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Each week, FACT’s John Twells and Chris Kelly trawl through the untamed world of free mixes, radio specials and live blends so you don’t have to.

We’re knee-deep in lists this week – from the 10 rappers to watch in 2015 to the 10 best albums you missed in 2014, but spare a thought for the humble free mixes column, still powering through like a champ. This week’s selection is packed with goodness, with slippery instrumental grime, grim neo-goth electro, abstract noise and jungle, future club sounds and more.

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Mix of the Week:

Well, this was well timed: on the day we tabbed Loom as a club producer to watch, the Ipswich talent dropped a mix as part of the excellent Astral Plane series. Continuing the themes of his Grade EP, Loom connects the dots between not only various strands of grime (from New Agey weightless tracks to sharper-edged video game soundtrackers) but various strands of disparate, if symbiotic, music. Arca and Dntel aren’t the names we think of when we think grime mixes, and that’s one of Loom’s strengths: now we can’t imagine it any other way.


There’s a damn good reason why Manchester’s Conor Thomas was featured on our list of the 100 most underrated DJs last year. Aside from heading up the excellent Death of Rave imprint and actioning his poison pen over at Boomkat, he manages to find time to drop the occasional mix, and they’re always worth a peep. This offering for Blackened Disco might not feature anything particularly breaking (it was recorded last year), but it’s proof that you don’t need to be packing unheard dubs to bring the noise. Instead Thomas offers up a cavalcade of bizarre blends, jumping from Caustic Window and Mordant Music to Kassem Mosse and T++ with ease. Bonus points for finishing on Prurient’s crushing ‘Palm Tree Corpse’.


Future Timers Protect-U shared this hour-long live set, recorded at hometown club U Street Music Hall, and it’s filling all our cosmic house needs. The duo build up and tear down grooves like kids toying with building blocks; percussion and some wonderfully warped synths appear, collide and disappear. There’s a sea change about halfway through that sounds like someone let a ray of sunshine into the subterranean club, but things take a turn for the technoid soon after. Quite the journey.


With connections to both Blackest Ever Black and PAN, Helena Hauff’s angling her material to the right spots, but let’s not forget she’s first and foremost an incredible DJ, holding a residency at Hamburg’s world-famous Golden Pudel. Her offering for the ever-reliable Secret Thirteen is almost comically reliable, mixed with a lightness and expertise it’s impossible to fake – even when she decides to flip the script and drop Sonic Youth’s ‘Mary-Christ’ mid-way through. Hauff has an edge because although she’s working with music that’s traditionally quite bleak, she plays it with a knowing grin – it’s not a slog, and it so easily could be.


When he’s not making sci-fi concept albums as part of The-Drum and woozy R&B from his perch at Lo Motion, Jeremiah Meece toils as half of synth-poppers VALIS. His mix for Abstract Science is “loosed themed” after the latter. The mix isn’t just that, though: it plays like a truly twisted ’80s mixtape, bounding from Chicago house and Detroit techno to My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult.


Leave it to Boxed founder Slackk to show all the pretenders how it’s done. For his Solid Steel appearance he’s pulled out all the stops, dragging together a bubbling selection of grime and fuck-knows what else, joining dots in the kind of way that’d be familiar if you’d headed down to Peckham recently. Do yourself a favor, stop eyeing that thinkpiece so avidly and bump this instead – you won’t be disappointed.

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