Features I by I 25.08.17

7 must-hear mixes from August 2017: African Auto-Tune, Final Fantasy and carnival heat

It’s almost impossible to keep on top of everything that SoundCloud, Mixcloud and online radio has to offer. In our new monthly column, FACT guides you through the must-hear mixes of the last 30 days, whether you want a club session to warm you up for the weekend, ambient soothers or a set of vinyl-only obscurities.

One of the joys of the SoundCloud era – even if it doesn’t last much longer – is the feeling that we have total access to music from all around the world; that if only there were enough hours in the day we could be aware of every genre innovation, every tempo shift happening in every bedroom, town or city as sounds evolve from the grassroots up.

Obviously, that’s not really the case. Though August’s must-hear mixes are definitely globe-spanning – travelling from Tokyo to the Bay Area, from Iran to Georgia, from West Africa to an entire virtual universe – they also serve as a reminder that we can never grasp it all, that there’s always treasure off the map that we can’t quite reach.

Instead we rely on the efforts of heroes like Christopher Kirkley, the Sahel Sounds label boss whose latest NTS session uncovers the incredible Auto-Tuned evolution of traditional African sounds, and underground champions like Foozool and 8ULENTINA, who make it their business to amplify the weird fringes and join their local scene to the global vanguard. Sometimes it’s worth letting go and getting lost. Here are seven totally different trails to follow.

Foozool & 8ULENTINA for Truants
A joyride through the global underground

Bay Area associates Foozool and 8ULENTINA are the minds behind Club Chai, a night that’s spawned radio shows, workshops, a label and other genre-gliding creative pursuits, all with the underlying aim of building a platform for non-western and non-conforming artists. Their B2B for Truants is billed as a bit of a rarity, as they don’t normally record their joint sets.

The hour-long relay finds them linking up grooves from around the world in carefree, anything-goes fashion, flipping from HoodCelebrityy’s glossy dancehall to Ynfnyt Scroll’s sunbaked trance memories, from Armenian all-girl choirs to quest?onmarc’s whiplash ballroom beats. A bracing dose of classic Whitney is the cherry on top, served up in a destruction derby edit by Olive. A mix of left-turns and multiple layers, this one will leave you dizzy.

Autotune The World – Niger Special
A portal into Africa’s Auto-Tune evolution

It’s one of those quirks of digital 21st century culture that Auto-Tune software became a staple of popular music in North Africa – particularly among Berber musicians in the Maghreb region – long before it established itself as the ubiquitous sound of chartbound pop and rap.

Christopher Kirkley, wandering digger and boss of the always-fascinating Sahel Sounds label, zeroes in on the contemporary music of Niger for this episode of his NTS show, demonstrating the curious crossroads where traditional music meets digital techniques with 45 minutes of trance-like electronic hybrids from Tal National, Sogha Niger, Abdou Tambalio and more. As William Gibson once said, the future is here – it’s just not evenly distributed.

Modern Persian Speech Sounds Vol. 2
Persian folk x LA beat scene = major fireworks

LA crate digger and beat conductor Omid Walizadeh pays tribute to his Persian ancestry on this glorious mix, his second volume of irreverent, beat tape-style reconstructions of Iranian folk music, recently broadcast on Dublab’s Discostan Radio.

‘Modern Persian Speech Sounds Vol. 2’ hits a sweet spot between the personal and the historical, veering from bleary, dubbed out edits of flute-and-drum grooves to chopped beats hewn from family-style choirs, incorporating a Farsi rendition of Brahms’ “Lullaby” and selections from pre-revolutionary pop star Googoosh. Irreverent, inventive and totally unpredictable, fans of Madlib and Paul White take heed!

Powder for Crack Magazine
A gooey brainbath for those late-summer sunrises

Tokyo’s Moko Shibata, tipped by FACT at the start of the year as one of house music’s brightest new talents, comes through with a real deep-tissue massage of a mix for Crack. There’s a certain romance about the story of this low-profile DJ and producer – by day she’s a uniformed office worker at an electronics company in Shinjuku, by night she retreats to her synths and drum machines in her home studio – and it seeps into the emotive, complex atmospheres she builds with her sets.

Proving herself a master mood-setter, Powder opens the slow-burning session with a few minutes of spiralling kosmische to get us nicely centred, before guiding us through gently shifting textures and tempos. From the laidback poise of Global Communication to the subtle sleaze of Virgo and the crepuscular shuffle of Edward, her selections are immaculate. Dim the lights, please.

Kasra V’s Final Fantasy Special
Lose yourself in the wistful world of Nobuo Uematsu

Even if, like your correspondent, you don’t know your RPG from your elbow, you’d have to have a heart of stone not to be moved by the music of Nobuo Uematsu, composer of much of the music for the Final Fantasy game series. For some, this two-hour radio session from Tehran-via-London techno bod Kasra V will be a polygon-edged trip down memory lane – but for those who’ve never played the game or heard Uematsu’s wistful, heartstring-tugging scores before, there’s a whole world to discover.

Drawing on classical, jazz and new age ambience, Uematsu’s dreamy melodies, picked out on MIDI pianos, clarinets and harps, are neatly evocative of titles like ‘Those Chosen By The Planet’ and ‘Buried In the Snow’ – but while the technology might be dated, the quality of these compositions remains timeless.

HVL for Groove
Gritty techno from the concrete clubs of Tbilisi

If you keep an ear to the ground for these things, you may have noticed that Tbilisi, the capital city of Georgia, is becoming the destination du jour for the curious techno tourist. The local scene revolves around a number of high-spec clubs, but perhaps the most notable is Bassiani, a concrete maze located underneath the national football stadium, where residents include Gigi Jikia, aka HVL.

For his Groove podcast, HVL gives outsiders and soon-to-be-visitors a taste of the homegrown sound of Bassiani, where techno comes in one flavour only: Proper. “I thought it would be a good idea to showcase some recently encountered 130BPM techno beats, to get into Bassiani vibe,” he tells the magazine, picking gritty, adventurous tracks from ‘90s Euro-techno legends Unit Moebius, Jamal Moss’s noise-infested project Africans With Mainframes, and Brooklyn’s DJ Bookworms, among others.

Footpatrol x HDD Carnival Warm-Up Mix
The obligatory end-of-August session, done properly

It wouldn’t be August without a stack of carnival-ready, Beenie Man-heavy, sunshine-promoting mixes, but with dancehall still enjoying a purple patch, this year’s selection is as good as any. Former FACT mixers and all-round good eggs Hipsters Don’t Dance kick off their offering with a nod to London’s new generation on Bane’s irresistible ‘Fine Wine’ before digging into carnival’s Caribbean roots – Equiknoxx, Konshens, Popcaan, Beenie Man all appear – for a rough and ready ride that captures the noisy, punchdrunk spirit of Notting Hill at its best.

Chal Ravens in on Twitter

Read next: 7 must-hear mixes from July 2017



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