In this age of endless uploads and releases, trying to keep up with the flow can be pretty overwhelming.
That’s why every month we’re going to be highlighting some of our favourite tracks from the past few weeks. Our writers dig deep for big anthems and stuff that might have flown under the radar. Hopefully you’ll discover something new in each roundup.
This month we’ve got the latest from Discwoman co-founder Umfang, a collection of edits from Avalon Emerson and Bwana, and the arrival of Jamaican duo Equiknoxx to essential Manchester label Swing Ting.
1. Umfang – ‘Force’ (1080p)
Experimental electro from Discwoman co-founder Umfang. Taken from her latest EP, ‘Force’ is a sparse and glitchy dose of tension with no release. High and low pass filters add a live feel whilst sporadic, hard-hitting drums create a peak time atmosphere – It’s hard not to imagine this in a club setting.
2. MM – ‘WW5’ (Her Records)
You know that video game trope where you’re given a set amount of time to escape from an exploding reactor core or a warehouse fire or a nuclear submarine, never able to take your eyes off that agonising countdown clock in the corner of the screen? Well, ‘WW5’ feels just like one of those missions. From anxiety-inducing sirens to heart-thumping drums, MM (fka Miss Modular) deals out pure edge-of-your-seat adrenaline rush. The textures ripple and rupture just like you’d expect on this highlight from new (free) label comp Her Records Vol. 4, and MM is just one of the collective’s numerous producers making exciting takes on leftfield club music.
3. Delakeyz – ‘Snapositive’ (hdm)
What do you do when you’re exceptionally talented at making instrmental hip-hop, house grooves and God knows what else? Create separate aliases, a la Kevin Wettstein. The Swiss-born wunderkind, also known as Melodisinfonie, uploaded ‘Snapositive’ two years ago to Soundcloud, but saw fit to remaster it for his first vinyl release under his lesser-known moniker Delakeyz.
The first half is a slick yet subtle affair purring with jazz chords, shuffling hi-hats and retro samples. Decorative, Floating Points-style melodic deviations whisper above the main track until percussion becomes the main focus around the 3:30 mark. From this point, syncopated rhythms and a stuttering vocal sample take centre stage before the original arrangement seeps its way back in for the remaining minute.
Unsurprisingly, the record has sold out, but be sure to check out the Dancin Kid EP Bandcamp stream for more tantalising house cuts laden with disco, soul and infectious grooves.
4. Ka – ‘That Cold and Lonely’ (Iron Works Records)
Three years on from Ka’s The Night’s Gambit – his third solo album, and hailed in countless lists for best of 2013 – the Brooklyn rapper/producer returns with arguably his finest work to date.
Honor Killed The Samurai takes themes from Japan’s ancient warrior culture, quoting philosophies and life codes with those of modern New York. Ka continues to dust off forgotten film soundtracks and psychedelic jazz that lay the bed for his intricate word play, keeping instrumentation to a minimum with sparse percussion and low-lit samples.
Take album cut ‘That Cold And Lonely’, where Yusef Lateef ‘s sorrowful piano and spaghetti-western flutes give enough breath for Ka to paint pictures of the bleak realities of street life through his cryptic rhymes. Storytelling at its finest.
5. Equiknoxx – ‘Bubble’ feat. Devin Di Dakta (Swing Ting)
The summer might be coming to an end, but that isn’t going to slow down Swing Ting and their increasingly essential run of singles.
For the clubnight-cum-label’s tenth release (though their ninth was a strong contender for this month’s pick too), dancehall duo Equiknoxx channel their own inimitable breed of soca-tinged bounce.
With the instrumental stripped back to syncopated drums, a catchy steel drum hook and little else, Devin Di Dakta’s vocal has plenty of room to twist and turn, and tops off the track with a ‘rata-ta’ choral hook that’s built to stick in your head for days.
As with Swing Ting’s parties, whether in Manchester, London or further afield, this is all about getting people moving. And, just like those parties, it’s damn good at making that happen.
Will Pritchard (@Hedmuk)
6. Abu Ama – ‘Pashmak’ (Bokeh Versions)
Hailing from Germany, Abu Ama’s anomalous interpretation of reggae has granted him acclaim from many. His latest full length, Arabxo Ishara, on Peckham’s far-reaching Bokeh Versions label exemplifies his progressive interpretation of the dub template.
A dedication to refugees worldwide, ‘Pashmak’ is a perfect example of the subtle genius exhibited on Arabxo Ishara, containing a field recording of traditional Turkish music, superimposed over atmospheric reverberations and marshalled along by columns of repetitious beats. Abu Ama’s storytelling is conveyed perfectly in the abstract – the track’s political message left to the imagination.
7. Junior Boys – ‘Love is a Fire’ [Avalon Emerson Resmolder]
For the fourth instalment in her consistently excellent and unpredictable Cybernedits series, Berlin-based Avalon Emerson has called upon Bwana – whose Akira-indebted remix album Capsule’s Pride for LuckyMe is one of this year’s most enjoyable. Highlight of Cybernedits Vol. 4 is Emerson’s rework of Junior Boys’ ‘Love Is A Fire’, which moulds the original’s softer edges into a more angular, club-primed number – but never quite breaking out into full on dancefloor territory. Although the Emerson-built microsite for the bundle appears to have died, you could previously download it here. [Update: This link is now live]
Featured image (L-R): Avalon Emerson, Equiknoxx (Gavin Nicholas), Umfang (Emma Olson), KA