What has the music market in store for us this autumn? We picked ten top titles: white labels for the fundamentalists, limited edition 12”s and digital releases for the jobless, the poor and the people who go shopping on Bandcamp.
The autumnal equinox is usually a time to start new projects. Leaves falling, students going back to their classrooms, human nature tends to change cycles around this time. Maybe that's why this column is full of premieres and debuting artists. But don't fear, their rookie condition doesn't mean these producers don't make top quality stuff. Quite the contrary, in fact. Starting with Scottish S-Type, the new LuckyMe squire, and ending with young Leeds master Happa, we're bringing you several candidates for the title of 'Revelation of 2012'. But we've also made room for more experienced people we've already expressed our love for on these pages. Like Lukid, who's back with a 12” on Werk Discs, or Jam City, who decided to give the DJs of this world the club versions of the tracks from his “Classic Curves”. Furthermore there's a Spanish newcomer, Astroboyz, who makes his debut with a beautiful piece before he's off to represent Spain at the Red Bull Music Academy.
1. S-Type: “Billboard EP” (LuckyMe, LM013, 12” + digital)
What the devil is in the Glasgow water? What school did the people of LuckyMe attend? How is it possible that in a city with little over half a million people, so many genius hip-hop beat makers emerge in such a short period of time? S-Type is the latest example of the excellent shape the Scottish capital is in music-wise. And, as could be expected, the 25-year old's debut is sponsored by the double-eyed brand, which back in the day also supported Hudson Mohawke and the scene Rustie grew up in. Bobby Perman's productions are reminiscent of those two, although he also drinks from the well of American sampledelia, on this “Billboard EP” . Six instrumental hip-hop cuts that scream for attention from the rap CEOs on the other side of the Atlantic: “I'm your new favourite producer!”. The EP sounds tremendous all the time, sometimes marching, sometimes almost religious-like, with a whiff of gospel. For those who saw LuckyMe's signing of Baauer as selling out, here's the happy reconciliation with the Glasgow label. And get this: the press release mentions future collaborations will be revealed “a$ap”. Literally. Do we read between the lines?
2. T. Williams: “Pain & Love” (PMR Records, PMR020, digital)
Here are two tiny miracles for the dance floor. In one corner, T. Williams, a London producer who started his career like so many others, turning old garage into proto-grime, only to turn towards house later on. His “Heartbeat”, on Local Action two years ago, might be one of the sweetest things that ever happened to English house and, although he hasn't come up with anything that good since, the productions that followed were high level. In the other corner we find PMR Records, which is starting to stand out as a quality label thanks to its two big names, Julio Bashmore and Jessie Ware, but also because of its recent signings. T. Williams is one of them, alongside Two Inch Punch, who's giving electronic R&B a fantastic twist. “Pain & Love” is quite a convincing effort. Firstly, because of its versatility: Williams shows different ways of understanding dance music in four excellent tracks. From the power of the breaks of “Quote On Quote Bass” to the vocal elegance of Himal on “Can’t Get Enough” (spoiler alert: the chorus of the latter will stick inside your head immediately). Lovers of AlunaGeorge have an alternative for the duo in “Think Of You”, while Bicep and Jersey house fans get “Moving Fast”. The legacy of garage, house, R&B and breakbeats in four more than play-worthy tunes.
3. Astroboyz: “Pianobatacazoo EP” (Struments Records, STR 001, 12”)
Alex Silva is Astroboyz, one of the lucky producers who will represent Spain at the upcoming Red Bull Music Academy. Silva uses his past in different genres of dance music and his experience as a sound engineer to reinvent himself. Fascinated by deep-house at first, Galician Astroboyz enthusiastically embraced other sounds coming from his friends in his present home town Barcelona. Doing his pre-parties during the weekend while David M and Noaipre were doing their shows on Nasty FM awakened his curiosity of British rhythm patterns. He started to work on new music in 2011, but this “Pianobatacazoo EP” is the Galician's first title, and it's also the first release on the new Struments imprint from Barcelona (which intends to press up vinyls of other strong rookies, such as Clip!, for example). Both the title track and “Mngc” on the flipside show Astroboyz's courage of linking sensations, with a keen eye for detail and a delicate elegance, especially on “Pianobatacazoo”. The EP comes with a Jimmy Edgar remix which, in all honesty, isn't quite on the same high level as the original material.
4. OL: “Body Varial” (Error Broadcast, ebc019, 12”)
From Russia with love, because every so many months we meet another new talented and original beat maker. Pixelord and DFA paved the way for the others, and the people of Gimme5 compiled them on 2010's “Fly Russia”, still available from the Error Broadcast website at a low price. Young Moscow producer OL (Oleg Buyanov) is on there as well, the latest recruit on the platform. The label made 300 physical copies of “Body Varial”, so if you want it, be quick. The six tracks on the EP aren't the quintessence of abstract beats, nor are they the musical epiphany of the decade, but the boy shows an exquisite preference for the details of the most elegant brands of juke in the vein of DJ Rocc, the traveling and prolonged synths of the Hyperdub school and some very rugged bass lines. It's surprising how he goes from tracks like “Combination”, on which he comes close to Sepalcure's exported juke, to the schizo sounds of “Keep Calm” and that purple aura of Bristol dubstep. The mysterious artwork with the animal print makes it all the more convincing.
5. Lukid: “This Dog Can Swim” (Werk Discs, WDNT002, 12” + digital)
There's some confusion around this title. Initially, this EP by Lukid - one of the most adorable oddballs in electronic music today and a minion of Actress on his Werk Discs – should have come before his second album, “Lonely At The Top”, scheduled for 22nd October. However, some online stores say it won't ship until a month from now. Whatever it's going to be, it's well worth your hard-earned cash. If your face goes all weird when you first hear it, don't worry, you're on the right track. It happened to me when I heard his PG podcast two years ago. Lukid writes reviews of canned drinks and his music melts your brain into a slightly disturbing cotton coma, from which you need to wake up from time to time, in order to hook up to his rhythm changes again. A narcotic lethargy, a chemical substance and sound cocktail that is featured once again, with different colours and flavours, on “This Dog Can Swim” and its twin sister “This Dog Can Run”, the two original cuts on the single. The EP also includes remixes by Mass Prod and another weirdo young gun people are talking about this year: 1991.
6. Cashmere Cat: “Mirror Maru EP” (Pelican Fly, FLY008, digital)
He's been playing the anonymous game while delighting us with his artificial angora beats on his remixes for Lana Del Rey, Jeremih and Drake and 2 Chainz. The stage name is perfect, because everything we've heard so far from Cashmere Cat has the majesty of a well-fed and well-groomed Persian or Siberian cat. In the end, the man came out of the closet. His name is Magnus August Höiberg, and in the past he's won the Norwegian DMC a couple of times under the name DJ Final. While the name Cashmere Cat was doing the rounds in the blogosphere, thanks to the aforementioned remixes, Pelican Fly was rubbing its hands. The people of the Belgian label were quick to sign Höiberg for his first official release, “Mirror Maru EP” . So what do the four tracks sound like? There's a bit of the splendour and depravation of another Pelican Fly name, Sinjin Hawke, the evocative and maximalist forms of Ryan Hemsworth, the sinuous cadences of the most orthodox slow jams and a naïve touch in the form of self-recorded cat samples.
7. Dense & Pika: “004” (Dense & Pika, WL004, 12”)
More game-playing. It's a bit boring, but go on then. Dense & Pika are supposed to be two established names on the global techno scene. We heard it first in a Scuba set earlier this year, where he played “Cartoon Heart”. The only thing we found on the duo were two hand-printed white labels and a lot of talking about their true identity on forums. Now, a couple of months later, the project has a Soundcloud page featuring their tracks. Neither “Morse Mode”, “Crackling” or “Who Cares Who Wins” are especially brilliant; it's pure hypnotic techno, switching between Detroit and Chicago, pure pleasure for the Berghain gay community. But it looks like one of those records that will be worth a lot of money on Discogs soon, plus they're Hotflush's latest signing. And Scuba is a boss, no matter how impossible he makes himself on Twitter.
8. JETS: “JETS EP” (Leisure System, LRS004, 12”)
We're staying in Berlin, where both label-party Leisure System and the man forming JETS ( Jimmy Edgar and Travis Stewart, aka Machinedrum) reside. While the Leisure System releases haven't been making particularly big waves as of late, their Berlin parties are a different story. Once every three months they take over Berghain and the Panorama, with finger-licking good line-ups, to the delight of all the producers living in Kreuzberg and Neukölln, their hordes of fans and other Berlin based cosmopolitans. Two of the most famous import producers are Jimmy Edgar and Machinedrum, who we know, thanks to Twitter, have been working together in the studio over the past four years, under the effects of Club Mate. Those nightly encounters are now being released, and it will definitely get Leisure System going properly as a label. Machinedrum's trademark syncopated rhythms go hand in hand with Edgar's lascivious electro, et voilà, four tunes synthesising both artists' essence in complete harmony.
9. Jam City: “Classical Club Mixes” (Night Slugs, NSLP002C, digital) + “How We Relate To The Body” (Night Slugs, NDWL013, 12”)
Did Jam City plan to release these tracks as an alternative to his first album? No idea, but it's obvious that those looking for Jack Latham's clubby side on his “Classic Curves” were disappointed, even though the record turned out to be a grower. That's why these two titles are so great: Jam City recovers the highlights of the album and transforms them for the dance floor. On the one hand we have “How We Relate To The Body”, accompanied by the previously unreleased “Now We Relate”, which will be on the next white label via Bok Bok and L-Vis 1990's imprint. No official release date has been announced as of yet, but it can be pre-ordered already. The two tunes will come out on digital as well, with four extra tracks. They make-up “Classical Club Mixes”, which will only be available on digital. Among the goodies on that one is the instrumental version of “The Nite Life”, the collaboration with Main Attrakionz. We're actually taking a gamble here, because we haven't heard it yet. But we would buy it blindly, for we have had faith in Latham since “Magic Drops”.
10. Happa: “Beat Of The Drum / Bring It Back” (Church, CHURCH001, 12” + digital)
The name Happa has to ring a bell if you've been paying attention to the blogs and online magazines. Yes, yes, it's the 15-year old everybody's talking about. It's not just his youth, it's the quality of his productions that's so surprising in this kid, who's already had the honour of being played by Mary Anne Hobbs. His debut release is the first title on the Church label, the people who have so far only been operating as party organisers around London. The two original tracks on “Beat Of The Drum / Bring It Back” show Samir Alikhanizadeh's skills in the new breed of obscurantist techno in the vein of Blawan and Objekt. Happa sounds less murderous than Blawan, less bombastic than Randomer, but it's a close one. The single comes with two remixes; one of them a footwork rarity by the always surprising Throwing Snow.