As we adjust to the realities of COVID-19 and come to terms with the possibility that clubs may not open for a long, long time, the concept of a home listening DJ mix has been totally shaken up. Now, it seems the weekends are reserved for house, techno, and other hi-NRG club material we can stream DJs live from around the world, in our Digital Club Nights or on Twitch or Instagram. The rest of the week, it seems we’re not so drawn to the music that reminds us of all the weekends we’ve lost. So April’s best mixes are slower than usual, more eclectic and unpredictable, following intuition or going down lesser trodden paths.
Before we dig in, a brief but important nod to three mixes from the outer-outer fringes which brilliantly remind us of the possibilities inherent to the format. Rebirth, a “mixtape for a post-covid world” by London artist H is for Spirit, which features new material from Varg and Space Afrika, words from Albert Camus and Maya Angelou, music from Mereditch Monk and Fennesz, field recordings of bees… it’s an artwork unto itself.
Oneohtrix Point Never’s mix for the Safdie brothers’ Elara Radio show is a rabid collection of Russian pop, weed rap, itchy coldwave and a song about dying in a car crash – perfect fodder for your 3AM cabin fever brain.
And finally, let this “Isolutions” special be your introduction to Ambient Babestation Meltdown, a truly inspired mix concept featuring drones, spooky beats, sound effects, and chatter loosely inspired by host Rachael’s job at an adult entertainment channel. Mixes are getting weirder, and we are here for it.
PLO Man – Plexi
Berlin’s PLO Man made this mix for the 2018 edition of Terraforma festival in Italy, burning a stack of CDs for punters to take home as a souvenir. From Laurie Anderson’s song-poetry to MLO’s ambient breaks and sumptuous slow-motion pop from Art of Noise, the set captures the dazed satisfaction of the journey home after a big weekend – but for lockdown purposes, it works very well first thing in the morning, or as a soundtrack to your government-mandated walk around the block.
Midland – Sunset Thunderstorm Mix
Midland gets his cosmic disco socks on for a three-hour marathon originally recorded in Bali, on a night when the usual glorious sunset was replaced by a “biblical thunderstorm”. Perfect conditions for a different kind of dance, and Midland digs right to the back of his collection to find Afro-disco, slow chuggers, Bruce Springsteen, Björk and Depeche Mode in dub. Classy enough for the heads, mellow enough for your hard-to-please housemates.
Simisea – Slink 001
NYC party Slink kicks off its own mix series with a session by resident DJ and Human Pitch label boss Simisea. Taking the party’s name as their inspiration, the mix is “equal parts booty and brain,” exploring pattern and tempo through everything from jazzy broken rhythms (Leif) to melancholy batida (DJ N Fox) to dainty dancehall inversions (Chants). The Boyz II Men-sampling opener is so good I bought it on Bandcamp immediately. (Oh, and dance-pop icon Yaeji made the artwork.)
PORTARA0000 – Salty Surfaces 9
The opening few bars of Bliss Inc’s ‘Innerstate’ are enough to suck you straight into this bubbly mix by London DJ, producer and “oracle/pilot” PORTARA0000. Lockdown conditions dictate a different spin on the recent vogue for ‘90s trance, with a focus on the effervescent and euphoric, the breezy and bright. Listen out for tracks from a forthcoming GODDEZZ label compilation along with peppy sounds from Clubkelly, Hagan and Ejeca.
Myles Mac – Liquid Lifeforms mix for C-
Melbourne DJ Myles Mac comes through with an elongated session for Kansas-based podcast C minus, the ideal backdrop for calm indoor pursuits or a perhaps a spot of balcony gardening: deep washes of soft green ambience, gentle fourth world visions and lo-fi house laced with birdsong. That’s the first hour, then Skee Mask and LTJ Bukem set the tone for a deep and liquid middle section, before a final cooldown. The finest quality produce.
Baronhawk Poitier – Afropunk Mix
You can’t beat an educational mix, one of those self-contained works that captures a scene or sound as much as one DJ’s collection. Honey Soundsystem affiliate Baronhawk Poitier has put together a set of Baltimore club and Washington D.C. go-go – the free-flowing, percussion-led street sound that’s still rarely referenced outside of the US (or even outside D.C.). Highlighting the regional music he used to hear on the radio growing up in the Maryland suburbs, Poitier drops a go-go spin on Sade’s Ordinary Love and a blast of DJ Kool’s call-and-response before switching into the non-stop breaks of B’more club: DJ Class, Rod Lee, Diamond K and more.
It’s simply not right or healthy to expect you all to go a whole month (or more) without some serious rage-in-the-club mix action. So as a final flourish, here’s a truly iconic session from a rising icon of the global club scene, Oakland-based Bored Lord. The 45-minute megamix is composed solely of her own, deliriously bonkers edits, with amped-up versions of Megan Thee Stallion, Gwen Stefani, Icona Pop and more. Buy it on one of Bandcamp’s special fee-waiving days and invest in a superstar DJ for the post-corona generation.
Chal Ravens is a freelance writer based in London. Find her on Twitter.