Best Mixes I by I 04.02.19

7 must-hear mixes from January 2019: Surreal avant-club, boggy techno, destabilized bass

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.

The first month of the year is a strange time for music – after the frenzy of list season, we’re still processing last year’s best bits. One of this month’s best mixes was a retrospective of 2018’s finest R&B, with Smutlee – AKA “the Smooth Bastard” – selecting highlights from both sides of the pond, including Children of Zeus and Kali Uchis.

On a deeper retrospective tip, Dance Mania original Paul Johnson shared a corking mix from his vaults, recorded live in Chicago in 1995 (worth checking just for the MC, who’s so excited his voice gives out). Meanwhile, the rap archivists over at Passionweiss unveiled a tribute to Bay Area living legend E-40, choosing the best tracks from the last six years of his vast catalogue.

Finally, if you’ve got a big task on your hands – your first attempt at grouting, say, or a very serious game of Risk – may we point you towards this six-hour marathon from Semtek, the man behind one of the UK’s best dance labels, Don’t Be Afraid. Six hours! Some rather testing avant-garde classical sits alongside minimal wave, heavy dub, house and electro.

Onto the big seven: madcap blends from Ariel Zetina and Driado, heavy techno and ’nuum directions from Donato Dozzy, Stenny and Object Blue, a raging storm from a D&B veteran and a set from Fire Festival (not that one).

Ariel Zetina at Room 4 Resistance
Risk-taking flair from the Chicago club fusionist

Smartbar resident Ariel Zetina hits just the right balance on this set from Berlin’s Room 4 Resistance party, mixing “serious” techno torque with nutty, risk-taking fare: Pulse X, SOPHIE, and a OTT Spanish-language version of ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’ are just a few of the confrontational curveballs in her crate.

Christoph De Babalon for DJ Mag
D&B’s dark master puts the arrrgh back in hardcore

Christoph De Babalon’s pioneering fusion of serrated breaks and gloomy atmospheres sounds fresher than ever, and after the reissue of his 1997 album If You’re Into It, I’m Out Of It, he’s ready to collect his dues. For DJ Mag he puts the arrrgh back in hardcore with a selection of the most harrowing machine-music in his collection: Zoviet France, Pessimist, Via App and Suburban Base originals Lick Back Organisation all appear in a thrilling 150-minute set.

Donato Dozzy for Donato Dozzy
Boggy delights from techno’s most-learned

Grab your wellies: it’s about to get real claggy underfoot. Techno professor Donato Dozzy leads us through an hour of deep and primordial material in this hour-long mix, shared directly to his SoundCloud over the New Year. Featuring bogged-up delights from Society of Silence, Actress’ Levantis alias and Dozzy’s sometime collaborator Neel, the whole effort reflects his tactile, organic approach to production. Block out the world with this one.

object blue for Dekmantel
Destabilized bass from a fast-rising talent

The still-new object blue makes good on the hype with a Dekmantel podcast that sums up her smudgy approach to genre and structure. Brazenly opening with three minutes of glitchy radiophonic spewage, she juxtaposes her ‘nuum-based tastes (Logos, Karima F) against destabilized techno and freaky R&B reworks on a neatly contained journey mix.

Stenny for Truants
Brains and brawn with an Ilian Tape maestro

Truancy Volume 232 comes from Turin-via-Munich DJ Stenny, a regular sight on the Ilian Tape label. He and the Ilian crew have led the way on the current breaks revival, and his brawny-but-brainy style – heavy on broken beats and spaced-out synths – feels extremely cool and correct right now. With Ilian releases rubbing up against serotonin-dipped jackin’ house and saucer-eyed ambient techno, it’s a serious session for serious hedonists.

umru B2B A.G. Cook at Fire Festival
PC Music: live and direct from Minecraft

No, not that Fyre Fest – this Fire Fest was free from scandal, taking place in the totally familiar and entirely normal environs of… Minecraft. Earlier this month, game-players were treated to a 12-hour virtual festival, with sets from Hudson Mohawke, IGLOOGHOST and, under the banner “Charli’s Angels”, PC Music’s umru and A.G. Cook. Rare edits and madcap blends abound, with Tommy Cash and OPN fed into the blender alongside Charli XCX, who acts as master of ceremonies too.

Driado for Salviatek
Surreal avant-club from Colombia

The Uruguayan club music label Salviatek is a haven for risk-taking producers with unruly imaginations, and Driado is no exception. This mix from the Colombian artist is teeming with surreal life, organic-feeling and richly saturated. In this sadly tracklist-free mix, he paints with an unsteady hand, merging South American rhythms with a wild palette of deformed trance and clattering drums.

Chal Ravens is a freelance journalist. Find her on Twitter.

Olivea Kelly is an independent artist and designer. Find her on Instagram or at

Read next: The best mixes of 2018



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