Sonic Acts and Lighthouse bring the Club Underground to The Netherlands!

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Kamixlo and Endgame behind the DJ booth in the smoke clouds left behind by King Midas Sound & Fennesz

(Check out the the entire photo series >> HERE <<)

One of the things that has been puzzling me most last year is why there was virtually nothing going on in the Netherlands when it comes to the new club/trax avant-garde. While in many countries around the world, collectives, events, labels and communites where mushrooming everywhere, there was nothing even close to that over here. Sure, there are individual producers involved in the movement such as Torus, but they exist more or less in a vacuum, a product almost entirely of the internet instead of their physical surroundings. But now times seem about to change, with the first Amsterdam edition of Progress Bar featuring London underground excitements Kamixlo and Endgame, alongside live act King Midas Sound & Fennesz and Progress Bar host DJ Juha van’t Zelfde.

Progress Bar is a creation of the Brighton avant-garde cultural platform and venue Lighthouse. Evolving out of Lighthouse’s earlier Improving Reality events, the Progress Bar is a catalyser for “cutting edge thinking and dancing“, a podium to explore the significance of new cultural expressions in a context of technology, society and politics by means of a diverse blend of talks, workshops, live music, film and club nights. After a series of successful events in Brighton, Lighthouse’s artistic director and Progress Bar host Juha van’t Zelfde teamed up with Lighthouse’s Dutch counterpart platform Sonic Acts to bring the Progress Bar concept to Amsterdam.

Progress Bar was set in the cultural meeting spot Tolhuistuin, located on the north side of the IJ river, just a three minutes free ferry cossing away from Central Station, with the modest skyline of Amsterdam’s old city centre glowing on the horizon. Described by the website as the place where the cultural experimental garden of Amsterdam’s North abandoned shipyard area is connected to the outer world, the location left an almost symbolic impression of the night. The programme consisted of a lectures session with THE FADER journalist Aimee Cliff and the influential Trinidadian writer and performer Roger Robinson (both based in London), a live concert from King Midas Sound & Fennesz, introduced with a short set by Juha, and afterwards the Endless club night experience with no less than Kamixlo and Endgame.

Not so long ago, Aimee Cliff wrote an article in THE FADER about the current state of club culture in London and the way it is influenced by continuous gentrification. The transformation of neighbourhoods from neglected impoverished areas into expensive places for young rich families, pushing out the original poor inhabitants as well as the unique club cultures they were home to. In her lecture she pointed at the Endless crew as one of the prime examples of an independent movement which posits itself as a protest force against gentrification of their physical neighbourhood Brixton as well as the social environment of the club itself. I had a chat with her afterwards about the similarities and differences between the UK and the Dutch situation, considering what makes London so different from Amsterdam or Rotterdam even though they are so similar in so many ways.

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Being less actively involved in the ambient/noise scene, I was not yet familiar with King Midas Sound & Fennesz, whose sound immediately reminded me of the sonic style of the live acts at the Afrofuturism Festival, Morgan Craft and Nyfolt in particular. King Midas Sound – originally a joint project in itself already of the abovementioned vocalist/poet/performer Roger Robinson, experimental ambient-bass producer Kevin Martin and the Japanese artist and singer Kiki Hitomi – joined forces last year with the Austrian guitar-noise artist Fennesz for a forward-looking album called “Edition 1”. The unique musical direction of the album is a perfect blend of King Midas Sound’s melancholic, poetic vocals and experimental beats with Fennesz’ abstract art of stacking layers of melodic loops and noise into atmospheric soundscapes. The intense, mysterious ambiance, arising from the depths of the ocean and swelling into an apocalyptic thunder so loud that standing in the room was only bearable with earplugs, was enhanced by smoke machines cloaking the entire stage in a blanket of barely translucent mist. Viewed from the floor, the clouds surrounding the stage like a sacred mountain and the rumbling soundscapes became one, filling the entire place, alternately bursting out, lightening and evaporating again. Piercing through the sonic thunderstorm came the angelic voices of Robinson and Hitomi, singing tender songs about pain, love and desolation.

“Edition 1” (>> BUY HERE <<)

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Kiki Hitomi from King Midas Sound, only visible as a silhouette, veiled behind the mist

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View from the crowd

A documentary impression of the band King Midas Sound from four years back

After the live performance, the floor was to Kamixlo and Endgame. The third Endless crew member Lexxi, originally part of the line-up, couldn’t be there unfortunately because of his health. Since 2012, they’ve been building a whole new club culture from the scratch, one that breaks every expectation commonly associated with clubbing while at the same time, bringing club culture back to its essence of providing a safe space for young people, especially from intersections of ethnic and sexual minorities, to do their own thing and escape the hardships of life in music that reflects their reality. Endless utterly erases the boundaries of conventional genres and the dominance of 4/4 beats with nothing more than a laptop on a small table from which the crew members play with their back towards the dance floor.

At Progress Bar, things were a little bit different so that the Endless experience couldn’t be transplanted in its entirety but had to be translated and conveyed to an audience relatively new to the underground club sound in a hall with a high stage and a robust DJ booth that automatically created a sense of distance between artist and crowd. Kamixlo opened with a first set presenting his unique personal style and sound. To me, the explosive rollercoaster ride between industrial dembow beats with mellow references to reggaeton and RnB, mixed with heavy grime and Chicago drill bangers was one of the most powerful emotional experiences I ever had on the dance floor (possibly anywhere at all). It was as if a trapped chain of suppressed feelings was progressively pulled, teased and out of its cage by a continuous back and forth massage between tender sensuality and total destruction.

Endgame’s presentation set leaned more towards the conceptual ambient side of the underground club movement, with his own characteristic signature style of dark-ethereal melodic synths accompanied by the downtempo rhythmical patterns of reggaeton and zouk. During his set, the dislocating, sterile yet sensual cybernetic sounds blended together with the fluorescent geometric light patterns projected in the dark hall into one impressive, dystopian-futuristic ambiance that felt as if I were dancing in the universe of my own tumblr. In a way, Kamixlo and Endgame together showed both essetial faces of the club underground movement. Kamixlo demonstrated the attitude of crossing the boundaries of genres and showed how vibes commonly understood as opposites can perfectly supplement each other, while Endgame showed the uniquely futuristic sound that comes out of the ever growing scene of young creative musicians expressing their reality with this attitude.

Sniper Redux ft. Blaze Kid & Uli-K, based on a Kamixlo & Uli-K edit of Endgame’s ‘Sniper Riddim‘ shows the absolutely unique sound from the London underground, combining the essence of underground reggaeton, rap and grime with a subtle dark-futuristic club atmosphere

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Kamixlo behind the decks

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In the meantime, I hang out with grime/footwork experimentalist J(ay)A.D., just back from a trip to Suriname, and his friend the eclectic bass alrounder and Liquorish Records curator Oomboi Lauw and also met the unique Dutch conceptual producer Torus, who happened to be a good friend of NAAFI OG Lao. Strolling between the dancefloor, the smoking area and the bar in the hall outside, the night slowly changed from a showcase of specific sounds and personal styles more into the radically eclectic, ‘endless’ whirlpool of vibes that I imagined of the nights in London, varying not just between dembow, ambient club music and rap but now between anything from dancehall to nostalgic 90s rave to metal or industrial caribbean drums, beyond rational coherence. But it al made deep sense on the level of expression, loosing yourself entirely in the music.

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Cyberpunk-esque geometric projections on the dance floor

At the end of the night I had the great opportunity to sit with these two amazing musicians, also really cool people in person, for some water and Haribo’s and chat with them about the history and future of their scene in London, soon published for the new Trailblazers session.

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This first edition of Progress Bar has powerfully shown that The Netherlands is ready for the new club movement. With Staycore showcase NASE3 last week, which I couldn’t attend due to my own gig, it had an immediate follow up for people who got enthusiastic for this sound. The next edition for progress bar is already scheduled for March, but who can’t wait until then, there is a regular nights in the making in Amsterdam and, of course there is the grand SONIC ACTS ACADEMY, entirely dedicated to the club avant-garde with an absolutely splendid line-up. Of course Generation Bass will be there to report. We’ll be back with more news!

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Flyer for the Sonic Acts Academy

Andrew Weatherall : Phonica Mix

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Andrew Weatherall is indeed a legend of the UK music scene and he has just dropped this awesome mix for the Phonica Mix series. He has also done an interview to accompany the mix which you can read HERE.

The mix includes some really trippy & eclectic stuff from cumbia & jazz through to slow-mo Patrick Cowley cuts, afro rhythms from William Onyeabor and mid 80’s cold wave from Nagamatzu. I’m loving this.

TRACKLIST:

01. Patrick Cowley – Cat’s Eye

02. Los Gaiteros De San Jacinto – Fuego De Cumbia Dub De Sangre Pura

03. Roland P. Young – Moon & Stars

04. Savant – Stationary Dance

05. William Onyeabor – Ride On Baby

06. Youth Stand Up – Ave Wo Nane

07. Youth Stand Up – Come With Me

08. Boots For Dancing – South Pacific

09. Patrick Cowley – 50oz of Funk

10. Savant – Facility

11. General Strike – Parts Of My Body

12. Owiny Sigoma Band – Nyanza Night

13. Nagamatzu – Carmine

14. Dexter Story – Yene Konjo

DesertWave Part 3 : BladeRunner [Arabic Edition]

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Desert Wave is an Arabic/Eastern themed concept which is both ambient and rave in equal measure.

It conceptualizes a hallucinogenic & psychedelic vibe where you can trip’ out in mellow mood at the Sand Dunes (Part 1) or be more upbeat at the Light Fantastic, raving till dawn (Part 2) and going back to the past to remember the future (Part 3).

Part 3 is a mix that draws inspiration from BladeRunner and gives it a Middle Eastern sheen with a splash of India and Pakistan thrown in for good measure!

I originally did a version of Part 3 about 6 months ago and stuck it on Mixcloud and as I continued to listen to it, unintentionally, the first 30 minutes to me started sounding like an Arabian version of BladeRunner! But the rest of the mix did not fit that same vibe.

So I felt that I really needed to change it to give it a complete BladeRunner vibe, which I hope I have now achieved with the removal of tracks from the original mix that didn’t fit the vibe and by introducing some new tracks, some of which were especially created with the BladeRunner vibe in mind and that will be released on Generation Bass Digital very soon.

So what I hope you have now is a collection of ambient, electronic and futuristic 80’s club sounds with BladeRunner firmly in mind. This is how I would like to imagine an alternate BladeRunner set in the heart of Arabia!

STREAM:

DesertWave – Part 3 : BladeRunner – [Arabic Edition]. by Dj Umb on Mixcloud

DOWNLOAD:

Grab all 3 volumes:

Loris : Bedayat ❂ Mix [Latin Arabe]

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Loris is a DJ from Mexico with Palestinian origins, yes, that place in the Middle East facing the worst excesses of brutal modern-day apartheid! Nope, I don’t care what you have to say about that last statement, history will tell us we were on the right side!

Loris has been following us for a while and she wanted to share her new mix with us which takes in both her Latin and Arabic roots, 2 places of the world which take up a bulk of our posts and interests. It’s a great mix fusing awesome new sounds from Meixco such as Nu-Cumbia, 3ball with remixes of tracks from the Middle East by Western producers taking in Trap and Moombahton amongst other genres.

This is a gorgeous ride and the title which is in Arabic means “Beginning and Inception”:

Omar Simpson : Duel With Knives

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No idea who this is and what it actually is but it sounds pretty dope, a bit like John Carpenter meets Goblin meets Industrial Club Music. Guys got less than 30 soundcloud followers but I predict that won’t be for long if he keeps on dropping interesting shit like this.

Balam Ajpu : 20 Nawales (Mayan Hip Hop)

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Javier Estrada turned me on to this pretty interesting Mayan Hip Hop release. It’s not new, around 7 months old but seemingly getting hardly any coverage and that just ain’t right at all.

It’s a project fusing Mayan spirituality with Hip Hop, “the project investigates the ancient knowledge of the Maya culture, songs, and ceremonial mantras are combined with the Kultura Hip Hop and Universal Music”.

“Balam Ajpu: means Jaguar Warrior and represents duality, the opposites that complement each other, masculine and feminine energy. This group is made up of M.C.H.E., Tz’utu Kan, Danilo Rodriguez and Dr. Nativo, who crossed paths at Lake Atitlán in the beginning of the Wayeb (Time of No Time, 5 days of the Mayan Calendar) in the synchronization of 12 Sak Bey (Carrier of the Year) in 2010. This project was born in the ancient Oxlajuj Baktun, and continues in the new Jun Baktun, passing between the past and the present”.

Film by Kenneth Muller, KRAFTLOGIC STUDIOS.

JayPross X 2PeKes – Zourney [Free Download]

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Following his previous releases on Generation Bass Digital as part of DZC Crew, the time has come for Portuguese Bass Underground artist 2Pekes to branch out on his own for his next release on our imprint. However, he is not completely alone as he enlists the services of fellow Portuguese producer JayPross to deliver the ear catching melodies on this new tune named “Zourney”.

This new track keeps all of the hallmarks of the recognisable 2Pekes journey sound, a dark, unrelieved tension that makes you expect a breakdown or drop any second, which never comes but keeps you on your toes with its slow kick drums and double time percussion. With bleeping, thin, whiny synths and a beautiful percussion layer, this is another beautifully understated #FutureTarraxo track from one of the leaders of the New Wave of Portuguese Bass.

LINKS:

2PEKES

JAYPROSS:

 

Lebanese Love Songs from the 80's Volume 2

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My Uncle passed away in Lebanon last year and I travelled over there upon hearing this very sad news. Much to my amazement, my Aunty handed me his beloved record collection which she said he wanted me to have. Amongst the sea of stuff in his collection from all over the world, I discovered some amazing Lebanese music mostly from the 80’s.

I was familiar with Lebanese music from the 00’s and beyond and some classic stuff like Fairuz and stuff by the Rahbani brothers. I also knew amazing modern vocalists like Najwa Karam (who imho has the most beautiful female voice in the world), Haifa, Nancy Ajram, Nawal, Fadl Shaker and many others but I’d never paid that much attention to Lebanese music from the 80’s and I so I didn’t quite to know what to expect. When I arrived back in England with my secret stash and listened to the Lebanese stuff from the 80’s, my mind was literally BLOWN, my heart ached and I almost died too!

So I trawled through heaps of this stuff with my jaw dropping as I attentively listened to each new track. In the process, which is still continuing, I inherited my Uncle’s aching and broken heart!

After a bit of time, I pulled myself together and I started to pick my favourite tracks. I began to put these mixes together. I just had to because I wanted to share this wonderful music with my friends and with people who dig what I do and with anybody else who might wish to experience the music of heartbreak.

BUY the official & separate track compilation release of Vol’s 1 & 2 on CD, Vinyl, Mp3 & Tape soon and catch me on my world tour of world domination trafficking these beats to the West lol

STREAM:

Lebanese Love Songs from the 80’s Volume 2 by Dj Umb on Mixcloud

DOWNLOAD:

Grab Volume 1 again:

This is the sound of <3 Break! This is the sound of Lebanese Love Songs from the 80’s!

I find 80’s Lebanese music some of the most romantic I have ever heard and it appeals to my heart and mind and never ceases to astound me with its beauty!

80’s Lebanese music is still considered by many in the Arab world as part of The Golden Age of Lebanese Music! Indeed, in the 80’s many Lebanese artists duplicated the essence of their musical heritage from earlier decades but this time they imbued it with western inspiration and included western instruments like the electric guitar and electronic drums. It was an exciting time as the past fused with the present to showcase the future!

To me it still sounds so timeless and futuristic whilst at the same time sounding authentic, classical and (welcomingly) dated too!

This mix that I did contains many styles from classical styles through to western fusion. In a lot of the tracks you’ll hear early incantations of popular American R&B, lush orchestral ballads, torch songs, bellydance songs and tracks with shades of Reggaeton and even TechnoBrega of all things!

When you are growing up and getting into music and live in one part of the world, unfortunately it sometimes means that you do not get to hear the Ronettes, Frank Sinatra’s, George Michael’s and Shakira’s of the other part of the world. Lebanon has its own Ronettes, Sinatra’s, Michael’s and Shakira’s and most of us never knew that.

I mention the Ronettes as there’s some tracks on this mixtape by Lebanese girl groups that echo with hues of them, evoking the same spirit, subject matters and the same teen heartbreak!

Sinatra because there’s an awesome Lebanese cover of one of his most famous tracks and George Michael too because a couple of the tracks kind of remind me of his moods, most notably of the “Careless Whisper” variety.

I mention Shakira because she has a dual Colombian and Lebanese heritage, the latter via her father. You could probably have guessed that already from seeing her dance, we all know about her dancing, but you can hear it in her music too. Her biggest hit and one of the world’s biggest ever singles (and one of my personal faves) “Hips Don’t Lie” is often cited as containing a horn sample from a 1992 Spanish song “Amores Como el Nuestro” by Jerry Rivera.

However, to me, that same horn sample has always sounded strikingly Lebanese! The sample sounds very similar to one contained in a 1980’s Lebanese song, “Ta’a Ninsa Keef Ikberna”. You can hear it around the 41 minute mark in my mix. Btw, I have no idea who the artist is. It is possible that Shakira probably first heard it from amongst her paternal family’s music collection and it struck a familiar chord with her.

So you have more than just a hint of Lebanon via the roots of the artist in one of the world’s biggest hit songs. You also have the “actual sound” of 80’s Lebanon too!

I had over 1000 (one-thousand) tracks to choose from in my collection which I narrowed down to 20 for this mix.

They’re some of the ones that appealed most to my sensibilities and personal tastes! I have not included a track list because I never usually do with any of my Arabic mixes because this music is extra special to me and I’m quite possessive over it. If you’re interested in this stuff, start digging, it’s not that hard to find and it’s what DJ’s/music lovers do!

You do not have to understand the Arabic language to fall in love with a lot of these tunes! Indeed, the Arabic Voice and its music is some of the most beautiful & heart-breaking in the whole world, it’s just that many of you don’t know it, just yet!

OCHOBOYZ : GHETTO HERO

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I think I’m finally starting to draw some inspiration once again from the underground dance scene and most of it seems to be coming from brown female artists like this bunch, Ochoboyz.

There’s something really interesting going on here which is quite unique and innovative albeit still in the early stages of development but there’s loads of great promise.

There’s nothing about Ochoboyz on their soundcloud but after a little google search I managed to find some information on them and to my surprise I found out that the very promising Sosiy is involved.

The brilliant Mask Mag say the following:

“OCHOBOYZ is an all “brown girl group of artists from different parts of the world coming together.” In their new video “Ghetto Hero”, we see these girls dancing and making waves in offices and studios, on fire escapes and porches, in the streets. They’re serving equal parts attitude and silliness.”

Another mag that I’ve never heard of before say the following:

Kajal Mag

“Ghetto Hero” is a project by Ochoboyz, a collective of “badass brown girls from around the world.” Their intention is to show girls rarely seen in all their glory, “presented as the G’s that they are.”

The people involved in the song are Mohini Hewa, Stash Marina, 8at8oy, Soisy, Feathermeal and Left Leberra. In the video are Zarina Muhmmad, Seema Mattu, Samira Warsame, Sesen, Stash Marina, Tonia, Soisy, 8at8oy, Sharmain and Kully Rehal. The video was edited by Left Leberra.

There’s footage from Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Vancouver, the UK and India.

ZAYN – PILLOWTALK (FALSE WITNESS EDIT)

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Intoxicating edit here of the new Zayn track from one of the pioneers of the #KUNQ sound – “a wildly creative, queer-oriented hybrid of club, urban and Caribbean sounds with a dark electronic edge, invented and pushed by the #KUNQ collective which includes, next to False Witness, Rizzla & blk.adonis” (via Fact).

This edit is darkly delish with a sociopolitical commentary about the Migrant crisis!

It’s InZayn in the Membrane!