What a month on Planet Earth. The longer the dancefloor remains off-limits, the more important music becomes–not as a communal experience so much as a spot-relief balm for the tired and angry citizen. Headphones are a refuge and music (and speech!) connects us to each other, to history, and to our deepest-held identities. On top of this month’s best mixes, don’t miss Afropunk’s mixtape celebrating Pride month and the Black Lives Matter movement – a raucous salute to the activists and musicians whose direct action changed the world. And! NYC label Haus of Altr flies the flag for the future of Black techno with a fiery mix highlighting their new compilation release.
While we’re here, check out a rare mix from Sasu Ripatti, AKA Finnish ambient artist Vladislav Delay, which he created for the excellent Tone Glow newsletter. And! London electronic artist Datassette put together a delirious mix of tracks generated by AI and machine learning tools, with computer karaoke versions of Prince, Banarama and Rick Astley. Deeply weird.
Onto the podium, then, for June’s seven best mixes, featuring party music from Manchester, a radio broadcast from the heart of the protests, a dive into Nkisi’s production folders and a boombox-ready jungle special from Sherelle.
Anz – Spring Summer 2020 Dubs Mix
The quota for original productions mixes gets filled twice over this month thanks to the fifth annual dubs mix from Manchester’s secret weapon, Anz. Every summer the 2BReal artist unleashes a mix of her latest studio efforts and, tragically, wipes the floor with the rest of dance music. Five years of this strategy and it’s actually getting awkward. This year’s technicolor journey includes 140 bass shufflers, ‘Candy Rain’ garage flips, UK funky, retro-boogie and all kinds of irresistible party music.
Quest?onmarc – The Lot Radio, June 13
Ballroom provocateur quest?onmarc pulled up to The Lot Radio in the middle of June to tap into the febrile energy of the Black Lives Matter protests going down in New York City. Opening with the distorted echoes of a protest chant, the mix spins out into a global survey of cutting-edge, black-derived dance music, laden with texture and mystery. Expect plenty of quest?onmarc’s homemade bootlegs along with crafty blends of Wiley, Moma Ready and the brilliant Afro-Peruvian hardcore duo Estoc & Precolombian. It also comes with a shoppable tracklist so you can own all your favourites.
Nkisi – 100% Original Productions Mix on NTS Radio
Fans of the stark and haunting techno that Nkisi presented on her 2019 album 7 Directions might be surprised at how juicy and unpredictable her other tunes can get. On her latest NTS Radio slot, the Congo-born producer fulfils our monthly hunt for a top quality mix of 100% own productions, and spikes her thumping rhythms with elements of heavy dub, emo-rave synths and sci-fi techno in a ‘90s mould. Among the highlights is a track (or blend) combining sunrise pianos with a pounding beat and distorted vocal: “Why must I deal with this shit / Every fucking day?” Quite.
Everyone’s favourite breakout star was destined to play one of her biggest ever shows at Dekmantel Festival this summer, closing on Sunday night before garage legend DJ EZ. In lieu of what would have surely been one of the most explosive sets of the season, she turns in a slamming mix for the festival’s podcast series, pitting her heaviest jungle against modern hybrids from labels like Western Lore and Gutterfunk.
Sybil Jason – Juanita’s NYC 019
New York City stalwart Sybil Jason rifles around at the calmer end of her record collection for an eclectic session of chugging synth pop, cold wave, dub disco, Japanese boudoir pop and looping trance. Dig out your most outré sunglasses, pour yourself something cold, and sashay away from… everything else going on, just for an hour. You’ll thank yourself later.
Errol – Crack Mix 360
South London party and label Touching Bass is for the heads – a modern-day successor to the kind of specialist nights once held at Plastic People, the much-missed club that hosted dubstep, house and broken beat nights in the ‘00s. Stepping up to represent the crew, Touching Bass boss Errol puts together one of those rare mixes that feels deeply rooted to a location and a lineage, with nods to the great and good of London’s underground, past and present. Listen out for Plastic People favourites 4Hero and Bugz In The Attic, south London’s low-key house hero Wbeeza, and two artists with records coming soon on the Touching Bass label, along with hints of neo-soul and UK garage.
Well Being – Life Crushed Mix 076
Portland resident Well Being will be a new name to most, but if you’re into alchemical electro, splintered riddims and wonky breaks, it’s time to pay attention. Having just released a record of warehouse-meets-wilderness tunes on 100% Silk, the Dance All Day label boss lays down a session of rhythm-heavy underground music. Listen out for cuts from vintage Warp artist RAC and young’uns like Happa, Kasper Marott and Flora FM & CCL.
Chal Ravens is a freelance writer based in London. Find her on Twitter.
Artwork by Ekaterina Kachavina.