This time last month we were all in it together, weren’t we? The world was in lockdown, the weekend was something that happened on Zoom, baker’s yeast was rare as vibranium, and the menfolk had started shaving their heads. This month, things are different. Some cities have emerged from quarantine. In China, clubs are open. In Germany, they’re experimenting with socially distanced raving. But in many other places, the isolation continues.
This month’s selection attempts to cover all bases: mixes for the bedroom, the garden, the work-from-home desk (OK, also the bedroom), mixes for the two-metres-apart picnic, the micro-gatherings with friends you haven’t seen in months. Spare a thought for everyone who’s still raving at home, of course (and props to No Way Back for delivering a 36-hour stream on what would have been Movement weekend in Detroit). The seven best mixes of May include strobe-lit breaks, psychedelic hip churners, melancholy UK garage and a set of slow and strange music to listen to with the lights off.
Three bonus picks before we start, though. Brainfeeder whiz Jameszoo went totally overboard and made a 24-hour mix for Dekmantel’s In Focus series. Vaporwave label Dream Catalogue recorded a manifesto for the “dreampunk” genre. And publishing house Ignota Books kicked off its Carrier Bag Music mix series, inspired by sci-fi writer Ursula K. Le Guin, with two head-spinning contributions from Laurel Halo and Elysia Crampton.
LCY – Trax 395
6 Figure Gang DJ and former masked woman LCY is on a roll this year, repping the “160” sound as a new generation of junglists find unexpected routes through bass and breaks. What’s so refreshing about LCY’s spin on this hyped-up style is how flexible, unpredictable and downright colourful it is. There’s no drab bassweight bringing the party down – instead it’s strobe lights and neon all the way, veering into breathless 2-step, ratatat club kicks and various kinds of breakstravaganzas, including her own ‘Naughty P’.
BAE BAE – Papi Juice Mix
Los Angeles DJ and Dublab regular BAE BAE takes us on a hyper-emotional journey into her record collection, touching on house, hip-hop, gospel and garage with plenty of sweet vocals and dirty moves. She kicks off with a spoonful of syrupy R&B from Janet and a blast of melismatic gospel, finding clever ways to weave her selections together without losing sight of the centrepiece, which is always the human voice in all its plasticine forms. Voices purr and coo and bark and rap and harmonise and pitch-shift themselves into helium angels, like tour guides at the Museum of Human Feeling. One for lonely moments.
Physical Therapy – HNYPOT366 Car Culture Remissions
You can always count on Physical Therapy to provide his own special slant on the mood of the day. For San Francisco party hub Honey Soundsystem, the NYC fixture cooks up a horizontal listening session full of strange, slow and obscure tunes. Listen out for Madonna X Orbit instrumentals, cosmic spa music, snotty declarations of love, Minnie Riperton slow jams and Kaki King guitar acrobatics, among other curiosities.
Sybil – 100% euphoria ヾ(✯◠ ֊ ◠)ノ♪
The euphoria just can’t wait any longer, according to London DJ and SIREN crew member Sybil, who’s put together a special mix for the forest ravers and Motherbeat transcendentalists out there. “I imagined playing a set at 6AM, at the end of a high intensity rave outside in nature,” she explains, adding that these are all her “most sacred, emotional, magical tracks in one mix.” First streamed on Club Quarantäne at the end of March, the session leans towards fractalized techno and saucer-eyed trance, combining hard and heavy beats with a sense that all the edges are going mushy, as if your feet are sinking into the moss at the end of a long night under the stars.
ADAB – Juanita’s Mix 018
Cleveland DJ and afrofuturist adventurer ADAB gets deep into the groove in a slow-motion selection for Juanita’s, a community-based creative platform based in New York City. The whole mix seems to edge its way forward in dizzying circles, like a troupe of dancers in a Carnival parade, with sticky drums and skittery percussion mainly hovering around the 100 BPM mark. ADAB calls it a “psychedelic hip churner,” which sounds right. Listen out for tracks from the new wave of US techno, including CCL, Flora FM and Russell E. L. Butler.
KG – Dummy Mix 585
UK funky producer KG has made a big comeback in the last two years, as perfected on the pulsing exotica of ‘Sensei’, a track she released through Goon Club Allstars in March. With a whole new generation of artists nodding to UKF as inspiration, it feels like KG has an even bigger arsenal of tunes at her fingertips this time round. Her Dummy mix weaves the broken rhythms of funky into house, gqom, batida and various club-ready twists on Afro polyrhythms, with tunes from Nídia, Cooly G, Griffit Vigo and Karizma. Keep this on deck for a tentative daytime rave in your front room.
K Lone – Lockdown UKG Dubs Mix
This column is always charmed by a mix of all-original productions. This month, we owe the pleasure to UK bass-techno producer K-Lone, who’s packaged up 45 minutes of unreleased garage heat for us. These aren’t your usual fruity and fizzy spins on the genre, though – there’s a cloudy melancholy inside these dubbed out tunes, which seems to chime with our continued predicament. Lockdown your aerials, if you will.
Chal Ravens is a freelance writer based in London. Find her on Twitter.