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The Top 7 Mixes of October 2020

Ragga garage, club cuts from one of Bristol’s finest exports, and a five-hour marathon of emotional cuts from the Draaimolen crew–it's all in this month's selection.

October should be the peak of the rave calendar—longer, colder nights obviously mean harder, sweatier dancing. But alas: no dice. As we approach our first autumn under lockdown, it’s time to face up to the necessity of building the damn discotheque in our own living rooms. We’ve given it a go and it’s an automatic vibe! Invest in a mirrorball and some cheap flashing lights, roll up the rug, and get one of your housemates to stand at the front door looking hard and asking how old everyone is. Anything to avoid downloading Houseparty again, please.
This month’s best mixes column surveys the shuttered scene and says, “OK, fuck it, we’ll party at home.” So there’s hard house from an LA collector, ragga garage from the turn of the millennium, a selection of prehistoric grime ‘n’ bass, and an outer-national club fusion from one of Bristol’s finest exports. On top of that, a five-hour marathon of emotional cuts from the Draaimolen crew should keep you going, plus an ambient mix for cauldron stirrers everywhere and a glittering mix of party belters from a former indie-disco queen.
Before we start, one more outlier that shouldn’t be missed: Tunisian artist Azu Tiwaline’s percussive mix for Groove is a hypnotic mind-massage for challenging times.

Otik for Crack Magazine

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Outernational bass fusions from Bristol via London

Over six years of releases for labels like Dext, Keysound and Gobstopper, Bristol-to-London bass architect Otik has established a sound that’s both heavyweight and refreshingly off-kilter. Since his arrival in the capital, though, his tastes have gradually warped and widened to incorporate a broader mixture of sound system mechanics, as displayed to dazzling effect on his Crack mix. Weaving cutting-edge club material (DJ Baklava, Nick León, topsy-turvy dembow from Dinamarca & KABLAM) into steel-rimmed Zenker Bros breaks, Meleku’s booming riddims and flashes of Playboi Carti and Aaliyah, he sets a high standard for outernational bass business.

Pachuco – SYSTEM mix for Boiler Room

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100-degree hard house from East L.A.

This 100-degree heater from East L.A. selector Pachuco is one of the most irresistible mixes in Boiler Room’s SYSTEM series, an ongoing overview of global sound system cultures. The first 30 seconds alone probably count among the finest mix intros we’ve ever heard, transporting us to the parking lot rave in the blink of an eye. Dropping future-club cuts from Lechuga Zafiro, Imaabs, Missdevana, and Shyboi in between his beloved vintage hard house, Pachuco puts one foot on the gas and never lets up.

The Large - 100% Ragga Garage

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Pure Y2K raggamuffin sounds

The title says all you need to know: it’s ragga garage, innit. Former Mixpak don The Large throws together an hour of millennial heaters for NTS Radio with vocals from the likes of Lady Saw, Shola Ama, Mr. Vegas, and mix host Top Cat. Featuring plenty of tunes that you’ll know (‘Neighbourhood’, ‘Rip Groove’) and plenty that you probably won’t, this is just the kind of sesh to keep in your store cupboard in case of emergency: break glass for hype.

Elias Mazian B2B Oberman B2B Unofficial Milo from Not Draaimolen Festival

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Five-and-a-half hours of chlorophyll-infused dancing

Sometimes you just need to melt into a honey-warm puddle of cello, y’know? This mix takes its sweet time, only ramping up to an actual beat after 50 dreamy minutes. Described as an “ode to scrapped plans” and “a story about love,” it’s the work of former De School resident Elias Mazian, Nous’klaer Audio’s Oberman and Draaimolen Festival honcho Milo, who recorded it at a small gathering somewhere in nature this summer. There’s a definite chlorophyll hue to their long and winding session, taking in moody house from DJ Metatron, sequinned ‘00s electro from Tiefschwarz and new-age soul from Beverly Glenn-Copeland, among many eclectic picks. It comes especially recommended by EB’s social media manager Pilar, who makes a case for the DJ mix as epic weep-athon: “At first I was like, five and a half hours, why? Is this a Star Wars movie? But the joke is on me because I’ve listened to it about four times already.”

Lukas Wigflex – The Land Before Grime

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Bassline wobbles from the pre-digital days

Nottingham DJ Lukas Wigflex—founder of the Wigflex label, party and festival, and all-round doyen of the East Midlands rave scene—has been digging around in his oldest, shabbiest crates. What has he found? The land before grime. Back in the early noughties, when garage was mutating into grime, Wigflex could be found DJing with a local MC crew known as Riot Squad: “We thought we were Nottingham’s version of the Pay As U Go cartel,” he jokes. As a tribute to that pre-digital era, he’s put together a mix of those old records, “some of them well known, some of them I don’t even know what the fuck they are.” Threaded through with huge fat basslines (a hint of the 4×4 niche sound then emerging up the road in Sheffield) and plenty of vinyl crackle. This one is a proper time capsule and it absolutely smacks.

Space Afrika presents Jake Muir on NTS Radio

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Subtly spooky seasonal ambient

Berlin transplants Space Afrika and Jake Muir make for a compelling pairing on NTS, with the latter marking the release of his gorgeous new album, the hum of your veiled voice, via an appearance on his pal’s regular show. These ambient selections feel as dense as a weighted blanket, with cuts from Oren Ambarchi, Marja Ahti, and New Cult of the Sun Moon bringing a kind of autumnal mulch with them. Faded round the edges and subtly spooky, it’s ideal listening while tending to your cauldron.

Lou Hayter for Dummy

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Strictly belters from Arthur Russell to Omar-S

Here’s a mix to remind us that, ultimately, it’s all about the tunes. Not to say there aren’t nifty blends and skilful segues aplenty across these 53 minutes, but ex-New Young Pony Club front woman Lou Hayter makes a strong case for going Strictly Belters: no filler needed. Her Dummy mix is an endless re-up of shimmy-shimmying joy every time a new vocal or a slinky bassline enters the room, from Larry Heard and Shinichiro Yokota to Prince and Arthur Russell. Listening to this is like watching an endless cascade of pin-sharp dancers slinking down the Soul Train runway.

Chal Ravens is a freelance writer based in London. Find her on Twitter.

Graphic design by Ekaterina Kachavina.

Photography credits: Matthew Bentley.

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Published October 28, 2020. Words by Chal Ravens.