Welcome back to another collection of our favourite mixes and radio shows of the past month.
When festival season approaches, clubland traditionally takes a bit of breather, allowing people some time to get outside for once. Well, that’s all well and good but when there’s such unrelenting flow of incredible recorded sets who has time for fresh air? We’ve rounded up techno and electro sets that hit like Anthony Joshua from both Akua and Solid Blake, tripped out and trancey sets from softcorecoft and Ciel, a riotous b2b from Finn and Jossy Mitsu and more. There are moments of calm too, and, if you get through each of these, you’re going to need the respite.
Xzavier StoneDummy Mix 549
Any mix that punches in with the unmistakable sounds of peak-era Neptunes production is an easy sell in our eyes. Xzavier Stone’s Dummy Mix doesn’t let up once, beginning as it does with his edit of Noreaga’s classic Superthug. The Zurich artist’s mix is tapped into the very best of the musical zeitgeist, living somewhere among the rhythms of dancehall, trap and reggaeton, hip-hop/RnB throwbacks and PC music-esque experiments in saccharine melody. It’s all laced with a kind of grime-indebted sheen and, even at just over half an hour, feels like an accurate snapshot of genre- and border-defying club sounds in 2019.
CielDiscovering west coast trance and new age for Vinyl Factory
Crack Magazine favourite Ciel is back with a specialist mix for Vinyl Factory that focuses on psychedelic trance, breaks and downtempo from the west coast of Canada and the US. Using a trio of highly influential compilation CDs from the time as a launch pad, these tracks all carry the air of certified but largely forgotten classics. What’s amazing is just how current they sound, too; these soft-edged 303s and padded breakbeats could be from any number of releases from 2019. No doubt this voguish influence will fade but for now it’s everywhere and we are all for it.
softcoresoftTruancy Volume 239
A riotous dispatch from Canada’s second-largest city, Montreal. softcoresoft has been playing a significant role in addressing gender representation in the city, not to mention building a reputation for slamming out hard, ravey sets at clubs and festivals. She wastes very little time here before launching into a barrage of lightspeed techno, acid and trance. It’s the latter’s flavour that ends up lingering longest, with enough sprinkled among hammering kicks to give the mix a transcendent, euphoric feel. In her own words, she wanted the mix to be “fast, trancey, trippy and fun,” which about sums it up.
D.O.KHyponic Mix 385
Veteran grime producer D.O.K has largely shied away from the limelight over his 20-year career, instead building a legacy of underground bangers without much fanfare. One of the best things about grime’s second coming has been the re-emergence of some of the forgotten legends from those incredibly fertile early days and, though D.O.K never really went away, it seems he has decided now is the time to step out of the shadows. This mix is about as shadowy as it gets though: almost every track is a dub and each as murky as the last.
AkuaBoiler Room Utrecht
Akua’s journey as a DJ is a good example of why Discwoman is such an important project. Her arrival as a member of their roster came just a couple of years after she learned to mix under the guiding hand of collective co-founder Umfang. That’s not to say she hasn’t worked hard at getting there, establishing herself as an important figure in Brooklyn’s techno scene through curating parties and playing at influential raves like Technofeminism and Unter. Rave is is the operative word here, her style is informed by the wild sounds of 90s New York and the midwest, and the tradition is well represented her in mantra-like repetition, pummelling kicks and audacious stops and starts.
Ben RatliffBlowing Up the Workshop 104
A music critic for the New York Times for twenty years and author of four books, mainly concerning jazz, Ben Ratliff demonstrates a studious relationship with music. His set for Blowing Up the Workshop is as conceptual and fastidious as you might expect, themed around what carries us to spring even when winter’s grasp is late to loosen. The “chant, ritual, locomotion, tresillo and swing rhythm” that he cites are all present, giving the mix a gently but firmly driving quality. The introduction via the sound of the Balinese Kecak dance (which we recognised from the stunning non-narrative film Baraka) is particularly satisfying.
Finnb2b w/ Jossy Mitsu
Another favourite of this column, Finn is back for the first time this year with another homemade b2b. London/Birmingham selector and Rinse FM resident Jossi Mitsu is the latest to join him at the platters, and there’s a sense of both DJs returning to their roots with this mix, which is heavily centred in garage. Without wanting to labour the point, it is typical of Finn’s bedroom series in that it sounds like what it is: friends going banger for banger in someone’s living room. With many taking dance music way too seriously, hearing one of these two tease in the riff from Smoke on the Water amid unshakable floor fillers is a neat reminder of the simple joy of it all.
Cera Khin w/ Danny DazeNoods Radio
Miami legend Danny Daze is Cera Khin’s guest for this Noods show. The Berlin-based doomsayer plays dark and tough for the first hour, with a track from Michael O’Neil’s The Binary Order on Ossia’s FuckPunk a neat indicator of the abrasive modus operandi. Daze slows things down to a bop for the most part, playing deeper but no less dark. A fine pairing of two artists at the height of their powers.
Solid BlakeIlian Tape
The trio from collective Apeiron Crew (also including Smokey and Mama Snake) have each, in their own right, carved out a space and identity that has seen them flourish as individuals. Solid Blake’s output as both DJ and producer has seen her become one of the most recognisable faces of breakbeat-driven dance music among Copenhagen’s blossoming scene. This pretty much makes her the perfect candidate for a slot among Ilian Tape’s series, and she doesn’t disappoint. Slamming electro is the watchword here as she ducks and dives through heavy low-end, robotic body music and some expansive bursts of light among tight-knit beats.
Best Effort w/ DJ OFF ITSkylab Radio
As you might have noticed, a lot of this month’s roundup is about the dancefloor. Our last mix of the ten is one to bring you back to earth. Best Effort is one of our favourite shows on Melbourne station Skylab and in April it returned after a couple of months off. Earl Gray’s first hour deals in the soothing and celestial and DJ OFF IT follows with a blend of ambient and soft, rhythmic rollers with some spoken word sprinkled here and there, lightly picking up at the end for an energising round-off.