10 tracks that inspired the twisted dancehall experiments of Wildlife!’s new EP

The Swiss Mixpak Records member shines light on his influences.

New York-based artist Samuel Riot aka Wildlife! has taken a wide-ranging approach to music since the days of touring his own soundsystem and studying audio engineering. After immersing himself in production, he’s created unorthodox riddims with Jamaica’s Terry Lynn, two LPs of experimental electronica as Young Palace, and hard-hitting club pieces as Wildlife!, including this 2014 party anthem with Murlo. A distinctly dynamic artist, he recently completed an MA in contemporary arts practice, where he focused on acousmatic music and sound installation, and has had work featured in galleries worldwide.

This Friday May 13 will mark his first official release for esteemed Brooklyn label Mixpak, with 7 slices of caustic club damage on Patterns. The EP cements his forward-facing approach, reworking the template of dancehall into a twisted maelstrom of noise that’s considerably more harsh than last year’s Feverpitch EP.

Riot will also give New Yorkers the chance to experience the record in the flesh. On May 14th he’ll be presenting a site specific installation alongside artist collective Nitemind (who’ve worked with Korakrit Arunanondchai and Tim Hecker) and visual artist Jesse Hlebo at SIGNAL Gallery in Bushwick, Brooklyn.

Now Riot pays homage to a massively varied bunch of artists that have inspired Patterns, including Wiley, Vangelis, DJ Screw, Denis Smalley and Jam City, who’s groundbreaking 2012 album Classical Curves he cites as a major influence on his recent productions, and contemporary club music in general.

Stream the EP in full, then lose yourself in Wildlife!’s picks below.

1. Bernard Parmegiani – Le Présent Composé

Acousmatic music was the focal point of my recent studies. Its compositional approaches and surrounding theories had a big impact on my work over the past several years and definitely influenced the writing process behind Patterns. Bernard Parmegiani’s ‘Le Présent Composé’ from 1991 remains one of my favourite pieces of acousmatic music. It’s masterfully composed from start to finish. Parmegiani’s focus on texture and sonic materiality is mind-blowingly meticulous.

2. Bounty Killer – Delano’s Nitro Mix

What really got me interested in sound system and club culture in the first place is dancehall. And were I to pick one song that encapsulates the raw energy and radical sound design that initially captivated me, it’s Delano’s megamix of early ’90s Bounty Killer punchlines over Bulby and Fatta’s timeless ‘Hot Wax’ riddim.

3. Coil – Here to Here

If there’s one unifying theme that exemplifies my musical interests it’s minamilism. From 3-chord punk rock to early ’90s dancehall riddims comprised of no more than drum patterns and a bassline. Or else, early grime riddims and contemporary rhythm-driven club workouts, the shrewdness and economy to me is endlessly fascinating. This Coil gem, based on just two short samples, manages to create a dense atmosphere that’s absolutely sublime.

4. Denis Smalley – Vortex

Painfully slept-on composer and theorist Denis Smalley is responsible for some of my favourite compositions and essays on acousmatic music. This, from 1982, is such a timeless piece and something I keep coming back to especially while mixing. It’s a valuable reference point to determine scope — the panorama, depth and spatial organisation — of a track.

5. DJ Screw – Phil Collins – In The Air Tonight

What’s left to say about DJ Screw that hasn’t already been said? Discovering Screw’s oeuvre in the early 2000s was a revelation. I’ve always been a huge Phil Collins fan and have always loved this song but the way Screw introduces an entirely new layer of atmosphere and yearning by simply slowing the jam down is revelatory. Oh and yeah, pitch-shifting and time-stretching obviously played an integral part of processing audio for Patterns.

6. Jam City – Hyatt Park Nights Pt. 1

The impact of Classical Curves (and basically all of the Night Slugs stuff from that period) on the sonic aesthetics of contemporary club music can’t be exaggerated. I feel like today’s club music landscape, including my own work, simply wouldn’t be the same if it wasn’t for Jam City’s 2012 masterpiece.

7. Morton Feldman – Piano and String Quartet

This is probably my favourite piece of “minimal music”. The manner in which Feldman exploits limited musical material over the course of 80 minutes without actual repetition is a master class in texture and gestus.

8. SD Laika – Great God Pan

People shy away from including contemporaries in lists such as these for fear of seeming too referential but excluding SD Laika would be disingenuous. That’s Harakiri was such an eye-opener insofar as what’s plausible within the parameters of “club music.”

9. Vangelis – Tears In Rain (Blade Runner OST)

One of my favourite soundtracks (and movies for that matter). This track feels so incomprehensibly expansive in terms of spatiality and depth. It’s a great reference track if you want to feel depressed about your own mixes.

10. Wiley – Igloo Riddim

I vividly recall the day I got my hands on this record. *Cue harp strings* I had a day job at a local record store and totally lost my shit when those early grime white labels started coming in. The way these riddims were built and structured and how the tracks achieved maximum impact with such a limited sound palette and sparse arrangements was mind-blowing and inspiring.

Patterns is out May 13 on Mixpak Records. Order it here.

Featured image: Tony Lowe