KABLAM, aka Kajsa Blom, is the opposite of a vinyl purist. Instead, she chooses to manipulate digital tracks with all of the advanced possibilities CDJs offer, which allows her to maniacally mashes up genres like Jersey club and kuduro with gabber, using stylistic left turns to get people onto the floor and stay there. Here she takes us through five tracks of a recent set—how they fit together (or don’t) and what kind of larger arc they provide.
PLACE: SLAKTHUSET, STOCKHOLM / TIME: 2:30 A.M. / PEAK TIME
1. Jhené Aiko – “Comfort Inn” (DJ Rell Remix)
A lot of Jhené Aiko remixes have come out since the release of her amazing debut EP, Sail Out, in 2013. This is hands down the best one. It’s one of those really fast Jersey club tracks with a BPM around 140. The booming bass and cut-up vocals that came out of early Baltimore club tracks from the 80s are jacked and hyped up in these modern New Jersey counterparts. It has a high intensity that comes and goes, which is why I find it fits both peak time and warm-up sets—not that I really adjust to what time it is. I think I adapt more to the space than to the time. At Chesters, where we used to have the Janus parties, I tried anything I liked at any time, and that is really a main element of DJing for me: trial and error. And not being afraid of error.
Let the previous track play out because this intro needs to be heard from the beginning, undistracted. That insane booming bass creates a weird balance with Aiko’s silky voice.
2. Rotterdam Termination Source – “POING!”
This is a gabber track. I love gabber because it’s so merciless. It’s a style that came out of the Netherlands, full of distorted kick drums and manic energy. It’s much faster than any other tracks I play, which means I have to pitch it down to around 140 BPM. I like mixing these two together; when contrasted with the DJ Rell track, “POING!” has a much higher intensity. The minimalism and super heavy bass sit oddly with the harmony of Jhené Aiko’s voice, but to me it makes perfect sense. It’s not about smoothness when I mix, it’s more about finding something in one track that is absent in the other and making them work together. The bouncing ball sound also makes it kind of comical, and I like a bit of humor in my set. I’m never ironic, but I can definitely be humorous.
Since the Marfox track up next starts with a hardcore-esque drum, it can get slammed in.
3. DJ Marfox – “Noise”
This is my favorite kuduro track at the moment. It’s so raw. Kuduro has its roots in Angolan carnival music, and there’s been some great interpretations coming out of Lisbon in recent times. During the first 10 seconds it almost sounds like a gabber or hardcore track. Mixing this out of the Rotterdam Termination Source track takes us from a rhythmically one-dimensional genre to a genre that is all about dynamic rhythms. Both make you want to move but
in very different ways. I think mixing these together creates a flow. And by flow, I mean that there can be flow in the anti-flow, continuity in discontinuity. There are ways of playing three tracks from three very different genres one after another and making it work. It’s easy to have flow if you play shit that all sounds the same.
I’ve found that bubbling tracks like the next one <3 kuduro no matter which way you combine them.
4. DJ NDN – “Jumpstyle Meets Bubbling”
TCF (aka Lars Holdhus) played this amazing bubbling set once at a Janus party at Chesters. It was before I was a part of Janus, and I was blown away by it. I’d never heard of this genre before. It was created by Caribbean immigrants in the Netherlands who played dancehall at higher speeds. Lars shared a .zip of his bubbling set, and that’s where I found this track. I don’t know who DJ NDN is or if he even exists, but regardless, it’s insane. It has a hard-hitting jumpstyle energy but with a bubbling rhythm on top. It fits the DJ Marfox track because of the similar rhythms.
The head-scratching during my set peaks during this track, until they hear this:
5. Total Freedom / Rihanna – “HUNTER’S TALE OR RIHANNA STALKING RIHANNA WITH A JOEY JORDISON (TM) TORCH”
All faces melt.
This article originally appeared in the Winter 2014/2015 edition of Electronic Beats Magazine. To read more from this issue, click here.
M.E.S.H., aka James Whipple, is a Berlin based artist and electronic musician originally from Southern California. A member of the Janus colletive, Whipple’s second EP, Scythians (PAN), was released this summer and expertly reconceptualized Jersey house, hardstyle, and trap into a sound all its own. This is his first contribution to Electronic Beats.
I first met TCF, aka Lars Holdhus, through a friend from California who met him at the Städelschule, an art school in Frankfurt. I knew his previous project very well, which was an extremely consistent series of gabberized dancehall bootlegs and chipmunked bubbling tracks that managed to mock the spread of musical memes through sites like SoundCloud and Tumblr while inspiring dozens of imitators. Lars and I share some interests in common, and I remember our first conversations centering on hardcore electronic music and the spread of club music trends over the Internet. As a contemporary artist, his research interests go deep into block-chain encryption and network hierarchy. Listening to his new record on Liberation Technologies, I was struck by the contrast between his ability to conceptually ground his work and the resulting deeply absorbing and interpretive listening experience. What follows are thoughts on and reactions to the individual tracks that make up the record.
“D7 08 2A 8D 2A 37 FA FE 17 0E 62 39 06 81 C8 A1 49 30 6F ED 56 AD 5E 04”:
Hardcore can describe a sonic palette as much as a reaction toward stylistic inertia. A tendency in which established parameters aren’t abandoned but are maximized to the edges of their own spaces of possibility. Hardcore treats emotional and sensorial intensity as an algorithm to be optimized. “D7 08 2A[…]” begins with an incantation— “slow, slow”—over what sounds like a wet balloon being tied or an injection hose writhing out of its casing. Beneath electrostatic noise sweeping cross-spatially comes a rapid plasticized pizzicato, then a low system tone stuck in an indeterminate arpeggiation, the ground for a detuned flute to cross over like a spark of discharged neon gas.
“46 4D 68 77 64 A0 43 B7 E9 A7 CB B4 BE 68 6B CB A0 5E 10 02 CC 96 EA 75”:
A cipher is an algorithm, a series of steps that encrypts or decrypts plain text. A cipher requires a key to operate. Some ciphers work on fixed-size blocks, others work on a continuous stream of symbols. If TCF has left keys in his music, they are buried beneath opaque layers of textural strata. “46 4D 68[…]” opens with cinematic synth strings perforated by tremolo and undergirded by the sounds of small machines that seem to be counting or authenticating a signal passed down a chain.
“54 C6 05 1C 13 CC 72 E9 CC DC 84 F2 A3 FF CC 38 1E 94 0D C0 50 5C 3E E8”:
This track sounds like a threshold in the system being reached, a vigorous new awareness achieved, at once shocking and sedative. TCF’s music reflects the weirdly emotional intensity of nonorganic entities, the inhuman agency of machine life. This confluence of the epic, the sentimental and the austere comes to a head as trance synthesizers slot themselves into a Steve Reichian pulse.
“F8 5E BB 63 94 B5 17 BA 74 AC 11 EE 33 86 B2 7E 93 E0 E4 AA B4 CF 1F 64”:
The system in deep ferment. TCF is a dedicated tea enthusiast, and has spent the last year sampling eighty varieties of tea. Last spring he decided to select some of the most interesting, and, using a crowdfunding website, offered a tea subscription service. The project is called Tiny Encryption Algorithm or TEA. You receive your tea in a silver anti-static bag with a print on one side. The first tea offered was a Da Hong Pao. Along with the tea comes a download code with which one can receive music composed by TCF, in this case what sounds like a Lubomyr Melnyk piece generated algorithmically for MIDI piano. There is a certain uncanny feeling when listening to TCF’s music, like you are hearing tropes from avant-garde music recapitulated and resynthesized by anonymous processes.
“DB 9F 72 A8 B4 1C 62 8A 3C 96 22 8B 5B 03 23 6F 81 16 64 76 3E 0A D8 16”:
At the peak of the record, this song begins with submerged synth tones and what sounds like fluids splashing in concrete chambers, or underwater recordings of distant naval exercises. The oddly emotive rave synthesizer returns. TCF’s music displays a comfort with musical manipulation—the winding song structures, overwrought chords, and cinematic usage of sound effects and sub-bass reflect an artist comfortable with using all available tricks.
“E5 42 CC 3C 83 3D A0 76 DE 90 E4 CB 49 99 C9 9F C5 48 7A A8 2F 34 1F BC”:
The record winds down with a euphoric distorted string piece. The machine sounds, previously plastic, now sound like metal grinding on stone.
“97 EF 9C 12 87 06 57 D8 B3 2F 0B 11 21 C7 B2 97 77 91 26 48 27 0E 5D 74”:
For a record built on conceptual rigorousness, E4 15 C4 71 97 F7 8E 81 1F EE B7 86 22 88 30 6E C4 13 7F D4 EC 3D ED 8B is lush and dimensional. It reveals an artist consumed by processes and networks, and collaborating with systems to push the listener to extremes of emotion. ~