares, create a dark EBM sound. Spacious and slow, the breaks and acidic melodies on “No Way Out” weave in and out, creating an eerie and vacant sound. Acid lines rise and fall between vocals in “Bad Intel,” which peak before dropping down into stabs and snare rolls. The last track echoes the sentiments of its predecessors, rolling acid and breaks into a new-beat electro sound that consistently delivers on the dancefloor.
A number of years ago, Africaine 808’s DJ Nomad received a CD-R of previously unreleased material from Antillean Gwo Ka star Esnard Boisdur. One of the standout tracks was “Mizik Bel”, which quickly went on to become a favorite at the Tropical Discoteque parties where Nomad is a resident. The original track, “Mizik Bel,” is a glorious slice of Caribbean choral funk, and it’s easy to see why it quickly became such a hit with dancers and fans of the lesser-known strands of Caribbean music. It took three years for Favourite Recordings to track down the original ADAT tapes so that Nomad and his production partner Dirk Leyers could give the track the remix treatment it deserves. The duo tastefully embellish the original, adding a touch of Kraut synth and some extra percussion, reworking the arrangement while managing to maintain the magic of Boisdur’s performance.
R. Campana & D. Reggi
Melbourne label A Colourful Storm reissue a classic from the golden era of electro. The three tracks on Sequence Unity are compiled from two different releases from Groove Pressure and First Cut Records, originally released in 2001 and 2003 respectively. Spaced out and stripped back, the 12” merges breaks, electro, and tech-house from the heyday of Europe’s underground dance scene. The euphoric peaks and troughs on “Sequence Unity” are combined with vocoder robotics to create gliding melodies, perfect for the early morning dance floors. The second track, “Le Preset Du Hasard” begins with bluntly clipped glitches and twangs that evolve into spaced-out, dreamy lead lines. “Electro Voice” is centred around a pounding 808 tech-house beat that’s topped with crackling droid vocals, by far the darkest of the three cuts.
The second single from Ground’s latest album Sunizm is a beautifully lilting bit of uplifting, nonchalant dance music. The track effortlessly unfolds, utilizing a diverse palette of organic and synthesized sounds with soothing semi-coherent vocals, evoking the feeling of emerging from a winter slumber into cool spring morning air. Jay Glass Dubs steps up on remix duties, using the track’s original elements to create a somewhat darker affair, with a wall of stuttering percussion steadily building until the vocals are introduced, dispelling the darkness, allowing the light of the original to shine through. It’s hard to imagine how “Ozone House” didn’t make it onto the full album, landing somewhere between Midori Takada’s MKWAJU Ensemble and Ladysmith Black Mambazo. The marching handclaps, swirling idiophone, and squelchy bass leads to one of the most glorious vocal arrangements committed to tape this year. It’s guaranteed to make audiences move and get misty-eyed in equal measure, if played in the right setting.
Pye Corner Audio
Dark Phase EP
Pye Corner Audio returns to Madrid-based label Analogical Force following his Hollow Earth LP from earlier this year. The Dark Phase EP consists of four menacing electro cuts packed with sinister, acerbic synths and bone crushing drum machine workouts—a perfect soundtrack for our quasi-dystopian times. “Storm Cloud” introduces the listener to the world of Dark Phase, an unnerving lead line sets the scene before a powerful, stripped-back beat and busy acid bassline take the reins, steadily building to a frenetic climax. Despite its merciless nature, “Storm Cloud” is just an appetizer, as “Solar Waves” and “Darktro” descend further into the electro abyss, with dangerously corrosive basslines and punishing drum programming. Closing out the EP is “Explorer” which, while continuing the devastatingly dark theme, offers a glimpse of hope with its lofty chords and hypnotic, sky gazing melodies suggesting a possible escape to a planet less doomed than our own.