Newcomers and scene veterans converge in this month’s edition For Club Use Only, which traverses geography and genre to bring you the month’s best under-the-radar club material.
The past month showed just how vibrant club music has been recently. May saw the release Bad Gyal’s Dubbel Dutch-produced ‘Jacaranda’, already an club anthem, and Chino Amobi’s PARADISO, a staunchly opaque collection that challenges the very idea how experimental music should be presented. Meanwhile, Jlin’s sophomore album, Black Origami, pushed the angular footwork aesthetic introduced on 2015’s Dark Energy into more intangible, abstracted territory.
Elsewhere, UNITI’s Englesia stunned with a mix featuring exclusively music from “friends mixed heritage” for Tobago Tracks and Mixmag hosted four mixes from American club scenes in Atlanta, Columbus, Houston and Milwaukee.
Those mixes play host to a huge range material, ranging from advanced Midwestern club formations, handled by Close Up the Serene’s Max Holiday, to sluicing noise-club formations mixed by Halcyon Veil head Rabit. This quartet mixes exemplifies the diversity in sounds coming from the US at the moment, but is also indicative a greater divergence in club sounds as artists constantly grapple with new technologies and the sonic developments that follow.
‘Chinese Connection FDM’
Mvstermind is best known as a member flex dance music supergroup Wolves and his latest solo release is a transfixing effort, showing that sino-grime, as troublingly orientalist as it can be, works just as well with FDM’s 100 BPM lurch.
Make sure you check the DEVOUR tape and tracks like ‘East Coast Riddim’ and ‘Vio Naa’ for more examples Mvstermind’s ear for odd samples and his ability to flip them into irrepressibly bouncy FDM tracks.
‘Kojo Funds x J Hus’
Attendees Los Angeles’ Rail Up parties will recognize the deluge edits that resident Kelman Duran brings to the table each and every time he plays out, an immediately recognizable melange contemporary and classic sounds from across the dancehall, reggaeton and Afrobeats spectrum.
Followers Kelman’s SoundCloud only get a small glimpse into the wealth edited material he plays out live, but it’s hard to complain when downloads are fered with nearly every upload. His latest blend brings J Hus and Kojo Funds into his distinct atmospherics, letting both tracks swim in a sea reverb and st pads while a sickly dembow beat lays out the track’s forward momentum.
Philadelphia’s DJ Haram has been relatively quiet on the release front so far this year. She provided a standout track on Club Chai Vol. 1 and soundtracking Chromat’s Fall/Winter 2017 drop, but has mostly stayed busy with an onslaught gigs around the US and abroad.
‘Body Count’ is a reminder just how captivating Haram’s productions can be as she layers bright percussion over a disquieting bed pillowy synths and drawn-out chants. I can’t wait to hear this one clang around the room the first time it’s wheeled out.
El Shick’s 2011 smash ‘Prendelo’ is thrown into the blender by New York’s Kush Jones, its looped refrain reduced to another rhythmic element in an entrancing cascade toms, snares and hand drums.
Jones, who also appeared in last month’s edition For Club Use Only, has developed a penchant for rhythmically complex tracks that retain their functionality, whether he’s working at a frantic pace or a more straightforward club strut.
Cybersonic, a Los Angeles club night run by Sha Sha Kimbo and Swelta, dropped their second annual compilation this month, featuring a range local and international artists who have appeared at the night in recent years.
Tracks from LA’s own Farsight, So Drove and Morris provide fitting context for the night, but it’s New York’s Star Eyes who steals the show with ‘Make Me’, bringing to mind the razor’s edge chop Degenerate-era Vex’d.
Oli XL’s W-I label has emerged as one the premiere outlets for sound design-focused, leftfield club formations, introducing artists like Celyn June and Chastic Mess to the fold and presenting an immediately recognizable visual aesthetic.
‘Veracity Scene’/’Last Song’ is Celyn June’s sophomore W-I release (after last year’s excellent ‘Location’) and finds the producer – who has also relased an excellent, all-originals mix on Halcyon Veil – stepping into more club-focused territory on ‘Veracity Scene’. Here, June pushes a militaristic sound that recalls the frenetic splatter a first-person shooter video game.
Immediately recognizable as a hot weather smash, ‘Summer ‘17’ should go down as one the year’s best feelgood bangers, an unabashedly euphoric effort featuring chipmunk vocals and anthemic digitized horn stabs.
DLycox’s loopy rhythmic inflections have made him a regular in this column (garnering the Paris-based producer a spot in our club producers to watch in 2016 feature) and ‘Summer ‘17’ is a fittingly victorious effort for one the kuduro world’s most distinctive voices.
‘The Next Banger’
Elijah has impressed with stripped-back electro and punchy techno for 1221 and Allergy Season, but the Kansas City-based producer’s latest sees the introduction more overt rave tropes, with a seductive acid bassline and warehouse-ready percussion.
The track’s title and tags on SoundCloud (“trance”, “90s”, “rave”) more or less tell the story, but there’s a genuinely inventive quality to the way the nine-minute track builds that elevates it beyond nostalgia or pastiche.
‘Arrocha Da Gloria’
Curated by DJ Whey, FKOFF1963 and Pininga, Tormenta Hits Vol. 2 is the Tormenta imprint’s latest compilation, comprising 15 whirlwind edits and blends that smash up everything from Gwen Stefani to Ruff Sqwad.
Pininga’s contribution is set-ending material, a flip Portishead’s ‘Glory Box’ over baile funk drums and vocal chops. The mix is almost certainly too busy, but Pininga, who also contributed two standout edits to NAAFI’s PIRATA 3 compilation, manages to whip the oddball combination into shape.
Chuckles L’amante rides Pumpdabeat’s ‘Wicked Crash’ to devastating effect on ‘#wakemeup’, pushing the Philadelphia crew’s original to within a breath its life.
Chuckles is more than up to the task riding one 2016’s most distinctive ballroom beats and even as the track switches up, the Philadelphia MC’s energy carries it through. Pumpdabeat’s original is already loud and Chuckles only turns it up, so please watch your ears on this one.
Gabe Meier is on Twitter
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