Newcomers and scene veterans converge in this month’s edition of For Club Use Only, which traverses geography and genre to bring you the month’s best under-the-radar club material.
The past month showed just how vibrant club music has been recently. May saw the release of Bad Gyal’s Dubbel Dutch-produced ‘Jacaranda’, already an club anthem, and Chino Amobi’s PARADISO, a staunchly opaque collection that challenges the very idea of how experimental music should be presented. Meanwhile, Jlin’s sophomore album, Black Origami, pushed the angular footwork aesthetic introduced on 2015’s Dark Energy into more intangible, abstracted territory.
Elsewhere, UNITI’s Englesia stunned with a mix featuring exclusively music from “friends of mixed heritage” for Tobago Tracks and Mixmag hosted four mixes from American club scenes in Atlanta, Columbus, Houston and Milwaukee.
Those mixes play host to a huge range of material, ranging from advanced Midwestern club formations, handled by Close Up of the Serene’s Max Holiday, to sluicing noise-club formations mixed by Halcyon Veil head Rabit. This quartet of mixes exemplifies the diversity in sounds coming from the US at the moment, but is also indicative of a greater divergence in club sounds as artists constantly grapple with new technologies and the sonic developments that follow.
‘Chinese Connection FDM’
Mvstermind is best known as a member of flex dance music supergroup Wolves and his latest solo release is a transfixing effort, showing that sino-grime, as troublingly orientalist as it can be, works just as well with FDM’s 100 BPM lurch.
Make sure you check the DEVOUR tape and tracks like ‘East Coast Riddim’ and ‘Vio Naa’ for more examples of Mvstermind’s ear for odd samples and his ability to flip them into irrepressibly bouncy FDM tracks.
‘Kojo Funds x J Hus’
Attendees of Los Angeles’ Rail Up parties will recognize the deluge of edits that resident Kelman Duran brings to the table each and every time he plays out, an immediately recognizable melange of contemporary and classic sounds from across the dancehall, reggaeton and Afrobeats spectrum.
Followers of Kelman’s SoundCloud only get a small glimpse into the wealth of edited material he plays out live, but it’s hard to complain when downloads are offered with nearly every upload. His latest blend brings J Hus and Kojo Funds into his distinct atmospherics, letting both tracks swim in a sea of reverb and soft pads while a sickly dembow beat lays out the track’s forward momentum.
Philadelphia’s DJ Haram has been relatively quiet on the release front so far this year. She provided a standout track on Club Chai Vol. 1 and soundtracking Chromat’s Fall/Winter 2017 drop, but has mostly stayed busy with an onslaught of gigs around the US and abroad.
‘Body Count’ is a reminder of just how captivating Haram’s productions can be as she layers bright percussion over a disquieting bed of pillowy synths and drawn-out chants. I can’t wait to hear this one clang around the room the first time it’s wheeled out.
El Shick’s 2011 smash ‘Prendelo’ is thrown into the blender by New York’s Kush Jones, its looped refrain reduced to another rhythmic element in an entrancing cascade of toms, snares and hand drums.
Jones, who also appeared in last month’s edition of For Club Use Only, has developed a penchant for rhythmically complex tracks that retain their functionality, whether he’s working at a frantic pace or a more straightforward club strut.
Cybersonic, a Los Angeles club night run by Sha Sha Kimbo and Swelta, dropped their second annual compilation this month, featuring a range of local and international artists who have appeared at the night in recent years.
Tracks from LA’s own Farsight, So Drove and Morris provide fitting context for the night, but it’s New York’s Star Eyes who steals the show with ‘Make Me’, bringing to mind the razor’s edge chop of Degenerate-era Vex’d.
Oli XL’s W-I label has emerged as one of the premiere outlets for sound design-focused, leftfield club formations, introducing artists like Celyn June and Chastic Mess to the fold and presenting an immediately recognizable visual aesthetic.
‘Veracity Scene’/’Last Song’ is Celyn June’s sophomore W-I release (after last year’s excellent ‘Location’) and finds the producer – who has also relased an excellent, all-originals mix on Halcyon Veil – stepping into more club-focused territory on ‘Veracity Scene’. Here, June pushes a militaristic sound that recalls the frenetic splatter of a first-person shooter video game.
Immediately recognizable as a hot weather smash, ‘Summer ‘17’ should go down as one of the year’s best feelgood bangers, an unabashedly euphoric effort featuring chipmunk vocals and anthemic digitized horn stabs.
DLycox’s loopy rhythmic inflections have made him a regular in this column (garnering the Paris-based producer a spot in our club producers to watch in 2016 feature) and ‘Summer ‘17’ is a fittingly victorious effort for one of the kuduro world’s most distinctive voices.
‘The Next Banger’
Elijah has impressed with stripped-back electro and punchy techno for 1221 and Allergy Season, but the Kansas City-based producer’s latest sees the introduction of more overt rave tropes, with a seductive acid bassline and warehouse-ready percussion.
The track’s title and tags on SoundCloud (“trance”, “90s”, “rave”) more or less tell the story, but there’s a genuinely inventive quality to the way the nine-minute track builds that elevates it beyond nostalgia or pastiche.
‘Arrocha Da Gloria’
Curated by DJ Whey, FKOFF1963 and Pininga, Tormenta Hits Vol. 2 is the Tormenta imprint’s latest compilation, comprising 15 whirlwind edits and blends that smash up everything from Gwen Stefani to Ruff Sqwad.
Pininga’s contribution is set-ending material, a flip of Portishead’s ‘Glory Box’ over baile funk drums and vocal chops. The mix is almost certainly too busy, but Pininga, who also contributed two standout edits to NAAFI’s PIRATA 3 compilation, manages to whip the oddball combination into shape.
Chuckles L’amante rides Pumpdabeat’s ‘Wicked Crash’ to devastating effect on ‘#wakemeup’, pushing the Philadelphia crew’s original to within a breath of its life.
Chuckles is more than up to the task of riding one of 2016’s most distinctive ballroom beats and even as the track switches up, the Philadelphia MC’s energy carries it through. Pumpdabeat’s original is already loud and Chuckles only turns it up, so please watch your ears on this one.
Gabe Meier is on Twitter