Read our five-point guide on the best new sounds from the periphery.
From the dankest end of dub mutations to new strains of dark ambient, UK drill to experimental grime and floor-focused bangers, here’s five emerging acts you should get on your radar, before everyone else does.
Toronto DJ and promoter Ciel (aka Cindy Li) has little regard for genre when it comes to her sets, traversing the spectrum of breakbeat, trance, acid, house and electro through her classy and upbeat excursions. Her skills as a selector are just one aspect of her extended influence in Toronto’s music scene, with the Discwoman affiliate pushing for the ‘floor to be more inclusive for women and non-gender-conforming individuals via her night and radio show Work In Progress. Last year, she published a Google doc spotlighting hundreds of women DJs in the city; it was Li’s way of urging promoters to book line-ups that reflect the diverse, and often overlooked, pool of talent in Toronto. Her production debut, Electrical Encounters, landed via Shanti Celeste’s Peach Discs imprint in October. A hypnotic and captivating three-track EP, it meanders through dreamy, glistening synths and buoyant rhythms, weaving a world of nebulous textures that, at times, is balanced by a hint of the unsettling.
Shanti Celeste / Pearson Sound
Jay Glass Dubs
Bokeh Versions is a label that explores the dankest end of dub mutations. The artists Seekers international and Jay Glass Dubs define the core of their sound, and the latter has just propelled the imprint into the highest esteems of fans of tripped out, slippery dub. Greek producer and DJ Jay Glass Dubs, real name Dimitris Papadatos, has earned a cult following in recent years with a number of albums which twist elements of coldwave, ambient, weightless grime and techno into its compelling dub template. Papadatos’ latest release sees him become a darling of the avant-garde world: Your Mom’s Favourite Eazy-E Song is a collaboration with radical-minded intellectual, poet and former supermodel Leslie Winer, who is said to have invented trip hop with her 1990 album Witch. Innovative dub seems to have hit a purple patch in recent years, and Jay Glass Dubs is creating some of the most powerful – and beguiling – work in the genre.
Ossia / Trevor Jackson
Followers of a certain pocket of experimental club music may have encountered Cretan polymath Abyss X before: she’s released on Rabit’s Halcyon Veil and Mexico’s Infinite Machine, burning through ideas and sound palettes with a theatricality that betrays her performance artist background. Certainly, few artists would have the gumption to follow the fluid RnB of Echoes with a mystical rumination of Minoan legend, employing a sea fog of ghostly chorales and filigree strings on 2016’s Mouths. But it’s Pleasure of the Bull (released via Aisha Devi’s Danse Noire this month) that feels like her definitive statement, giving full rein to her most gothic, theatrical impulses. Never mind the yen for new age music, we’re calling it – the dark ambient revival starts here.
Rabit / Lustmord
It looks like UK drill is here to stay. Last year saw South London’s K Trap breakthrough and drop his debut full-length The Last Whip in the summer, and the balaclava-clad 22-year-old recently tore into 2018 with new tune Watching. “Slithering snakes, how much time can I cut this grass?” he asks, before detailing the lifestyle his artist name references: “Italian kicks and clothes, I’m stepping clean from a kitchen stove/ I can get you a brick of snow, but after that’s sold, I’ll switch my phone.” Another morose banger with chilling lyrical precision.
67 / Harlem Spartans
L U C Y
Hailing from Bristol and now studying in Guildford, experimental grime producer L U C Y is marrying the dark blueprints of her home city’s sound with a future-facing, floor-focused sensibility bringing nothing but bangers. In previous interviews, she’s mentioned Kahn and Neek in the same breath as trap super-producer WondaGurl when unpacking her influences. It’s a formula that’s unmistakably present in her music – shiny, poppy synths clash with metallic percussive noises and squelchy bass throbs.
Mumdance / Preditah