Renick Bell and the Promising Future of Algorave


One of the tragic side effects of always being tuned onto the most innovative and culturally challenging music is that you’ll get bored ever more easily. Nights revolving around one specific genre, like techno or DnB, can annoy me to death. But also in the worlds that I’m active in, like global bass or ‘avant-garde club’, there isn’t much that can amaze me with the same power any more as when I was still new to all these things. Between my early Soundcloud days and now, the “‘this BLOWS my mind” feeling has gradually faded from multiple times a day to often months without. Simply because I’ve heard so much of the most fantastic stuff already. But last month I had a life transforming experience in a way I haven’t had since my early days of music digging, not while surfing Soundcloud in solitude for a change, but on the middle the dancefloor, walking into a liveset from Renick Bell.

Immediately when I heard the robotic abstract beats and alien ambient scapes while seeing the hypnotising coding lines glide and morph over the big screen, I knew that I would write a Generation Bass post as soon as I had the occasion. And doing a quick search I also realised that this is the first-ever Generation Bass post about algorave. Developed in the underground of tech enthusiasts, the technique of using software code commands to generate live music has been around for more well over a decade, yet hasn’t crossed paths too much, not with the ‘post-internet undergroud’ and let alone with global bass. It’s logical why.

What has fuelled the internet hypes over the last decade has mostly been driven by the products of the democratised accessibility of simple production and sharing techniques, which has enabled teenagers from around the world to develop new styles and subcultures that are often quite simple in the production process but creative in the way they bring together cultural elements available via the internet. The development of a whole new kind of instrument, especially one that requires very specialised knowledge only shared by minor section of the population, is a diffent world. In 2013, when the algorave first caught attention as an upcoming scene, Vice notoriously called it the “future of music, for nerds”. This esotheric character is one that algorave hasn’t managed to shed so far, at least in my perception, interesting mainly as a mere nice idea for people passionate about exploring the possibilities of coding as a human craft with vast latent cultural potential. All of this might well change soon, both because the coming generation will hopefully have much widespread knowledge of programming, but also because, as the craft matures, its fruits will improve and diversify. The previous generation has witnessed the shift of electronic music in general from an experimental niche genre pioneered by a small bunch of wire enthusiasts to the most widespread, popular way of making music. And with the potential of open-source software, in principle accessible to anyone anywhere with an internet connection, coding as a new form of musical expression may well be on its way to be embraced by marginalised people to articulate political realities that go beyond the privileged bubble of nerd culture. After all, the ongoing historical development of music is essentially cultural heritage x socio-political context x technology. And that is why, on the brink of 2k17 it is more urgent than ever to start talking about algorave on Generation Bass.

Enter Renick Bell, a Texas born, Tokyo based programmer, musician and teacher. His abstract, visceral sound, shared by artists like Partisan, Morten HD or Sentinel, has attracted the attention of avant-garde platforms such as J.G.Biberkopf’s Unthinkable series on NTS, Quantum Natives and Infinite Machine and has doubtlessly also been shaped back by these movements. More importantly, the amalgam of sounds combined in these music scenes has brought algorave in direct contact with the musical heritage from marginalised global club & bass undegrounds as well as with the socio-political contexts of the struggles of oppressed people for alternative futurisms. This happed very literally on Native Self, where Renick’s set was immediately followed by Terribilis playing baile funk and Lisbon batida.

During Native Self there were, as is common in the Algorave scene, no additional visuals apart from the real-time projection of the live coding process: a form of opennes to visitors with knowledge of the technology and an invitation to contribute.

His most recent official release Empty Lake EP, which came out in October this year, on the London based experimental label UIQ.

His most defining works: a series of tracks called “fractal beats”, drawing from genres like footwork, gabber, psytrance, techno and noise, but with the improvisational chaos of experimental jazz.

Moving into melodic territory, with poppy vocal samples, his sound becomes essentially identical to the sonic palette that I typically categorise as ‘avant-garde club’

Renick’s collab from half a year ago with the Japanese experimental club producer KΣITO

“Beats for traditional dancing”, a composition where live coding and otherworldly electronic sounds become antirely one with the spirit of Jazz


Follow Renick Bell:


Essential EP’s #12 [DOUBLE EDITION] – Side A


Artwork via: x̸e͟no͝pu͏nk̶

After such a long silence, I’ve got to cover more than two months of an ever forward moving music landscape. Therefore a double edition with the most essential and guiding releases, 22 in total. I tried to balance between saving text and doing justice to the music.


1. Elysia Crampton presents: DEMON CITY (Break World Records)

If there is anyone I could call my all-time favourite artist, it would be the experimental sound collage artist and inspirational Latinx trans revolutionary Elysia Crampton. She describes her newest album as an epic poem. I had the opportunity seeing it live a couple of months ago at Progress Bar Amsterdam, where Elysia opened the night with a powerful performance, combining music with live recited poetry and engaging visuals of videogame dungeons, technofuturist sci-fi impressions and historical and present recordings of indigenous Bolivian people and their struggle for justice. The poetry, part of the theatre production ‘Dissolution of the Sovereign: A Time Slide into the Future’ paints a post-colonial sci-fi setting in which the citizens of NON have destroyed the oppressive structures of today’s world and have built their own high-technological future, linked back and forth with the queer-indigenous history of Bartolina Sisa, leader of an indigenous uprise in 18th century Bolivia which was brutally knocked down by the colonisers, and her body cut into pieces.

The performance was one of the few times where I had a truly transformative emotional experience on the dance floor (the other times being Kamixlo and Total Freedom). I have no other words for it than crying tears of fire, bringing to the surface resevoirs of emotions and aspects of existence that’d otherwise remain buried under solid rock layers of colonial oppression. The Demon City is the metaphor for the excavation of the voice of dispossessed and queer trans indigenous people and, as Crampton explained in her talks session before the club night, breaking the imposed binaries of identity, to which queer trans people of colour are condemned worldwide. The collaborative project is a defining elaboration of the conceptual ‘severo’ style: “an ongoing process of becoming-with, made possible by the family-networks and communities that have inspired and sustained our survival and collective search for transformative justice.” Contributions are by Why Be, Rabit, Chino Amobi and Lexxi and released on the Break World Records label, which also signed James Ferraro, Goth Money, Sagan Youth, Hot Sugar and Teengirl Fantasy.

>> BUY HERE <<

The melancholic-epic leading track ‘The Demon City’ with Rabit, most striking in the Severo style’s approach of transforming theatrical kitch into something hyper-meaningfull

The energetic Dummy Track, featuring a diablada-like percussion beat, served as a pre-released teaser for the album

Lexxi’s wavy, crystalline, emotional club tune Red Eyez is a bridge between The Demon City and his own EP 5TARBO1


2. Erelitha (STAYCORE 117)

The Stockholm based label and collective STAYCORE 117 is a unique initiative, supporting young, innovative minded producers with an intimate, family-like community that is gradually extending, online but especially IRL. ERELITHA is the follow-up of last year’s Summer Jams 2K15 compilation with which the label put itself on the map. As Dinamarca explained to The Fader, instead of the geographically excluding concept of ‘summer’, ERELITHA is thematically built around the concept of capturing lightest possible light. This reflects both in the music, which strongly draws from saccharine bright retro-rave sounds, and in the equally impressive artwork by Jonna Mayer, which transforms a sulfuric surface lake of Titan or Io into a mysterious cotton-candy wonderland.

The compilation involves contributions from Staycore’s core members like Dinamarca, Toxe, Mechatok and Mobilegirl, but also from close affiliates like Zutzut (NAAFI), MM (Her Records), Pininga, RESLA and Oklou (TGAF) – who’s crystalline futuristic dancehall/afrohouse track is my absolute favourite track of the whole compilation! – as well as the (relative) new names jackie and the promising talent Don Sinini.



3. WWWINGS CHIMERA (Purple Tape Pedigree)

Over the last year, much has been written already in the major music mags about the mysterious formation made up of LIT INTERNET (Kamchatka, Russia), LIT DAW (Ukraine) and LIT EYNE (Siberia, Russia). They combine net-art flavoured 90s angelic tribal tattoo, stock photo and black metal aesthetics with intense cybernetic-ambient-club music, communicate via the encrypted messenger service Telegram and have never met in person. Very cyberpunk and very post-internet avant-garde. Musically, they occupy the middle ground between the abstract, industrial side of avant-garde club and the more dark melodicness found in the heirs of ambient-trap and witch house. After their debut EP ‘Angelysium’ last year and their follow-ups ‘3000‘ and ‘META‘ (Infinite Machine), they are back now with aNEP on the New York based avant-garde label Purple Tape Pedigree.

WWINGS have found their unique place on the music spectrum. They keep moving forward, but always make sure the combinations are balanced. Between rhythmical and abstract, percussive and melodic, ethereal and dark, experimental and danceable. Chimera is no exception. Perhaps, the word Chimera, which means hybrid, is even symbolic for this persistent, unique duality they incorporate. We’ll never know. They notoriously deny that their music has any rational or even abstractly sensible concept or narrative behind it apart from their inspirations drawn from life in different parts of the post-Soviet part of the world and from life on the internet. Also check out their even fresher release ‘PHOENIXXX‘ (Planet Mu).

>> BUY <<


4. OnlyNow Hollow EP

It is already a year ago since OnlyNow, an experimental side project of bass alrounder Kush Arora, debuted with one of last year’s most underrated works: a breathtakingly forward looking self-titled EP combining subtly dark, cinematic cyberpunk ambient with organic percussive rhythms derived from African and Afro-diasporic styles like kuduro, tarraxo and gqom. Now, a summer later, he pushes his sound even further with an again self-released EP including a special feature on the music magazine XL8R. On top of the elaborated ethereal and dramatic soundscapes, polyrhythmic percussion patterns and industrial noise, this EP adds a strong melodic element. This makes ‘Hollow’ not just a vivid conceptual submersion into an Octavia Butlerian technofuture that could resemble Elysia Crampton’s, but also incredibly engaging on the emotional level.



5. Siete Catorce & Stas Fata Morgana EP (BABYLON)

There are collaborations that are a very logical result of how scenes and movements develop. Like-minded producers that release on the same labels or have a similar approach to sound. And then there are collaborations that seem to come more or less out of the blue. This joint EP by Mexican experimental and ruidosón OG Siete Catorce and the Hungarian tropicalist Stas is one of the latter category. Even though Siete Catorce seems to be extending his focus towards Europe with an EP via te Porgtuguese global bass imperium Enchufada and Stas has toured Mexico earlier this year together with the Kumbale crew, this collab was not at all obvious. And the not-so-obvious is precisely where the good things happen, because Fata Morgana EP – what’s in a name – is as unexpected as it can possibly get. ‘Fantasma’ is best described as psychedelic DnB, whereas ‘Espejismo’ navigates the middle ground between future bass, avant-garde club and dark trap. And then there is Stas with a recognisably percussive flip of ‘Fantasma’ and Siete Catorce with an even more mystical rework of ‘Espejismo’ that draws in elements of afrohouse, techno, club, cumbia and ambient.

On a side note, it is also interesting to watch the aesthetic development of the Babylon label, which started off pioneering with minimalist lino print style monochrome designs and is exploring a more post-internet leaning style since a year now but in a refreshingly unique way.

>> BUY HERE <<


6. 2y (This is Kuduro)

Exactly a year ago, the enigmatic but impressively active kuduro channel and label celebrated its first year of existence with a compilation that we also included in our 8th essential roundup. There are many reasons why This Is Kuduro is an incredibly exciting label and an example for what is lacking so often in music in this age of post-bandwagon cyber-deconstructionist grinding mill culture. ‘This is Kuduro’ is extraordinary in its commitment to supporting both continuity in a genre as a consistent genre and at the same time diversifying the sound within the genre instead of recycling one template as well as building a persistent community around a genre from all over the world, smoothly integrating global bass producers with people from the original kurudo scene. On this compilation you hear Nazar’s dark-industrial sound alongside housy grooves from 2Pekes (Portugal) and Neki (Serbia), festival-EDM bangerism from Round2 (USA) and the unmistakably Lisbon batida flavoured beats from Dj KappaJota (Portugal), Dj Mika (Portugal) and EdiCerelac (Portugal).



7. KABLAM Furiosa (janus)

Where ‘This is Kuduro’ is a beacon of consistence continuity against the relentless grinding mills of internet, KABLAM’s music is cyber-deconstructionism in its most magnificent form. Categorisable, if possible at all, not as club music but rather as experimental electronica or even as avant-garde ‘classical’ music, her soundscapes draw in drums from genres like hardcore, club, baile funk and reggaeton blended with sampled pop and classical references and eery everyday sounds, which together create a throat-gripping cinematic ambient sound collage that is a powerful, confrontational mirror for our times. In this sense, the Swiss, Berlin based sound artist KABLAM can be called the Western counterpart of what WWWINGS do for the post-soviet world, yet employing an even broader range of elements combinations and vibes. And where Elysia Crampton’s collages are outspokenly explicit narratives about the struggle for justice and WWWINGS’ are outspokenly random, KABLAMs approach is somewhat in the middle. While feminist, anti-fascist and anti-capitalist anger about the world’s state of being is always a driving force, in her music it remains implicit and observing, making the listener feel along but on a deep, subconscious level. The title ‘Furiosa’ is illustrative for this: an allusion to the inspiring fearlessness and decisiveness of the protagonist and anti-patriarchy freedom fighter from the ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ film.

The album mix takes you on a Mad Max-like trip through our own world. Furiosa knows the direction and the mission, you as listener don’t, but you trust her and that takes the fear away.



8. Pirata 3 (NAAFI)

Pirata 3 is the third in a series that intend to bridge the bleeding edge avant-garde with the known and familiar, in home country Mexico, in Latin America and also worldwide. This translates into the most unreal mashups of reggaeton, pop and baile funk with hard hitting industrial drums, weird sounds and futuristic synths. Next to established NAAFI members like Lao, Paul Marmota and ZutZut, Imaabs and HiedraH Club de Baile’s Tayhana, but also the forward looking duo Santa Muerte, Mexico City cumbiaton OG Dj Bekman, enigmatic avant-club project Traxmatik and the Brazilian trainblazer Pininga, all of whom have worked with  NAAFI before and now firmly embedded in Latin America’s most exciting, ever extending club music family.


9. Metaljackets Bulletproof EP (Selegna Records)

Metaljackets is the new duo project of urban-eclectic & bass producer INDISA, whom we’ve supported several times during the heydays of moombahton, together with EDM bangerista SVNCHZ. With this debut on Munchi’s Selegna Records label, a label which is selective with its releases, they have aqcuired a solid place in the spotlights. ‘Bulletproof’ marks an important turning point in the relationship between the Dutch urban-eclectic scene, American EDM and the passionate under-stream remnants of the early ’10s global bass scene. Where the loud festival sound pushed by Mad Decent used to be the almost irresistable magnet force for producers in the global bass family of genres, producers are now returning more towards to the sound of the undergrounds beneath the hypes of the bygone years. And the Dutch scene is doing this together with movements from other parts of the world, more integrated than ever before.

In a time where what Metaljackets describe as “pop-bow”, varying from Justin Bieber to Major Lazer to Drake, reigns supreme, and cyber-deconstructions reign the avant-garde, a growing number of producers is gradually moving back to the original genres that have fed into today’s sonic landscape. Don’t mistake this movement for nostalgia or a lack of innovation. On the contrary, by broadening the sound scope while doing justice to the coherence of genres and avoiding homogenisation, much of this sounds refreshingly new. Much of it is still sitting quite close to festival EDM, with the combined explosiveness of DnB and hardstyle accompanying the persistent punching Dutch-kick tresillos, but it is the notable realness breathing through every vibration on this album that makes all difference.

>> BUY HERE <<


10. Loyalty XIX CELICA (Total Trax)

Loyalty XIX, whom I believe is also the owner of the Total Trax label, is a relatively new name and certainly one of the most recognisable pioneers of the avant-garde club movement in Spain. In my experience, one of the characteristic features of the avant-garde club movement, especially when compared to a movement like future-bass/futurebeats, was the tendency towards crude productions, using old vsts that create a subtle retro cyberfuture feeling and DIY/bedroompunk flavoured minimalistic mastering and demo-esque track structures. I must add that this does not at all apply to every artist affiliated to this broad and diverse movement, but on the whole it was characteristic enough to wonder what the industrialistic, cyborgian sound would sound like when combined with the crispy, widely reverbed epicness found in much of the more mainstream corners electronic music. Loyalty XIX’ debut on the Spanish avant-garde label Total Trax is a hint direction. It takes the essence of the cybernetic club formula that has been gradually developing over a long time, but in a way that seems to polish and crystallise it into a blockbusterised version of itself. ‘CELICA’, a reference to the 2006 Toyota sports car as a car to choose in a racing game, is an incredibly powerful experience that, no matter how danceable still, feels like a immersive, haptic gaming experience from beginning to end.


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Music, Technology & the Future PART 1 : The Carousel of Modern Culture


Artwork: close up from Chris Levine‘s ‘Geometry of Truth‘ – like in music, the focus shift towards technology is occuring in art too 

The entire history of music (and perhaps all of culture) boils down to just three things: 1.) cultural roots; 2.) socio-political circumstances and 3.) technology. It’s probably no surprise that cultural roots and the changing socio-political environment in which these roots germinate and mutate have been our blog’s main concern since the beginning. But since at least two years of shaping the direction of this blog, I’ve noticed the centre of gravity shifting ever more towards technology, and not just because of my personal obsession with the post-internet underground or the avant-garde club movement, which likes to wrap tracks into pictures of robots, computers or shiny sports tech. There’s something much more substantial to it that has even brought me to places where I’d never think I’d end up for this particular blog. Starting out in squatters’ clubs or large event halls dancing to live cumbia bands, ending up in museums and even churches for the most experimental avant-garde sound art and ambient performances. And yet it makes perfect sense. I will explain why.

Take the history of bass music, rooting in the soundsystem culture of Jamaican reggae and its inseparable Afro-diasporic cultural & political DNA. The heavy soundsystems not only enabled low frequencies to be played at these unprecedented volumes but also came with the cultural use of heavy bass as an artistic way of channeling fear, which eventually opened the way to the elaborate sound design at the low frequencies in dubstep: the most perfect example of cultural heritage, socio-political circumstances and technology influencing each other in every direction.

Another example is the most far-reaching transforming force that has occurred during the 90s and 00s, which is what I call the democratisation of electronic music production technology. In the earlier decades of electronic music, going back to the electroacoustic tapes and synthesizer pioneers from the mid 2th century, electronic music was a poorly acessible activity that required specialised knowledge and, above all, sufficient money to buy gear. Following the DIY attitude of punk and hiphop, increasing access to electronic music production has increased the pool of creativity to new music movements and subcultures that has made many turn-of-the-century genres into what they have become. Pirated cracks of the most popular programme, Fruity Loops (now known as FL studio), which pooled together sound design, midi sequencing and audio sampling into one user-friendly interface, have circulated online for free since the beginning. Being so accessible to young people anywhere in the world without the privilege to buy fancy stuff, Fruity Loops has turned out to be be the decisive tool in the development genres such as bubbling, grime, dubstep or 3ball.

The third example is another transforming force, of equal importance and inseparable from the above one and it occurred for a large part in the same period (the 00s and 10s of the new milennium): the democratisation of music sharing on the internet. In earlier times of the internet era, bloggers with pre-internet experience could still nostalgically long back to the romantic experience of record digging at obscure shops and pirate markets in countries around the world. The web changed all that into the solitary experience that I myself know so well: sitting behind a computer, scrolling through endless Soundcloud lists, wandering not from record box to record box or alley to alley but from link to link and comment to comment. Especially Soundcloud, the place where DIY producers from all over the world could now instantly share, access, sample and remix anything on the same platform, generated an unprecedented hive-like ecosystem in which obscure new sounds and hybrids could suddenly go viral overnight.

The fact that anybody anywhere could now access anything with just a mouseclick, also squeezed sounds out of their localised context and the shared social, cultural and political experiences that so often underlies music movements and subcultures. The influential music forum Hollerboard where the early Diplo and other like-minded DJs and producers pioneered with blending sounds from not only different genres and subcultures such as hiphop and rave, but also different (Western as well as non-Western) cultures, was a build up for the blogosphere that specialised in digging up unique new flavours from all around the globe to support them and present them to new, interested audiences.

The internet has not only squeezed 3ball out of its Mexican context, it squeezed EDM back in (which can, like ‘Elements’ from DJ Giovanni Ríos, certainly lead to very good music)

In the now no longer accessible post from MTV Iggy, the one that popularised the term ‘global bass’ as the ultimate umbrella genre, the question was raised whether the enthusiasm with which the blogosphere and its corresponding club nights blended genres like cumbia, balkan beats and baile funk, heralded the advent of a utopian, unified global dance future. It didn’t happen. Not at all. In stead, the attention of innovative tastemakers became dominated by an obsession with alienating, recontextualised 90s cyberculture, dystopian corporate accelerationism and eventually, plastified virtuality and present-futurist reflections. What happened? Especially, what has happened to the rhythms and flavours from the marginalised neighbourhoods from cities like Mexico City, Rio de Janeiro or Lisbon that were once praised as the forefront of innovation? With some exceptions, they are all in stormy weather and, especially in the case of Mexican 3ball, the web is to blame. The delusion of international fame and big success has driven many producers to incorporate successful formulas while at the same time allowing EDM to defeat its thousands. As a response, producers responded by either reveling in romantic memories from times before the hype, or by abandoning the genre altogether.

The democratisation of music production combined with limited communication created the unique diversity of the 90s

3Ball is no exception. Subcultures as a whole are dead. It is claimed that, at least in the West but probably anywhere, gabber (I might actually challenge this claim and say ‘cybergoth’) was the last ‘true’ subculture in the sense of a solid and all-encompassing identity that fundamentally separates the people sharing it from the ones that don’t. Everything that originated after that such as emo, scene or even something like reggaeton was much more fluid, ambiguous and interconnected with a myriad of other identities and styles. Paradoxically, the democratisation of music production combined with the relative isolation due to limited communication (think about physically circulating records, tapes or local pirate radio) created the unique diversity of the 90s, in which the Jamaican soundsystems became UK-bass in London and reggaeton in Puerto Rico, or Miami bass hiphop, transplanted to Brazil, evolved into baile funk. The democratisation of music sharing instead has resulted in the volatile whirlpool of cyber-deconstructionism we’ve been seeing since the 10s.

This whirlpool too has its own vital organs, Soundcloud being one of them but even more important are the image-sharing platform Tumblr, forum-for-everything Reddit and the controversial messageboard 4Chan. In previous posts, I’ve called them the ‘grinding mills’ of culture: devouring chunks of digital information (sounds, imagery, ideas) on the once side while churning out seemingly random amalgams on the other. In the context of post-internet culture we usually think about witch house, seapunk, vaporwave, ocean grunge or health goth, but ‘global bass’ hybrids such as balkan-cumbia, moombahton, trap-bubbling or zouk-bass are essentially the product of exactly the same process. The only essential difference being that the first movement searches for information vertically, in the obscure archives of Western pop-culture, whereas global bass’ orientation is horizontal, focused on stuff currently produced but all over the world. The ‘temporal’ and the ‘spatial’ are equally important pillars of cyber-deconstructionism, but we’ve only just started to realise it now the two are increasingly coming together: the flavours and rhythms of the global bass genres so ubiquitously feature in avant-garde club music today that the movement itself almost seems like a second round through the mill.

Elysia Crampton‘s unique take on the ‘epic collage‘ style is one of the artistically most advanced examples of cyber de- and re-constructionism involving non-Western cultural elements. The sounds of baile funk, 3ball and trap in ‘Petrichrist’ are so finely ground, so thoroughly detached from any fixed reference frame, that the full resevoir of emotive energy contained in them is released in purified form, acquiring a powerful, spiritual force.

Other attempts (usually those meant as a joke) are on the opposite end of the spectrum, barely ground, lumping together two obviously recognisable genres. Yet a ‘second round through the mill’ nonetheless: ‘Passinho do Macintosh’ by the Brazilian post-internet producer G X S T X V X.

As cyber-deconstructionism is coming of age, it becomes apparent that both the spatial and the temporal pillars have faced the same delusion: the triumphalist capitalist promise from the 90s that globalisation as well as the internet would quickly lead to a world of total unity and total equality. Hailing ‘global bass’ as the soundtrack into a utopian, unified world village reflects the same old neo-colonialist globalisation narrative that was already dead. And if globalisation is dead, naive cyber-utopianism, the narrative of the internet as a radically egalitarian place where it no longer matters who you are even if you’re a dog, is dying rapidly. Where globalisation and migration in a changing economic and political world already stirred a renewed attention for identity since the early 00s, the often uninhibited hostility of the internet, and the fluid way in which people can select their own information environment, did that even more. Bosah Ebo (1998) juxtaposes naive cyber-utopianism with the ‘cyberghetto perspective‘, in which real world structural oppression and segregation along the lines of racial, class and sexual identities are replicated online, if not amplified. Even though Generation Bass’ cyber ghetto collab has come to an abrupt end after the night in Antwerp, the concept continues to fascinate me. Ruth’s idea of recontextualising stigmatised “ratchet” imagery from 90s ‘ghetto’ culture into a positively charged, androgynous aesthetic trend, blended together with styles like grunge and Japanese kawaii, is the inseparable mirror image of Ebo’s prediction of the current online culture wars. Not surprisingly, the grinding mill websites have become infamous places where issues concerning race, class or gender are fought out: Tumblr being the motor for a whole new subculture of uncompromising social justice activism, countered by Reddit’s and 4Chan’s neo-reactionary trolling.


Cyber ghetto: grinding mill aesthetics raise questions about the significance of race, class & gender on the internet

If globalisation is dead, naive cyber-utopianism is dying rapidly

From these questions of identity to matters of privacy, cyber-paranoia about New World Order conspiracies, blurring lines between real and fake or the coming of artificial intelligence, the way in which technological innovation shapes the world has become the principal socio-political circumstance for a generation. And this is giving significance to music in the same way as themes like the American civil rights movement, industrialisation, the War on Drugs or the economic uncertainty of the 80s have done before.

Just like the worldwide local interpretations of hiphop, reggae and electronic music, popularised by the global bass movement, turned out to be too tied to their geographical socio-political contexts to be transplanted easily into the West, the reverse applies to the post-internet movement. Vaporwave‘s reflection on the 90s’ corporate promises of history evaporating into an eternity of pleasure shopping and fears of Asian technological superiority, only resonates with the collective memory of the West, even most specifically the American white middle class. Meanwhile, large parts of the rest of the world were suffering from the exploitation and political destabilisation caused by the corporate pursuit of making these vapid dreams come true. Movements such as NON Worldwide, Afrofuturism or avant-garde club, at least as I interpret them, are essentially about exposing and reclaiming technology, the tools by which natural environments are redesigned for human purpose, as a socio-political phenomenon in itself asking: whose purposes? benefiting whom? at the expense of whom or what?

At the same time, they represent an attitude of embracing instead of than rejecting or demonising technology. It is a direct countermovement against ‘indie’ culture‘s romantic obsession with imperfection, organicism and the authenticity (whatever that may be) of the past. But it also goes beyond the recent revival of neo-cyberpunk and apocalypticism found in genres like witch house and vaporwave but also EDM trap’s dark underground. Where once the hippies tried to escape from modern technology as a threat to their romantic concept of nature and humanity, cyberpunk and the industrial music movement of the 1980s sought to expose the invisible megamachine as the evil totalitarian enemy that could only be resisted by ‘hacking’: smartly adopting its material to turn the system against itself. In the 90s, cyberpunk’s increasing fascination for computers morphed into Thimothy Leary’s “turn on, boot up, jack in” ‘cyberdelicism’ and ‘cyberfetishism‘: reveling in sexual-spiritual dreams of ‘becoming one’ with technology. In the last half decade, that cycle has repeated (interestingly, roughly five times as fast: 1968 – 2001 ; 2008 – 2016). This blurring boundary between our everyday lived reality and the imaginations of science fiction, ever accelerating and constantly balancing between utopia and dystopia, kitsch and spiritual transcendence, is what Adam Harper calls the ‘21th century experience‘. Artists and label curators consciously play with these themes, thence names such as Escape From Nature, Infinite Machine or What Do I See.

Celestial Trax‘ new EP is a perfect example of how, with a combination of sound and titles, avant-garde club music can meditate on the question who we are in an increasingly posthuman world.

uv ac‘s new mixtape: the latest wave of internet underground music, often no longer subsumable under the umbrella of ‘club music’, plays with themes of heaven, angels, and uplifting tenderness. The sound combines ethereal ambient with happy rave, autotune rap and RnB, romantic cinematic soundtracks and sometimes traces of ‘global bass’ rhythms, accompanied by oos emo-aesthetics, sad-cute clip-art and stock photo kitsch. Whether this should be seen as an expression of ‘cyber-piety’ or merely 00s teenage culture going into the grinding mills can’t be said yet.

Digital technology has itself become a culture of its own, offering a widely shared experience that is at the same time mind-expanding, liberating and addictive in essentially the same way as psychedelic drug culture was in the 60s and 70s. This has built a new kind of cultural heritage, now ready to be added into the grinding mill for yet a third round. After all, cultural heritage is nothing more than a sufficiently isolated ecosystem of social and material technologies, solidified into conventions over a long-enough period of time. And once these temporary new conventions, isolations and identities are in turn broken, recontextualised and fused with new elements, we’ve got a new round in the carousel of modern culture. What exactly will come out this time, we can’t tell yet, but we can be sure that whatever will go into the mill is a combination of different cultural heritages, old and new alike, that the process is driven by developments that shape the world, and that the new socio-political issues brought to light in this new world will certainly influence the outcome.


Accessible music production and sharing technology has created a spiralling vortex of consecutive rounds through the grinding mill. As it happens, it is still too early to be too sure about the specific influence of specific technologies or circumstances. The influence of mobile phones has created the practice of ‘sodcasting’ and youth’s relative indifference to quality sound on the low frequencies. And there’s certainly a visible attention shift going on in productions towards crystalline treble.

Now the residue of the second round is solidifying, it is becoming clear that this turbulent carousel process seems to have unlocked the secret to the ‘spirit of modernism’ such as envisioned by Adam Harper in his already classic work Infinite Music – Imagining the Next Milennium of Human Music Making, in a way accessible for everyone. As a result, the most stubbornly unbridgeable of all boundaries, that has dominated music virtuall forever, is finally eroding: the one between popular and classical music, between the passionate bedroom-punk and the formally trained concert hall musician. No wonder why Harper has been the quintessential thinker recognising, documenting and intellectually interpreting all the essential innovative waves in music right as they happened. Turning to the undergrounds of young autodidacts on the internet as the place where the action is, the action and continuously innovating energy that the 20th century modernist composers so often lacked.

The most stubbornly unbridgeable of all boundaries is finally eroding: the one between popular and classical music

Add to this the prospect of new ways of music making still waiting ahead and their eventual democratisation. Or what if no longer humans, but artificial intelligences will join the arena of creativity? What if future transhuman extensions of the senses or information processing will extend the range of music that can be perceived and understood? That is why it is essential to zoom in on technology and spiral in one move from a warm-blooded electronic cumbia party to a hyperfuturistic, conceptual avant-garde performance. Otherwise, I’d have ended up at a big festival stage, like so many from the scene that global bass once was, unconsciously escaping into yet another grinding mill product, built up from a hyped up version of Dutch laser synths and hardstyle drums I’ve grown up with, and canned snippets of hip-hop from Atlanta or dancehall from Jamaica, strategically mashed together to squeeze endorphins out of my pituitary gland. Or I’d have chosen instead to turn my gaze backwards, to any possible era in the history of any genre capable of upholding the illusion of being pure and impassioned compared to today’s ever less comprehensible tangle. In both cases, I’d have abandoned the focus forward, to new movements, new sounds and flavours, bubbling up all over the world. IRL or URL, the very reason why this blog exists.


I’m a cultural-historian of science and my theoretical knowledge of musicology doesn’t go into that much depth so I’d love to have feedback from readers who are more firmly grounded into these matters.

J(ay).A.D. gives a first glimpse of his new EP with this gripping emotional bass scorcher !


The Amsterdam based Surinamese experimentalist Jay Raymann, a.k.a. J(ay).A.D. is a sophisticated producer who has been around for fifteen years now and was already pushing vibes like UK bass and baile funk even before we did – in both the Netherlands and Suriname. Since 2011, his musical wanderings have crystallised into the direction taken under the moniker J(ay).A.D., focusing on energetic, uptempo beats & bass with a very personal flavour.

His previous EP ‘Asema‘, leaned heavily on the ethereal grime & avant garde club sound but built on a solid list of previous EPs as well as single releases and edits that encompass the entire spectrum of influences including juke, footwork, grime, jungle DnB, ambient and more.

With ‘Send Off’, teaser for his impending Keti Koti EP, released via music magazine Complex UK, Jay pushes his personalised sound even further into unique territory. The rhytmical groove reminds of jungle or oldschool dubstep, but combined with the futuristic synths, industrial reverb and minimalistic beat-filling it breathes the similar dystopian atmosphere as Rizzla’s ‘Iron Cages EP‘ except in a more desolate way. Listening to ‘Send Off’ feels like being lost in the maze of an abandoned cyberpunk city, just after an apocalyptic event.

>> Keti Koti EP will be out and for sale on the 29th of April <<


Follow J(ay).A.D.



Essential EP’s #7



Magnificent releases keep coming at a faster pace than we can blog. Last time I tried to post everything immediately and summarise in the Essentials compilation but now I already have to give up, even though I’m still trying. Every single one of this list would have deserved a separate place on the blog. Pay attention to them as if these were all indivual posts!

1. Rizzla Iron Cages EP

We know Rizzla from Brooklyn as a member of the collective around the KUNQ microgenre. Nowadays he is one of the leading figures in the avant-garde club scene in the US and has now released his new EP with the influential tastemaking label Fade to Mind, the first single of which, ‘Twitch Queen’, appeared in August this year. In an interview with The Fader, the director of the Twitch Queen video, described the EP as a contemporary cyberpunk story about “an unidentified protagonist who seeks to escape from earth due to the ongoing collapse of society.”

“Playing off of the undulating rhythms of the titular track, the video ebbs and flows with a feeling of relaxed calamity and the perhaps foolish hope for utopia elsewhere. While drifting, the protagonist encounters a vaguely ominous orb of light just in the distance as the second track bellows ‘I want to corrupt you tonight.’ The audience is then immediately transported into scenes of violence, police brutality and abandonment. The charged momentum of the beat fuels the disaster and abjection that’s taking place on screen, showing the need for this ‘Iron Cage.’ The footage serves as one of the artifacts that has survived.”

Iron Cages EP is another very powerful example of the avant-garde club sound, where diverse familiar club sounds including reggaeton, kuduro and RnB are transformed into a surreal, virtual and dystopian experience.



2. Track Meet Track Meet Compilation 03

The Dallas-based avant-garde label Track Meet is quickly joining the ranking of the major tastemakers. This is already the third compilation they released since their starst in 2011. Even though, in line of labels such as NAAFI and Staycore, they have been working with urban-latin elements for a long time, scene-wise global/tropical bass and ‘club trax’ have remained (and often still are) worlds apart. The exciting thing is that this compilation now does includes a two of artists coming from the scene known as global/tropical bass: the Generation Bass affiliated alrounder Banginclude and tribal evolution innovator DJ Giovanni Rios, next to names from the ‘club trax’ scene such as Classical Trax member Vaphoree from Spain and ‘post-arabic’ producer HABIBIBOI!



3. Pobvio Syndombe Club EP

This 6 track EP, with remixes from the NAAFI afiliated Chilean producers Imaabs and Lechuga Zafiro, has been out for a while on the Lechuga Zafiro‘s fresh own SALVIATEK label and is a shame it hasn’t featured on Generation Bass so far. Especially because it is the exact and perfect fusion between the kind of initiatives (reworking traditional folkloric music in an electronic settting) that our blog has been enthusiastic about since the very start, and the world of avant garde club music that, as we can say with confidence now, has fully replaced ‘bass’ as the new centre of gravity.

‘Syndombe Club’, brainchild of the Uruguayan producer Pobvio takes the Afro-Uruguayan candombe drumming as its inspiration. But no dub, heavy bass growls or Dutch lasters here, but melodic, tubular synths and ethereal scapes that breath the mechanical ambiance of avant garde club. ‘Ta Maluca’ even breathes an Andean folkloric atmosphere melody-wise, that reminds of yet stays very different from the electrofolklore that has been from the Andean countries for a long time now. With Syndombe Club EP, several worlds of music are bridged once and for all. If there had to be any basis from where top build a global-club sound for the future, this would be a perfect place to start.



4. MM MM EP [correction: ‘5 Rivers’ is a track from the EP but not, as my main image suggests, the title of the EP]

MM is the new moniker of the London based artist formally known as Miss Modular and this 5-track self titled EP is the first release of the artist’s rebirth under this new name & identity, on the artist’s self-run label Her Records. Style wise, it follows in the same unique fusion of styles as Syndombe club EP, with much heavier focus polyrhytmic percussion than usually found in avant garde club. The comparison goes further than just a similarity in sound, as Lechuga Zafiro makes an appearance on this EP as well. The skeletal rhythms on the EP can be traced back to UK funky, Portuguese batucada, soca and 3ball are blended in with delicate mechanical sounds that here, even more than in Syndombe Club, create a dark, cyberpunk flavoured ambiance. In the track titles, cryptic allusions are made to a deeper layer meaning which I cannot get behind well enough to start interpreting.



5. #weirdkids #weirdkids 002

#weirdkids is a new netlabel run by endlosKosmos, tru luv and DJ FLP, who have managed to draw many exciting producers  towards their label from different forward-looking backgrounds, including the remnants of the post-internet underground, the avant garde club / ‘trax’ scene and the netlabel world such as represented by URL Future. This is the second official #weirdkids compilation with 16 diverse tracks from upcoming names such as future beats producer Pixelord (Hyperboloid Records), club prodigy Monotronique (Classical Trax) and indie-bass alrounder Squirrely Bass (Lush Selects).

Style wise too, all these backgrounds flow together in a spectrum varying from future beats and bubblegum bass to ethereal vapor trap and club, sometimes even combined in one single track. #weirdkids is a label to watch, a step ahead of the rest by bringing the several movements together that are all still making their way into the mainstream sound of today.


6. Gingee Tambol EP

The one release that we have in fact supported separately on the blog could of course not be left out from this compilation of essentials. About this gem from LA-based Filipino-American producer, vocalist and percussionist Gingee, I wrote last month:

‘Tambol’ means ‘drum’ in Tagalog, the Filipino language. The 5 track EP is built around dembow as the central vibe, diversifying into different tempos and grooves and involving synth as well drum elements from genres as diverse as house, dancehall, hiphop, meditative ambient and even feature some oldskool turntable-scratching. Gingee shows once again her independent creativity which will definitely set an example for everyone in the global bass movement!



7. Julito Balacera meets Andrés Digital Rakataka

With every release from Regional label from Chile I realise how much music owes to them, including me personally. For this project, the German cumbia producer and Tropicalbass blogger Andrés Digital did a project in Panama where he teamed up with the Panamanian MC Julito Balacera for a project fusing the flavours of global/tropical bass from the last 5 years with oldschool reggaeton, starting with two cumbiaton riddims from Andrés himself, later extended with remixes from El $abor, Erick Jaimez, Fake Moustache and Tribilín Sound. The EP appeared last month as an official collab between Regional and


8. OKKVLT KɅTT DeepSleep x Masha Petrova

Now something different but nevertheless important. Witchhouse is making a comeback, resurrected as a mature genre instead of a gimmick (more gothic, less hipster, which is a very good thing) and since we’ve been planning a regular dark feature on the blog, here already a taste of what you can expect.

OKKVLT KɅTT is a witchhouse band who are very much part of this comeback movement. Just a week ago, they started performing live shows again with their newest band member, singer Emily Acid. I didn’t want this EP, a collab with the Russian vocalist Masha Petrova, to escape the radar unnoticedly, especially not because of the involvement of one of our all-time favourite experimentalists, Shinji a.k.a. bedtime stories!

Check out an impression from their live performance here, hosted by the Cardiff based formation †RIɅLS!


9. EndlosKosmos 444,100 hRz

Yet another #weirdkids release here, from label co-owner endlosKosmos who describes her radically experimental sound as ‘dreamwave’ and ‘cosmic’ but usually avoids genre descriptions altogether. Unique is the way in which she builds patterns out of the edited snippets of samples put together in a way that remains indeterminate but creates a rhythm-like groove at the same time. The result is a hypnotising sound-caleidoscope which brings to mind many, more and less familiar atmospheres, without ever literally resembling anything. EndlosKosmos is a promising producer whose music may not be the most immediately accessible but whose creativity to imagine and create something unique has only just started to manifest.




The Hungarian alrounder Aluphobia is a new name on Generation Bass. Out of the Hungarian electronic underground he has been lifted into the Global Bass scene by Stas‘ label BABYLON Records, where he appeared earlier with a contribution to a remix EP.

Unlike Monotronique’s similar titled EP from a while back, ‘Afrika’ takes a rather maximalist approach to its theme. Each track is polished with many different elements and influences, varying from ambient soundscapes and energetic lead synths to distorted central African mbira melodies and vocals. Overally, accessible techno grooves are a constant connecting factor, which makes this EP actually one of the few prominent introductions of techno into the global bass scene.



The Art of Afrofuturism

AiRich 1

The first three posts (1, 2 ,3) mainly focused on the musical, cinematic and literary side of the afrofuturist movement. Now a special post dedicated to afrofuturism in visual art, spotlighting the artists that featured on the festival: Charl Landvreugd, AiRich, Bryan Green, Boris van Berkum and JoAnn McNeil!

Visual art, perhaps more than any other artform, is a vessel to communicate imagination. Since afrofuturism, in its core, is about imagination, about the envisioning of many different futures stemming from cultural heritage and life experiences, it becomes apparent that art is an important pillar of the movement, which at the same refuses to be boxed into one straightforward formula or genre. This stunning gallery, compiled by the influential culture and lifestyle platform Blavity, testifies of this, showcasing art varying between miniature collages, sci-fi comic style scenery, mysticist surrealism and psychedelic, art nouveau flavoured mural painting.

My first acquantance with the visual art component on the festival was during the Friday workshop with Nyfolt. The workshop took place in WORM’s unique, historical analog synthesiser studio, where we as participants were allowed to play around to freely experiment with the several synths or make free-expression drawings. JoAnn showed some paintings and explained how, in her work, imagination, emotion, painting and sound are mutually reinforcing sources of inspiration. Her art, which we will see below, is a colourful, energetic form of abstract expressionism which questions the world, perception, taken-for-granted identities and experiences of the Self.

The notion of perspectives and perception is a central element that came back in the work of all featured artists in different ways..

1. Charl Landvreugd

The acclaimed Surinamese Dutch multi-talented artist and art historian Charl Landvreugd was the most prominently featured artist at the festival. His multimedia installation, situated in the venue’s concrete club hall, was on display the entire week and in between the day workshops and the night programme, people walk in and at a set time each day, the artist himself gave a presentation about the meaning and story behind the work.

The installation consisted of three walls, divided into five areas to which short fragments of moving imagery was projected. The fragments – a drivethrough through the Gotthard tunnel,  a street in Amsterdam, an excavatoin site in Suriname – all showed aspects of spatially distant memories and connections that are common to the experience of people from the African diaspora in Europe, afro-caribbeans as well as several generations of African immigrants, many of whom have lived in different countries and have family all over the world. From this starting point he also hinted to an extension of afrofuturism into a diverse, multi-perspective futurism in which these multiple delocalised social and family relationships will increadingly be part of everyone’s reality.

The original idea was that this space would be most profoundly experienced in a true clubbing setting, with a DJ guiding the multi-sensory experience of the meaning of dislocated connections, but unfortunately, this was not allowed for formal reasons so instead, a minimal, hypnotising trap beat, produced by Landvreugd himself, sampling afro-Caribbean non-verbal sound-language, looped trough the speakers.


An impression of Landvreugd’s installation: art in a minimalistic club setting


 Spectators walking through the space

The video’s were drawn from several earlier works, built up over the years of research and art projects in the area of african and afro diasporic experience and aesthetics, such as his project dedicated to the late Surinamese writer and cultural critic Edgar Cairo about the legacy of slavery traumas, expressed in the form of poetic stories.

Video art combined with traditional call & response storytelling for the projec with Edgar Cairo last year


A future-noir styled photoshoot on the night streets of Rotterdam featuring Landvreugd himself, wearing one of the Transformers masks that appear as a leitmotiv in many of his works, legacy of his youth when he was involved in a breakdance crew called the ‘Transformerz’

2. Boris van Berkum

The Dutch artist Boris van Berkum is another versatile name with a longstanding carreer and experience in different areas of the art spectrum but mainly focusing on sculpture and drawing. His psychedelic style is strongly influenced by traditional cultures, aesthetics and techniques from different parts of the world including Africa and the Caribbean.

A turning point in his artistic carrier took place when he was renting an event location, which was once used by people from the Afro Surinamese community for a traditional Winti ceremony. In an interview (in Dutch), he tells how winti Priestess and community leader Marian Markelo was guided by her ancestors to find somebody to restore the use of traditional, pre-slavery African masks in Winti practice, and was lead to sculptor Boris. Their joint initiative led to a brilliantly afrofuturistic project in which traditional masks from the Wereldmuseum Rotterdam were 3D scanned and, on the basis of this digital information, recreated for practice. This project became an important factor in the protest against plans from the museum to sell the entire Africa collection, going by the slogan “I am not for sale,” referring to the slavery history and the continuing colonialist commodification of the cultural heritage of living people in the city of Rotterdam.

“I am not for sale”: digital 3D scanning technology brings west-African ceremonial objects back to life

Van Berkum’s replicas are curated by the museum but available for use at events and ceremonies. The giant bust of the snake god Papa Winti was displayed at Afrofuturism Now! alternately in the upper entrance hall by day and behind the DJ booth at night.


Close up of Van Berkum’s Papa Winti bust


Papa Winti on display during the friday night party, featuring oldschool afrobeats & disco dj Philou Louzolo

Fresh mix from Philou Louzolo that perfectly captures the atmosphere of the Friday party

3. AiRich

Saturday afternoon, the Wunderbar foyer was decorated by an artist who is one of the most promising upcoming tastemakers in visual art and fashion in the Netherlands, with tons potential internationally as well. I’m talking about the a young, Amsterdam based Surinamese-Dutch photographer, fashion stylist and multimedia artist AiRich. Her photography and short videos excel in creating a rich universe of new realities in a very minimalistic way, without the use of extensive sceneries or attributes but with a powerful combination of bright, often pastel flavoured colors and expressive clothing. By the exclusive use of black models she counteracts the dominant Western ideas of beauty.

#PHOTOBOOTH is a new project of hers, launched last year, born out of dissatisfaction with conventional event photography. Psychedelic afrofuturist backgrounds and atributes transport visitors into the universe ‘Made By AiRich’. Next to and after the day workshop ‘drawing your inner mind-space’ by Ras Mashramani, the festival’s visitors were restyled and captured in the booth.


Moor Mother Goddess & Rasheeda


Bryan Green



With the project, she travels to a wide variety of events and festivals such as Amsterdam Open Air, Kwaku and LowLands and will go international very soon. If there are event bookers reading this > CONTACT VIA THE ARTIST’s OFFICIAL FACEBOOK PAGE.

During the film section, two of her short video’s were shown, which also shows her potential in directing music video’s, check them out here >>

Absolutely stunning music video made for and with the Philly born, Krakow (Poland) based experimental vocalist Poet Af Black

And a teaser clip for the Art Chi Tex project, an afrofuturistic film project by Poet Af Black and Melanin Kris, set in Amsterdam



Two of my absolute favourite favourites of her photography works


AiRich inspired me to improvise my own cyberpunk / tumblr aesthetics photoshoot in the industrial bathroom area of WORM, featuring the artist herself!

For a more in depth portrait, read AiRich’s feature article for AFROPUNK!

4. Bryan Green

Bryan Green, also from Philly and a close affiliate of the Philadelphia afrofurist scene, came over from all the way from Krakow, Poland, where he is a singer and percussionist in Poet Af Black’s Ankh Orchestra. But he is also an amazing video artist who has worked several times with Moor Mother Goddess.

Poet Af Black & Ankh Orchestra live

His freshest work is a video edit: SIFR SUNYA ASUNRA featuring music from Moor Mother Goddess, officially out since yesterday. This was demonstrated during the sci-fi readings, with in the background essay readings by Rasheeda about the ancient egyptian sun god Ra – referring to the legendary musician and philosopher Sun Ra who also appears in the vid – space-time and politics!

Another video featuring Camae before she started the Moor Mother Goddess project, as a lead singer of the Philly punk band The Mighty Paradocs!

Another music video directed and edited by Bryan Green that absolutely blows my mind: ‘Hotel Rwanda’ by Philly songwrited and MC Queen Jo

5. JoAnn McNeil

Even though her work itself wasn’t on display as such, being one half of the duo Nyfolt and regarding the importance of the visual and the sonic in Nyfolt’s work, I wanted to feature some more of her work here. She brought a couple of small paintings to the work shop as a first inspiration but, as I found out on her artist page, she usually works with a combination of acrylic and spray paint on big canvasses. Here two recent examples that I really like.


‘I Am Focused’ (2015)


A work from 2013


JoAnn surrounded by her work at an exhibition in St. Louis in 2013


The artist at work

>> Buy her creations HERE <<


Prepare for two more posts, one short article about Afrofuturism and the black speculative fiction scene and a big feature about the climax of the week: PANTROPICAL with Islam Chipsy, Mutamassik, DJ Firmeza & DJ Lilocox !


Afrofuturism: The Apocalypse and Beyond

NOTE: My Afrofuturism series are a week belated because I had problems with logging on to the site


Photo via: Black Quantum Futurism

“You ARE the noise gate” – Magician from the shortfilm ‘Noise Gate’ (2013)

The venue WORM is connected to a bar-restaurant, Wunderbar, where the afrofuturist vibes trickled through in the form of shangaan electro, and music from William Onyeabor and Fela Kuti, softly playing in the background. But behind this ostensibly superficial scene-setting hid a deeper message. Continuing the theme of the movie Crumbs, the second day was in many ways dedicated to the notion of a future after the apocalypse, which, as I found out, plays an important role in the afrofuturist movement as a whole.

The afternoon zine workshop was organised by Rasheeda from The Afrofuturist Affair and Ras from Metropolarity, two affiliated platforms where the creation of zines to showcase literature, art & more is a central activity. With a powerpoint presentation, the participants were challenged to reflect on human life in a possible, post-apocalyptic world. The assignment was to create a zine, with possible drawings, poems, ideas, quotes and picture collages from the many newspapers and magazines that covered the table only using sissors, paper, a copy machine and staples. Issues that were discussed were causes of the apocalypse, opportunities and challenges, leftovers of the known world, technology, traumas, identities and communication. Towards the end, the title of the zine was called ‘bubble to bubble’, referring to a networked community-structure as a replacement for our complex pre-apocalyptic mass society.


In the films too, the theme of perception and interpretation, one of the more intellectual elements of post-apocalyptic sci-fi came back in different ways. In the film ‘Noise Gate‘ (2013), directed by Vim Crony (Long Beach, California) a scientist from the future in search of the ultimate truth travels through different dimensions via a space-time tunnel called the noise gate. Inside the noise gate, the vibrations that produce reality lose their harmonious coherence and change into a whirlpool of cacophonic noise, at the end of which a wholly different kind of reality will be assembled. Every passage through the gate is a little apocalypse in itself. Stranded in a desolate, lifeless world and looking for the gate to exit, the (male) scientist encounters a majestically dressed (female) magician who appears to hold the key and answer to his search. Taking off his steampunkesque goggles and opening his eyes reveals a buzzing iris, the color television, tuned to a dead channel: Gateways for imagination, holding the power to travel dimentions and to create realities. “You ARE the noise gate”.

‘Touch’ (2014), directed by Shola Amoo (London, UK), is almost the opposite in both story and aesthetics. No desolate wastelands or otherworldly dressed scientists and magicians, but rather green fields outside London, covered with gently waving grass, and and two innocently dressed adolescents. This film was hard to review because of it’s many, multi interpretable layers and symbolic messages.

I personally perceived it as a critical commentary against the self-perceived purity, fragility and mindfullness of white-people’s intimacy (time and again perpetuated in mainstream cinema through the aesthetics of whiteness) juxtaposed to the supposed physicality of black people’s sexuality, expressed by means of a science-fiction story about a controlled, black-female conscious real-life avatar robot, who discovers the meaning of love and tenderness as an intersubjective experience between her lover and her. Official descriptions and reviews however, give a totally different picture and call it a film “about becoming a 21st century creative amidst a rapidly gentrifying city.” Here, the protagonist girl is an artist who develops a relationship as a way to escape a creative impasse and explores the limits of human experience that can be shared through technology. Two interpretations of a film that have absolutely nothing to do with each other; mine probably even making no sense at all. Nevertheless, stunning cinematic work and definitely food for further thought.

The final movie is more a music video than a film per sé, in the sense that the experimental rhythmic ambient track produced by Moor Mother Goddess plays an equally important role as the visuals. Black Quantum Futurism, is a third Philadelphia based community of deep thinking creative minds, established by Rasheeda Phillips and Moor Mother Goddess, which focuses on the philosophical foundations of quantum mechanics in relation to worldview, consciousness and cultural perceptions of time and language. In a brilliant word-play, ‘Black Bodies as Conductors of Gravity’ connects the notion of the black body in the politics of race to the black body as a theoretical concept in physics of an ideal material object which perfectly absorbs all radiation. The video is a creative, cryptic expression of the dichotomy between reflection and absorption as well as the relation between the studied object and the observer. The mirror-masked woman in the speculative laboratory full of mirrors, takes her reflecting mask off and seems to be making the discovery when seeing her face reflected in the mirror.


The films on Thursday were followed by three performances, from Moor Mother Goddess about whom we’ve already read, the ambient-noise duo Nyfolt, whom we will hear about much more in following posts as well as electric guitar experimentalist Morgan Craft. Unfortunately, experimental vaporwave producer and graphic artist Marlo Reynolds couldn’t be there.

Moor Mother Goddess is a multi-talented artist: a producer as well as poet and vocalist, whose style can only be characterised as experimental rhythmic ambient. Her sets vary between cyber-delic digital soundscapes energetic bassful beats & plunderphonic deconstructionism, enriched with clean as well as distorted vocals. These vocals in turn vary from single utterations to spoken word poetry to essayistic prose to rhythmical rap and everything in between. Moor Moder Goddess manages to encompass the whole spectrum of afrofuturism’s cultural expressions into one single act, which makes her one of the movement’s most iconic present-day voices!

Check out a snippet of Moor Mother Goddess’ performance in Rotterdam here!

And here a gripping music vid from 2 years back of the track ‘Of Blood’ from her ‘Alpha Serpentis EP‘!

Check out her new track!

Second to ascend the stage was the duo Nyfolt from St. Louis, consisting of visual artist, vocalist and songwriter Joan McNeil and electronic sound designer Nathan Cook, who describe themselves as a “a multi-faceted / pluralistic Afrofuturist, Neoplatonic, and Cyberpunk sound art / noise group.” Most characteristic for their approach is the intimate fusion of text with music into one very powerful sound-poem. Words and sentences become truly one with the sounds. Ideas, thoughts and emotions become live-created, analog soundscapes, while the soundscapes are in turn verbalised into words and sentences!

Their music stems from an eleborated philosophy, articulated in an official manifesto:


Nyfolt’s freshest release ‘Gutter Echoes Side B’

When, after these two powerful performances, the crowd was only half prepared to have their minds blown for yet a third time. Guitar virtuoso Morgan Craft‘s music was in many ways unlike the other two, particularly because of his unique use of the guitar as a tool to make experimental, futuristic music. Craft is a veteran when it comes to experimental music. Originally from Brighton, he has been based for long periods in NYC and in a small village on the Tuscan countryside and is now operating from the cosmopolitan, yet cozy and friendly Amsterdam, the best of both worlds.

In an in-depth interview with the experimental music blog The Improvisor, Craft describes himself as a bluesman, ‘blues’ not to be understood as a genre but as a well of emotion, and a heir of the intellectual and spiritual freedom of jazz, again not a genre but an attitude towards making music. If there is anything Craft reacts against, it’s the phenomenon, also described often here at Generation Bass, about musical flavours degenerating from open-ended expression into a fixed formula, a genre, that can be copied. This even goes for experimental or improvisational music or the use of computers as a gimmick instrument to merely ‘look’ futuristic.


“I don’t care one tiny bit about the style of music called ‘improv’, in fact I think most of the people who play ‘improv’ are liars at this point.  They get up there and think they have to play like what ‘improv’ is supposed to sound like.” – Morgan Craft to The Improvisor

In this indeed highly original performance, he recorded loops of sounds, both harmonic and noisy, live played on his quitar and stacked new layers on top of it, including using a early 00s discman which transmitted hip hop beats to the pickup via headphones. He kept alternately adding and replacing elements so that the sound body organically evolved into an organic being able to propel itself. At several moments, Craft laid down his guitar and walked off the stage like a Leibnizian deity, resting after masterfully winding up the clockwork of the universe, now running itself in perfect harmony.


Morgan Craft’s instrumental setup with guitar, discman and several connected recording and effect devices

Morgan Craft’s recent full album, improvised and recorded live

Monotronique – Grindhouse EP : Gripping Noir Grime


Monotronique, the innovative producer from Kharkov, Ukraine, has been impressively productive this summer and here is back with a fresh EP again, now released via the relatively enigmatic Pear Drops Label based in Bristol (UK).

Grindhouse EP immediately tosses you into the middle of a grungy, neon-lit ally of a metropolis by night, where water trickles down from the walls onto the cracked asphalt street. A cloaked, hooded figure hides silently behind the containers in squatted position, with his back pressed against the wall. Two approaching figures, silhouettes against the glare of the main street, cast long shadows into the ally. Just as they are about to pass the container, the cloaked figure jumps up from his hiding place and with an ice-cold, crystalline sound, two katana’s are drawn from their shafts, shimmering in the dim blue light…

The 4 pioneering tracks of Grindhouse EP will continue the throat-grippingly thrilleresque as well as futuristic experience with a blend of grime, dark twisted avant-garde club and industrial sound effects!


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Bison & Squareffekt and Siete Catorce Drop a Collab that is Totally Science Fiction !


We’ve written a lot about the Portuguese bass underground as well as the Mexican avant-garde, two movements that are becoming ever more influential in shaping the music of tomorrow. Now they are coming together in the form of a collab between some of our absolute favourite ever producers: Siete Catorce and Bison & Squareffekt!

The idea for this track was born when Siete messaged Squareffekt that he was interested in a collab fusing African and prehispahic flavours. Bison and Squareffekt, already fans of Siete’s deep-dark 3ball, where immediately enthusiastic.

The track was built layer by layer from a midtempo afrobeat pattern and moves from dreamy synth pads to dark, apocalyptic ambient scapes, culminating in industrial distortion.

In the interview with THUMP Mexico, Squareffekt compares the idea behind the track to OnlyNow’s EP: a new wave of cyberpunk, in a global context, which shows that many of the dystopian-futuristic visions have already become a reality today.


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Essential EP’s #5


In the midst of a totally reshuffling music landscape, 2015 has so far been the best year for music in a long time. In a way it looks like 2009, very early days of what would come to be known as ‘global bass’, when a small circle of enthusiasts, producers, dj’s and bloggers, engaged in a passionate underground community on the internet, passing around the freshest finds from all over the world to remix, mashup, insert into mixtapes and to make the next round of tracks with ever more influences and flavours. The atmosphere was to inspire and to be inspired and to celebrate the diversity of the most exciting club and bass music coming from places ranging from Baltimore to Luanda, from Rio de Janeiro to Tilburg.

Previous essential EP’s >> #1 ; #2 ; #3 ; #4

Then came the mainstream media attention and the rise to fame of one platform from this underground, becoming EDM’s innovation magician, drawing hype after hype out of its hat. But under the covered table supporting that hat was still this underground, blogs like Generation Bass, who kept on finding and, against our will, scouting talent from around the world who could then readily be grabbed by the ears and pulled through the hat. Hyped as if they were created out of nowhere. And the scene labelled as global/tropical bass became a race to be seen and heard by the big fish, with a sound already pre-crafted for the festival stages, ending up with a meaningless final genre which took the concept of EDM + hipster exoticism to the extreme (you know what I’m talking about).

Today, the vibe from 2009 is back like never before. There is a vibrant community on the rise, remarkably uninterested in self-promotion. Instead they find each other in finding the most exciting talent to involve in their circle, to mix and experiment, with an amount of energy and enthusiasm that keeps stunning me every day. But the wind is blowing from a different corner now. This time it aren’t the old global or tropical bass folks any more.

I am talking about the club-trax avant-garde, with Dj Rueckert‘s Classical Trax community taking the lead. They connect the club undergrounds of Baltimore, Jersey & Philly with grime, vogue, baile funk, 3ball, future reggaeton, dancehall, kuduro, gqom and more. Even cumbia is making its entry! On a personal note, what I´ve seen in this scene so far is so vastly superior to anything I´ve experienced during my years in ‘global bass’, a scene which I entered at its peak, right before the inevitable downfall. The trax scene is refreshingly free of the need to rebrand Afro-Latin & African flavours as exotic, ‘tropical’. They don’t even seem to avoid it actively, it’s simply out of the question. Baltimore, London, São Paulo and Durban have truly become unquestionable equals here and what binds everyone together are the club, the internet and the music, the trax. I realised that the artificial anti-eurocentrism in the global bass scene and the whole notion of certain music genres being ‘non-western’, no matter how ‘politically conscious’, all too easily becomes a twisted concept, hypocritical and offensive to all those producers in the scene who live in and fully belong to North America and Western Europe.

What has come in place are avant-garde visuals shaped by movements like healthgoth, DIS Magazine and post-internet aesthetics. In a sense, the club-trax scene encompasses the original heart of global bass as well as the heart of the other excitement from the last five years, the post-internet underground (witch house, seapunk, vaporwave and derivative microgenres). I’ve been predicting and promoting such fusion for more than a year. Now it is suddenly there, and in an unexpected way, more exciting than I could ever have imagined. No wonder that most of the list of Essential EP’s on Generation Bass have been coming from the trax scene for many editions in a row now. And let’s start right away with the leaders of the movement: Classical Trax’ Architecture compilation!

1. Classical Trax  Architecture… The Compilation

‘Architecture’ is an gigantic, 26 track compilation, divided into two Chapters, that includes a treasure of better and lesser known artists with a very diverse set of styles and flavours but with grime as its main ingredient.




Probably nowhere else do the club-trax avant-garde, Latin bass and urban genres come so close together as in the Mexico City based netlabel NAAFI. After a couple of months release-silence they’re back this week with the absolutely mouthwatering second edition of their Pirata pack series. Like we saw in the first edition, Pirata is a seamless blend of remix and mashup elements, acapella editing (something very common in the Latin American urban underground) and original productions flow together into one whole that is at the same time nostalgically accessible, and uncannily futuristic. Pirata 2 whirls fromexperimental grime and industrial sounds to underground reggaeton to Nicki Minaj and Drake, and the result borders on the absolute perfection.




//WDIS, acronym for What Do I See, is a Berlin based avant-garde label, also strongly involved in the club trax scene which is like Classical Trax one of the rising projects to watch in the near future. Their 7 track mini compilation _VIRALITY, adorned with a mindblowing artwork of what I believe is a big-data network connectivity visualisation, has been out for some weeks now and it generated a lot of enthusiasm in small circles on the internet already. NAAFI nestor Lao appears on it, together with promising members from the trax scene, including the healthgoth futurist DJ NJ Drone. Seven forward-looking grime club tracks inspired by the mysterious, biological properties of the internet.




A whole different kind of fusion between global bass and the post-internet underground is emerging in Brazil. Vaporwave is a vivid online subculture in Brazil and for every international style goes that at some point in time, a homegrown hybrid variant will emerge that adapts its aesthetics and elements to the local context.

That’s exactly what happens at the freshly established audiovisual platform Favela Wave, launched by the enigmatic Brazilian video designer KOI. The Tumblr page shows an eery, deconstructionist combination of vaporwave aesthetics, glitched and accelerationist brand-logo edits of Brazilian life and harsh favela scenery. The YouTube channel takes it to an even higher level by editing Chicago-drill, Brazilian hiphop and baile funk tunes into post-internet flavours that vary from lush future funk to suffocatingly dark witchhouse (<< this one is pure GOLD check it out!!).

The music to accompany these visuals is provided by a newly emerging underground of Brazilian avant-garde producers such as JAKZ, godjira and Vini ダサい, who are with one leg in online scenes such as vapor-trap/trillwave, dark trap and with the other in Brazilian urban club sounds like funk and rasterinha. This is a whole different kind of movement than the turn-of -the-decade neo-funk movement which tried to make the sound of the favela accessible to a wider electronic music audience. This is a new generation exploring ways to reflect on a rapidly changing, contemporary Brazil. In that sense it is comparable to what’s going on at NAAFI, but less trax-y and a lot darker.

The first fruits of Favela Wave as a label are bundled in a massive 14 track compilation full of brutal, futuristic dark-trap baile-funk hybrid stompers!



5. Deltatron Ritmo & Sustancia EP

The Peruvian latin-bass alrounder Deltatron is a very interesting artist. As creator of the ‘dumbia‘ genre and founder of the label Terror Negro Records, he belongs to the circle of artists supported by the blogosphere since the early days of the global bass scene. On the other hand, he is one of the very few from that era, especially in the cumbia scene, who is at the same time so clearly part of new emerging urban-Latin avant garde à la NAAFI. Integration is happening in many parts of the scene right now but Deltatron is one of the most outspoken examples and apparently without a too drastic style-switch.

He was recently spotlighted again as a producer for the rising next-gen reggaeton artist Tomasa del Real and on this fresh EP that came out some weeks back on El Flying Monkey Records, it’s the avant garde duo Santa Muerte making their appearance. Ritmo & Sustancia is an EP with 7 pumping tracks that completely distroy the boundaries between ‘global bass’ as we know it and the future generation of Latin music that is taking shape right now.



6. Siete Catorce  Principio /// Final EP

Siete Catorce is another example of such artist. He first appeared in the border city Mexicali under the moniker of Den5hion in the days of ruidosón, a dark avant-garde style from North-Mexico which predated the popularity of 3ball and fused prehispanic rhythms with experimental synths and eery dark ambient effects. When 3ball came into the spotlights of the blogosphere, Siete Catorce became known for his unique, minimal-deep and experimental approach to that genre. In the recent years, when he moved to Mexico City, he was hailed as part of the avant garde gathering around the innovative climate generated by the NAAFI crew, where he released his previous EP ‘Flor de Lirio’.

This newest EP, out since a month again, is self-released again. Where ‘Flor de Lirio’ was more influenced by future beats, industrial, footwork and trap, ‘Principio ///Final’ returns to his characteristic sound of deep-trippy 3ball. The last tune, a collab with analog acid cumbia experimentalist Mareaboba, derserves a special note as gets most clearly into industrial territory and opens the way into a whole new sound.



7. Yaw Faso & unsoundbwoy Walk The Rope

Unlike what the cover image says, this EP is NOT released on Brother Sister Records but self-released by unsoundbwoy. Brother Sister tipped it to me so I thought it was their release, I’ll change the picture ASAP.

‘Walk the Rope EP’ is a collaboration between the innovative hiphop, dancehall and Afro-tronic producer and vocalist Yaw Faso and the bass music alrounder unsoundbwoy, both based in Melbourne, Australia. The 3 track mini EP contains elements from azonto, afrohouse, dancehall and DnB, blended into a sound that is yet again exemplary of a new generation global bass moving away from EDM, slipping back into an underground where the boundaries between electronica, urban and roots flavours have vanished completely.


8. This Is Kuduro 1y

Kuduro platform ´This is Kuduro´ was established a year ago as a new channel and platform for the new generation of kuduro. The Angolan electronic genre that has reinvented itself many times, each time drawing in new and exciting flavours and vibes as diverse as RnB, hiphop, dancehall, grime techno and industrial. All these influences and a lot more come back on this anniversary compilation featuring artists from diverse musical backgrounds. Especially notable are the contributions of afro-industrial ambient futurist Only Now and the dark flavoured hiphop, trap & kuduro alrounder SP Deville who both move the sound of kuduro into radically new directions.



9. Erick Jaimez El Tigre

No matter how head over heels I am about the Classical Trax sound, it would be shortsighted to suggest that the entire new generation of Latin music does or should converge onto one type of sound only. But fortunately that is not the case. Well before avant-garde trax emerged as a new post-EDM gravity point, a unique, fresh urban-Latin electronic sound has been on the rise in Texas’ cities after the rapid rise and collapse of 3ball among Mexican youths in those places. Most attention from mainstream media has gone to El Dusty and the #cybercholo movement in Corpus Christi, which featured prominently in El Dusty’s hit trapanera with 3Ball MTY star Erick Rincón.

The sound of this new movement is a characterised by sampled traditional cumbia and regional Mexican/Latin music with trap, crunk, 3ball and house beats. If there is anyone who most clearly deserves the honour of being the motor and inspiration behind this sound, it is the Dallas based #CVMBIATRVPLORD Erick Jaimez, one of our favourite producers for a long time now, with behind him cumbia crunk pioneer DJ FUNK E.

‘El Tigre’ is his freshest release, out for two months now on the rising contemporary Latin label Kumbale, and in many aspects a perfect follow up to his #CVMBIATRVPLORD EP. El Tigre continues where #CVMBIATRAPLORD stopped, moving beyond cumbia and hiphop into mariachi, salsa and techhouse flavours. And since this EP has been out, a number of exciting tracks have appeared again on his Soundcloud pushing his sound into even more diverse directions!



10. Monotronique Voodoo EP

Last time, I introduced the trailblazing Ukrainian producer Monotronique with his conceptual Afrika EP. In the meantime, I got to know him better and found out, not surprisingly, that he too is an active member of the classical trax community.

Last week he released his newest project, ‘Voodoo EP’, via the online avant-garde label, event platform and clothing line Get Busy! Where Afrika EP was characterised by eery, hyperreal minimalism, Voodoo EP ventures into much darker industrial ambient à la Nazar and Only Now, with influences of jersey club and grime. Dark industrial rhythmical music is heavily in the air this year, and this EP may be a first sign that the trax scene may be getting onto this vibe as well.. to be continued!



11. El Catorce Antesala EP

The Mexico City based alround prodigy El Catorce is a third artist who, like Deltatron and Siete Catorce, bridges the early days circle of global bass and cumbia digital with the newly emerging avant-garde. Also without a personal style-switch (band-wagon leap), as his cumbia, moombahton and trap have always sounded refreshingly forward-looking and unlike anybody else. Yet he hasn’t received even as half as much recognition for it as he should.

High time to spotlight this creative producer who on his new, absolutely genius EP – titled ‘Antesala’ (which translates as ‘entrance hall’ or ‘waiting room’) – blends flavours as diverse as Andean flutes, lyrical reggae-hiphop, vaporwave/future-funk, trax style club & grime, oldskool dubstep, moombahton, NAAFI-esque avant-garde reggaeton, footwork, trap and dark-industrial sounds! Remixes are provided by prehispanic trapstep emperor Javier Estrada and futurebeats specialist 10010.



12. SidiRum & Barda Todos Nosotros

Sexxy Saturday Cumbia blogger and producer Nico Bruschi, a.k.a. SidiRum teamed up with Barda, both from Buenos Aires and close companions in Argentina & Chile’s flourishing digital folk scene, a third enduring new Latin underground that is becoming the sound of a whole new generation electronic listeners in South America and beyond. Where movements like Classical Trax and #cybercholo are characterised by a dark deconstructionism and dancing energy, South American digital folk is toughtful, deep relaxation music. A meditative, purifying experience rather than club music. Little influence of urban genres like reggaeton, dancehall, trap and cumbia villera here but the Jamaican influence is certainly there, in the form of dub.

This stunning EP – released via yet another rapidly growing netlabel, Frente Bolivarista, moving out of the shadow of predecessors such as, ZZK and the Generation Bass-affiliated Chilean label Regional – draws from a variety of folkloric Latin rhythms, including Andean cumbia and Argentinian chacarera. Electronic influences include analog electronica, 80s spacedelica, deep dub, gothic flavoured minimal synth, oldskool prog, future bass and psybient. All tracks are original productions, created collaboratively.