Tag Archives: Octo Octa

Inês Coutinho’s Naive and Naivety Labels Help Open Up Dance Music

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When Inês Coutinho was growing up in Lisbon, Portugal, she loved dance music. The problem was that she couldn’t see herself in it: not in the label rosters full of serious-looking white dudes, nor the record bins overflowing with pounding minimal techno meant to bang against warehouse walls. “No one like me was making music,” she remembers thinking. Or, if they were, they’d been rendered invisible, leaving her feeling like an outsider. “I thought I would never be cool or credible enough.”

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This Week’s Essential Releases: Dream Pop, Post-Punk, R&B And More

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Welcome to Essential Releases, our weekly roundup of the best music on Bandcamp. Each week, we’ll recommend crucial new albums that were released between last Friday and this Friday, plus pick an older LP from the stacks that you may have missed.

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Machine Music: Great Contemporary Albums Made on an MPC

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L to R: Andras Fox, Steven Julien, Octo Octa

While it’s arguable that a certain Roland drum machine might be more famous, Akai’s MPC sampler series could easily be considered one of history’s most iconic pieces of music production hardware. Though its various generations all have had different features, they almost all employ the four-by-four grid of pads that allows users to play their patterns and rhythms in real time. This process of inputting information, along with the ability to arrange, chop, and play back samples (and MIDI information) in any way the user imagines opened up new musical paths that were previously impossible.

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Big Ups: Chrissy Selects His Favorite Dance Music on Bandcamp

Chrissy

Christopher Shively—aka Chrissy, Chrissy Murderbot, Chris E. Pants, or one half of Chrissy & Hawley—is one of the great dance music scholars of our time. He’s fiercely knowledgeable about both the minutiae and the big-picture stuff in the evolution of club scenes and sounds over the continents and decades, and has blogged fanatically on the subject.

But crucially, his knowledge is best expressed via his own productions and connect-the-dots DJ sets. His Murderbot material on Planet Mu mixed U.K. jungle and rave with Jamaican dancehall, Trinidadian soca, and the footworking beats of his now-hometown Chicago (he’s originally from Kansas)—but more recently, he’s gone further into Chicago’s roots with preposterously funky, chunky house, and disco productions and edits.

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His mixing, which led The Black Madonna to call him “one of the best DJs ever to walk the earth,” is both informative (see his genre-a-week Year Of Mixtapes from 2009-10) and body-rocking (you don’t get to be a resident at Chicago institution The Smart Bar unless you can get people moving). So if you want a guide to the best new-sounding old dance music, old-sounding new dance music, and generally great dancefloor tracks, Chrissy is a man worth listening to.

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The Ten Best House Records of 2017 So Far

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Illustration by Braulio Amado.

House music in 2017 feels like it is, once again, open to all influences. It is soulful and vocal or fucked-up and dark. It’s reduced to perfectly infectious loops, or supersized to abrasive effect. Reissues and classic sounds are still as popular as ever, sure, but new music feels refreshingly free from a single overarching narrative. That’s a welcome change from recent years in which, after the rise of dubstep, new producers took that sound’s low-end heft to make bass-driven house, then garage house, then pseudo-deep house.

After that, house music crossed over into the mainstream once more, and enjoyed a period of chart success akin to the early ‘90s heyday of second-wave pioneers like Masters at Work and Armand Van Helden. Nowadays, mainstream artists like Duke Dumont, Gorgon City, and Bondax might not fit into the underground scene, but they were the big names who—for better or worse—took house out of sweaty basements and into supersize Ibiza clubs via the top of the U.K. charts.

But now, it feels like house music’s moment in the sun has passed: the big, catchy vocals, organ stabs, and polished kicks are gone, and it is back to being the soundtrack to smaller back rooms—raw, and driven by real emotion, rather than simple hooks and obvious basslines. As such, grime has seemingly taken up the mantel as the genre du jour: not only did the hashtag #grime4Corbyn get young voters involved in the 2017 U.K. election—such is the influence of the genre—but artists like Skepta and Giggs have started to make waves Stateside thanks in part to the fact that Drake invited them to collaborate on his latest album.

A look at the names on major festival lineups (from Richie Hawtin and The Belleville Three at Coachella to Seth Troxler at Glastonbury via the continued dominance of Marco Carola’s Music On party in Ibiza) confirms that big room techno, too, has become more popular than ever. Last year, in fact, it overtook tech house as the highest selling genre on Beatport. All this means that house music, if not under siege, is certainly in the back seat.

But 2017 has already served up many highlights from a wide range of producers located all over the world, from lo-fi and fuzzy to jazzed-up and deep, to majestically instrumental. Importantly, nothing really ties them together but for an impossible-to-articulate mix of soul and rhythm that always feels a bit more organic and human than the machine-made, future-facing styles of techno.

With that in mind, and in no particular order, here are the ten best house releases that made it onto Bandcamp in the first half of this year.

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