The last few months have seen praise heaped on noisier, more experimental tracks and an ongoing debate over the place of fringe club sounds.
With artists like Arca, Rabit and M.E.S.H. lionized in both popular and experimental circles, more and more artists seem to be adopting bleak, abstract sound design and pushing a narrative that eschews traditional musical tenets. Winter is a perfect time for hearing the bleaker end of this spectrum, and artists like Ausschuss, OMAAR and a bevy of gqom producers have us extremely excited for various movements in darker realms.
That said, Baltimore, Jersey and Philly club has us as excited as ever and DJ Sega, DJ Tiga, DJ J Heat and others have put out some of their best work to date in the past month. It should be an exciting year for artists pushing dancefloor sounds into more extreme rhythmic territory, as well as artists flouting rhythm all together. NON, Staycore, NAAFI, Knives and Tobago Tracks led the way in 2015 and we can’t wait to see which outfits take over in 2016.
Based in Berlin (via Brighton), Ausschuss has quickly become one of our favorite producers pushing into darker sounds, and ‘Regolith’ is an absolute monster of a track, positioning the sort of harsh sonics and sheer physicality favored by Rabit and M.E.S.H. artists with a spatial quality and subtly beautiful vocal chops. Also see his remix of Acre’s ‘Spirals’ and mix for Disc Magazine.
One of our 10 Club Producers To Watch in 2016, DJ Delish has started off the year in strong form with the 1996 album/mixtape, a collection of nine tracks touching on hip-hop, R&B and ballroom.
It’s all too easy to reduce ballroom to a genre centered around the “ha” sample, but artists like Delish, MikeQ and Divoli S’vere constantly challenge that assumption and their work belies the often reductive narratives surrounding the culture. That said, ‘Vaginal Discourse’ is an absolute smasher, hitting like a modern-day, off-kilter take on Cajmere’s ‘Percolator’. We’ll be lucky if we hear a better release from the ballroom world this year.
Known primarily as a NAAFI artist, Mexican producer OMAAR has crafted a niche for himself at the more angular, sparse end of the grime spectrum, inflecting his productions with ripping breakbeats that refer to both jungle and B’more club. ‘Dogos’, the first song in Infinite Machine’s new singles series, finds OMAAR in fine form, offering plenty of silence while maintaining forward motion, hinting at more jump-up styles while settling into his own groove.
‘Tribute To DSB’
Gqom Oh!’s The Sound Of Durban Vol. 1 is one of the most essential gqom releases to date and Citizen Boy’s ‘Tribute To DSB’ is a major reason why, a darkly enchanting roller that’s one of the compilation’s best moments, along with efforts from TLC Fam and DJ Mabheko. ‘Tribute To DSB’ is fiercely minimal, heaving and throbbing rather than sprinting, allowing for a rhythmic trance dance.
Orlando Volcano has traversed quite a bit of sonic territory in his solo work and collaborations with Copout. ‘Real Bad’ sees the New Yorker paring down his sound to just drums and ragga vocals, and though he doesn’t make dancehall as such, his use of bits and pieces of the genre are certainly welcome as dancehall makes its way further into the American pop consciousness. We’ll be pleased to hear ‘Real Bad’ on any and every dancefloor we’re on over the next few months.
If the elastic percussion, chime-led melodies and otherworldly voices pinging in and out of Chaams’ ‘Untro’ don’t grab you, then the track’s idiosyncratic structure certainly will, the main threads seeming to dissolve and appear unbeholden to traditional pop formats. ‘Untro’ is the opening track to Chaams’ debut EP of the same name on Parisian label [Re]sources, an effort that features remixes from Celestial Trax and Distal. It’s an uneven record, but ‘Untro’ is an absolute stunner and the French producer seems to have a bright future ahead of him.
‘Salve Sua Vida’
Accompanied by a statement of intent outlining the history of the Tango and the White Country project enacted to whitewash Argentinian culture, NON Records newcomer Moro’s San Benito EP came through as one of the most startling, multifaceted releases of the month, a propulsive, clattering affair that fits perfectly in the NON context.
‘Salve Sua Vida’ isn’t the track on San Benito most likely to get a dancefloor moving (that honor probably goes to ‘Arrepientase’), but its loping pace, disembodied melodies and scything effects create a wildly immersive atmosphere, at once disorienting and deeply familiar.
‘Prayer Hands’ (DJ Sega Remix)
MC Andinho x Lemonick x MC Baiano & MC Kalzin
‘Aquecimento da Litoral’ (Pobvio Crash Edit)
While this pack of baile funk blends from Pobvio technically came out in December, these wildly energetic edits deserve credit among the month’s best. Starring MC Andinho, MC Baiano and MC Kalzin over Lemonick production, the Uruguayan producer’s work infuses the rigid propulsion of Club Constructions-inspired drum tracks with the frantic shout rap of baile funk, a formidable combination in any context, especially when in the hands of this Salviatek representative.
‘You Got Me’
Rushmore has been at the fore of the hybrid trax movement for a long time now, recently slowing footwork, B’more club and ballroom to 100BPM, and his most recent effort infuses Jersey club with euphoric trance motifs on a three-track release that has mystifyingly flown under the radar so far. ‘You Got Me’ is the best of the bunch, replicating the pulse of commercial trance over a tough-as-nails Jersey cut-up. Jersey Trance Experiment is a free download and is available at the Trax Couture SoundCloud.