This is the fifth instalment of Midnight Movement, a personal take on the attention-demanding club tracks being made, played and obeyed this month.
The UK is ever more tightly manipulated by the disingenuous and predatory forces of politics, media and corporations exploiting an angry and misinformed public, it feels like a pale and sweaty place. Dance music at its best is a kind of magic that affects us on physical and intellectual levels, providing a transcendent haven we should continue to make frequent use of. Here is a playlist of new music, this time mainly from traditional hotspots like Bristol, London, Chicago and Berlin. My list includes surreal 90s braindance, 2-step coldwave, militant techno-dub, and a bunch of 4/4 stuff ranging from brutal abstraction to symmetrical perfection. Turn off the news and put some headphones on.
DJ Guy – Bankzappa Dub
Kicking off my column with something out of place, as is my tradition, here’s a slice from Hypercolour’s forthcoming drop of spiritual body music from the dusty hard drive of Cardiff’s production genius DJ Guy. At the end of this Concentric Rhythms’ array of high-tech and rowdy Replhex records influenced techno and house with sub-fluttering jungle touches comes this beautiful curveball. Originally made in the 90s, you wouldn’t believe it from the propulsive, pseudo-footwork rolls of snare and kick drum. “Bankzappa Dub” is dreamlike swirl through a squawking, trilling alien landscape – violet pads fill the sky while wisps and blobs of of surreal colour and texture pop and fizz in your ears like the “self-transforming machine elves” described in DMT trips. Guy Evans is almost up there with UK’s oddball originators Luke Vibert, Mike Paradinas, even Richard D James – it’s just taking people longer to realise. Sorry you’ve only got a tiny sample to hear right now – buy the album, maybe?
Hyetal – Near WaterSelf-Released
Dave Corney’s music has always leant towards the gaspingly beautiful, ever since his early, vaguely dubstep, tracks made in Bristol like Neon Speech, Phoenix, and the self-describing Pixel Rainbow Sequence oozed with vibrant, emotive synths, rather than bass gymnastics. This song arrives on his new EP, “inspired by the blurs between reality and imagination and the need to belong”. Full of forlorn crooning and frosty chimes, there’s a post-punk or new wave feel to its cold, metallic sheen and filtered-out strumming. The vocals, provided by Corney himself for the first time, remind me of Deftones’ Change (in the House of Flies) – only a good thing, considering that was certainly the high point of nu-metal. The whole EP is really beautiful.
Ossia – ControlBerceuse Heroique
I’ve been craving more from Bristolian bossman Ossia since the creeping, thumping dread of “Red X”, with the catchy vocal hook “the dirt… the filth… the corruption…” The Young Echo member and proprietor of the label/party Peng Sound among others drops his second EP on the similarly pessimistic Berceuse Heroique label. Two songs come on four sides of vinyl – both cuts are close to ten minutes long, and each has an emaciated dub version for extra shock-out value. Control takes the skunky paranoia of Loefah and Digital Mystikz’ earliest experiments down to deeper, slower levels of cyber-dub, dirty with speakerbox gunk. Gutter music.
Hieroglyphic Being & the Truth Theory Trio – The Papyrus of AniBedouin Records
More filth here, or so it seems at first, courtesy of Jamal Moss, who brings a live-sounding jam blending the new-wave Detroitist pump of Kyle Hall and Omar-S with Heatsick’s awkward, colourful meandering, full of wildness, distraction and fuzzy overdrive. Crisp and twinkling keys and rave chirps try to take you one place while an insistent subplot of burnt out, diesel-stinking kick drums and throbbing percussion cuts in and seems to be stringing you along somewhere else. The unsettled co-operation of these differently treated, unsteadily sequenced elements is what makes The Papyrus of Ani such an absorbing, euphoric puzzle.
Sim Hutchins – Melanotan II
This is apparently weirdo Essex producer Sim Hutchins’ take on UK funky, but where that flash in the pan genre brought sexy back to the rave, Melanotan II is baleful and sinister. A bolshy, juddering beat is formed from creeping, filtered percussion and a loud, muscular kick drum, as churning, grinding synths whisk the surface into hot froth. Murky, skulking club drama. Check the video, an emoji trip out created by the artist himself – it’s like being trapped inside the malfunctioning brain of MSN Messenger itself.
Pearson Sound – Tsunan SunHessle Audio
I feel like I’ve grown up with Hessle Audio, all the way back to listening to the original crew’s Ruffage Sessions show on Sub FM through the fascinating evolution of the label’s magisterial curation of new rhythmic adventures. So when Pearson Sound’s teetering, rhythms roll and slam, I feel like I know exactly where they’ve come from and what they’re doing. Tsunan Sun shows off Pearson Sound’s ability for expertly choreographed drum performance, giving way to elegantly twisting rave synths and keen arpeggios – there’s an agility here that should lift bodies off the club floor into weightlessness.
Levon Vincent – BirdsNovel Sound
This month I went to Scotland for the first time and finally took a trip to the legendary Sub Club, where Numbers had booked Levon himself. I walked up Ben Nevis on the Sunday, but the highest peak I achieved was certainly Friday night’s expedition to Glasgow’s Jamaica Street. Of course, I remember very little, but finally listening to the man’s long-awaited new 12”, the head-melting acidic seeps and striations of Birds jog my memory – slightly.
Outboxx – Rumours ft. Naomi Jeremy
It’s great to see the return of Bristol’s deep, soulful, keyboard-jamming house unit Outboxx, the side project of Livity Sound affiliate Hodge alongside Matt Lambert, with regular vocalist Naomi Jeremy an important part of the group after many outings with them. This is the first thing they’ve brought out this year I think, and sees them coming into their own with their West Country perspective on classic Chicago and Detroit house styles – there are touches of Frankie Knuckles and Omar-S to their ever-more-timeless sounding productions. Rumours has a hint of the Detroit classic Blackwater, by Octave One, in the nagging riffs, stadium-ready vocal hooks and sustained strings. Strident.