Next week, we’ll have our favorite club tracks of the year for you.
First, though, we have ten dancefloor burners from an absolutely stacked November, ranging from DJ Haram’s spoken word-meets-Jersey club to Soda Plains’ high speed concoctions and beyond. Warehouse techno, Bmore, ballroom, grime, kuduro, condombe, grime and other regional styles can be found within, tracing lines from Cape Town to Philadelphia, Lisbon to Tokyo and Berlin to Montevideo.
Beyond any discourse of internet democratization or leveling, it’s been fascinating to watch disparate artists, labels and crews interact, share, adopt and develop irrespective of geographical or cultural distance. Once beyond the somewhat frivolous notion of creating a singular, global form, the discourse and process is almost as important as the final sonic product and border-less movements like Staycore and NAAFI will continue to expand, mutate and provide a beacon of change and positivity to producers, DJs and dancers throughout the world.
Besides running one of the best mix series’ around, slanging beautiful tees and generally supporting as much leftfield club music as founder Sam Elsewhere can handle, Liminal Sounds has developed into one of the most formidable labels anywhere, releasing EPs from She’s Drunk, Air Max ’97, Copout and, most recently, Soda Plains.
Part of the soon-to-be-released Kickbacks EP, ‘Revolving Door’ sees the Berlin-based producer abandon the languorous flow of previous efforts like ‘Traiana’ and ‘Not Tonight’ for a 140-plus breakneck rush, balancing crushing percussion with two delicately intermingling melodies. Like recent efforts from Rizzla and Murlo, Soda Plains takes an everything but the kitchen sink approach on ‘Revolving Door’, but the track is neither derivative nor too unhinged and, ideally, will push more producers to work at faster tempos than they’re comfortable.
‘Basic’ (ft. Moor Mother Goddess)
Co-presenter of Philadelphia’s monthly ATM parties (with E. Jane and chukwumaa of SCRAAATCH), DJ Haram has put forth incredible, kaleidoscopic mixes over the past few months, each accompanied by the sort of political invective the party has become known for. As ATM has become a physical and online beacon for trans people and POC, its members’ individual reputations have risen as well, Haram’s collaborative efforts and solo work melding spoken word, Jersey club and hip-hop in a multitude of fashions.
‘Basic’ is one of Haram’s most immediately affecting tracks to date, a bare bones Jersey kick pattern laden with strings and a fierce verse from Moor Mother Goddess. Also be sure to check out the identity affirming music video for Mhysa (E. Jane) and Chino Amobi’s ‘power cuts’.
Major Grave’s remix of DJ Q’s ‘Trust Again’ (from an excellent remix package on Local Action) is one of the finest pop-grime moments in recent years and despite a rather sparse release schedule since, the Dublin-based producer is still consistent as hell, releasing heat whenever the opportunity arises.
Full of the sort of monumental kicks, ripping square waves and heaving brass that we’ve come to love from the Irishman, ‘Bounce’ is the latest from Major Grave and you’ll be hard pressed to find a better club anthem in the grime-sphere this month. And really, it’s virtually impossible not to lose it when that producer tag kicks in.
It’s rare this column goes a month without the inclusion of the Tia Maria Produções crew (Puto Márcio, DJ Lycox, DJ Télio and DJ B.Boy) and Paris’ DJ Lycox takes the mantle for November, coming through with ‘Kyoto City’, a koto-based kuduro number that exemplifies the sort of rhythmically dexterous dance music coming out on Príncipe Discos.
Lycox works in a number of styles including rich afro-house and slower kizomba, but his faster kuduro efforts always hit the spot and the Japan-derived melodic quotient of ‘Kyoto City’ gives the format a breath of fresh air.
Habits Of Hate
‘Limelight Roles’ (Tsvi Edit)
One of two slamming edits released by Nervous Horizons boss Tsvi in November, this reconfigured, streamlined version of Habits of Hate’s brutalist techno is warehouse music at its finest, all sharp hi-hat heavy builds, brusque kicks and scraping noise. It’s available for free here and despite not having an official release out this month, Tsvi might still take the crown for most bangin’ track of the month.
‘Runnin’ With Knives’
Apparently one of his first ever productions, Angel-Ho’s ‘Runnin’ With Knives’ has been exhumed by Philadelphia’s Pumpdabeat label. Taking a far more direct route than the manic Ascension EP on Rabit’s Halcyon Veil, ‘Runnin’ With Knives’ sees the South African artist put forth a demented take on modern ballroom, full of screeching tires, airy swipes and metallic clangs that create a swirling atmosphere around the track’s thumping backbone.
It’s enlightening to see the connection between labels like Pumpdabeat, Halcyon Veil and beyond as artists from each respective outlet appear on each other’s platforms and engage in dialogue across geographical and cultural boundaries.
‘Ayida Weddo’ (mobilegirl Remix)
Lechuga Zafiro’s Aequs Nyama EP, out now on Uruguayan producer’s own Salviatek outlet, might just be the best release of 2015 as far as rhythmic experimentation goes, putting candombe drumming front and center and featuring percussion groups Ansima and C1080.
Full of dense, organic percussion patterns, traversing both metallic and wooden sound palettes, Aequs Nyama is a real joy to return to over and over again, in no small part due to a peak remixes from Berlin’s mobilegirl and Portugal’s Blacksea Não Maya. Be sure to check out more info on the EP’s concept here (in Spanish) and this great talk between Lechuga Zafiro and Truants’ Matt Coombs.
There’s been a fair bit of backlash to cut up R&B-style grime as of late and while much of it is spot on (how many times can you recreate ‘Wifey Riddim’, Heatmakerz and Timbaland productions?), some producers still fulfill and expand upon the admittedly limited sub-genre.
Along with DJ Milktray, Finn, Spooky, and Gundam, Maribor is one of those few and with ‘U Playin’’ and Banshee edit ‘HLMF’, the UK producer has two tracks well worth of rewinds, the former of the upbeat cut up variety and the latter a rival to Myth’s sultry late night reworks.
Recently relocated to Lausanne, SHALT has built up an aesthetic over several EPs and remixes that is uniquely his own, hitting a crosshatching of noise and club music tropes. His latest comes as a one off for the nascent Cult City label and sees the British producer try his hand at rolling, jacking techno, ending up as one of his most straightforwardly effective productions to date. Few artists have a grasp on physical club sounds quite like SHALT so keep an eye out for new material in 2016.
A key member of New York’s Swim Team collective, Rambow has put forth some of the most immediate takes on Bmore and ballroom forms in recent memory, ‘Naughty Cat’, a collaboration with 199?, coming in as one of the year’s most animated club tracks and this month’s ‘Indigo’ combining cutting breakbeats with warm, analgesic melodies. Also, be sure to check out fellow Swim Team member Color Plus’ wild proto-jungle effort ‘Shattuck’.