What have we got for you this month? How about some Colombian rave, some South African sass, Ghanaian finesse, California velvet, a little Irish piano ecstasy, Australian acid, abstract opera rave, and 190 BPM French bassbin wobblers? And that’s just for starters! There’s also Mingus-goes-grime, gqom-goes-dancehall, laser-zap mushroom music, dystopian panic, the purest of Dutch techno and just to keep it all rooted: a resurrected 10-minute blast of H-O-U-S-E house. It’s a lot! But don’t worry, it’ll all make perfect sense if you just press play…
CRRDR (or Corridor) calls this music “Latin Tek.” It’s basically the loping Dembow rhythms of reggaetón both sped the hell up and cut the hell up, with really ugly, almost gabber-like kickdrums slammed underneath. That’s it. It’s basic, brutal, and absolutely brilliant. In fact, you might want to apologize to your neighbors in advance, as bumping it very loud is downright addictive.
20 Snack Nuggets Vol. 1
The label Metr Music, run from Southeast London and Dartmoor, has, in just a short time, built an impressive spread of folktronica, wonky acid house, and more. This time they’ve got all of that variety in one release. But don’t be fooled by the short tracks and jokey presentation; these tunes—which range from string-laden jungle to lo-fi, honky-tonk piano house to laser-zap mushroom grime—pack a potent emotional punch, as well as top-shelf production and groove.
Four to the floor; whooshy noises; a couple of bleeps and bloops; and hammering piano chords. Really, sometimes that’s all you need, and Irish producer and Moot Tapes impresario Polytunnel has delivered all of those ingredients just right, which will get your hands flying skywards and your eyes rolling back into your head. Remixes twist tracks into breakbeat rave—thanks, Denham Audio!—and two different flavors of piercing hypertrance (courtesy of Lighght and Jellypelt), keeping the energy levels at 11. But they’re hard-pressed to beat the original, which is the platonic ideal of a banger.
Joe Seaton, aka Call Super, has become obsessed with the avant-garde soprano Kamala Sankaram, to the point where he’s not so much sampled her as slammed a massive chunk of one of her pieces into the middle of the lead track here. Thankfully, his natural instincts as a mind-bending DJ are in full effect, and the way Sankaram is incorporated into the boingy, trippy, post-dubsteppy groove could easily turn a room upside down. Densely layering fizzing and chattering synths and voices onto a Larry Heard-type house groove on “I Love Like Your Man” is pretty compelling too.
Ghanaian-British producer Hagan cites UK funky and broken beats among his influences, but there’s a deluxe lushness to his production and extended jazz instrumental breaks that also hint at lavish U.S. house/jazz/soul names like Joe Clausell. Across this album, Hagan delivers downbeat swooning, sophisticated groovers, and outright slammers—all of it with so much finesse, so much natural sense of Black Atlantic diasporic interplay, and so much sheer joy, that this easily rates as one of the finest albums of the year. It’s up there with Karen KG Nyame’s Sensei II as one of the most advanced explorations of Afropop and dance music.
UK dancehall talent Lady Lykez’s creative partnership with the ever-brilliant Scratchclart (aka Scratcha DVA) continues to bear fruit. Over five tracks here, Scratchclart makes the zaps and springs of gqom and grime sound taut and weird, while LL wraps her syllables tightly around them with effortless skill. The distinctive voices of Zulu enchanter Toya Delazy and London poet Trim just embellish this perfect combination.
The label Outlines, from Poland, has a distinctive audiovisual aesthetic based on stark minimalism and Chicagoan footwork. Glu River, from Frenchman Romain Dessert, keeps up the architectural elegance, though it’s got a bit more hardcore techno than usual to it. The detail is absolutely exquisite over all seven tracks, but the dystopian edge can be a bit panic-inducing.
“Rain (Instrumental 2022 Edit)”
Portugal’s Rui Da Silva is well known for his high-gloss pop-house, and also for extremely finessed minimal tech house DJ tools. But this lost track from his archives is something else. A co-production with Boys Own’s Terry Farley, it’s a 10-minute epic clearly inspired by the “wild pitch” of DJ Pierre and Felix Da Housekat, and the early tribal house of Junior Vasquez and Danny Tenaglia. It takes its sweet time to let its funky organs and bongos work their magic, but it’s all the better for that deferral of release. Huge fun for DJs to play around with, too.
Moonbeams In My Hand
An Englishman in Melbourne making music that sounds like it’s from Frankfurt in 1993? Great! This type of slamming acid—brutal drums, slap-round-the-head claps, and squawking 303s—will never, ever get old, and the tracks have no truck with breakdowns or drops, just accumulating intensity and total delight in the sonics of distortion and modulation. Four perfect slabs of dirty sweatbox sound.
L.A.’s 100% Silk never let up, delivering a constant flow of dreamlike sound. This month is no exception, with three releases from the label. Israel’s Staghorns and Malta’s Malasso both come correct, but it’s San Fransisco’s Michael Claus that really tickles the synapses and plucks the heartstrings, simply because it’s very, very gentle. Recorded during COVID-19 lockdown, these tracks have that same trick Moodymann pulls, where every single sound seems coated in velvet. But the framework is skeletal electropop and cosmic disco—with a surprise hint of drum & bass on the title track—so light it feels it might float away at any minute.
“Fuzzy Logic” b/w “Still Flowing Water”
Fifteen years into their existence, Hessle Audio are still calmly demolishing raves worldwide. These are Hessle co-founder Kevin “Pangaea” McAuley’s first new tracks since 2020, and they’re up there with his most immediate. “Fuzzy Logic” feels like the vintage Yorkshire bleep & bass of records like Nightmares On Wax’s “Aftermath,” albeit precision-tooled with 2020s technology, while “Still Flowing Water” does a similar thing with Kevin Saunderson’s disco techno as Inner City, with surprise eruptions of trance just to push the heightened vibes further. Both bubble with breathless energy, and will be sure to cause a scene.
Délices du Midi
Footwork jitteriness sped up to 190 BPM, but with a half-time dancehall groove and an old-school dubstep sense of space and patience, plus jazz licks as filtered through a mid-‘90s, golden age hip-hop sensibility. These two tracks from the South of France might sound simple—and they are proper bassbin wobblers above all else—but there’s a heck of a lot going on in each one.
Building Something Beautiful for Me
Vinyl LP, Compact Disc (CD)
North Londoner Loraine James has very quickly become one of the most beloved musicians in leftfield electronic music. Systematically dismantling musical boundaries, she’s mapped out whole new territories with each new record. But even by her adventurous standards, Building Something Beautiful for Me is bold: a collaboration across generations and continents exploring the energy of young, Black, queer creativity. Here, James both reworks and takes inspiration from the late composer Julius Eastman, turning it into mutant electronic soul. It is very, very beautiful. A deep bittersweetness runs through the entire album—and that’s before you start unpacking the conceptual or cultural significance.
Jumping Back Slash
A UK expat in South Africa, Swak Catalog label founder Jumping Back Slash is fond of provocative social media statements and flippant track titles. But he’s deadly serious about his music. Here, we have vocodered Steve Reich with military drums and huge sub bass (“A Heartwrenching Song of Astonishing Imagination”), hugely menacing pop (“Just Tell Yourself It’s Alright (And Everything Will Be Alright)”), terrifyingly discordant flute gqom (“U Said U Wouldn’t But U Did”) and what sounds like Mingus going grime on the title track. It all grooves like a mother, too.
Wildly mind-bending, punk-disco rabble-rousing from the Cape Town diva, who seems to get more and more confident with every release. On “Glow,” you’ll find large helpings of Grace Jones, of 808 State in 1990 rave mode, of electroclash, and of serious techno synthesis—all of which pierces your head like glass darts as the track goes on. Self-expression that grabs your shoulders and shakes you awake.
Stefan Robbers and his label Eevo Lute have been around since dawn of Dutch techno, and they’re still committed to cranking out Detroit-indebted musical spaceflight. It’s kind of extraordinary, really, that each tune on Cocoonings has the same elements—an acid line, an electro-infused beat with steady kick, a few subliminal leads, and big lush pads that rise up in the middle section of the track—yet each somehow sounds nothing like the others. Rather, they each sound like a different port of call in an interstellar adventure.