December and January — we all know this time of the year(s) means the lists are on their way, as all of the related calendar’s end reviews. Of course, PA’ is no exception and we’re all up and running on looking back at the last months and juicing it up to some cool, nice and easy going info on our favorites in music, being it dark and heavy oriented of course.
You must be thinking I got the post all wrong, since I’m talking about dark music and this is a top on the electronic highlights of 2015. I’ll address the elephant in the room and just say that there’s no patent on feelings/ambients, and depression, aggression, destruction and such are not exclusive to metal and punk. This is the kind of ideas one gets when being abducted by aliens or either by getting the fuck off the couch/comfort zone, grooming that old ass beard and face reality without those “fuck yeah metal” goggles on. There’s more to life and that’s what we’re here to talk about.
Of course, this is as relevant as everything that sums millions of people’s efforts in hundreds of days in a list of 10 or more — interesting enough, nut a fail endeavor nonetheless, given the impossibility to be on to everything. Looking at the bleakest places in electronic throughout 2015, here’s what we’ve found to be the best records for all the people wearing sunglasses on dance floors around the world:
Blanck Mass – “Dumb Flesh”
John Benjamin Powers is most definitely Fuck Buttons’ best half. He’s been proving it as Blanck Mass for two long-plays now. “Dumb Flesh” with its violently saturated sound, where textures are stretched thin to piercing-eardrums levels. Each new discharge, though, is structured with engaging melodic outburst and almost tribal-like rhythmic sections — Blanck Mass wears you down both physically and mentally.
Commodo, Gantz, Kahn – Volume 1
These guys had me on “Bitchcraft”. It even sounds cool — and, to top it all, the actual song is cool. Merging hyperdub-like dubstep beats with eastern chord progressions, these three dudes pretty much nailed it on the cerebral side of their complex sound-architecture.
Floating Points – “Elaenia”
Floating Points is no dark music producer — and if his solo music didn’t convince you of that, maybe you should know that Fatima’s last record had the Manchester-based man’s hand all over the place. In Floating Points’s music, light and lack thereof are layered in dynamic explorations of music, with a jazzy touch on each sound inducing a dreamy, full of apathy state. It’s smooth and intelligently crafted.
Holly Herndon – “Platform”
Holly Herndon is no newbie to IDM and has been gathering attention since her first record, the debutant Movement. In “Platform”, the Frisco-based producer raises her IQ once again, inverting sounds, structures and reinterpreting it with as much rhythm and melody as necessary to construct actual songs, playing close attention to the role of every frequency — “Interference”’s bass still makes me shiver.
Jlin – “Dark Energy”
We’ve been talking about feelings and all that girly stuff for a while now, but there’s this one state of mind that I’ve kept out of here: confusion, induced paranoia. You know, the kind of stuff you feel when listening to Jlin’s “Dark Energy”. Its obvious violence can be physical — and it often is in music — but its mental counterpart will take longer to recover. Still bruised in the brain and slowly infect your muscles with the acidic rhythms and repetitive use of off-tempo beats to keep the body movin’.
Master Musicians of Bukkake – “Further West Quad Cult”
Cult is a key word when it comes to Randall Dunn’s Master Musicians Of Bukkake. For this next long-play, Dunn went solo and created mantras, rather than pieces, exploring further the Bukkake universe and testing new reaches for ethereal cumshots. It’s just perfect to listen to while having a vinegar stroke. Better yet, you can just play this record over “Far West” and see how far it takes you in Master Musicians of Bukkake realm.
Miss Red – “Murder”
All eyes on Miss Red now. First spotted by Kevin Martin after raging in on stage during one of his massively loud The Bug sets in Israel, the Haifa-based MC went from featuring in a couple of Bug songs to kill it live with the British producer. In December, Miss Red finally came forth with her debut mixtape, a dancehall “acid ragga” explosion with beats by The Bug, Andy Stott, Stereotype, Mumdance, Evian Christ, and Mark Pritchard.
Nicola Cruz – “Prender El Alma”
If you’re thinking “this guy comes from South America, he must play the pan flute” you’re a moronic xenophobe and right on point. This record does have pan flutes, but much like his label-mate Chancha Via Circuito, there’s also much more to Nicola Cruz’s “Prender El Alma”. The Ecuadorian sums lots of different roots from all South America in a beautiful and haunting electronic exercise, channeling the Northern emisphere’s influence to texture and sound.
DJ Nigga Fox – “Noite E Dia” EP
Kuduro, the dance folk sound from Luanda transitioned into electronic outfits over the last year, has been taken to whole new levels thanks to the efforts of DJs Nervoso, Marfox, and most recently Firmeza, Nigga Fox and Principe Discos labelmate and newest gem Nídia Minaj. All of the above-mentioned merged the sickest kuduro rhythms into European oriented melodies, chord progressions and textures, and each of every one of them as his unique approach to the axis Lisbon-Luanda. Nigga Fox is the darkest, most psychedelic of all of them, taking his kuduro to techno tonalities and turning off lights on dancefloors all over while attacking brains with dissonant yet catchy melodic endeavors. This is unknown territory for everyone in the electronic world, and Nigga Fox is making a name of his own by taking uncharted paths in his releases. “Noite e Dia” is yet another brilliant example of his wits on the turntables.
Rashad knew his stuff. When it comes to footwork music, the Teklife Crew is the real deal. Paypal’s “Sold Out” is yet another proof of Rashad’s pupils wits on the turntables, crossing mad rhythms with soothing synths thanks to use and abuse of great sampling.
ø [Phase] – “Alone in Time?”
London-based, but space oriented — this is ø [Phase], a techno producer who can sound violent throught repetitive rhythms and deep, saturated sounds, or by nailing the most psyched out arpeggios in layered and texturized architectures. In “Alone in Time?” rhythm is taken out of the spotlight, as patterns and repetitions are broke within melody and subsonic nuances. It’s a chokingly beautiful rendition, and a delicious meal for the mind.