Unlike the deluge of summer pop hits, club music smashes are rarely typified by adjectives like bright, breezy or, for that matter, overtly fun.
With a few notable exceptions (say, Popcaan’s Where We Come From), club hits tend to be sparse and defiant, even in their use of pop tropes. That’s not to say that the two worlds are inextricably different (they’re not), just that club music hasn’t infiltrated the world of the mega festival quite like house and techno have, and, with the exception of an event like Outlook, probably never will. Instead, tracks like Kid Antoine’s ‘Expected Encounter’, DJ Uniique’s ‘2 On (Remix)’ and Girl Unit’s ‘Code Switch (Club Mix)’ are more likely to take hold at regular club nights, warehouse parties and carnivals.
With the exception of an inevitable deluge of Fetty Wap, the young summer of 2015 doesn’t have many anthems yet, although Staycore’s new compilation is changing that. And while Jamie xx and Hot Chip will likely dominate Radio 1 play, releases from Logos on Different Circles and Slackk on R&S, and the thrilling arrival of Jammz on Local Action have begun to soundtrack the warm months.
For more from us, catch The Astral Plane DJ Team on Radar Radio every two weeks (archived shows here). Every two weeks, we feature a new guest from our home in Los Angeles, highlighting the best behind-the-scenes DJs this city has to offer. And as always, you can find our weekly guest series here. Enjoy.
‘Luxurious (Credit Card Mix)’
Focusing on African and African Diaspora sounds, the Non Records collective has burst out of the gates with a wide scope, but their first effort, comprised of tracks from South Africa’s Angel-Ho, Richmond, Virginia’s Chino Amobi (formerly Diamond Black Hearted Boy) and Nkisi, is definitively positioning itself in the Total Freedom-led strain of shock and terror dance music.
From Nkisi’s deranged takes on hardcore to Angel-Ho’s lo-fi, sample-filled approach to Jersey club, the small but powerful collection of songs that Non has posted this past month would fit in effortlessly at nights like Los Angeles’ Mustache Mondays, Berlin’s Janus and London’s Endless. A slightly terrifying take on Gwen Stefani’s ‘Luxurious’ (which also features a peculiar Slim Thug feature for what it’s worth), Angel-Ho’s ‘Credit Card Mix’ is drenched in sounds from cash registers, pots of liquid, motorcycles and breaking panes of glass, the result an all-encompassing sonic experience and a bizarre cat-and-mouse game between adopted vocalist and producer. It’s disarming, but also readily danceable, forcing the listener to find the inevitably gratifying kick pattern through a deluge of noise.
‘I Miss My Ghetto’
Keeping up with Nidia Minaj’s output has never been an easy task and whether you prefer the Bordeaux-based artist’s high-powered mixes, near-constant stream of Soundcloud uploads or her must-have debut EP Danger on totemic Portuguese outlet Principe Discos, it has been a pleasure to take in and play out.
May saw an explosion of tracks from Minaj, and a number of them could have taken this spot, but ‘I Miss My Ghetto’ won out in the end, in no small part due to its full-bodied replayability. Whereas tracks like ‘Arme’ and ‘Mulher Profissional’ can easily be imagined streaming out of a tinny soundsystem, ‘I Miss My Ghetto’ succeeds beyond the dancefloor. And despite this column’s title, the fact that ‘I Miss My Ghetto’ works so well in the car makes it the obvious choice.
Munich-based producer Mechatok has begun to make waves in the dance music community, merging a bare bones percussive spirit with a deft sense of melody and a disregard for tempo norms. Considering that he has garnered attention from outposts as different as Munich’s Public Possession and Stockholm’s Staycore, expect a bizarre merging of worlds once the official releases start to roll out. In the meantime, one-offs like “Ciroc” are enough to wet the appetite and if the rolling, hypnotic numbers on his Soundcloud are anything to go by it’s fair to expect big things from this promising youngster.
Along with Jackie Dagger, Feloneezy makes up Teklife’s Belgrade contingent, a far-flung sect of the Chicago crew that has, despite the obvious lack of geographic proximity, put out some of the best juke, footwork and club music in recent years. ‘Oino’ is the rare juke track with a recent sample from outside of the world of hip hop and R&B, ramping up LA Priest’s track of the same name into adrenaline-addled territory. It’s a fun-loving track that borders on happy hardcore-esque effusiveness at times, but it also proves that, in the world of club music, simplicity is often the best move. Kick, snare, acid, half-time breakdown: ‘Oino’ doesn’t break any boundaries, but damn does it go off.
Divoli S’vere x Clipse x Keiska
At this point in his career, Finnish producer Keiska is something of a genre polyglot, touching on everything from footwork to disco in the past 12 months. His latest effort is a thumping blend of Clipse anthem ‘Grindin’ and Divoli S’vere’s almost equally anthemic ‘The Kitty Kat’. Like C Plus Plus & Karmelloz’s ‘Gunshot Riddim’ and Lotic’s ‘Heterocetera’, Keiska’s smash up slows ballroom samples down to around 100 BPM, an increasingly popular tempo considering the widespread proliferation of dancehall, dembow and Mustard-style snap rap.
‘Splash Waterfalls (DJ J Heat Remix)’
Coming in at the very end of May, DJ J Heat’s revitalization of Ludacris’ Chicken-n-Beer highlight might just be out favorite remix to come out of Jersey this year, proving that decade-plus old source material can sound just as fresh as the latest Drizzy refix. Ludacris’s ad libs and punch lines have always been prime source material for dance music and with J Heat arranging them across Jersey’s now-ubiquitous kick pattern, the results are kinetic.
Placed on the second compilation in Glasgow-based label Astral Black’s Frass FM series, Bushido’s ‘Stay Golden’ is certainly not the first Timbaland R&G edit we’ve heard this year. If we hadn’t already found ourselves playing it over and over again, it might not have made this list, but sometimes pure quality trumps originality concerns.
Bushido’s work on ‘Stay Golden’ is pure quality, placing the producer alongside Gundam, Finn and DJ Milktray in the remarkably small fraternity of young British sample-chop producers who have managed to avoid the derivative label. Frass FM 2 also features Celestial Trax, the aforementioned DJ Milktray, Loom, JD. Reid and a collection of others and can be streamed and downloaded in full here.
We first heard Walton’s ‘Flute Riddim'(forthcoming on Tectonic) on Hodge’s excellent Rinse FM slot, the track’s sparse structure and immovable bass weight characteristic of Pinch’s curatorial taste and the Mancunian producer’s increasingly impressive output. With releases on Hyperdub and Keysound, Walton is far from a newcomer, but it often seems that he’s left out of a conversation dominated by names like Kowton and Mumdance. Each and every track we’ve heard from him this year, especially his remix of Wen and Riko Dan’s ‘Play Your Corner’, has been undeniable, and excited is an understatement when it comes to ‘Flute Riddim’ and what Walton has in store for the upcoming Tectonic release.
‘On The Edge (Trap Door Remix)’
French producer Dehousy first appeared on our radar via his peak time remix of Jam City’s ‘Bells’. Now, Dehousy has turned up on Parisian label Resources, who have enlisted Gang Fatale’s Trap Door to contribute a remix.
Trap Door’s rework of ‘On The Edge’ is that rare deep jam, eschewing bombastic club music motifs in deference to the overall groove of the track. A brilliant effort from the rising producer that can and should become the glue of more than a few sets this summer.
For those familiar with Atlantic Coast-focused ballroom culture, Beek is monumental force behind the boards and on the mic – a menacing figure with one of the most lascivious tongues in any genre. ‘Tell Me’ eschews breakneck crashes and “ha” samples for lurching, hi-hat-driven production, allowing Beek the MC to star, waxing lustfully in this brilliantly sparse piece of vocal work. Puss-hop it is.