Now that the warmth has finally arrived and outdoor parties are getting busted for not having a liquor license, here are some sparkling hidden gems from around the internets that you need to know exist. No time to waste, here are the tunes! Vassh & Haven are fast becoming my favorite post-EDM producers. The total lack of festival anthem stupidity is in full effect here, with a tasty infusion of UK garage into true hip hop vibes coming from across the pond. This is South London rude boy shit, combined with soothing, exotic bass padding that needs to be celebrated. A tune so hard street and soft garage simultaneously is something most Americans have yet to master, while the duo, hailing from MA & SC has knocked it out of the park.
floatinurboat is the kind of artist you’d totally miss for lack of promotion, but spend several hours listening to in the middle of the night if discovered. I know, because that was my Friday night. Future production like this is one of the directions I’m praying indie pop moves into post-diplo/skrillhouse. There’s a stride that this tune hits that gives me hope. The ability to communicate complex emotional landscapes using electronic influences has taken a back seat to fist pumping in recent years, so I’m holding out hope we push back into the territory this 16 year old from Glasgow seems to lord over.
Kamandi is not an artist I saw coming. Honestly, I was swinging from account to soundcloud account, stumbling on this west coast stunner entirely by accident. Burn Them Down seemed like an entirely forgettable tune until the 2 minute mark hit. Then, it transitions into shockingly brutal electronica, to the point where it convinced me there’s a metal band making it happen. More please.
Sakuraburst is one of those low-key stars that Soundcloud & basement producers look up to. Why? This is the year where you find out. Sakuraburst has production skills that are almost unmatched, turning heads like T-Mass, Beardyman & others that have already made it. Their new EP showcases this production prowess, which is why I needed to make sure you didn’t miss anticrystal. Shuddering, throbbing bass fuses with jittery garage elements to make an intimidating but unforgettable original that will be welcome in any ominous game OST.
unforseen is another one of the exquisite Ambient/Chillwave posse on Twitter that need their own music collective and stage at festivals. Unforseen pushed out this 4 track tribute to his favorite chill producers glo, haven (told ya), madi larson and pearl. 4 tunes for 4 producers you should all know about, especially when the sky is gray, or you’ve just been dumped by bae. Check out each of the producers if you have time, but don’t worry, I’ll be bringing you dopeness from each of them over the summer.
The last Monday in March will be celebrated with Morgan Freeman, a black cat & 5 of the most legit things I heard last week!
Greyhat coming at you from Maine, with some soothing, almost vaporwave chillout. I say almost because there’s an indie punch to the track that’s much appreciated. It’s got a Blockheads classic psychedelic rock feel to it. Never too overpowering, but most certainly guitar-focused and liquid. Speaking of liquid, it pulls into a breaking, almost d&b tempo, before melting back into this lush indietronica that deserves roaring congratulations. It feels like driving through one of those rainbow 80’s videogame .gifs.
Ghostchant is one of my favorite UK artists. His fusion of garage, ambient, downtempo, trap & ethereal beats is second to none, and this kind of remix needs to keep coming. Pulling even more echo & melancholy into The Weeknd, this six minute rework is a giant made of clouds. So much work went into creating the atmosphere that The Weeknd’s vocals soar through, I hope he sees in. Ghostchant is one of the best producers in the game, and totally needs to do some work for huge pop artists. Bieber remix next perhaps?
I mentioned Mickey Kojak a little while ago, and when I said I’d keep my eye on him, I meant it. This one is hard to classify but makes me happy, a track that gives me hope for the future. Forward looking, while almost paying homage to Disclosure, this funky house track hits all the right notes. On point vocals, a surprisingly round & well produced bassline, decidedly non-tropical sounding pad work, and melancholy come together wonderfully. As it fades away, I’m left wondering, just like the last time I wrote about him, what’s coming next from this guy.
Hadn’t anticipated new SBTRKT, but it’s always welcome. THE-DREAM shows up to provide some euphoric hip hop fusion with potent indie bass. It’s a frenetic, tense build, but that makes the drop/chorus even more gratifying. Well put together, with all of the elements playing their position, as it were. The auto-tune is minimal if used at all, and the almost euphoric break rounds out the 3:48 nicely. Quick fun & unassuming.
This is dope. While it’s the most festival ready shit I’ve ever posted on this blog, I have my reasons, those being, Trainspotting. Any track that uses samples from Trainspotting doesn’t get turned off immediately. And I’m glad I didn’t. The first build is EDM as fuck, but the 2nd, real build is euphoric trance that we need more of. The samples remain useful throughout, and the music video is well edited. The build puts you in a crazy, serotonin filled place, which I hope to hear more of as the US festival season warms up. Bomp this ish loud, your music junkie friends will thank you. Big ups to Bobina for making this happen.
Bonus! A friend’s tune that he only hinted at existing, one of my tracks of 2015, is finally seeing official release! Yellow@TheLight has been killing it in the whispered quiet spaces of the Lower East Side and Bali, strangely enough. His vibe can’t really be described, so I’ll just let the track speak for itself. Metal drums, deep vibes, and a techno back bone come together to feel like a beach party from the X-Files. Half deep, half almost metallic, it really shows off the breadth & depth of the production competence Yellow@TheLight brings to the table. So hopefully you & I can convince him to do it more often. If you’re feeling this, he’s got a new mix out of similar depth.
In case you hadn’t heard, it’s Monday, so here’s the Music! New hotness from Seven Lions & Keeno, chilled vibes from Jazzinuf, liquid D&B from Keeno and two surprises from down under, so let’s get into it!
Seven Lions is back! He brought it back to his roots, with this trancey, dubby delight for ASOT 755. This remix of Illenium ft. Joni Fatora is exactly what made Seven Lions one of my favorite emerging artists in 2013. Thise
Old school representation with this chilled out funky gem is Jazzinuf. I stumbled on this artist on a sprawling playlist that someone put together years ago. I don’t know who you are Kev Ken Shibayama, but blessing to you for this 443 song playlist.
Coming at you with a full hour of liquid drum & bass delights, Charlie Tee featured Keeno, one of the superstars of Med School Records. Cinematic, Symphonic, liquid gold is what he’s bringing you. No stupid MCs, no dubstep, just perfect fast slow & funky vocal work when there’s even words at all. Glide away on it.
What So Not came out of nowhere on this one. Innerbloom, the well-received single by RUFUS has earned its share of remixes, but I can’t say I expected the Flume compatriot to be anywhere near this. The re-work has a bit of that Aussie Chill Trap feel to it. Spacey instrumentals, stuttering bass, and a dollop of syncopation gives the tune a decidedly off-kilter feel. Great work from What So Not as usual, and can’t wait to see this style of production sink into LA & NYC so peeps like Louis The Child & others can get better bookings/more ticket sales.
Last but not least, a stunner from GRMM & MUTO on Of Leisure. This forward-looking electronica label from Sydney is launching a new compilation called Game Set, Match Vol 1: An Of Leisure, and using this single to promote it. A leisurely stroll it is, but produced correctly, to whet my appetite & peak my interest when it comes to this new label. New tracks coming soon & you can sign up for a free DL here if you’re so moved.
This week, I’m back to focusing on the relaxed end of the spectrum. These tunes are great for kicking back, driving slowly up the coast, or even just post-gaming with your friends after a dope night out. But enough from me, let’s get into the music!
Aether features Enzalla, who provides a stellar vocal focus that the chill/ambient feels are layered under. Soothing piano & pad work mesh with the exquisite chord rolls that dot the song. Kick back & relax to enjoy this one.
CHVRN took me by total surprise in the mix that I’ve linked below. This is exactly what we need more of. Massive chilltrap that’s ethereal, bombastic and massive. It’s so rare here in NYC, and frankly, I’d be happy as a pig in shit if someone threw a 6hr event and dropped nothing but this. But, it won’t happen without your help. Show CHVRN some love on this and other dope chilled artists, so we can get them booked on this side of the pond. Subsets never tries to be anything what it is best at being. Smooth ambient, continuing the padwork and soft bass theme I’ve been digging on recently. Great example of the backbone of any legit Sunday morning chill out set, and really hope inducing when it comes to emerging artists on the downtempo side of things. neftone wasn’t someone I’d heard of before some sonic exploration this week, but I gotta say, there’s some great work here. It’s more on the old school funky hip hop side of things (imo), rather than instrumental chillwave, but if you get angry that I’m misclassifying this, I think you might be missing the point.
Ray LaMontagne came from a very unlikely source this week. I read a blog written by industry insider & critic Bob Lefsetz, and if you don’t, you really need to. Especially if you’re under the age of 25. This guy’s been watching the game for longer than Martin Garrix has been pooping in toilets. He turned me on to this new, Pink Floyd sounding release by LaMontagne. Not something I usually come across, so I absolutely have to signal boost this.
Closing out is a mix that caught my attention and repeated plays over the last couple of weeks. Sekai Selects dropped this dope Future Chill/Trap compilation, and I’m so glad they did. A particular favorite part is 21 min in, great example of what this aural aesthetic can sound like. When you run a music blog you get a lot of embedded music in emails. Sekai Collective is one of the few that never get deleted. Every single tune gets listened to, and they’re usually the bomb dot com. Drift away with this mix, and may your week be smooth.
Thrilled to bring you the debut album from a stupendously talented Brooklyn producer. This effort is a departure from his previous work, so I’m delighted he spoke to me first about his new project, that drops TODAY, Escher Beat.1. How did Escher Beat come about?Escher Beat has been this nebulous concept in my head for a long time now. It’s hard to define when it was born- It’s like how some cultures consider the birth of a child to be when they first had the thought of creating one, as opposed to copulation, or the release of it into the real world. A lot of the stuff on the album has been in my head for ages but only now have I had the skill to get it written down and expressed in a somewhat proper form.
The album (and thus project)’s “copulation” began in 2012, when I was shying away from “23” as a project. I made the intro of the opening track (“Inter-Universal Transmission No. 2”), trying to make music that I thought I truly should be making. It was a good start but I found I did not have the skills to keep going forward. I also had a busy life finishing school and starting my career in NYC. But in the 2-3 years since then, I’d practice sound design, practice alternate forms of music, small things to up my skill set.
About 9 months ago, I said “alright, it’s time to actually try this again”. Over the course of 8 months, I wrote the album in a concerted effort. The last thing I wrote was follow up to the intro in the first track, which I thought was a nice conceptual way of completing the circle/journey.
2. What is it like being a closet producer living in Brooklyn right now? Depends what you mean by closet producer! Technically I work in a DIY-level dedicated studio. The room isn’t huge but it is covered in a professional level of bass traps with a properly set up and calibrated monitoring system, instruments, synths, etc. But in the sense that I just sit down and woodshed production for hours on end alone without telling anyone, you could say I’m a closet producer. It’s hard not to talk about what you’re working on. But it’s for the better because the more you talk about it, the less likely you are to complete it, I think. Less talk, more do.
Brooklyn is great because of the sheer number of musicians and artists around. I hope to take advantage of that in future work!
3. You had some success a couple of years ago producing dubstep under the alias 23, why did you decide to switch projects? I’ll try to keep it concise. I think 23 blew up faster than I was ready for. I was a one trick pony, and I painted myself into this dubstep corner. I began to become disillusioned with the progress of dubstep, and came to hate it. What happens when the only music you can reliably make is music you hate? That’s where the track “Fuck You (If You Like This Song)” came from; it was a frustrated irony.
I still consider my name to be the person named 23, but the work associated with it, I no longer identify with. It was a natural progression to make a new project for a more evolved sound.
4. What would be the ideal setting for listening to your music? Any altered state is a good start. The album isn’t just sound. There’s multiple layers of head-fuckery going on. I’ve used psychological setups and traps to influence the effect of sections of music based on the previous sections. There are sounds that bend and morph, and some things are so subtle, you need that altered state to obtain the perspective necessary to perceive it. These are some of my favorite moments in music, realizing the album you’ve been listening to for years had some hidden aspect to it you hadn’t unlocked.
I think a good stereo setup with a sub, with a bed in the center is a nice way. The album has very danceable moments, but they’re never too intense, so I think they’re still relaxation-worthy if you’d like to do home listening.
For dance purposes, I really want to see how it does on a big sound system with people who are really into dancing. There’s some funky grooves and heavy syncopation that, at least from my perspective as a dancer, lends its self to some really fun times dancing.
Without a doubt though, the album is best listened to all the way through. When you take the songs out of context, you begin to lose some of the “magic” so to speak.
5. How do you produce these incredible tracks? Can you give us any peaks into the method to your madness? I constantly have general ideas in my head about stuff I want to try. For example, in the second track (“James Brown…”) there’s this build up to this complete breakdown of the sound all together that then filters up and becomes a completely unique element of a completely unrelated beat. THAT kind of stuff is the essence of an “Escher Beat”. I had that concept in my mind for a long time, and that wasn’t even my first attempt at it.
After a concept is decided on, if any (sometimes things begin with a sound test or a jam) the writing process its self can be very…. automatic. There are times where I feel more like the music is written through me, or that I’m merely writing down what was already supposed to come next. My best music just happens, it becomes obvious to me. Sometimes, especially with long studio sessions, I’ll come back in a week later and forgot I wrote entire sections of music.
I guess that’s expected when you stay up for 24-48 (on rare occasion, 72) hours in a room with no windows. Definitely gets weird by the end of a session.
6. Do you have any preferred medium for performing live or strong opinions on the whole vinyl/laptop/cdj wars? Right now I work off Traktor cause that’s what I’ve always done. For someone who produces music, it can be a bit limiting, but I’m so familiar with the limitations and how to get around them that it’s a good old standby.
In the future I’d like to do Ableton live stuff. But I’m busy as fuck so that learning curve has kept me at bay for now. I’d really love to be able to re-fuck, re-mix, and re-contextualize things on the fly.
As to opinions on live mediums, I don’t think the medium matters at this point. Does the music sound good? That’s all that matters to me. I don’t go to shows to watch guys idly spin knobs or pretend they’re busy looking through a record bag. If the music is good, it’s good.
7. Are there any cool things happening in electronic music that you’re really into at the moment that our readers may not be aware of? A sub-genre or a new party or thing the kids are doing under the cover of darkness that you’re into? Honestly I hear good, new music every damn day. I love some of the more down tempo neuro stuff going on like Aio – Steam Prism, and also a lot of chill wave, and other really trippy beats. People are constantly putting out cool shit and a lot of it gets little to no attention.
I’d like to see this more progressive music at events. You’d think in such a forward city (when it comes to things like art and fashion) you’d see more interesting music at big events, and it certainly exists, but not at a reasonable scale. Like anywhere else, it seems most people in BK and NYC want that familiarity. Few people REALLY get into dance (dance, not dance music) and I think that’s a big reason why. When you have a strong dance vocabulary, new kinds of music means more ways to express yourself, as opposed to non-dancers who want to jam to familiar tunes (typically).
8. If I could wave my magic wand and get you a headlining slot anywhere in the world, where would you like to spin? I’d want to spin somewhere that has both a dancefloor, and places to relax, with lots of interactive and immersive artwork. Maybe something like DJing to people wandering a technological hedge maze/hall of mirrors that leads to different dancefloors with different art installations. I’m not sure it exists, at least all in one event. What I’m trying to say is the idea of me headlining a big crowd isn’t what I’m after. I’m about unique experiences and immersion, which have functional limitations in regards to scalability. I hate the idea of exclusivity, elitism, etc, but practically speaking, immersion isn’t possible when you have too many people. Except immersion in a crowd, but that’s why Big Room House came out. No thanks.
9. Any favorite plug-in’s, programs, pieces of hardware, or other music creation tools that you couldn’t have created the album without? A lot of the edits are by hand, and just layers upon layers of sound, with pretty basic plugins most of the time. When it comes to synths, if I didn’t have one, it’d be another. Most common VST is probably just my EQ. It’s less about the tools and more about the vision.
10. Are there any sonic influences that you couldn’t have arrived at this point without? Favorite producers, musical teachers, life-changing parties, etc? There have been a lot of nights at Burning Man where I heard music that I have never heard again that just blew my mind. I didn’t know how to classify it. But it was groovy. And when the DJs were done, they disappeared. Only recently have I been seeing music *similar* to this hitting the public sphere. Maybe it’s there and I just can’t find it. In a sense, this album is my version/interpretation of that hard to classify, but groovy vibe.
More often than not, people have been comparing the album to people I never listen to. A lot (not all) of my strong musical influences either have little to do with modern electronic music, or aren’t even music related at all. I’ll leave it at that because I want the album to be understood personally, not directed by me. I’ve done enough direction by writing the music its self.
Between July 4th & Labor Day, people check blogs less, they vacation more & need tunes to move to. For the summer, instead of doing music at night, I’ve decided to try something different. I’m going to try and put together a weekly set of tracks, most new, but the occasional oldie/goodie, for you, my faithful readers. Let me know if it’s a good idea. Ferry Corsten remains one of my most favorite DJs, though he rarely gets to spin the music I love him for. Even though when he headlines mainstages, he does a lot of electro house & progressive, in my mind, he will always be a pure trance DJ. With this release and his recent new Gouryella track, it’s as if he has been reading my mind. The break at 3:19 is one of the best in the world and has been for years. This is a staple in his sets across Europe, but I’ve definitely been privileged enough to hear it on our shores on more than one occasion. Mixmag premiered one of the better remixes of Giorgio Moroder’s new track “74 is the new 24.” Yes, that’s actually the name of the track, he’s really getting down and funky at 74. The tune has some interesting little guitars and some “I clearly listen to Daft Punk” vocoding effects which are totally welcome. It’s got a vintage, funky feel, while keeping the energy up in a 90’s dance kind of way. Kris Menace & Lifelike have grabbed my attention with this track, so y’all should keep an eye on them with me. Avicii is back, and he brought Wyclef Jean & Matisyahu with him. It’s a strange departure for Avicii and I wonder who wanted this deal to come together most out of the trio. Matisyahu & Wyclef Jean drop perfectly capable/dope rhymes, and the reggae vibes on this are strong. Avicii brings in the bluegrass & country influences from his previous work, as you can hear in the builds and lead up to the chorus. This is definitely a step in a new direction so definitely let me know if it’s something you’re feeling. Bringing the energy down entirely is Glo. This downtempo/chill artist has studied at the School of Burial and we’re all better for it. I cannot get enough of this kind of sound. Do not play this for people on drugs, but if you’re sad, you just got dumped, or if you’re just walking in the rain, this is your jam. I know it’s mine, and if you want more, check out glo’s album saknad here. The list of tracks is fantastic, and it will get you through. Last but certainly not least, Delta Heavy‘s got a new jam that’s out July 17th. This is no bullshit Drum & Bass. Classic, perfect Delta Heavy, like only he can be. Delta Heavy is able to use female rock vocals in a way I don’t think anyone else in the space besides Flux Pavilion can touch. And now I want to see a Delta Heavy/Flux Pavilion b2b set.
That’s it folks, leave a comment if you liked this format & want to see it again, or if I should get back to a track a day. I live to serve.
This remix of Bon Iver is (to quote V/Man), too chill for words. There’s a magic to Bon Iver’s tracks originally, so watching this evolve into a golden tune is a quiet joy. mi ka, hailing from Stuttgart lays his spell on you as a listener. It’s got hammock & summer sunshine written all over it. Don’t spend too much time thinking about it, just relax and enjoy. The soothing, smooth bass blends into the bird chirps and soft guitars. If you can’t find a calming breath during this song, you may need to cut back on the Red Bull. As the weekend draws to a close, simmer down with mi ka & show him some love!
This week, drift away with CMA. This tight little EP is made of clouds. The excessive talent of CMA is on display as this sextet of relaxing sonic snowflakes float down upon you. Dream Away gets us off to a winking, almost uptempo start, before Caught In Out Thoughts pulls us back into that chillstep vibe. Don’t Look Back brings in some atmosphere that you wouldn’t find out of place in a Rameses B track, which given how much I love that dude, is high praise. The arpeggio work is solid and it never gets too intense. Moving Forward manages to both be heavy & soaring, while still keeping in the feel of the EP. So, an oppressive giant made of clouds. Or someone screaming but the only thing coming out is sparkles? Not sure if that metaphor is decidedly positive enough. Without You showcases CMA’s piano skill, which is on point. I am glad to see more and more producers coming from strong piano backgrounds, as I find it to be tremendously helpful to production. This gives a flexibility that we see throughout the EP, that other producers should take note of. Friends brings it back to the chillstep vibe we all showed up for. Great work by CMA & it’s a Creative Commons licensed EP, so go put it into your student film so people discover CMA.
https://soundcloud.com/soularorder/soular-order-stay-close Soular Order has been breaking new ground in soundscapes for quite some time. This Stay Close demo is a perfect example of what Mr. Order (Soular?) is capable of. This ethereal bass structured around sound principles (I’m terrible I know) gives him such a competent oeuvre (look it up kids), that he can put out an early demo and I’ll not only eat it up, I’ll post the everliving crap out of it. This is chill like few others can make it. The vibes here are real, so put this into your face as your systems shut down one by one. At some point, I’ve gotta convince/trick Soular Order into doing an interview with me. If only so I can learn more about how the hell he creates these amazing tracks. Stay close to your loved ones indeed. Once the EP is out, y’all will know, I promise that.
Demented Sound Mafia, besides being a dope name for a music production group, has actually impressed me with this project. I don’t usually go in on this kind of stuff, but I have to make an exception for Inspired. This is a compilation of soundscapes, cinematic offerings and tracks that need to be in your next extreme skiing video once you figure out how to get the GoPro off your helmet. The tracks are soothing, ambient & perfect for your student film, skateboarding/surfing video or generally as a downtempo soundtrack for life. And just in case you think this is a random CD from a random outfit, you’d be wrong. They’ve had their work in soundtracks for Captain Phillips, Divergent, Paranormal Activity & a number of other movies. That’s right, you’re hearing them here before they even make it into the movie trailer you’re going to hear them in 6 months from now. Some of my favorites include I Conquer, Within My Reach & Earth From Above, but throw this on while you’re driving, getting things done, or winding down from a long night of partying. You’ll be thanking the global (literally, one from Oklahoma, one from Tel Aviv) pair of composers before the first track finishes up.