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Ballroom, Joy Orbison and classic rap: the week's best free mixes

Each week, FACT’s Mixtape Round-Up trawls through the untamed world of free mixes, radio specials and live blends so you don’t have to.

We’ve now decided to break this into two features: the week’s Best Free Mixes (think Soundcloud, Mixcloud) and the week’s Best Mixtapes (think DatPiff, LiveMixtapes). Naturally, there’ll always be some level of crossover between the two, but for now we’ve split the columns up, with Mixes running every Thursday, and Mixtapes every Friday.

This week’s another corker, and we’re pleased to present a death-defying blend of styles: classic US hip-hop, a UK-US club communion, sizzling ballroom and plenty more.

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Mix of the Week
MELÉ
MELMATIC VOLUME 1

As we noted when his most recent dance mix landed in the round-up, Melé’s taste is nothing if not eclectic. On his Nas-nodding Melmatic mix, he focuses on one slice of his musical influences: throwback hip-hop from the 80s, 90s and early 2000s. Mostly focusing on East Coast boom-bap from the Golden Age, Melé mixes old school classics like A Tribe Called Quest’s ‘Electric Relaxtion’ and Gangstarr’s ‘Full Clip’ with cuts by rap gods Nas, Jay-Z, Raekwon, cult fave Big L and more (and it’s not just a New York affair, either, as NWA and OutKast make appearances).

But while it’s easy enough to throw together beloved rap tracks and call it a day, Melé mixes in the source material for legendary hip-hop samples (Mary Jane Girls’ ‘All Night Long’, Mtume’s ‘Juicy Fruit’, Kraftwerk’s ‘The Man Machine’) along with rap-influenced dance tracks by Mosca and Hessle man Joe; the the mix also closes with a run of rearview electro-boogie dance material to keep the party going. A simple concept done well; here’s hoping for Volume 2.

JOY ORBISON
ESSENTIAL MIX

Mysterious London beatmaker Joy Orbison (or Joy O, whatever) appears to enjoy his position a few feet away from the limelight. He’s had massive club hits, but you’re not likely to see him doing a press run any time soon, dropping five interviews in succession and waxing lyrical about what’s in his box. Peter O’Grady has instead decided to let the music do most of the talking, and that’s why he continues to go from strength to strength long after the success of ‘Hyph Mngo’ and the waning popularity of “post dubstep.”

This week he dropped into the BBC Radio 1 studios to put together an Essential Mix, and typically it’s pretty unmissable stuff. There aren’t a whole lot of surprises (if you were hoping for eclecticism, back away now), but O’Grady’s talent is in his consistency and bloody good taste, and we have that in spades as he drops huge tunes from Kowton, James Blake and Four Tet among plenty more. We’re also treated to a wealth of brand-spanking-new material, from upcoming bits on O’Grady’s own Hinge Finger imprint, to unheard productions from the man himself.

randomer-7.30.2014

RANDOMER
XLR8R MIX

Randomer’s been around for what seems like ages, and has notched up an impressive number of releases on L.I.E.S, Numbers, Hemlock, Clone, Soul Jazz and just about any other hip underground dance label you might care to mention. It stands to reason then that over the years he’s managed to hone his selection skills to a fine point, and this latest hour long blend for XLR8R certainly proves that. It’s not pretty stuff – within minutes we’re dragged from pounding 909 kicks into the kind of grinding warehouse techno you’d find if you went wandering around Birmingham after dark in the late 90s. Engagingly teutonic, it’s a reminder not only of the warehouse days but also of Underground Resistance’s crucial early run – all sawing arpeggios and brutal, acidic percussion. Who can say no to that?

Stream and download the mix here.

E+E
SUMMERMIX

Los Angeles enigma E+E (aka Elijah Paul Crampton) delivers a short-but-sweet example of his ability to craft sonic collages that evoke the ennui and information-overload of 21st century internet life. A seamless blend of disembodied Southern rap vocals, cumbia rhythms, Psycho stabs, King Crimson, Lil Jon’s iconic “OKAY!” tag and lovelorn piano melodies, E+E’s summermix re-contextualizes familiar elements with surprising, tension-filled results that outstrip mere irony-for-irony’s-sake mash-ups. Recommended for fans of Total Freedom and Nguzunguzu’s Perfect Lullaby mixes.

MIKE Q
THUMP MIX

Mike Q’s sizzling blend of ballroom and regional US club sounds has become highly sought after recently, and with good reason. There are few who mix with such an unpretentious swagger, and the DJ’s latest drop for Thump only confirms that dance music really is a lot better when it’s actually fun to listen and dance to.

There’s none of your too-cool-for-school minimal shakes on display here, instead Mike Q slots together a quick succession of home-made edits and pounding well-worn destroyers and does so with vivid color and a deliciously mischievous sense of humor. Additional points for the ‘Selfie’ and ‘Happy’ samples.

LOUIS FAITHFUL
MIXTAPE VOL. II: THE LOVE FROM WHICH CATHARSIS SPRUNG

The Chicago talent returns with his second mix this year and again he’s right at the meeting point between fractured club music and percolating instrumental grime, dropping material from new UK trailblazers like Mumdance, Mr. Mitch and Visionist and on-it labels like Her Records and Goon Club All-stars. The 35-minute mix blends sub-base pulse cannons, neck-snapping rhythms, ghostly vocals, submerged ‘Ha’ loops and a couple nods to his hometown rap scene while achieving the catharsis of its title. Not everything works (that Moleskin and Danity Kane blend doesn’t quite land, nor do a few transitions), but it’s great to see someone continue the long tradition of UK-US club communion.

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