Joining FACT’s schedule of regular round-ups this year: The Astral Plane. Gabe Meier’s blog highlights under-the-radar club music with the sort of quality control that some websites lack, and every month he’ll be running through a selection of his recent favourites for FACT. The Astral Plane‘s two compilations, Heterotopia and Heterotopia Remixed, are available on Bandcamp.
After several years of covering dance music from across the internet, the world of club music has begun to elucidate itself, the invisible threads that connect disparate scenes, artists and sounds slowly coming into focus over time. At The Astral Plane, we cover music from across the globe: kuduro from Lisbon, Jersey and more club forms from the Atlantic seaboard, grime from East London, and, as a result of our ever-fractalizing focus, have begun to use the catch all phrase of club music. It’s music made specifically for a particular club, the proverbial club environment, or even the imaginary, idealized, or heterotopic club space.
Every month, we’ll be bringing you our favorite tracks, remixes, edits, bootlegs, etc. from across the club music spectrum. Labels like Her Records, Glacial Sound and Crazylegs have established a well-rounded approach to club music, but there are still dozens of artists without backing who deserve shine. Without discriminating based on stature, exposure or age, we hope to give you some insight into the world of club music outlined above and to bring an exciting, ulterior point of view to the pages of FACT.
As co-head (along with Arkitect and Aerial) of Los Angeles imprint Private Selection, Jesse Pimenta aka Dreams has brought a gear-head ethos and a wealth of knowledge to the city’s club scene. Pimenta’s sound has fomented across several singles and remixes released over the past year and his latest EP, the fourth volume of Trax Couture’s World Series, is his most aesthetically coherent project to date. ‘Esoteric’ is the best of a foursome of club-ready tracks on Vol. 4, a pummeling slice of 130 madness in the Hysterics vein. Given proper space, Private Selection can grow into one of the US’s best imprints and with Dreams at the helm, it’s hard to see it faltering.
Gage & Suda Ft. M.M. x Zimmer
‘Telo (Hulo’s MeloBashy Edit)’
Taipei-based deejay and blend magician Hulo has made a career of championing dissonance, pushing the avant-garde fringe of club music into the same arena as Hollywood soundtrack and/or video game music. It’s a world where Hans Zimmer bumps up alongside Gage & Sudanim, with South London’s tuffest setting the pace for ham-handed McConaughey speeches. As club music continues to tread into more and more percussive territory, Hulo’s attempt to blend the beatific splendor of (commercial) orchestral compositions is not only a breath of fresh air, but an important didactic moment between different modes of production.
To choose a best track from This Is Kuduro’s latest compilation is to do a disservice to the quality of the tape as a whole, but it’s hard to deny the manic excellence of Deejay Karfox’s ‘Avekina Beat’. With a tinny, unrelenting sound, the Portuguese producer is one of many rising talents in greater Lisbon, his productions a whirlwind of syncopated percussion and staccato vocal cut-ups. With Principe Discos leading the way, it’s time for the sound of Lisbon to get the praise it deserves.
Cloud 9 mixtape
In a crowded field of young Jersey club producers, DJ Problem’s monolithic takes on hip hop and R&B have stood out for their energy, rawness and percussive thrust. Cloud 9 is the Lakewood, New Jersey-based producer’s latest mixtape, a ridiculously fun 30-track expedition through chart successes, oddities and regional hits, exemplifying the sound that has drawn imitators the world over. Tape opener ‘Don Francisco’ is Jersey club in a nutshell, a track based around an absurd – corny if you will – horn sample that still manages to come off as tough. A necessary listen for the growing masses misinterpreting what the Newark sound is really about.
C Plus Plus & Karmelloz
The Ohio-based Apothecary Compositions imprint has emerged over the past year as a go-to spot for emerging artists working on the fringes of dance music. Whether pushing grime, ballroom, dancehall or techno, the Druid Cloak-helmed label has ignored more established artists, instead putting on relative newcomers like Imami, Wild Kid and T_A_M. The label’s latest release, the Cearà LP, comes from Portland-based producer C Plus Plus and is assisted throughout by fellow Portland resident Karmelloz. ‘Mystère Riddim’ is one of several dancehall-paced numbers on Cearà, a conflagration of Karmelloz’s elegiac house tendencies and C Plus Plus’ 130 machinations. ‘Mystère Riddim’ is eerily beatific with stunted, kinetic drum programming – an odd conflagration of source material that manages a comforting affect.
‘TP-2 (Riley Lake Fast Edit)’
Wisconsinite Riley Lake has built a reputation for taking classic R&B numbers into exciting new territory, offering club-ready reworks that are far from generic genre rehashes. His latest, a “fast” edit of R. Kelly’s timeless ‘TP-2’ (which is now 15 years old), is a simple re-contextualization of the original bedroom romp, bringing Mr. Kelly’s sauntering come-ons up to a more suitable tempo. It’s a simple edit with a huge payoff, a flipside to Lake’s more encompassing original compositions that seem to overflow with genre touchstones.
‘Woman baptized by the blood of angels’
Virginia-based producer Elysia Crampton, formerly e+e, pushes the theoretical club space to its furthest logical extent, pursuing transcendence in a mélange of hip hop, Caribbean and South American touchstones and indescribably weird sonic affects. ‘Woman baptized by the blood of angels’ combines Andean huayno folk with trap call backs – a distinctly postmodern blend of influences that recalls the short films of Ryan Trecartin, daring the critic to deride it as derivative.
Myth’s Soundcloud page is a treasure trove of short demos, bootlegs and sketches, an unrequited tunnel into the producer’s ever-churning mind. The sometime Rabit collaborator is still something of an unknown quantity, but with backing from Glacial Sound and play from the likes of Slackk and Oneman, his present collection of deranged eskibeat serves as an excellent forebear for what’s to come. ‘Ice Lab’, the best of the January haul, is a ragged, mechanical take on grime that manages to creatively use both brass and the hydraulic-like sounds so often found in the work of Bloom, Logos and Mumdance. Like Rabit, Myth might be approaching the East London sound from an ulterior standpoint, but that position has resulted in a wealth of invention.
‘Crew Montagem (Strict Face’s Expedition Bootleg)’
Adelaide-based producer Strict Face has made waves over the past 18 months, releasing EPs on Gobstopper and Tuff Wax, and staking a claim as one of the most adventurous proponents of the melodious side of grime. The young Australian’s output goes beyond devil mixes and Ruff Sqwad worship though, staking a claim in exciting new sonic territory by infusing a new age sensibility into the rough-hewn grime template. His rework of Melbourne-based Okey Szoke’s ‘Crew Montagem’ is part choral VST and part Mala In Cuba – a discordant blend of styles that meshes effortlessly in the hands of this prodigious talent.
A relative newcomer in the ballroom scene, DJ DeLish has already garnered attention and plaudits from the likes of Kevin Jz Prodigy and Miss Jay and looks poised to have a huge 2015. With a metallic sound palette on hand the West Philadelphia producer has dazzled on tracks like ‘Engineer’ and ‘Oh Shit’, efforts that have entered the feedback loop between the UK and East Coast and are getting spins from London’s of-the-moment Her Records crew. ‘Piano Rage’ splits the difference between mid-1990s Strictly Rhythm and the contemporary ballroom sound pushed by MikeQ’s Qween Beat collective – a bleary-eye, piano stab-heavy take on the classic runway sound.