Newcomers and scene veterans converge in this month’s edition of For Club Use Only, which traverses geography and genre to bring you the month’s best under-the-radar club material.
The splatter of hardcore was all over the place, from Kablam’s demonic Resident Advisor mix to the Bala Club takeover on Rinse FM. False Witness and Joey Labeija spun classic dance music tropes into urgent new forms on The Art of Fighting and Violator respectively, while coucou chloe and Sega Bodega wrote new code via their Y1640 project.
Fragmented pop sounds also continue to emerge as more artists utilize their own vocals instead of outsourcing or bootlegging. And while it’s still difficult to tell where dance music’s fringes are moving next, there’s no doubt that March was one of the richest months for club music – both classic and future-facing – in recent memory.
‘Put Cha Hands On Ya Knees’ (ft. Acemula & Kayy Drizz)
SBF’s Jersey Club Drug EP was one of several excellent original Jersey club records released in March, straddled by two of the genre’s most high profile releases to date: DJ J Heat’s Jersey Transit Systems EP and DJ Jayhood’s KING LP.
‘Put Cha Hands On Ya Knees’, featuring fellow Jersey up-and-comers Acemula and Kayy Drizz, is Jersey Club Drug’s stand out, hitting the listener with high pitched synth stabs that set the scene perfectly for that familiar kick pattern.
Thoom x Itsi
Chicago’s Thoom and Itsï join forces on ‘Abyzou’, combining a creeping drone with a delirious climax of hurtling drums and strangled sub bass.
Neither Thoom nor Itsï have released much music to date, but both are part of a thriving Chicago scene based around nights like Rumors (which posted an excellent Itsï mix earlier this month) and Berlin. ‘Abyzou’ functions as a striking introduction for this talented pair and we’re excited to hear what comes next.
WA?STE continues Genome 6.66 Mbp’s excellent start to 2017 with the Hollow Vessel EP, a five-track collection that put the Australian artist’s heavily Auto-Tuned voice alongside disembodied hardstyle kicks, gorgeous melodies and a range of space-filling FX.
‘Thorns’ is the standout, a sparkling stab at melancholy R&B that’s drenched in lush reverb and angelic harmonies. It also nails the hardcore-meets-bedroom-pop angle more than any other track on the release, the whole track tiptoeing between tension and euphoria without getting too manic or too twee.
The last full-length project we received from New York’s Joey LaBeija was 2015’s Shattered Dreams, a deeply affecting composition made up of a series of sparse movements defined by spacious sound design and seductive synth work.
Violator, released at the tail end of March, is Shattered Dreams’ follow-up, but its bombastic trance chords and Jersey club-derived rhythms mark a significant departure from the latter’s meditative lilt. ‘XXXcuse Me’ is the best of the bunch, full of totemic drums, dramatic synth stabs and intoxicatingly strange vocals.
OMAAR’s contribution to last year’s massive collection of Embaci remixes, a joint release by NON and NAAFI, was gorgeous, but unremarkable alongside versions from Nkisi, Lechuga Zafiro and Mya Gomez.
The Mexican producer’s remix has since been revamped by an anonymous producer named Endworld and the result is pure rave candy. By speeding up the original track’s hypnotic melody, adding a torrent of breaks and using a heavy 4/4 kick, Endworld creates something akin to jungle, but with a glossy contemporary club sheen.
‘Put Your Hands On My AAA’
Soda Plains’ ‘She Has All Kinds Of Temperatures’ was a standout track when it was released last September and a follow-up remix from Ausschuss added a new dimension to the hopeful original by submerging it in dubby effects.
Now, fellow Berliner Jackie blends Ausschuss’s remix with Ciara’s ‘Got Me Good’, transforming the airy, effortless original into a stilted, awkward late night anthem barely tethered to Soda Plains’ original blueprint.
Trendy Decay has been churning out alien bedroom pop with startling consistency of late, but Rules’ ‘Innocent’ might be the Washington DC crew’s largest effort to date.
Transcending the insular nature of his previous work, ‘Innocent’ is a banger in every sense, featuring quotable, earworm lines (“I’m very upfront ‘cus I don’t give a fuck”) and a haunted beat built around heavily distorted kicks and outsized brass.
Swisha x AceMo x Kush Jones
‘She Throwin Azz’ (ft. Rainey)
LA’s Swisha and New York’s AceMo and Kush Jones form like voltron on ‘She Throwin Azz’, a drum-heavy effort featuring Rainey on guest vocals.
Running through a gauntlet of switch-ups, the track draws equally from straightforward juke and the more abstract end of the footwork spectrum, eschewing melody altogether for maximum body effect.
The Dance Pit
‘Angeltherapy’ x ‘No Role Modelz’
The Dance Pit’s second use of DEBIT’s ‘Angeltherapy’ is pure bliss, cutting away a sublime loop from J. Cole’s ‘No Role Models’ and layering it over the New York producer’s hallucinogenic beat.
It’s a dramatic blend and it’s not difficult to imagine it in one of The Dance Pit’s thrilling, genre-traversing mixes or live DJ sets. Also check out DEBIT’s ‘Invidentes’, a perfect example of the New York-based artist’s thorough approach to sound design.
‘Fever’ (Acemula Remix)
Vybz Kartel’s ‘Fever’ was one of 2016’s most infectious dancehall anthems, proving that the incarcerated star still has plenty of gas in the tank.
AceMula’s bootleg falls on the simpler end of the Jersey club spectrum, chipping off a few hunks of the chorus for use over a typically booming kick pattern. With dancehall’s crossover moment extending well into 2017 it’s fair to expect more Jersey, Baltimore and Philly producers to take on the latest flavors coming out of Kingston.