For Club Use Only is coming to you this month from Pula, Croatia in the midweek period between the Dimensions and Outlook festivals.
There is no distinct line between a club track and a festival track, and while festivals undoubtedly feature more sets that could be described as crowd-pleasing or populist, the elements of both aren’t intrinsically different.
Of course, you won’t find many peace dubs or TCF-esque collage performances at most traditional festivals, but that doesn’t mean that a Mr. Mitch or Lotic wouldn’t be booked. As the festival schedule has grown over the last few years and their economic influence has expanded tenfold, their creative vitality has arguably decreased, even as their economic importance to artists has increased.
The revulsion on the part of most underground artists to the antics, bombast and general lack of creativity at festivals has resulted in a movement towards more subtle, abstract and groove-focused club music, and while some artists have been able to deftly walk the line between main stage success and the experimental success we broadly label under integrity, far more have ignored the above ground festival world at large. As a result, small boutique and mid-sized festivals have risen to prominence, the likes of Outlook, Dimensions and Dekmantel garnering plaudits from artists, media and fans. At Outlook this weekend, I’ll be lucky to catch showcases put on by DMZ, Swamp81 and Butterz, but will also have the opportunity to see sets from Bushido, DJ Milktray and Amy Becker, DJs I would never have expected to be lucky enough to catch outside of the club setting (or at all in the US for that matter). Hope to see you all out this weekend.
Debuted on the Hyperdub Rinse show, Wallwork’s ‘Final Fantasy’ shows off a new side of the London-based producer. A step away from the breakbeat-laden Don’t Panic EP (with RZR), ‘Final Fantasy’ utilizes space and silence in an exciting way, recalling Gage’s ‘Telo’ and fellow Nervous Horizons artist Tsvi’s ‘Something’. It’s science fiction club music that avoids the obvious pitfalls of the form, relying on superior sound design over kitschy movie samples or overdone “space” tropes.
Dinamarca & Toxe
If June’s SUMMER JAMS 2K15 compilation or the countless number of appearances on Radar Radio, Berlin Community Radio and NTS weren’t enough, Stockholm’s Staycore label/collective is rounding out the hot months in ecstatic fashion with Dinamarca’s collabs2k15.zip project, a four track effort comprised of collaborations with KABLAM, L-Vis 1990, Kid Antoine and Toxe. And even with Night Slugs’ L-Vis 1990 and Her Records’ Kid Antoine on board, it’s the two in-crew efforts, ‘Hexa’ with Toxe (formerly Tove Agelli) and ‘GOS’ with KABLAM that really show off each producer’s respective skill set. Look out for Toxe, Mechatok and Mobilegirl in the very near feature, each have a bevy of wildly unique material already out and some prospective projects that are going to tear the roof off of 2015.
‘Where I Left You’
Inspired by Mr. Mitch, E.M.M.A. and the weightless sounds of Mumdance and Logos’ Different Circles, Los Angeles-based Letta’s Testimony is a deeply personal journey through the producer’s scarred past, a deconstruction of grime tropes through the eyes and ears of a consummate outsider. ‘Where I Left You’ is one of several standout cuts, although the album is better taken in as a whole, laying an array of gun shots and other metal sounds over rain and a mesmerizing vocal sample that is more instrument than incantation. It’s deconstructed grime at its finest, though calling it grime is certainly a stretch, despite its release on London outpost Coyote Records.
It’s not a track in the strict sense, but Joey Labeija’s Shattered Dreams project just couldn’t be ignored this month. It’s a “movie score” sculpted out of a dark period in the producer’s life, a gleaming paean to past memories and future triumphs and a brilliantly concocted 23 minutes of brutalist club tropes and devastatingly beautiful melodic work. And like current projects from Rizzla and Letta, Shattered Dreams shows that honesty and bare, open emotion is, and always will be, more valuable than glossy cover photos and co-signs. Shattered Dreams is only out on digital form at this point, but later this year will be released on 12” by NYC’s Purple Tape Pedigree.
‘The End’ (Tsvi Edit)
Tsvi and the rest of the Nervous Horizons crew have been absolutely smashing it of late, making multiple appearances in this column and staking a claim as one of the most exciting nascent collectives/labels out there. But even before Nervous Horizons came into being, Tsvi was tickling our ears with his banging bootlegs and last year’s Malfunction EP. To cut a long story short, Tsvi hasn’t let us down since he first sent over demos, and his recent edit of DVA’s classic ‘The End’ certainly won’t end that run.
‘terms and conditions of your own existence’
As a regular at London’s Endless nights (see also: Lexxi, Kamixlo, Ulli-K and Blaze Kidd) and the UK representative of African disapora-focused NON Records, Nkisi has built up a wealth of tantalizing material, most of it skipping along at a frantic pace, starting and stopping without fair warning.
‘terms and conditions of your own existence’ is one of several tracks uploaded by Nkisi in August and embodies what makes him such a talent, from the sublime combination of melodic warmth and harsh industrial noise to the unrelenting percussion. Whereas fellow NON members Angel-Ho and Chino Amobi tend to flit around concrete rhythmic structures, submerging them under layers of noise or just moving forward without any at all, Nkisi tends to use rhythm in a totemic fashion, structuring the multitude of vocal samples and synth work around the swirling center of kicks and snares. Check out the NON Bandcamp page for plenty more tracks from Nkisi and the rest of the crew.
‘Still Got Cashhh’
While Usher and Migos’ ‘I Still Got It’ has been rinsed to the verge of death this summer, the remixes keep coming. It’s tough to top Sami Baha’s version from May, but Hi Tom’s plinking, koto-based production gives the hedonistic anthem some new life. With a remix of Faro’s wandering ‘Hold U’, bootlegs of Ciara and Cassie and production for Floridian rapper Thast, Hi Tom is quickly building up an impressive catalogue, working on the sonorous fringes of hip-hop and dancehall production.
Better known for his icy, angular grime machinations, Bushido ratchets the tempo down to a quick dembow lurch on ‘Clouded’. A low-key number (by his standards at least) based around a hauntingly pleasant synth lead, ‘Clouded’ is another step forward for a producer whose collaborations with fellow Astral Black crew member DJ Milktray always seem to hit in the right place.
‘Pick Em Up’ (Ball Em Up Edit)
Finding a track with the potential to light a set on fire and getting turned onto a new producer is always a pleasure and Oslo’s Ball Em Up crew (Drippin, Emil, Slick Shoota) have done exactly that with their rework of DJ Xavion’s raucous ‘Pick Em Up’. It’s a relatively simple edit, but by filling out the percussion and adding a filter to the original’s vocals, the track is taken to another level, fit for big room club play and a shakeoff dance battle in equal measure.
Glasgow’s Gang Fatale representative Bleaker has been making waves this year with his lo-fi ghetto house approximations, coming correct on tracks like ‘Bang That’ and ‘Hype (Funk)’. His latest is an untitled number ripped from the LuckyMe Rinse show, and sees him step away a little bit from the raw, vocal led sound on ‘Bang That’ towards the funky, groove-focused territory that so few artists manage to reach these days. Think Kyle Hall circa The Boat Party.