The lone star state has produced two of the most intriguing young producers in two separate, but related, club music scenes. Lisa Blanning lassoes them in for a conversation together. Above, left to right: Lotic and Rabit.
Despite being the fourth largest city in the United States, the musical legacy of Houston, Texas is limited—propped up by its homegrown hip-hop, including Rap-a-Lot Records, Geto Boys, UGK, and DJ Screw—and eclipsed by its notoriety as the location of NASA’s Mission Control. This mostly inhospitable environment was one reason that J’Kerian Morgan—born and raised in Houston—moved first to Austin and then to Berlin, where his work as Lotic has developed to the disorienting dance music found on his most recent EP, Fallout, released by Sci Fi & Fantasy. As a producer, Fallout‘s moods swing from alarming to creepy to ethereal, all in the space of four tracks and in the context of the dancefloor. As a resident of Berlin club night Janus, Lotic’s DJ sets alongside the likes of Total Freedom, Venus X, Jam City, and more have solidified his position in the new, Fade To Mind-led movement of cross-genre experimentation in the club.
Rabit, née Eric Burton, has been a resident of Houston for five years, and it’s from this base that his gaseous, meditational yet delicately dangerous grime has floated, tickling the ears of like-minded producers in the UK—such as Visionist, Logos, and Slackk. His new EP, Sun Showers (Diskotopia), was hotly tipped by many of his musical peers well before its release last week. And although the pair never met while residents of the same city, it’s a connection—now a friendship—they share, fuelling their daily trans-Atlantic exchanges and upcoming collaborative work.
Tell me how you met each other.
Rabit: When J’Kerian was still in Austin, we connected online, started sharing music back and forth. I was in Houston and he was still in the States, transitioning to move over there.
It sounds like there’s a bit of a scene around Ben Aqua?
L: Ben Aqua owns Austin. If you want to do something, he’s either already involved, going to be involved, or it’s not going to happen unless he gets involved. He lived in New York for a while, but he got sick of it. He moved to Austin, which doesn’t have a huge scene. It’s not easy to be an artist there in general, any kind of artist, but he really made it work for him. That means he’s established now. Actually, that’s why I started talking to [Ben Aqua], because I was starting to DJ, and he was the most visible one.
So he deals mostly with electronic music? Is there an audience for it there?
R: It’s growing. Over all, it’s still pretty young. #FEELINGS has been around for maybe two years? It takes time for things that are really small, with participation and everything. I just played the party he has, #AFTERLYFE; it’s growing each time. Austin is like any major American city where people are just looking for whatever the biggest trend at the moment is. It’s almost the only way to get people to support and go participate. I think that was part of the reason there was a good turnout last weekend because of all this recent stuff: “Oh, grime. What’s grime?” Most Americans really don’t know what it is [laughs]. But #FEELINGS was the main thing to cause us to meet each other. It may have happened regardless, the Texas scene…
L: …Is super small. We all know each other.
But you guys have never actually been in the same room together?
L: We have now. But it had already been a year or so when it happened.
R: When J’Kerian came over for South by Southwest in March, there was some extra time, so once South By was over, we came back to Houston. He was visiting family and I came back home, so we worked on some music for a couple of days together. I broke out the drum machine, he had the software. It was really fun because it all came together so quickly. We were just banging out a bunch of different sounds. Over the course of two days, we had a good handful of songs. Not finished, but pretty much there. We’re still in the process of doing that.
Is grime specifically for you, Eric, a thing only recently?
R: No, I listen to everything. That sounds really cliche, but it goes in phases and there might be a couple of months where I hate club music and I only want to hear ambient music in my house playing in the background. I hardly listen to stuff other electronic producers make. I listen to music my friends make, that they send me, but as far as the whole scene, I try not to stay too in touch with what’s going on. So, I’ll go through stages and listen to all types of music. I’d say like two years ago was when I first started making grime and garage. So, it’s not new. What kicked it off was when I hooked up with Keysound and a lot of the newer grime producers and DJs last year—the initial response was good so I continued to push the sounds.
L: When he first started sending me music, it was more footwork-influenced, but if I play you stuff he sent me a while ago… I mean, I can tell it’s the same person. But it’s like he stripped all the percussion, basically [laughs], so it’s really simple and so sick. As far as trends go, I wouldn’t necessarily agree with you; you’re not actively paying attention, but you are aware of them.
L: It’s funny, the way they have shaped your sound. I feel like now it’s all making sense, but it’s the same music, I know it’s coming from the same place. I think you just found a better way of expressing what you’re trying to say, and now the sounds make more sense in this context, as opposed to the footwork context, because now it’s more about those textures and about it having space. Whereas before, with footwork being so busy, that might have been the least appropriate context. But that’s why I loved it [laughs], because it was so wrong.
R: I like that, it points to the idea that whatever you’re doing as an artist is in you. These other little things, the little styles of sound will take over you for a period of time and you go through stages as an artist, but I feel like it’s all about channeling that into whatever your sound is. I know everybody goes through that, whether it’s really respected artists that have ten albums.
L: That was really the hardest thing, for me, to finish my first EP, and actually just until this most recent one. Not to say that you’re doing something so new—”you” being anyone, ever—but if you don’t have a context for what you’re doing, it’s really hard to figure out how to get that message across. Like, “There’s nothing that sounds like this, I know what I want it to sound like, but I have no way of copying a certain pattern or talking to people.” I feel like you had way better context than I did for mine, because until very recently, I didn’t feel like what I was doing made any sense to anyone else.
R: Was that like a week ago? [laughs]
L: It was three weeks ago [laughs].
Can you talk about J’Kerian’s development musically, like how he just described yours?
R: I think it’s similar in that for his first EP, it’s really good, but you can almost hear what he was listening to at the time, or his influences. You’re just figuring stuff out, you want to be the people you admire. There’s definitely nothing wrong with that. You have these kinds of artists that act like they’re the epitome of originality and every idea that they had God gave it to them when they were in front of FruityLoops, don’t give credit to anyone. I give credit to all my influences. J’Kerian was heavy on that as well. And I just feel like it’s almost like pulling back: when you’re new, you want to put everything into one song, and you want to put ten ideas into one song and into one EP. So I can see what he’s doing with ideas—really taking one thing, working with it, and making it the best it can be. I think he’s definitely finding his own sound as an artist. You need people along the way, not an executive producer or anything, you need people to reassure you.
L: You were a really big reason I finished this EP at all [laughs]. It was basically you and Lamin [Fofana, at Sci-Fi & Fantasy] giving me a deadline; that’s the only reason it happened.
What about the similarities that you guys have?
L: As far as what people will say, probably none. But I think being an American and into club music has been the strongest connection. One of the things that’s the most obvious to me since being here is that Europeans don’t understand that there is zero context for weird club music [in America]. If you’re going to the gay club, you’ll hear really shitty house remixes of everything. If you’re going to the other club, it’s just Top 40. In Austin, it’s a little bit different because you’ll get house. But being an American, there aren’t many clubs to begin with, and there’s usually not a specific kind of music that you’ll hear in a club. You’re hearing the same thing that you heard on the way to the club when you get inside the club. Probably the same playlist. There wasn’t a strong musical influence that we share, it was this American-ness, being in Texas and not being able to drink past two, having to go straight home because there’s nothing else to do.
R: That’s an interesting point, because I almost feel like a similarity could be the alienation, as people, as well. Because there is an American mentality of the way you’re supposed to be and we’re both kind of weird. We did have similarities in that way, because when you feel like you’re not accepted, you retreat into your own world and you make your music that world. I feel like another similarity is that our music is described in that way, as well.
L: That’s true. I want to say that I’ve never NOT seen it described as ‘alien’. Either of us. Which is interesting. I know it’s partially a good hype word at the time. It’s good to be called alien, that’s what people want to hear now.
I really like the symmetry of your careers: you’re both from Texas, you found each other through a different kind of music which is outside of the norm of what people are listening to there. And now you’re both starting to get a little bit of recognition outside of your hometown, or your own social circle. It must be nice to share that with each other.
L: It feels good. It’s been funny, just seeing his progression, I never didn’t expect this to happen. Just the fact that people are noticing, period, and especially close to me. It feels good, but I can’t really say why. Obviously, we’re close and we appreciate just seeing each other being successful, but the fact that it’s at the same time…
R: The timing is really weird. Me and J’Kerian, we’d be doing the same thing even if people weren’t paying attention—making music and sending it to each other. Just the fact that at the same time, people are noticing, even though it’s in little, different sub-scenes that it’s happening, it’s really good. I’m happy.
L: As far as the timing, maybe you don’t feel this way about your stuff, but I think we’re both finally starting to figure out what we sound like. I said it earlier, but we’re finally able to contextualize what we’re doing, whether or not it’s within some kind of scene or these certain associations. Not context in that sense, but making sense to us. To me, I finally understand my music and what I’ve been trying to do for the past ten years. Finally, I feel like Fallout sounds like me. And I feel like this record sounds like him. It’s him, it couldn’t be anyone else.
R: I agree.
And there’s some overlap there. Do you feel because you’ve been in constant communication throughout this time when you were making these records that listening to each other influenced your own processes?
L: For me, yeah. Especially after working with him. Just seeing how fast he works. But he will design a sound from scratch, whereas I kind of refuse to [laughs]. And so listening to him, I’ve learned how that makes sense, why people do that, and why you should do that. And this is the first time that I’m really using any melody at all, beyond two notes at a time. And I really enjoyed writing the melodies; I’d probably still be making Berlin-sounding [techno] stuff if I wasn’t listening to his stuff all along, which has increasingly got more and more melodic and less percussive. Like my music, I’ve just added more and more drums, and he’s just taken them all out [laughs].
R: That is pretty funny, because when I was listening to the masters of Fallout when he sent them to me, it was kinda like, “Okay, here’s some vocal samples; okay, here’s crunchy sounds, it sounds like machines falling apart. It’s definitely J’Kerian.” But then, all of a sudden, I’m like, “Is this a melody?!” I had to look at the mp3. He’s definitely influenced me on a few levels, I would say compositionally or sound choice-wise, turning ugly sounds into beautiful things. And then another level, just having the confidence to put out whatever you want. I recognize when people write certain tracks, some of them make some bold choices, and if I’m listening back to it, it might give me confidence to put out what I want to do. ~
Lotic’s Fallout is out now via Sci Fi & Fantasy. Rabit’s Sun Showers is out now via Diskotopia. In Berlin, Lotic plays Panorama Bar on October 30th with Nguzunguzu and Slava. Rabit plays Lotic’s club night Dissonance on November 8th at Chesters.
The London producer’s weightless grime—which includes a collaboration with Fatima Al Qadiri—adds new depth to the dancefloor, says Daniel Jones.
The numbing tentacles of modern medicine have expanded upon the human nervous system to the degree that any sort of pain, once just a daily part of existence, can be snuffed out at whim. These poisoned gifts have brought more than nerve anesthesia, however; they’ve also produced cultural forgetfulness. Pain isn’t always a bad thing, something to deny and tuck away behind walls of man-made chemistry. We see things from a different perspective when we hurt. It was once thought that pain could bestow visionary and revolutionary powers upon a person, uncover prophecies and, sometimes, bring the sufferer redemption.
Not everyone is capable of having visions. It’s a rare and powerful thing to be able to see what is to come, rarer still to be able to transform these visions by your own hands and mind, to shape them into reality. London-born producer Louis Carnell has been transfiguring his own audio desires under the name Visionist for some years now, soulfully dipping into genres like grime, house, and whateverstep and emerging with beautiful liquid bass. As good as Carnell is, the aim of his work is more or less straightforward: making bodies sweat-slick and shredding leg muscles. This is modern pain: the masochistic pain of the flesh. His latest EP, however, delves deeper into the pain of the soul, exploring the intimacies of loss and what follows. I’m Fine is an oddly beautiful vision of the various mental and physical emotions the mind and soul experience when dealing with loss, and throughout it never stops being an album you can lose your shit to on the floor. Carnell’s ability to enhance his dance with such heavy inner reflection is what imbues the EP with much of its power. It’s also one of the reasons why it’s his finest work to date.
The synth textures of the title track opener drip down the here-shivering, there-stomping centipede legs of snare and bass as an asexual voice repeatedly stutters, “I can feel”. It’s hypnotic, encasing the mind in a haze of melancholic joy even as it forces your body to respond to its fluctuations. It’s cut short with a gasp, and the meaty thud of “Lost” gives way to a lacerating whip-snap beat, a flagellating BDSMotivator that caresses as much as it punishes. The looming drill-stabs of “Pain” pierce downward like the ache of reality, closing in around you in dizzying procession. The black hole in the soul, once rimmed semi-bright with faint hope threatens to implode before searching voices reach in a choral snippet of what may or may not be Goapele’s “Tears On My Pillow” spirals into oblivion.
The penitence completed, “Escape” provides ascension as a beckoning voice repeats, “come”. Further implications of eroticism aside, it’s a swift and sudden release that arrives like salvation. As vocals fall around shimmering synth stabs, the pain is pushed where it belongs: not out of sight but into a new context—one that allows you to see more clearly. The soul is allowed to transcend and to heal, though it may not be to a place of light. The shadowy flow of Fatima Al Qadiri’s contribution to the collaborative track “The Call” entwines itself around Carnell’s, promising seductions and temptations before the sullen skank of “I Don’t Care” shuffles up on rudebwoy bass. It’s here the listener is left alone to acknowledge the reality of loss, though not quite accept it. ~
London-based producer and DJ Slackk, aka Paul Lynch, is the grime expert who formerly operated the invaluable—although now unattended—cache of pirate radio rips grimetapes.com.
As a longtime lover of the British genre, he weighs the current batch of producers carrying the alien and futuristic music forward, and is pleased with their results. Listen to his mix accompanying this piece as today’s Mix of the Day.
In case you haven’t noticed, there is the beginnings of a grime renaissance afoot in Britain. Though in recent years there’s been perhaps a stronger focus on house and that, the newer producers coming through are drawing on core elements of grime and taking them in some quite divergent directions.
From it’s beginnings at the start of the millennium throughout London, grime has always been quite a distinctive and strange sound—young kids taking ideas from the embers of garage, dancehall and Southern hip-hop (or crunk if you want to bring that word back), and filtering them back through the bass-heavy pirate sound that’s always dominated the capital. The end results were basically like nothing that had came before it—endlessly sparse and strange. Though it’s gone through various ebbs and flows, the music has shown a surprising longevity and a willingness to take on all kinds of influences and still remain resolutely unique.
I would argue that the most recent batch of producers coming through are probably the strangest there’s been in a while, and I mean that in a good way—this is probably the most vibrant and innovative stuff coming through at the moment, from a myriad of producers. I’ve been playing a lot of this stuff for a while now and I’m going to tell you about a few of them. I’m not saying this is an exhaustive list by any stretch, and there are people like Logos, Bloom or Visionist who I haven’t included because you should know about them already, really. These are just some people making really interesting music and they’re the tip of the iceberg.
I know I said earlier that this was a British renaissance, and for the most part it is, but it is somewhat bigger than that. The likes of Rabit (see below) or Sublo are making this music from America, there’s an incredible Australian contigent in the form of producers like Arctic, Strict Face and Midnight Mike. To be honest, this list could easily be three or four times as long, but if you follow the soundclouds for each person I’m sure you can find all sorts of producers for yourself.
Samename is one of my favorite producers. There can be a tendency in some grime tunes to just bang together an intro and a couple of eight bar sections and let it loop. I love those tunes if they’re done well (or even badly, sometimes) but it’s not something you can really see Samename doing. Just listen to tracks like “Okishima Island” or “Mishima Cure” (out on Pelican Fly)—there are melodies in some of his stuff that people would kill for and he’ll flip them after 30 seconds and then it’s onto another change-up, another shift. Very few people are coming out with stuff like this right now, if anyone. Proper mad music.
At his best, MssingNo sounds like Ruff Sqwad and Zaytoven smoking great weed in space and just writing loads of bangers in a row. There’s a kind of lineage in grime where you have these tunes like “Ghetto Kyote” or “Functions On the Low”—incredibly melodic beats full of minors with a real sense of menace or impending doom. Some of MssingNo’s beats like “124th” have that. He’s got some great beats, really, and I don’t think many people can do that pitched-up, dubbed-out vocal shit that he’s got going anywhere near as well, either.
I wouldn’t say Kid D is necessarily as “new” as most of the people on the list but he’s someone I think has never really received anywhere near the attention he should have done. To me, it makes sense that he follows MssingNo here because they’ve got a lot of things in common—the way they’ll have those little vocal tics and hooks throughout and they both have really strong melodies, too. Kid D’s approach is different, though—there’s a brightness and light and an almost pop sensibility to the way he’ll go about things. Far too underrated really. If you can find them, he’s put out a couple of great vinyls, too.
Chemist makes some moody shit, man. He’s got moments of lightness but I’d say, for the most part, his stuff just comes across like a dead eye stare and a moment or two of silence to contemplate it. Most of his music is quite sparse and I like that—a lot of his beats are really just a few drum hits and a square wave or two. It says a lot for what he’s doing that his stuff can stand up so well, even when there’s so little of it there.
Earlier this year Dark0 put out a mixtape (you can get it here). Most of the producers I’ve talked about here are putting out incredible instrumental stuff and really the focus isn’t on an MC at all. Big chunks of this tape, though, are Dark0 instrumentals with grime acapellas over them. Normally I hate it when people do that, will never listen to a remix if I can help it, but this is a great tape, man. He even manages to make me like a Ghetts/Ghetto vocal, and there isn’t an MC I like less. So that’s definitely an achievement.
JT The Goon
JT is a bit of an unsung hero to me, really. There’s a grand tradition of great producers being associated with Slew Dem—think Spooky, Waifer, Top Dolla. JT is one of them, but in my mind he’s probably the best of the lot. The EP I’ve posted is coming out on Oil Gang in a couple of months, and just listen to it, man. Fucking epic. “Grime Orchestra” is probably the best thing anyone’s given away on a free download this year—I’ve seen grown men nearly cry to that melody. Joe Moynihan said recently it was like the last level of every game ever, or something like that. JT’s workrate is a bit scary at times and to him that’s just some throwaway tune. Ridiculous.
Murlo’s another one like JT, who seems to just have infinite amounts of incredible melodies and tunes. They both send me stuff a lot, and to be honest it makes me feel like I’ve got to step my game up sometimes—such a strong output. Murlo’s got an EP coming out on Glacial Sound soon and I hope it gets the attention it deserves because it’s almost like the grandchild of those early Wiley tunes like “Snowflake”. Melodies you end up humming at work, mate. Murlo’s also got a really strong batch of dancehall riddims and soca too. All kinds really.
There are a few different sides to what Breen can do. He’s got quite a few really sparse minimal things, just blasts of pulse bass and square waves, and I’d count “Hooded Up” in that. Or there’s the more dubbed out tunes like “Channels”, which to me sounds like a spaceship taking off but you’re really sad to see it go and somewhere in the background someone’s listening to Lex Luger instrumentals but all you can hear is the sub and the rolling hats. If you can find it, you can get “Hooded Up” on Kahn & Neek’s Bandulu label. There’s definitely a bit of grime vinyl renaissance in Bristol these days with things like Boofy & Lemzly Dale’s “Catch A Body” too. There are loads of great producers in Bristol I could talk about here alongside everyone else, but there’s only so many people I can talk about in one go.
Speaking of Bristol, OH91 is making some really moody stuff, as well. You should really know Kahn & Neek’s “Percy” by now, but OH91 takes the ideas behind that here and takes it to another level, really—so much energy in this tune when it gets dropped in a club, man. He’s got an EP coming on Coyote Records called “Stealth” that’s sounding really good, as well. Glad it’s coming on a 12″, it deserves it.
Since the beginning of the year, Inkke has sent me 42 tracks and edits and it’s not even September as I write this. He’s another one with a terrifying workrate to be honest, although I wouldn’t compare his stuff to Murlo or JT really. There’s a definite strangeness to some of these Inkke tunes, a general unease, but he’s also done an edit of Nelly & Kelly Rowland’s “Dilemma”, so I think it’s fair to say he’s quite divergent in his output. If you told me before I heard it that I’d be playing Nelly remixes in the club I’d have called you an idiot, but there you go.
(NB- For some reason there’s a bit of a resurgence in grime rnb refixes lately, check out Milktray’s “Hotel”, for example.)
I hate to keep on banging on about workrate but Rabit’s another one of those producers who can just write endless tunes. If you’re familiar with Logos’ takes on the skeletal, early 8bar sound, I guess that’s the best thing I can really compare Rabit’s sound to—stuff like “Burnerz” is really just a collection of deeply strange noises hanging together by a thread, but it’s fucking brilliant. He’s also got a beat that isn’t on the internet yet called “Sun Showers” that’s almost like the soundtrack Solaris never had. Proper deep stasis music.
Trends tunes will just fuck you up, end of. Despite an ability to write lighter, softer stuff (his “Coolie Joyride” remix, for example), most of his stuff is just the hardest bass sound you’ve ever heard and relentless uptempo drums, explosions, lasers. There are very few producers whose beats will draw the kind of reaction in the club that Trends’ do.
Sirpixalot is from Brixton and he’s in a hardcore band, too. I know some people in bands who say that grime is like punk in a lot of ways, and I’ve never agreed with that but I don’t like guitars so why should I. I can see where the crossover is in some of Sirpixalot’s music because there’s a real stripped-back menace to his tunes like “Brazil”. Equally though, there are some very pretty chord progressions in his stuff like “Raiden Riddim” (free here) that make me think of when Purple was still a thing and Joker was still good. That was a good summer.
Really I wanted to post loads of Nammy Wams tunes like “Laze”, which is such an effortless tune that MCs would sound incredible over if they had any taste when it comes to picking beats, but they don’t. As it stands, he’s got a few good things on his Soundcloud in one long clip here so you should listen to that. Definitely one to pay attention to, even if you can’t hear most of his much anywhere but a select few DJ sets yet.
Saga has an EP coming soon on Visionist’s Lost Codes label and it is fucking mad. It’s not on the internet yet though, so in the meantime download this one and remember to keep an eye out for the EP. It’s great.
Just in case you thought it was all just instrumentals and there’s no undercurrent of MCs anymore, Novelist (and his crew, The Square) are a prime example of the newer, younger batch of MCs coming through. For years, the best MCs have been coming from South London (Giggs, Fekky) and this lot are great too. Novelist produces, too, and he’s really good.~
In her new column for EB, Ruth Saxelby finds a moment of clarity in the vastness of new music. This month: the infiltration of the British dance continuum in American sounds. Illustration by Inka Gerbert.
“I love how open minded the American crowd is to all different styles of EDM!” tweeted Dutch trance producer Tiësto recently. There’s lots to chew on there, not all of it palatable, but above all Tiësto’s jubilance is a timely reminder that the American mainstream’s “discovery” of dance music is still in its honeymoon period. While Europe’s greying superstar DJs enjoy their (second) time in the sun, the US underground—perhaps in reaction to “EDM”’s reign—has increasingly reached out to the grittier grooves of UK dance music. Jungle, drum’n’bass, UK garage and grime never broke America in the way that Chicago house and Detroit techno influenced the UK, so it’s thrilling to hear the cultural exchange swim the other way. As to the whys and wherefores for this aural pilgrimage to rave’s roots, nostalgia would be an easy but misplaced call. Yes, it’s partly the fantasy of a life never lived, but it’s also desire for dialogue with one of the most culturally rich and continually evolving scenes, and almost certainly a celebration of a musical palette that favors roughness over high-end polish.
As a side note, it’s interesting that America’s biggest rap stars have been looking to the UK, too: Drake regularly linking with the Young Turks camp (Jamie xx and now Sampha) and Kanye looking to Warp (recruiting Hudson Mohawke as a producer and sampling Kwes). Where US dance music goes from here is anyone’s guess, but here’s hoping it’s as schooled as this lot:
Jubilee & Star Eyes – “Locked”
Self-confessed Slimzee super-fans, NYC producer/DJs Jubilee and Star Eyes collaborated for a release on London label Unknown to the Unknown late last year. Lead track “Locked” was a tribute to the Pay As U Go Cartel original, spinning shouts from his Rinse FM show into a tough, bass-heavy number. There’s a bunch of “I see ya”s, some perfectly placed “oooh”s, and, brilliantly, “I can’t even remember who made this one, y’know.” There’s something poetic about turning a UK garage DJ’s radio chat into a grime-via-Jersey-club track, as it echoes Slimzee’s journey and influence. In his own words, “mash the dance.”
Physical Therapy – “Whitelabel”
Brooklyn producer Physical Therapy has long had an ear on the UK. Last year he dropped his debut EP Safety Net which featured the Baby D-style vocal drum’n’bass tune “Drone On”, and now he’s gone (sort of) happy hardcore. The knowingly titled “Whitelabel” distills the wobble and upfront energy of that era into something subtler: it’s half the speed, for starters, and that whistle is just a ghost but the direction its gazing in is clear.
Default Genders – “Words With Friends”
Someone else tripping out on UK chart dance circa 1994 is Default Genders, the renamed new project from ex-Elite Gymnastics producer James Brooks (he was called Dead Girlfriends for a minute). “Words With Friends”, the strongest track on his much-debated On Fraternity EP, blends vocoder vocals with a gentle jungle rhythm that works to underline its bruised wistfulness. While Brooks has been blasted over the EP’s political intentions, musically there’s a sincerity that’s hard to miss.
Future Brown – “Wanna Party ft. Tink”
When it comes to WTF club tracks, there’s no-one to touch Brooklyn’s Fatima Al Qadiri and L.A.’s Nguzunguzu. Both tread the line between sinister and sensual to dramatic effect, so it was a hand-rubbing moment to hear they’d joined forces for a new project called Future Brown along with Lit City Trax head J-Cush. Their debut track features Chicago rapper Tink and has more than a whisper of grime’s freaky melody influence running underneath its snare-heavy sway.
Arca – “Harness”
Venezuela-born producer Arca recently relocated from New York to London, perhaps a natural evolution given that his music has steadily moved towards grime. Following last year’s weird’n’wired rap EP Stretch 2 and his production work for Kanye’s Yeezus, he just dropped his &&&&& mixtape on L.A. label Hippos In Tanks and track two “Harness” (it starts around the 2.15 minute mark) has an abstract, grime-y bass kick that’s as playful as it is deadly serious. While he’s been producing for rising pop star FKA Twigs, I can’t help but wonder what Trim would sound like over Arca’s beats. ~
Rather than operate as a music news source, Electronic Beats operates as a music information source. We want to share with you; we want you to know what we’re hearing, what’s reverberating our cochleas and sending broader vibrations throughout our bodies, and by extension our audio-addled souls. Down with that? Welcome to Editors’ Choice.
Lisa Blanning (Online Editor)
Jeremih – “F You All The Time” (Akito’s F U On the Clap Trap Ice Rink – Bootleg)
This track is months old (sorry), but I only heard it last week when Kingdom dropped it during a DJ set. A mash-up of Jeremih’s ubiquitous but irresistable “Fuck U All the Time” and Wiley’s “Ice Rink Riddim”, the idea sounds obvious and naff, but it works. I know this feeling won’t last long, but I’ll enjoy it while it does.
Louise Brailey (Deputy Online Editor)
Diagonal Records – Far Out, Man: A Heatwave Mix
A psychedelic mix awash with sun-bleached colour courtesy of Jaime Williams who runs the Diagonal label with Powell. It’s quite a departure from the dense, charred textures of the label’s output but it does contain Creedence Clearwater Revival who are known to pop up in the odd Powell set so it’s not that out of character.
Jensen Sportag – “Bellz”
Nashville duo Jensen Sportag have a fetish for the kind of sumptuous, frictionless electronic pop that feels so detached it borders on chilling. This is entirely a good thing, by the way. Their debut drops this autumn.
Moritz Gayard (Online Duty Editor)
dBridge & Skeptical – “Move Way”
A drum’n’bass banger by dBridge and Skeptical. The track will be one of two on the B-side of the upcoming R&S EP Move Way.
Factory Floor – “Turn It Up”
Turn It Up! Here’s a new track from synth dance trio Factory Floor from their debut LP Factory Floor, out September via DFA. I can’t wait for this release.
Daniel Jones (Contributing Editor)
Cassie – “Take Care of Me Baby” (feat. Pusha T.)
Cassie’s Rock-a-Bye Baby is one of the great mixtapes of the summer, and this track has more or less burned its way into my cortex. Time for a power electronic remix, perhaps…
Jannik Schäfer (Social Media Editor)
Jon Wayne – “Ode to Mortality”
Who is Jon Wayne? Stones Throw introduced him about a year ago as an MC and producer without any further details and has since released two tapes (exclusively cassette tapes that is), which I never saw anywhere. Now, Jon Wayne’s 3rd Cassette, the Marion Morisson Mixtape, was released together with a free download, And boy what a tape it is.
Read previous editions of Editor’s Choice here.