Newcomers and scene veterans converge in the October edition of For Club Use Only, which traverses geography and genre to bring you the month’s best under-the-radar club material.
Taking a cue from the weather, the past month saw a crop of releases that took a murkier, more disjointed approach to genres like gqom and grime. FAKA and Abyss X provided stunning originals in this disorienting realm, while debuts from Insha and Firaas also provided intimate moments.
There are still plenty of peak-time tracks to sink your teeth into, with HotRod, Sylvere and || FLORA each providing their own take on hip-moving club forms.
FAKA bring their “ancestral gqom gospel” to NON on BOTTOMS REVENGE, a three-tracker led by the full-throttle ‘Isifundo Sokuqala’ and two other disorienting and gorgeous efforts. Fans of NON will remember the duo’s ‘Umdidi Oyincwele’ from NON WORLDWIDE COMPILATION VOLUME 1, a seven-minute epic which played a soothing role in the middle of that compilation’s hectic sounds. ‘Isifundo Sokuqala’ is starker, a more dancefloor-focused take on club-oriented gqom sounds. Commanding work from one of South Africa’s rising acts.
‘She Bruise’ is the first track from Abyss X’s forthcoming mini-LP on Infinite Machine, a follow-up to releases on Rabit’s Halcyon Veil and Lao’s Extasis and the final flourish on a breakout year for the Cretan artist currently residing in New York. Never resting in one sound for more than a moment, ‘She Bruise’ is a a torrent of drums and scratching noises that rises and rises without ever hitting a graspable peak. Those lucky enough to have caught an Abyss X live performance will recognize the raw energy involved in her original work and the mini-LP’s release on November 25 can’t come soon enough.
Lil Uzi Vert
‘Ballin To The End’ (HotRod Remix)
Ever since coming across HotRod’s now-classic remix of Bone Thugs-N-Harmony’s ‘Thuggish Ruggish’, the Jersey Club producer has been a personal favorite, an artist who has quietly released some of club music’s most stunning remixes over the past half-decade. His latest is a take on Lil Uzi Vert’s ‘Ballin To The End’, a sneaky hit from the rapper’s Luv Is Rage mixtape and perfect fodder for HotRod’s euphoric vocal cut-ups. Can’t imagine getting sick of this Cartel Music Group representative’s tracks anytime soon.
‘Wednesday Night Interlude’ (Sylvere Remix)
Released as part of Grape Magazine’s Aubrey Graham Changed My Life Vol. III compilation, Sylvere’s Bmore-flavored take on ‘Wednesday Night Interlude’ is an instant dancefloor smash, a flawless synthesis of razor-sharp breaks and pillow-soft synth work ripped from 40’s lush production. Fans of Sylvere’s excellent ‘Smashing Stars’ will enjoy the directness of this take, which cuts the difference between DJ tool and original work flawlessly.
Another newcomer in this month’s batch is Boston’s Insha, who debuted with the Dysplazia LP on Type this month. Uploaded as a single file on SoundCloud as well as broken into individual pieces on the album, Dysplazia is best taken in as a whole, but its individual components also take on their own life as club tools, sonorous digital hymns and stunted R&B transmissions. Despite some out-sized drum work, Dysplazia comes across as a home listening record, perhaps because of its tendency to skirt genre and perhaps because of an unnerving ambience that recalls artists like Visionist, Roly Porter and Asher Levitas.
Xao vs. || FLORA
Xao caught my attention through appearances on the last two Astral Black shows on Radar Radio, showing off a muscular production aesthetic that draws from grime, UK funky and mid-Atlantic club styles. || FLORA, who just released the City God mixfile on PTP, appears in Xao’s latest blend, a masterful smash up of the former’s ‘TX’ and Shakira’s still large ‘Whenever, Wherever’. ‘TX Shakira’ isn’t for the faint of heart, but as long as you’re ready to enter an industrial fever dream state, a joyous sensation kicks in around the first chorus and is hard to kick over the remainder of the track, even as it sinks further into disjointed madness.
‘Bad Juju’ (DJJ Remix)
Largely known for his gritty filter house machinations on Crazylegs, dJJ proffers a less linear sound on this remix of Lil Taty’s ‘Bad Juju’, released on new Vienna-based label Ashida Park. Fans of the Welsh producer’s previous won’t be left in the cold with this release, though, which balances dreamy melodics with gut-busting sub bass and elastic drum work. Like the best material on labels like, for instance, Timedance and Livity Sound, these complex arrangements have a distinct funk to them; a unique groove is distinguishable through the clatter.
Like recent output from the Staycore and Mixpak camps, Firaas’ ‘Zizou’ is a track built for intimate moments on the dancefloor. Samples – sirens, snippets of conversation, moaning – flit in and out of the silky-smooth production, which comes in at an all-too-short 2:36. With only a few other tracks on his Soundcloud, Firaa – based in Germany – is clearly a newcomer, but ‘Zisou’ is a brilliant sign of what’s to come.
Collie Budz x William Basinski
‘Come Around’ x ‘Cascade’ (Kelman Version II)
LA’s Rail Up parties have been a revelation in 2016, a semi-regular gathering for fans of dancehall, dembow, kuduro, baile funk, soca and Afro-house soundtracked by artists like Dubbel Dutch, Nguzunguzu and Suga Shay. As great as those guests typically are, it’s often the early and late sets from resident Kelman Duran that set off the crowd. His off-kilter sessions often feature his own edits, which range from YG dembow flips to bizarre smash-ups of classic rap and contemporary club sounds. His latest might be the best – and strangest – yet, a blend of Collie Budz’s well-known ‘Come Around’ vocal and William Basinski’s devotional 2015 piece, Cascade. It shouldn’t work but it’s hard to argue with the results, and while most of Duran’s work is aimed squarely at moving bodies, this edit shows he can do dancefloor catharsis just as effectively.
There’s no denying that bleaker music becomes increasingly attractive as the temperature drops. Frankfurt’s Avbvrn has provided some of the month’s dreariest moods on his triptych self-release, Three Dogs, a grayscale effort that acquires a woozy heft as it weaves in and out of the club. Previous edits of Nunu and Air Max ’97 are also highly recommended.