Forget what platform it’s on for a moment – a Friday is a perfect time to support independent DIY music production, by directly supporting the artist and downloading something that you can come back to again and again.
And there’s some special stuff out there today. So now is perhaps the most important time to give time for listening and joy in music again.
So here’s what’s up. Yeah, yeah, there are an overwhelming number of releases but – I was personally overwhelmed by these ones in particular.
I get a stupid number of press releases about music about the pandemic and isolation and … so on. Let’s start out with the opposite here, because there is some rave music so good that you’ll want to keep it for whenever you are safely raving again. And if that seems a long way off, close your eyes, put on your best headphones, and ascend to another level.
Chicago. Jack. By way of Berlin and Columbus. “You Know I’m Jackin'” is a weapon in waiting. If your neck is stiff, your butt is sitting still in front of a screen – put this on meanwhile. It’s one of those ones you just know you can’t wait to hear on a sound system. And it’s an Avengers-style meet-up of two techno superheros – DJ T-1000 (Alan Oldham) and FBK (Kevin M. Kennedy).
So the DJ T-1000 track is already an instant classic, but the FBK remix is utter genius. And then there’s “Dis House Has Sho Gone Crazy” which can crack winter depression and make you instantly smile. That’s not a gift to be taken for granted, to thanks to these two machine-men.
And come on, if you didn’t know about FBK, keep up with your CDM homework:
While we’re talking perfect, timeless production, Lady Blacktronika’s Drum Control is magnum opus of deep house and techno and territory in between. It’s so good, you’ll feel you should have known these tracks already the first time you heard them. Akua is to me one of the most underrated producers around; she’s so versatile, rooted in her own history through West Coast and Berlin but always pushing forward. Not only that, but our friend Kevin McHugh at Valence masters it for New York’s Allergy Season so you get a flawless release. From December, but let’s give it a shout now. I don’t know what year it is, but at least when I can’t tell that from this release, it’s a net positive:
Kindergarten Records is pure energy – like it’s on top of a jump gate to a pulsar. “Cosmic club workouts” is right. Ma Sha, the Russia-native label boss, I met once in Moscow in a snowstorm and then have encountered on dance floors and booths (once in a shared night), and she’s a force of nature. The label mirrors her hyperactive Brooklyn parties, but has followed her to Belarus and Berlin through the pandemic.
Vitamins are what we’re lacking, and it’s exactly what Despina promises in their debut Data Soft. Must-have. Preorder it, and get some daily aerobics going while you wait.
Fauzia’s flashes in time is a perfect set of gems and – apparently, she wants to make us all feel bad about ourselves, because she writes that this is her first time “experimenting with vocals”?
We hate you. In a good way, but yeah. I’m just glad I nabbed the cassette before it sold out, so you can also hate me if you wanted a copy. (Sorry.)
If you don’t know FAUZIA, check out the Londoner’s Discwoman mix debut:
Meanwhile in Brooklyn, DJ SWISHA is making genius tracks with MPC 2000 and “groovebox.” The one cute gimmick track “MacBook Music” he says he made only with MacBook noises. It’s ridiculous – and it works. (My favorite is that killer opener, though.) It’s like serious old-fashioned production and nostalgia, the whole EP. It’s like that $9 Bushwick beer – you’ll buy it anyway. Well, this is a better buy:
From Baltimore, eu-IV has made an absolutely lush laidback set of grooves he “decided to put together at the last minute.” Even his bio has a disclaimer – “artist first and producer second” – but his tracks have an inarguable easy immediacy. As this one instructs you – “hit play and vibe out” – this is music of pure feeling and no ego.
Kinnara : Desi La is pure genius – a superhuman source of boundless creativity, they’re sometimes I think several people masquerading as one or too futuristic in their output for people to immediately relate. Give yourself over to these sound (and visual) worlds, and be transported. Now based in Tokyo, where we met on the AI Art Lab (and it seems AI is informing the work)! Desila, I hope we get to talk soon and do more, as this deserves more than just this mention but – y’all go get this.
Anushka Chkheidze is a bright and rising talent in Tbilisi, Georgia. I’m still processing her new Move 20-21, but it’s a wide-ranging exploration of musical worlds that almost channels some of the best 90s IDM at moments – you know, from back when Anushka was a toddler and Georgia had only just achieved independence. It’s detailed, warm, nicely weird enough. And we have a project to announce with Anushka shortly – though I have to say, having worked on that, I didn’t expect any of these sounds. More signs of versatility.
The Georgian label is also well worth a proper dig – through links, like us Internet children do.
On a more experimental note, it’s just one track but – this one is to me really exceptional. Cedrik Fermont (C-drik) is best known as a curator and researcher and music conduit, including with the Syrphe platform. But don’t miss Cedrik’s own music, too. And this is an electro-acoustic tour-de-force in just five minutes. I listened to it, enraptured, as the snow came down in Berlin through the streetlight, and felt like I was on another planet.
Note from the explanation:
Chordophone is the first piece I composed for one instrument without effects, without mastering, without cleaning.
The primal sound source is a zither, I have chosen this instruments because of its resonances, harmonics and natural reverb. I will not reveal all the tricks I used but the main one is applying an EBow on several strings to make them resonate and record the sound with a microphone (an Oktava MK-012-01) with a portable amplifier (FEL MinimicBooster) as the sound of the vibrating strings was pretty low, everything was recorded and edited in Reaper.
liquid sky artistcollective, who brewed that Erica Synths Dada modular system I wrote up yesterday, also have some psycho freaky machine strangeness going (including I notice the WretchUp iOS app I worked on with Mouse on Mars).
svensyntetics came up with these alien transmissions. I could try to describe it, but it’s hilarious just to read the instrumentation:
Ninja Tune Zen Delay, Moog Subsequent 37, Rainstick, Moog Minitaur, Clavia Nord Modular, Sawing Blade, Electro Harmonix Small Stone, Fender Squire Stratocaster, Klementz Dub Delay, Vermona Retroverb Lancet, Bubble Foil, Erica Synth Bassline, Erica Synths Acidbox III, Apple Logic Pro (D16 Nepheton, D16 Drumazon, Native Instruments Supercharger GT, Soundtoys Sie-Q, PanMan, Decapitator, Echoboy Jr, Eventide Blackhole, Audio Damage Dubstation 2, Arturia Delay Eternity, Waves Berzerk Distortion) Novation Launchpad, Didgeridoo, T-bone SC1000, Sound Bowl, Twisted Electrons HapiNES, Bullroarer, Apple Ipad (Korg Gadget 2, MoMinstruments WretchUp, AAS OBJEQ), Arturia AudiofuseStudio, Alesis AI3, Nubert nuPro A-300, Sony MDR-7506
From Indonesia, Fahmi Mursyid’s simply-titled Pure Data is a masterful concoction of madness from the titular, open-source patching environment (and modular tool Automatonism), ranging from weirdo gabber-ish bangers to bubbling space cocktails. It’s all simply beautiful, and just the thing to set the mood on your starship as you hit higher warp speeds:
As if that weren’t enough, out on the same label is this beautiful, elegant outing by Fahmi and Lana Avdeykina, poetically whispering in your ear above enchanting ambient textures:
Laure Boer I met in what feels like another lifetime in 2019 in Manila, and even though she’s Berlin-based that’s where we got to know her incredible live presence. Agate et la pierre de Sable is a mystical ritual that I can’t describe nearly so well as the liner notes of the EP here:
Memories like fires glow, time keeps cutting at your soul: when listening to “Agate et la pierre de Sable”, a tape with two deeply thrilling journey music poems, the mind of the deep listener takes off. Off into the vibrant, mystic, folk-not-folk world of Laure Boer and her free-spirited approach on ritualistic music beyond the ritual. It might get lost in her minimal chanting, her India-leaning melodies, echoing feedbacks and endless loops of revelation. Some Moondog spirits wave veiled and psychic illusions trigger the meditation. But no worries: every soul returns in good order, eased by a droning whiter shade of pale.
Dreamy California future vibrations come from music sound master Nalepa, who is special not only for his own prolific output but also all the people he’s taught and inspired, including through TeamSupreme:
On the outskirts of Tokyo, White Paddy Mountain puts out electronic poetry in its ambient releases. Here, there’s an alluded history both from text and the passage of sounds into the recording, which Chihei Hatakeyama spins into mesmerising music:
This is the second album in the Chinese history series, following the previous album “Autumn Breeze”, which was inspired by the achievements of Zhuge Liang in “the Three Kingdoms: A Historical Novel”. This film was heavily inspired by the writings of Miyazaki Ichisada (mainly related to Chinese history), which dynamically portrayed the joys, sorrows and foolishness of human beings, which is also relevant to today’s difficult world with the coronavirus. Therefore, this album contains many melodic pieces based on the writings of Miyazaki Ichisada and the situation of contemporary society.
The songs have been selected from recordings made in 2020 and have been composed to sound like the soundtrack to a fictional film. Some of the tracks have been recorded on cassette tape and then re-processed, so that the lo-fi textures and hiss of the sound become part of the sound.
I always adored Serbian act A//O, and Point Source is all over the place in a wonderful way – elaborate dark percussive sound design in the first cut, piercing interlaced melodic lines in the second, and then a goth third track out of what sounds like another album. It jigs and jags unexpectedly like my favorite nights out in Београд, basically. Bring it on.
We all try to grow smarter as we make music. In the case of Moisés Horta Valenzuela, you could say that he’s “training” his AI algorithms as they produce new unfoldings of decolonialized music. But maybe it’s more apt to say that he’s training his own craft and alchemy with the algorithms, as the work continues to grow and flower. This new one came out on my birthday last month:
I’m keen to hear the new release from Punctum Tapes in Prague, which mixes a wide, insanely talented range of contemporary Czech and Slovak producers with a 1982 archive of folk culture from the region. I didn’t explain that terribly well, but this one will be worth revisiting. Coming later this month:
I can’t wait for later this month as the massive decentralized release of Indonesia’s Senyawa comes out. I’ll write about that separately, but – Beirut’s own Ruptured Records is joining a small flock of labels around the world releasing the new album simultaneously. I’m on one of those releases – and I’ll probably wind up buying a couple of the others, just to get some different remixes. Cedrik’s work joins a bunch of Lebanese favorites, including Stephanie Merchak’s beautiful remix out now. So I’m going to go ahead and grab this one with the discount. Sambal and harissa for later this month?
All my love to Ruptured, too; I know the difficult days for Beirut just continue to stack up. Know we’re still thinking of you.
And Stephanie – that remix. Haunting.
Let’s finish in that neighborhood of the planet. Ramallah, Palestine’s Muqata’a is one of the producers whose work reaches me most deeply, in its distinct amalgamations of rhythm, texture, and sonic fabrics from radio and synths and field recordings. It feels like music that genuinely expresses jagged emotions, without the gloss of genre and commercial categorization that has shackled the tradition of musical recording.
I’ll leave it there, on music I would keep on repeat.