We’d be the first to admit that club music is getting increasingly difficult to pin down.
Every month, The Astral Plane’s Gabe Meier scours the furthest corners of the internet to find tracks that represent contemporary club music – not the house and techno you might expect, but experimental and DIY sounds emerging from around the world, from Mexico City to Durban, from Atlanta to Sydney.
This month, Meier pulls a bubbling-influenced track from Kilbourne and Besharem, an 11-minute monster from Air Max ’97’s DECISIONS label, another winner from the Björk co-signed Uruguayan crew SALVIATEK, a remix of cult R&B crooner Jeremih and more.
‘Teri Duniya’ (Balasa Drum Mix)
Balasa spring out of the gates with ‘Teri Duniya’, building on the Nooran Sisters’ song of the same name to manic effect. The project is a collaboration between producers Kilbourne and Besharem and borrows from both bubbling – the ‘90s Dutch sound that combined rave and dancehall – and Sufi music. The original mix’s constant switch-ups make for an edge-of-the-seat experience, but it’s the drum mix that demands repeat club play.
‘My Corridor (Too Many People In My House)’
With an appearance on MikeQ’s recent Qween Beat compilation Qweendom, Leggoh has emerged in 2016 as one of ballroom’s most exciting producers and MCs. ‘My Corridor (Too Many People In My House)’ is produced by Pillz Ebony and Jay Xclusive and layers Leggoh over a clutter of brass, digital effects and “Ha” crashes. Spitting invective on the necessities of personal space, Leggoh is a commanding MC, as brash and confident as the genre’s best with a skill for rhythm and the vocal chords to sound dominant over busy production. Rude.
Air Max ‘97’s label DECISIONS is a great example of how unpredictable an artist-run operation can be, as ready to release serene pop as churning techno. Sydney’s Jikuroux arrives on DECISIONS with Ruptured Pulse, a dancefloor-focused three-tracker that’s full of frantic metallic percussion and bubbly sound design. It’s as expansive as it is ecstatic, an 11-minute shot-in-the-arm that highlights Jikuroux’s ability to produce power from a restrained sound palette.
Teenage production quartet Mafia Boyz are one of the most formidable acts to emerge from Durban’s gqom scene, showing off an impressive range of skills on releases for Gqom Oh! and a bank of tracks uploaded to filesharing site Kasimp3. Made up of producers Citizen Boy, Iago Soul, McMuziq and Novelity, Mafia Boyz have helped define the menacing, drone-heavy sound, from the peak time strut of ‘Bhengi YoKhalipha’ to the reserved melancholy of ‘Flashbacks’, with a confidence that belies their age. ‘Melting Guitar’ is a more languid affair that recalls simpler strains of South African house as much as it does gqom.
Showing a deft touch of a veteran, young producer LOFT is equally at home handling overdriven pop as he is producing experimental techno. In recent months, the Cardiff-based producer has dumped a number of tantalizing new tracks on his SoundCloud, bouncing confidently from ambient to rhythmic. ‘Pottlin’ is the latest, a slowly evolving effort that hints at dancefloor functionality without simplifying the complex drum arrangements.
‘In My Game’ (Lechuga Zafiro Remix)
The Björk-approved Uruguayan crew SALVIATEK has been responsible for some essential releases lately, including two new remixes from Lechuga Zafiro and a cheeky blend from Pobvio. The outfit will also soon be working with Club Chai’s foozool on a release, an exciting development for a label that clearly puts a lot of consideration into each of its moves. For now, we’ve got Zafiro’s whiplash-inducing take on Pillow Person’s ‘In My Game’, out now on Moshi Moshi Music. Zafiro’s work balances club functionality with almost indecipherable passages of rhythm and noise. Whether you’re familiar or not with the candombe drumming that usually forms the backbone of Zafiro’s productions, his tracks are always a consuming experience.
‘skin like sin’
Set to be released on Berlin-based imprint Creamcake, Halo is coucou chloé’s debut EP and the label/artist combination couldn’t be more fitting. Following releases from 333 Boyz, SKY H1 and Keiska, the London-based artist’s contribution to Creamcake was announced with ‘skin like sin’, a slippery effort centred on an alien vocal, padded bass notes and haunting chords. Always looking to forward the conversation around digital culture, Creamcake have found another promising artist who fits their expansive vision.
‘Elevate’ (feat. Cadell & Chocolate)
It can be hard to pin down Eugene Ward and his various aliases, but the Sydney-based artist certainly knows how to craft a banger. Building on the templates introduced on his Brand Ambassador, Club Injury Handbook and Night Raid releases, Ward goes full-bore grime on ‘Elevate’, recruiting London’s Cadell and Sydney’s Chocolate for star vocal performances.
‘Paris’ (Fresh Paul’s Peppermint Fresh Rerub)
Fresh Paul’s latest track is a glistening rework of ‘Paris’ from Jeremih’s Late Nights: Europe and might just be the feelgood anthem of the month. The Glasgow-based producer takes a footwork-inflected approach to junglist sounds, allowing Jeremih’s nasty come-ons to sit comfortably on an arrangement of skittering toms and the sort of sub bass that makes the hardcore continuum worth returning to over and over again.
‘Never Look Back’
With Mechatok, Mobilegirl and Ausschuss singing his praises, Niclas has been on our radar for a while now, pushing a high-def sound that will be familiar to fans of Dark0, SKY H1 or Soda Plains. Often utilizing a popular vocal as a point of extrapolation, the Berlin-based artist’s output is glaringly emotive, full of major chords and dramatic bass melodies. ‘Never Look Back’ puts Justin Timberlake’s ‘What Goes Around’ at the fore, weaving layer after layer of clear eyed synth work around the Future Sex / Love Sounds hit.