It’s almost impossible to keep on top of everything that SoundCloud, Mixcloud and online radio has to offer. In our 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.
With November being a big month for the music industry – the last chance to get your year-end-eligible records out in the world; peak season for big raves – it’s usually a good month for promotional mixes too. And boyohboy, did this November deliver.
Among this month’s unbelievably good selection you’ll find Ilian Tape tearing up Unsound’s ballroom, Objekt setting the gold standard for concept mixes, Mama Snake teasing her new label and Yaeji literally just humming. Meanwhile, Mumdance presents his most ambitious mix yet, dBridge brings the dark and smoky D&B and Black Merlin takes us through his heaviest chuggers.
A few hat tips, first: Manchester’s Reform Radio brought in Berlin-based club producer Ani Klang for a session of high-octane club picks, and column MVP Teki Latex uploaded his sweat-dripping set from London’s Keep Hush basement party.
Bill Kouligas celebrated 10 years of PAN with a mix spanning the label’s greatest hits, and Freerotation resident Leif offered some deep and psychedelic moods on his Crack mix. All solid stuff but there can only be seven winners.
Yaeji “Karaoke Mix” for BUTW
Cult star hums along with her favorite tracks
Here’s Yaeji ad-libbing over a selection of her favorite tracks – Chaos in the CBD, DJ Rashad, Chevel, some wafting bossa nova – for 40 minutes. The concept would be ridiculous if it came from anyone else but the softly-spoken dance-R&B star who’s become something of an underground icon after only a handful of releases.
“I’ve been doing this way before I even started writing my own music,” she says. “Imagining how a track could evolve or transform by adding my voice became almost like a habit to me.” It’s like hanging out in her studio on a Sunday afternoon – vibes upon vibes.
Mumdance – Shared Meanings
The weightless pioneer unveils his most ambitious mix yet
Mumdance has been dropping ambitious mix projects every year for the past six, from the hardware hardcore of 2013’s Twists & Turns through to last year’s 40-episode Radio Mumdance series. Shared Meanings is not only a free mix but also a full release, available to purchase as separate tracks, as well as on vinyl and cassette.
The mix doesn’t follow the usual upwards trajectory – prepare for multiple stops, starts and sideways turns to keep you on your toes. He moves from anti-gravity jackin’ by Chevel to “weightless”-inspired noise by JK Flesh; from Space Afrika’s ambient clouds to passages of steely breaks and techno by Galaxian and Peder Mannerfelt. A massive achievement.
Black Merlin for Dekmantel
Brain-frying chuggers from the dancefloor anthropologist
Talent borrows, genius steals, as the nonsense adage goes – and as Dekmantel have already come up with the word “apoca-disco” to describe this 90-minute, third-eye-straining sesh from Black Merlin, let’s go with it. Expect brain-frying chuggers edged in steel and stone from the Pinkman label affiliate and traveling field recordist. (His latest album features music and ambience from Papua, New Guinea).
Objekt for RA
No-kick rollers from your favorite swotty DJ
With his “no-kick rollers” mix for RA, Objekt proves that a club track doesn’t require a kick drum to bring a pulsating energy to the floor. The whole experience is like holding your breath underwater for 60 minutes – there’s a nagging sense that something’s not right, but meanwhile you’re suspended, just floating… who knows which way is up? Featuring Sunareht, Don’t DJ, K. Leimer and fragments of Eastenders, this high-concept wonder might be one of the greatest RA mixes of all time.
Mama Snake for Groove
The Apeiron alum shows off her new label
After coming up with Copenhagen’s Apeiron Crew, Sara Svanholm is planting her own flag in the ground with the launch of a record label, Amniote Editions, which provides most of the meat in this mix for Groove. Opening with a Popol Vuh-esque acid wigout from Sisilisko and a good 20 minutes of meditative tones ’n’ drones, she eventually crawls out of the murk via some ’98 trance before settling into a steady streak of heavyweight belters, including one from her Apeiron pal Solid Blake. Almost everything here is unreleased and unfamiliar, lending the whole project a unique shine.
Skee Mask B2B Zenker Brothers at Unsound 2018
Marathon breaks and techno from the Ilian Tape tag team
Unsound is far enough behind us that the FOMO has subsided and we can appreciate the spoils of the event: enter Skee Mask and the Zenker Brothers, repping one of the most reliable techno labels of the moment, Ilian Tape. Recorded during their early-hours set in the Ballroom, it’s three hours of hectic breaks, disjointed electro, mangled jungle and one particularly big, dumb and amazing house track that goes, “It’s house! Itsitsitsits h-h-h-h-house!” Please god someone ID this. Smacking!
dBridge for Crack
A D&B auteur gets deep and dark
With his recent album A Love I Can’t Explain, D&B auteur dBridge showed us the latest iteration of his lifelong journey through bass and space, and this Crack mix makes for an excellent companion. With cuts from Bjarki, Martyn and Borderland State, tune in for deep, throbbing grooves with plenty of space to breathe, a twist of urban melancholy and smokey dancefloor vibes. Is it time for the Autonomic revival yet?
Chal Ravens is a freelance journalist. Find her on Twitter.