Since first turning heads in 2016 with a striking debut on Astral Plane, the music of Manchester experimentalist LOFT, aka Aya Sinclair, has continued to charge toward the outer edges of underground electronic music.
Whether sparking dancefloor anarchy through maximum pressure or reaching blissful heights via fractured sonics, LOFT’s fearless approach to shaping sound has proven her to be one of the UK’s most intriguing recent figures to emerge out of a constantly mutating scene of underground, DIY club producers.
Following a recent episode of nutty club edits, LOFT’s latest venture sees her continue to follow her twisted vision, as and departt from mono games take shape via four carvings of manic club arrangements that self-destruct just as quickly as they piece together.
Written during a time of identity crisis, LOFT states that “everything on this record has been consolidated into a final state, reimported and rearranged; a reflection of the splintering and recombination of my self-image.” Through it ideas come scattered, and its a highly compelling and fierce debut that follows equally intriguing identities like Hanz and Vessel on the ever wonderfully weird Tri Angle Records.
In celebration of the release, we ask LOFT to cite ten of her favourite moments in which the drum programming truly smashed it out of the park. Picking out designs from Dillinja, Pearson Sound, Tessela and Jana Rush, check all of her picks out below.
1. Dillinja – Warrior
Lee Gamble said it best when he tweeted a photo of a fighter jet hitting a sonic boom with the caption “My new whip. This photo was taken at the moment of the 3rd drop in Dillinja’s ‘Warrior‘”. Seriously next chops. I love that the two main breaks are left fairly thin both spectrally and dynamically; allows them to still snap really cold and tight and leaves loads of room for the pads to float and the sub to pummel away underneath. The main break we hear from the first drop onwards is ever so slightly too fast for the main hi hat pulse behind it so there’s some really gorgeous flam interplay between those elements that only gets more chaotic as more breaks are introduced, it’s like this really tiny anxiety right at the centre of an incredibly blissed out piece of music.
2. Remarc – Sound Murderer (Loafin In Brockley Mix)
Remarc has an incredible sense of cadence and disruption. Where typically in a musician’s sensibility this would be applied to harmony, in Remarc we find it applied to time. This track ducks and moves across the beat, constantly subverting and affirming your sense of place against the meter. I challenge anyone to find an amen track with more logical consistency in its rhythmic programming. Oh yeah and there’s a bit with the vocal melody from Rich Girl (actually from a Shinehead track, which inspired Louchie Lou & Michie One, then covered by Gwen Stefani & Eve), what more could you need?
3. Cosmin TRG – Tower Block
This track was a milestone for my confidence in my own beat matching when U first started out mixing vinyl. It really pushes the limits of the garage swing craze we were experiencing in British club music at the time. The arrangement is wonderfully austere and infused with a mistrustful side eyed glare, somewhat of an anomaly in Cosmin TRG’s otherwise rather sunny discography! The resulting combination of queasy pulses and a twisted sensibility comes off quite similar to the next artist in this list…
4. LOFT – I Am Bouyant (Acre Remix)
Ah Max, Max, Max, Max ! Master of the 1/8th note triplet ! Most people don’t know but he’s low-key the reason I live in Manchester. I saw him play at Soup Kitchen on my 19th birthday. He played Mumdance – ‘Doom’ from the recently released twists and turns mixtape and we’ve been bezzy mates ever since. When Astral Plane were looking for people to remix my Turbulent Dynamics EP he was absolutely the first person that came to mind because I knew he’d twist my straight forward breaks into a sickening ride on the waltzer. For fans of a similar flex check the absolute anthem ‘Physically’ from his 2013 Forgotten EP on Lost Codes.
5. Underworld – Something Like a Mama
My papa bought a copy of Beaucoup Fish on tape when it came out in 1999, an instant essential for our long car journeys across the country and still firmly in rotation in the Sinclair household. It’s been 20 years of constant exposure and I still can’t pick apart the layers and layers of arrangement on this album. From even just the main break to the all-enveloping breakdown, this arrangement confounds my mere mortal ears. Realistically I could’ve selected pretty much any track from this album as one of my greatest influences; this album taught me not just drum programming but arrangement, density and the melancholic euphoria that’s got us all crying in the club!
6. Pearson Sound – Quivver
David Kennedy’s arc as a producer is quite easily dissected as a series of styles. I see this track as the perfect bridge between his work fully digesting his footwork and juke influences (‘Blanked / Blue Eyes’, ‘Untitled / Footloose’) and the more textural work on his LP / releases on his own imprint.
My favourite detail in this track occurs just after the utterly soul crushing breakdown. The tambourines that hold the groove together very subtly descend in pitch inline with the womping 808s they sit atop. It gives this really nice feeling that track is deflating for half a beat and releases all the tension set up in the breakdown.
7. Jana Rush — Break It
This album is absolutely incredible, Rush has deft ability in crafting exactly the footwork patterns I’d always desired. This track stands out to me in particular as a fan of using metric modulation to mixing across different tempos. My favourite blends to do are where I have to whip out my phone’s calculator and work out 2/3 or 3/4 the speed of the track that i’m playing. Imagine my excitement in discovering the CDJ2000NX2 has a secret menu that allows you to automatically pull up a 3, 6, 9 or 12 beat loop!
8. Tessela – Nancy’s Pantry
I have so precious many memories of hearing Ed Russell’s music on sweaty dancefloors. I will never forget losing my mind to an as then unreleased ‘Nancy’s Pantry’ when he and I played together at this dreadful club in Leeds called The Garage ( it had the front of pickup truck mounted to the DJ booth ¯\_(-_-)_/¯ ). His work is a constant source of inspiration and reminder that you can ALWAYS make your drums chunkier. I don’t know how he does it! Praise be unto!
9. Air Max ’97 – Swelter
I’ve got a fiver for the person that can confidently tell me the tempo and meter of this track in the first minute. It seems to exist simultaneously in two paces! I blame the extra confusion caused by that rimshot, not to mention all of the extra FX ricocheting around your head (Oliver’s so nice with them whooshes). Yet another great track for tempo jumping too! Also can we talk about how hot this video is uhmmmmmm
10. Motherfucking Keith Carlock
I have no words to say about this video, my hands are firmly clenched over my mouth whenever I’m watching Carlock play. Including an Actual Drummer on this list is in no way a cop out. Let’s end this list on this, the highest of all notes.
and departt from mono games is out now on Tri Angle Records.
Buy it here.
Featured Image: Xanthe Hutchinson