Essential EP’s #13

More than 2 full months into 2k17 now and there are still tons of essential releases that cannot be left unblogged on Generation Bass. The stuff that has come out in the last months of 2k16 belong to the year’s best releases and give most insight in where stuff will move towards from now. See this much belated post as a springboard into the music landscape that is taking shape right now.

1. Abyss X Nüshu (Infinite Machine)

Abyss X is my favourite artist at the moment and opening the Pantropical night in Rotterdam with her on the lineup has been the best experience of the year so far. Her intense, confrontational and consciously disorienting approach to music has resulted in two equally groundbreaking releases in 2016. The first, ‘Mouthed‘ was released by last year’s tone setter, Rabit‘s Halcyon Veil, followed about a month later by ‘Nüshu’, on the forward looking Mexican-Canadian label Infinite Machine. In a way only parallelled by Elysia Crampton and very few others, Abyss X evokes a very unique spectrum of emotions and experiences. By fusing elements from ambient, techno, traditional folk, industrial, noise, metal and opera as well as pop references and afro-Latin bass rhythms, she shows a peek into a future after the wave of cybernetic and deconstructed club music as we know it. In this respect, she is definitely one of the most important artists to watch this year.

>> BUY <<

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2. Rui Ho Ru Meng Ling (Genome 6.66 Mbp)

Involved in the Dutch vogue scene as well as in Shanghai’s budding club underground around pioneer tastemaker Tavi Lee (who also made the design) and Berlin Community Radio’s Incubator programme, the Berlin based Chinese producer RUI HO is a known name in many cornerst of the music world. Ru Meng Ling is their first release on the Shanghai based Genome 6.66 Mbp label. ‘Ru Meng Ling’, based on a poem by the influential female Chinese poet Li Qingzhao, articulates non-binary identity in the context of the internet, virtual identity building and Chinese cultural heritage with an energetic blend of distorted polyrhythmic beats, bell percussion and a cyberpunk flavoured high octane drive. Tho complete the EP, Why Be delivers an even rougher remix that zooms in on all the individual elements of the original like a magnifying glass and twists them into a psychedelic, intensified experience.

>> FREE DL <<

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3. TRENDY PACK 1 (TRENDY DECAY)

When this compilation first appeared on my Soundcloud feed, I’d never heard of TRENDY DECAY, a collective created by LUNARIOS, RULES & BOY. Unfortunately, because they’ve been active for a while now, bringing a unique blend of dark, emotional RnB melodies and vocals, deconstructed afro-Latin club rhythms and powerful black metal & gothic aesthetics. Closely involved with the Bala Club crew, where LUNARIOS released the mighty ‘ENTRA EP‘ (another essential release we slept on), this compilation brings together some of the most on point producers of this moment, including Merca Bae, Kamixlo, WWWINGS, Swan Meat, Coucou Chloe and Santa Muerte. Even though they are involved in the new wave club movement and are making deconstructed hybrids of some sort, the sound explored here 1 is notably distinct from the cybernetic club formula. TRENDY PACK 1 sounds like the first in a row of compilations, which I’m convinced will guide the way into the sound of 2k17.

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4. Eaves Verloren (PTP)

One of the most intriguing developments that have occurred in the avant-garde of the new wave club movement is that not just the boundaries between individual genres have become fluid, or the boundaries between umbrella categories such as ‘electronic’, ‘club’ or ‘experimental’ music, but even the boundaries between the ultimate decried conservatory binary of ‘light music’ and ‘modern classical music’. This scene has been bringing together sounds from worldwide local club undergrounds or from bedroom rappers and producers, to be experienced in clubs or via cellphone speakers, with conceptual, experimental audio art, suitable for classical concert halls. This materialisation of Adam Harper’s vision outlined in his fundamental work ‘Infinite Music: Imagining the Next Milennium of Human Music Making‘ has confronted us as a blog with a number of fundamental questions. What are the criteria we use to select music? What is the meaning of terms such as ‘club’, ‘bass’, ‘dance’, ‘global’ etc.? Isn’t finding our way through our existence in the context of accelerating technology and the corresponding social, political and cultural circumstances not what binds music together across all the different areas where music is being pushed forward?

Strikingly, Eaves’ background reflection to his album, or in fact, full blown classical concert piece –  “if reality mimics our ominous, fictional projections of the future, it’s clear that our current systems aren’t resisting as much as they should be” – comes strikingly close to the description of my own mixtape, published almost two years ago now. Apparently, the line from underground dance music expressions from different corners of the world, cybernetic club deconstruction and conceptual sound compositions destined to shake up the modern-classical world is a very obvious one. This is strikingly visible in Eaves’ own work. While conceptual and experimental from the start, it leaned towards clubbier vibes on the EP ‘HUE‘, moving a more into more abstract territory on ‘GORILLA‘ while reaching full abstract epiphany with ‘Verloren’. ‘Verloren’ (German/Dutch for ‘Lost’) is an overwhelming, emotionally exhausting journey that moves through desolate, ruined worlds, painted with layers of wide ambient scapes, fragile melodies, menacing bass sounds, explosive abstract beats, haunting vocal samples and transcendental choir chants. Together with the work of musicians like Chino Amobi or Elysia Crampton, I am convinced that ‘Verloren’ will be looked back at as the most essential music created in our times.

>> BUY HERE <<

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5. Swan Meat Bounty (PERMALINK)

Like Eaves, many more producers are on the same road of experimental club abstraction and cyber deconstruction towards conceptual sound art, each in their own way. Swan Meat is one of the most promising examples. It is remarkable how quickly, and seemingly out of the blue, new talents can appear into view. When I heard her set at c a r e #4 I was completely overwhelmed. Her relentless, complex blend of menacing atmospheres, warped pop references, poetic vocals straight out of the uncanny valley, abstract hardcore inspired beats, and the raging energy of metal, keeps intriguing, constantly switching between minimalism and maximalism, abstraction and rhythmical groove.

After a number of promising mixtapes and tracks on compilations for platforms including Classical Trax‘ side-label  JEROME, Shanghai’s Genome 6.66 Mbp and the activist initiative Co-Op, Bounty is her official debut, released via the Paris based avant-garde multimedia platform Permalink and premiered via Thump. She told Thump, about the background leading up to the EP. ‘Bounty’, which deals with issues of embodyment, is the condensation of the alternate forms of embodyment in poetry and sound that helped the producer climb out of her struggle with bulimia nervosa. Her characteristic sound, created with self-build plugins and game samples, is accompanied by a gripping design from the Hungarian forward looking art genius Gergö Kovacs.

>> BUY HERE <<

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6. Superfície Hélices (SALVIATEK)

The Uruguayan SALVIATEK label, started by Lechuga Zafiro & Pobvio, keeps occupying a peculiar space on the map of interconnected music scenes. They are operating mostly in the corner of the new wave club avant-garde, yet their sound is refreshingly different than most of what’s going around in that scene. The rhythmical structures are percussive, less abstract polyrhythms and seem much more focused on reinterpreting indigenous and Afro-Uruguayan heritage than on deconstruction and abstraction. Yet, where the South American part of the old global bass movement, think about labels as ZZK or Frente Bolivarista, is commonly characterised by a romantic representation of nature and ancestrality, reflected in organically flavoured (pseudo)acoustic sounds, SALVIATEK is the exact opposite. Somewhat resembling the philosophies of Eco Futurism Corp or Xenopunk, SALVIATEK’s vision is about breaking down the binary between nature and technology. In their own words:

“What happens when an AI learns from nature and decides to imitate it in order to survive? In a probable future, the limit between nature and technology is no longer definable. CPU’s control the jungle, birds are cameras and roots are circuits. The world has been taken by the technologic jungle and this system dominate all other species, including humans. By night, when the Salviatek flows in the techno-organisms and metallic chlorophyl does the audio-synthesis, the survivors dance to this biorhythms from their underground hiding.”

‘Hélices’ is the debut of SALVIATEK’s freshest addition, the Brazilian avant-garde producer Superfície, whose minimalistic, percussive ambient style is created from abstracted rhythmical structures of genres like baile funk, vogue and dembow. With these elements, ‘Hélices’ paints conceptual, sci-fi ambiances that bring to mind images of complex, artificial lifeforms, digitised indigenous knowledge and the diffusion of high-tech beyond the asphalted road network. The EP is completed by two more energetic, club-ready remixes by foozool and umurmurum.

>> BUY <<

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7. Bison & Squareffekt Distant Planets (Rimas e Batidas)

Last month, the ‘future tarraxo‘ microgenre tured 3 years of age. Evolving mainly out of Bison‘s mellow, melodic approach to the tarraxinha genre, it took off full force with ‘Odyssey of the Mind‘, in my view the best thing ever released on our own Generation Bass label, where Bison teamed up with Miguel Afonso a.k.a. Squareffekt. It would be the beginning of a successful formula, pushed by influential platforms like Enchufada, Thump and Boiler Room.

Coming out of a period of silence and reorientation, they are working on a substantial comeback this year, finding themselves in a thoroughly post-global bass world, where both sci-fi sounds and afrodiasporic rhythms reign supreme in both avant-garde and mainstream, but where most pre-2015-style microgenres have evaporated into the digital air. ‘Distant Planets’, casually referring to the frequent popular excitement about NASA’s discovery of new exoplanets, is their first release that is entirely uptempo. The 2-track mini-EP still carries the characteristic 80s space-age melancholy that made them unique, yet with a more energetic, even heavy undertone. ‘Cosmic Fellings’ is a destructive afrohouse track, keeping ambiguous whether ‘fellings’ refers to natural processes or to the ruination by humans or other intelligent civilisations. ‘Distant Planets’ is a Mexican-style 3ball tune that brings out the desolate dramatism and gripping coldness of outer space worlds. With astroid mining and a new space era gradually unfolding in the course of this century, I view the EP as a commentary on the issues of exploration and colonial destruction translated to the context of space travel. Political space music for the 21st century.

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8. Club Chai Vol. 1 (CLUB CHAI)

Club Chai is an Oakland based initiative by foozool and 8ULENTINA, with a recurring party and a show on London’s influential Radar Radio, focused on diasporic narratives, women and trans artists, DJs and producers. Their blend of mainly RnB, dancehall, club sounds in the broadest sense and non-Western pop and traditional music, pushed on the club nights and in the shows has now resulted into the first, exciting compilation that brings together artists from many different corners of the music scene, including Generation Bass’ cumbia favourite Turbo Sonidero, SALVIATEK’s Lechuga Zafiro, Manchester’s DJ Florentino and Bala Club affiliate Organ Tapes, alongside many other artists worth checking out, never before blogged on Generation Bass such as The Creatrix. Musically too, the spectrum covered on this compilation goes way beyond what’s usually seen in the club avant-garde, extending into salsa, techno and acoustic guitar songs. This refreshing diversity combined with cultural and political substance makes Club Chai a very important frontrunner for 2017.

>> FREE DL <<

9. GIL Orchids & Wasps (Danse Noire)

I’ve been a fan of both GIL’s energetic dancehall, kizomba & dembow inflused club tracks and Aisha Devi‘s Danse Noire label, where I heard eye-opening dark flavoured experimental blends of abstract industrial, hardcore, grime & ambient for the first time. Coming from a sound that could come surprisingly close to global bass, GIL has notably moved towards darker experimental sound in his more recent productions. This exploration is now crowned with a release on Danse Noire. ‘Orchids and Wasps’ combines relentless distorted drums, noisy dystopian soundscapes and haunting vocal samples, with GIL’s passion for afro-latin club flavours and polyrhythms.

>> BUY HERE <<

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10. ZRD XX (Bio Future Laboratory)

I’ve been following Eco Futurism Corp for quite a while already, and even thoughI never came so far to blog any of it here on Generation Bass, I’m really stoked about ever more artists emerging from this movement such as Tropical Interface, SHYQA, HERBARIUM and now ZRDZM (ZRD) who debuted via Eco Futurism Corp subsidiary Bio Future Laboratory. Especially with the rise of cosmic horror aesthetics, this EP is fundamental. ‘XX’ touches upon many crucial aspects of today’s exponential age, from immortality and artificial life to high-energy experimental physics as well as the Lovecraftian horroresque awe that surround these matters. ZRDZM’s style is best placed in the conceptual sci-fi ambient corner, with long stretched soundscapes, thoroughly abstracted, suggestive rhythmical elements and lots of cinematic samples that construct a lively, almost interactive videogame-like experience. And the worlds painted are as dark, alienating and overwhelming as the future we may have ahead.

>> FREE DL <<

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11. OO-B ÁFRICA, ENCANTADA

Together with Abyss X, the Montpellier based producer OO-B is one of the most unique artists I’ve got to know lately. A producer and rapper with a background in grime, he stands out, both sound-wise and aesthetically, from most of what’s going on in the scenes working with forward-looking club and bass music. Where most of his older work is clearly grime, with ‘África, encantada’ (Spanish for: “Africa, nice to meet you” as well as “enchanted Africa”), he moves into experimental club & music, which seems to draw from genres including grime, vogue, afrohouse, kizomba, deep ambient, new wave club and hiphop, yet it doesn’t sound at all like the sounds going around in either the new wave club or the global bass related scenes. The sound is melodic, melancholic, percussive and somewhat mysterious, yet fascinatingly uncategorisable on any possible level. With this self-released EP, OO-B shows that it is still possible to make music independently of dominant movements, approaches and formulas.

>> FREE DL VIA SOUNDCLOUD <<

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12. Katasonix (0)

From the depths of the internet, where meme charming chaos magicians and occult cyber clairvoyants are initiated in the secret principles behind the forces that govern our information based reality, hails the enigmatic soundcloud channel Katasonix, named after Kode9‘s first label name. The Kode9 reference goes further, especially his involvement with the with Nick Land’s mysterious Cybernetic Culture Research Unit, as the title names are all drawn from ccru’s Pandemonium.

The tracks themselves are complex patterns, constructed from analog synth recordings, that sound like a language. They leave the gut feeling that they carry a hidden message to decipher. I leave the interpretation to the listener. Yet I am convinced that this whole new way of treating patterns in sound, free from intuitively human ways of processing music, while intriguing enough to listen and enjoy, will open many new oportunities for music making in the near future.

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Renick Bell and the Promising Future of Algorave

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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

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Follow Renick Bell:

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

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Part 2 of Essential EP’s #12

SIDE B

12. Vol.1 (Onda Trax)

The Onda Group is a New York based collective which includes Track Meet’s Ynfynyt Scroll and Escape From Nature’s Orlando Volcano focused on embracing the holocene. Onda Trax Vol. 1 is the first mini-compilation, which might mark the beginning of Onda Trax as an album, containing tracks by Ynfynyt Scroll, Orlando Volcano and nar that all take a melancholic, melodic approach to dominican dembow, dancehall, baile funk and 3ball. Looking forward to more releases from them in the future.

>> DOWNLOAD <<

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13. Gan Gah Chaâbitronics EP (Lowup Records)

I saw the Moroccan born, Brussels based producer Gan Gah recently in Rotterdam, at Pantropical’s event organised together with the Arabic film festival in Rotterdam, playing next to Rocky B the Tropikal Camel, Deena Abdelwahed and Rebel Up!‘s Dutch member Duckfood. Amidst the current wave of Middle Eastern & North African club music with semi-mainstream acts like Acid Arab on the one side, avant-garde political acts like 8ULENTINA and Dj Haram on the other side of the spectrum and the Arabic side of ‘global bass’ in the middle, Gan Gah is the perfect bridge. Following last year’s Souktronics EP, which had a lot of club, kuduro and trap influences, Chaâbitronics stays even closer to the characteristic chaâbi sound and bouncy triplet rhythm found in traditional and pop music all over North Africa and the Middle East.

>> BUY ON BANDCAMP <<

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14. Jason Hou原 (Origin) (dohits)

Jason Hou is a Bejing based producer and member of the dohits label & collective which has been on our radar since last year summer. Their output is impressive and it’s hard to select which releases to include as essential. I chose for Jason Hou’s more experimental and dark-percussive EP, which connects in many ways to the recently introduced gorge genre.

Like gorge, 原 (Origin) is a return to nature and the most elemental aspects of existence – in this case, human existence. Homo sapiens’ propensity for ritual, creation, community, narrative, violence and reproduction is expressed with a blend of relentless club & techno drums, bright polyrhythmic percussion, traditional chants and deep subs.

>> BUY HERE <<

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15. Ziúr Taiga EP (Infinite Machine)

The Berlin based producer Ziúr is one of my personal favourites this year. Both her ideas about the politics of citizenship and her intense, industrial club sound resonate intensely with how I’ve been reflecting on existence since a long time now. Developing her  personal style since a while now, connecting to, yet subtly distinctive from the Berlin avant-garde sound represented by players such as JANUS or _WDIS, ‘Taiga EP’ is the first crystallisation of it in the form of an EP released on the Canadian-Mexican Infinite Machine label. The EP contains 4 original productions, one featuring RIN, and two remixes provided by the posthuman futurist Born in Flamez and the Australian visceral club deconstructionist Air Max ’97.

>> BUY HERE <<

Also check out and >> BUY << Ziúr’s newest release, only accessible via Bandcamp >>

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16. wave 002 (wavemob)

If you want to know about the wave genre, which we didn’t introduce on the blog I halfheartedly gladly forward you to this pretty insightful High Snobiety article. Needless to say, if something is on High Snobiety before it is on generation bass, it is either not interesting enough, or we haven’t done our job right. Or both. In this case it’s somewhat in the middle. But in short, wave is an intense, melancholic blend of trap, sadboy rap, witch house, cybernetic grime and vaporwave, which has been around in online undergrounds since as far back as 2013 but was lifted into the spotlights last year by futurebeats heavyweight Plastician and his terrorythm label. In retrospect I think we slept on it mainly because of my own tunnel-obsession with avant-garde club and because of its quick affiliation with the futurebeats-scene, which we also skipped almost altogether. But despite all this, I’m really feeling the heavy, emotionally touching vibe of wave and am fascinated also by the strong IRL-URL community vibe going around in the scene.

wavemob is one of the central, if not the single most defining label & collective of the movement, that released their first official compilation. wave 002 is the follow up, with 13 new, original productions from the wavemob members.

>> BUY <<

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17. Keiska Powerpoint EP (CREAMCAKE)

Internet culture has always had its obsessions with bygone sounds and subcultures. This year it’s trance, gabber and metal which are being devoured by the grinding mill. CREAMCAKE is a Berlin based avant-garde label, specialised in precisely capturing these shifts and trends in digital culture through music. ‘Powerpoint EP’ is the debut of the Finnish post-internet producer Keiska, who tunes into the melancholic echoes of 90s and 00s rave culture, bending the escapist angelicism of trance and eurodance into eerily alienating melancholic ambient music, contrasted with intense, deconstructed beats and dystopian samples.

>> DOWNLOAD <<

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18. DRIFT KINGS [GT Edition] (DRIFT KINGS 漂流 公達)

Next to the grinding mill spit-outs of trance, metal and hardcore, there is also an obsession with racing cars and motorbikes in the aesthetic underground of tumblr, in the wake of health goth fashion and broader cyber tech aesthetics. The new producer collective Drift Kings takes this aesthetic trend to a more serious level. Like their first kickoff compilation, this follow-up release is again entirely dedicated to the conceptual vibe of car racing and its videogame simulation, with tracks, named after cars, filled with racing samples and immersive trance synths.

>> DOWNLOAD <<

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19. crapface :):):) (Palettes)

We’ve also entirely slept on the wave of hyperpop/bubblegum-bass that gathered the attention of the music magazines for a couple of years now, especially the stuff from the PC Music label. The hype has almost entirely faded out now, but an underground scene of producers that are fabricating a distinct, cotton-candy-like sound from sources like contemporary pop, nightcore, rave, k pop, RnB and bass music, is continuing and evolving further. The Canadian producer crapface is one of the defining names from this movement and his most recent album ‘:) 🙂 :)’ is at the same time an insightful display of where the post-PCmusic underground is moving as well as lots of fun to listen to.

>> DOWNLOAD <<

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20. Cepillo Cuevas Que se Sienta EP (Handiclap Records)

The Mexico City based producer Cepillo Cuevas has always been an eccentric frontrunner in the world of moombahton and global bass, not following popular templates but developing his own ever evolving and diversifying, yet consistent style. Now global bass as a movement of mutually supporting producers, DJs and bloggers, has largely diffused into different directions, Cepillo Cuevas is more relevant than ever now. ‘Que Se Sienta’ is the kind of moombahton EP I have always dreamt of, staying true to the tresillo groove, while drawing in sounds from new-age ambient, cinematic-epic music and dark rave-techno, giving a whole new twist to the entire genre with each track.

>> DOWNLOAD <<

https://soundcloud.com/cepillo-cuevas/sets/cepillo-cuevas-que-se-sienta

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Generation Bass Introduces: GORGE

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Imagine a genre supposedly born in in the mountains on the Indo-Nepal border, communicating the aesthetic and spiritual sublimeness of rock climbing, becoming the soundtrack to an international rock climber-clubber subculture in Canada and Argentina and eventually morphing into a passionate avant-garde movement in Japan: it exists and is called gorge.

Exactly a year since we officially introduced our last genre, Shamstep, it is high time to return to doing what Generation Bass was originally created for: introducing cutting edge dance flavours from around the world to URL music enthusiasts. But at the same time, 2015 was the year in going into the music history chronicles as the year in which genres as a whole were officially dead. Most probably killed by cyber-deconstructionism. What could have been bandwagons just some years before were now all destined to prematurely popping out of existence, like soap bubbles. That makes it extra shameful that we totally slept on gorge when it was hot, back in 2012, when we were too busy pushing moombahton and 3ball. But now the genre, once a completely separate, ungoogleable bastion of secrecy is now slowly creeping into wider attention with artists such as Kazuki Koga (Canada), whose Salathé Wall EP for the Apothecary compositions label, introduced the mysterious percussive sound into the avant-garde club movement. So if there is any right moment to introduce a genre so long after it’s beginnings, it is now.

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Gorge, best described as an experimental electronic interpretation of Nepalese folk percussion, is vaguely defined by its own inside conventions and legends. The sound can range from very distorted and noisy, to organic and minimalistic, from straightforward rhythms to complex experimental patterns and from downtempo to uptempo. Still gorge has, if such thing exist at all, a strong signature that makes the genre recognisable. According to gorge originator Himalayan Giant DJ Nanga in an interview from 2013, if you make gorge, apply the Gorge Public Licence:

  • Use Toms
  • Whenever you feel that a track that you make might me gorge, it is already gorge
  • Never ever call it ‘art’

I’m fascinated by why ‘never calling it art’ is such an important part of gorge. I suppose it’s because ‘art’ implicates human mastery and control, whereas the whole idea of gorge is precisely to embody ‘the sublime’ which escapes and resists human control. Not culture but nature, the impersonal, relentless magnificence embodied by the rocks, refusing to be conquered and tamed by humans trying to climb them.

In the words of DJ Nanga, gorge is ‘rock music’ in the most litteral sense. It is the “sound of a rock, sound of water that beats the rock, sound of a mountain held by the rock.” And according to DJ Fhuck TheChipping, gorge “is not a human expression, Gorge only has the hardness of the rocks. Can you survive?” Accordingly, producers making gorge aren’t called ‘artists’ but ‘bootists’: they don’t craft their own sound, but climb them. And perhaps that is – in the wake of aesthetic trends like xenopunk that are reflecting on non-human sublimeness against an increasingly artificial world tailored for human comfort – why gorge is more relevant than ever in 2016!

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The newest EP of Hanali (Tokio), one of the leading figures in the Japanese gorge movement

And the promotion video for Hanali‘s 『ROCK MUSIC』 EP from 2013

Hanali is not a DJ but a live electronic musician who performs gorge by on-the-spot improvisation

A gorge tune from the very early days (2008) from the further unknown DJ Kinabalu

Industrial space-synth gorge by Drastic Adhesive Force (Japan) from the 2012 ‘Gorge Out Tokio‘ compilation

And another selection of Japanese gorge from 2014, by the Kyoto based label Terminal Explosion

Gorge from US based bootists, ‘the United GORGE Bootists of America’, released in april this year, featuring less industrial noise and much more crossovers with electronic genres like techno, avant-garde club, ambient, kuduro and more

Kazuki Koga‘s grand EP for Apothecary Compositions, which we supported before, blending gorge with juke & footwork

Kazuki Koga performing his EP alleingehen live

In the Japanese electronic underground, juke & gorge appears to be a powerful combination to blend together on club nights.

The most important artist who brought gorge into the internet-underground last year is seapunk OG Ultrademon who was inspired by Kazuki Koga and announced to make a gorge EP last year as a tribute to his cousin who died ice climbing. This EP was materialised via a his side project Thiefist, released via the gorge.in label & platform.

Gorge & post-internet aesthetics influenced rap by rapper MC松島, produced by bootist Franz Snake

According to Japanese gorge specialists HiBiKi MaMeShiBa and Mr. Ishii these are two tracks, one from the British industrial band SLAB! (1987), the other (1969) from the German experimental krautrock band Organisation (Kraftwerk before they started Kraftwerk)

And here a fresh EP from this year’s most active and passionate gorge bootist, Indus Bonze, who asks the question whether gorge is dead or alive…

…but, to speak in the spirit of DJ Nanga: gorge is never dead nor alive. Gorge is the water crashing down from the rocks, with with no beginning and no end. Gorge is the rumble of the elements when the rocks were formed. Gorge was there long before us and will be there long after we are gone. Gorge is eternal.

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Lucifer’s Dream – Elixir of Isis [VIDEO]

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Since the release of their debut EP, the extraterrestrial synthpop duo Lucifer’s Dream have worked hard to put themselves on the map, both IRL and URL. Following the success of ‘Remember‘, they are now back with a video for another track from the EP.

Where ‘Remember’ was reflexive and melancholic, ‘Elixir of Isis’ has a hint of passionate energy and desire, breathing especially in the beginning of the track, that, I think consciously, almost sounds like the buildup for towards a catchy radiopop hook. But instead of delivering predictable pleasure, the track dissolves into a wavier, more melancholic and indeterminate vibe. Reality, or meeting your crush, is always different from expectation, full of confusion and conflicting emotions. At the end, the insecure atmosphere melts down into something more cute and playful, accentuated by the video and the almost dembow-like drum pattern. It may be because I can relate to it so well right now but I can’t help but putting the song on repeat.

>> BUY THE EP HERE <<

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MUSIC, TECHNOLOGY & THE FUTURE PART 2 : The Podcast

KevinMackArt

Artwork: ‘Transhuman Godatalia Complex’, a digital sculpture by the forward-looking, science-rooted visual artist Kevin Mack

When music, technology and the future intersect, what are the main issues that come to mind? Label owners may be stoked to find the ideal disruptive business model, forward looking artists may want to experiment with new ways to create and deliver sounds, while bloggers or academics would rather focus on the way in which future technology shape social and political contexts in which music acquires significance. The issues are interrelated. Progressing communication technology – not only the internet but also its precursors such as radio or successors like virtual reality – changes the world in a way that inspires artists to make music, offers a pool of crude material from which music can be assembled and simultaneously offers a medium for music to spread. And if we take a step further, beyond the internet and current conceptions of music, there are even more fundamental questions about the creation and perception of sound, be it by artificial intelligence or by a generation of post-humans who have transcended natural sensory or cerebral limitations to preceiving, interpreting and conceiving the essentially infinite possibilities of imagination.

Our latest talkshow brought these two perspectives about music and technology together, featuring Demian Zivkovic and Lotte van Noort, respective President and Chancellor of Insitute of Exponential Sciences on the transhumanist movement as a cultural phenomenon, its reception and its relevance music and other forms of art and innovative music business consultant Bas Grasmayer of Music x Tech x Future. As a soundtrack to the theme, I selected a broad range of tracks from several corners of the music underground, that are at the same time a direct result of today’s accelerating, high technological time and an artistic reflection on it.

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The Institute of Exponential Sciences is a think tank and platform that brings together scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, culture makers, journalists and students with an interest in fields of technological innovation that will fundamentally reprogramme human nature. With social events, lectures and partnerships, the institute promotes transhumanist perspectives and initiatives in different sectors of society.

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MusicTechFuture

Music x Tech x Future is a consulting service for professionals in the music business, sharing the sharpest insights in the impact of technological innovation on the music economy in the broadest sense.

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LISTEN TO THE PODCAST HERE >>

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

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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.

https://soundcloud.com/gxstxvx/passinho-do-macintosh

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.

BabyBitch

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.

Carousel

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.

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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.

Essential EP’s #11

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It’s been a while since my last Essential EP’s selection so here an edition with releases that are all from a month back or so. Influential releases like Chino Amobi’s or Kid Antoine’s, which received widely read attention from of the major online music magazines, have already cooled down to lukewarm in terms of attention, making place for even newer excitements. Other ones, like Los Innsurgentes’ La Maldad EP have flown a bit under the radar. Two artists whose previous EP’s were among the most impactful of 2015 are back now with follow-up releases that continue where they left off. Overally, as 2016 begins to take shape, the innovations of 2015 seem maturing into recognisable sounds, enriching, branching off and finding their way into different corners of music.

1. NAZAR Hubris EP (Track Meet)

Let’s start with Nazar, whose NIHIL EP was perhaps the single most original release of 2015. His confrontational, political approach to kuduro created a throat-gripping, industrial flavoured sound. ‘Hubris EP’, the Angolan avant-garde producer extends this powerful signature style with an even more rich set of influences, venturing into 808 drums, industrial techno and the ethereal synths of avant-garde club. In ‘Tyranny’ the producer also makes his first appearance as MC, using his own vocals to ironically praise Angola’s president.

The EP had been announced for a long time but could finally see the light via the upcoming avant-garde club label Track Meet.

>> BUY HERE <<

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2. ANGEL-HO Emancipation (NON)

One of the other most groundbreaking works last year was without any doubt ‘Ascension EP’ by Cape Town based NON co-founder ANGEL-HO, debuting on Halcyon Veil. Now, 6 months and many great single tracks later, he is back with a fresh EP released via his own NON WORLDWIDE label. And like Nazar’s, his sound too has become richer and more crystallised. Whereas ANGEL-HO’s arrival at the stage of the music scene seemed more concerned with disrupting the dominant cultural forces, now the post-disruption era has arrived with full force. This means that the black queer trans identities that ANGEL-HO represents have broken free from the colonial forces designed to suppress and erase them, triumphantly expressing themselves the way they want to, no longer needing juxtaposition to binary heteronormative whiteness as a reference frame at all. As I interpret it, this is also what the magnificent artwork (made by Chino Amobi) refers to: proud dragons, breaking out of the burning remnants of the past. “The old has gone, the new has come.” In sound this means that the characteristic tumultuous industrialism is no longer an end-point but a beginning. On ‘Emancipation EP’, ANGEL-HO’s signature sounds like accellerating cars and shattering glass are the crude ground from which all kinds of new sounds rise up in freedom.

ANGEL-HO teamed up with Desire Marea, one half of the performing art duo FAKA, whose vocals apear on the first and last track of the EP.

>> BUY HERE <<

https://soundcloud.com/non-records-1/sets/emancipation

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3. Chino Amobi Airport Music For Black Folk

Richmond based producer, designer and NON co-founder Chino Amobi has a unique style of producing that deviates most notably from conventional club music. Chino Amobi’s music isn’t there to make you dance and feel good about yourself. That is precisely part of the story that Amobi – as I understand him from interviews and from my personal interpretation – wants to convey with his music: resisting the exploitation of black music for the entertainment of the privileged, de-stereotyping black music and reclaiming it as a tool to express the reality of the black experience. Airport music is not much different. Brian Eno’s iconic experiment using hypnagogic soundscapes to transform the dull, hasty terminal into a serene and thoughtful environment has brought ubiquitous soothening background music to airports, most of which based on jazz and soul.

Amobi radically reverts the perspective. With trunkated, looped pieces of recognisable elements, unpredictibly interjected by menacing sounds and vocal messages, he exposes rather than dissolves the chaotic, tense atmosphere of the airport and its post 9/11 obsession with security and threat. The way Amobi manages to capture the intimidating unrest not of being in danger but of being looked at as the potential danger, an experience that can make air travelling an alienating activity for black folk, is an esquisite achievement of translating complex emotion into sound. And that makes him, in my opinion, one of the greatest composers of all time, on par with the eternal masters of blues, jazz and classical music.

‘Airport Music For Black Folk’ has been recorded in Berlin and was inspired by Amobi’s European tour, resulting in five tracks named after the cities and airports he visited. The elements used in the tracks overlap and the album is most fully appreciated when listened as a whole.

>> FREE DOWNLOAD <<

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4. Los Innsurgentes La Maldad EP

The Apodaca based duo Los Innsurgentes announced their dark flavoured 3ball bass EP ‘La Maldad’ more than a year ago but ever since, they went virtually silent until the point that even I, first hour fan of Los Innsurgentes, no longer expected it ever to be released. When listening to the EP, it is good to keep in mind that these are actually old tracks, probably finished and released long after they were first created. I was personally amazed how archaic, even nostalgic it sounds, to hear such an experimental use of growl bass synths. ‘La Maldad’ truly feels like a time glitch directly out of the now almost forgotten golden age of global bass, with producers like Caballo, when this formula of percussion with growls ruled supreme. The tense, mysterious atmosphere, especially in tracks like  ‘Base Frapp Cafe’ and ‘Litros de Sangre’ goes back to an even older root of Mexican electronic music: ruidosón.

Apodaca is a suburb of Monterrey, where the US-Mexican border region begins. The outburst of creativity, from Nortec to NAAFI, that made Mexico one of the most innovative places in the world for music over the last decade, is inextricably connected to the socio-cultural and political reality of that border and the American War on Drugs with all its evil (‘Maldad’), death and destruction it has created. Whether this is a second beginning for the duo or rather a goodbye present before leaving entirely, this anachronous EP sends a message that the Mexican electronic underground, 3ball in particular, needs to wake up once again.

>> FREE DOWNLOAD <<

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5. Kid Antoine Bodypaint (Her Records)

The track ‘Bodypaint’ by the Copenhagen based producer Kid Antoine is already an excitement in the club underground and got a shoutout from us recently as well in our summer festival bangers post. But beyond the track, the EP of which it is part, containing another original production, ‘Flood Control’ and a remix of ‘Bodypaint’ by Florentino, can’t possibly be absent in a selection of essential releases. Presenting the ethereal, futuristic vibes of the avante-garde club movement in an accessible way, perfectly combining with a wide variety of genres and sounds is becoming his immediately recognisable signature. He did that already on his debut EP ‘Proximity‘ a year ago and ‘Bodypaint EP’, which contains even more energetic drive, is the perfect follow up, again released on MM‘s label HER Records. On top of Kid Antoine’s already baile funk & dancehall inspired & jersey club inspired polyrhythmic beats, Florentino adds even more pumping, almost moombahtonesque dembow. If there must be any best example of ‘the sound of 2016’, where the flavours of avant-garde club will reign far beyond the avant-garde, trickling up into everything, ‘Bodypaint EP’ is all you need.

>> BUY HERE <<

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6. y y y Last Breath

I’d already been following this enigmatic avant-garde project from London for a while when I noticed how unique their work actually is and how solid their following. Scene-wise, they seem to come from the cloud/silk/vapor trap side, but in the grey zone between this section of the post-internet underground and the avant-garde club movement, which are often still worlds apart despite of the extensive overlap in aesthetics. Sound-wise they even smoothly blend in influences from genres like witch house or futurebeats. In the Soundcloud followers list too, I see all the imortant avant-garde club names popping up, which makes me wonder why we at Generation Bass have been sleeping on this all the time.

‘II’ is a unique, emotionally gripping EP with powerful sounds that, if anything, sound like a more less industrial version of the radical alchemy of WWWINGS. Officially it was set for release on the 25th of March, but so far the only thing I can find of it online is this folder without a buy or download link. If anyone knows their bandcamp, let us know via our facebook page. For the time being you can grab their equally impressive previous work, ‘[] EP’ HERE for free.

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7. Wolf & Witnessing Acapulco (_WDIS)

‘Acapulco’ is the intriguing product of a collaboration between the better known Infinite Machine curator, Wolf, and experimental futurist Witnessing, both based in Montreal, sharing Latin American heritage and personal friends of each other. They decided to explore their roots in the context of the critical reflections on the future which both of them usually focus on in their creative work. The track is a stunningly thoughtful, introspective as well as vibrantly expressive ambient-dembow-club tune. The catchy melodic work slightly resembles Kid Antoine, but with the viscous smoothness scorched away by a combination of the gothic heaviness of y y y and the raw chaoticism of Los Innsurgentes. Together with KABLAM‘s uptempo skeletal remix it makes a mini-EP which was released already two months ago on the Berlin based avant-garde label _WDIS.

>> FREE DOWNLOAD <<

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8. MHYSA Hivemind EP (NON)

A third NON WORLDWIDE release that can’t possibly be missing from any essential releases list is MHYSA’s ‘HIVEMIND EP’. E. Jane a.k.a MHYSA, a.k.a. E. The Avatar and one half of the performance & sound duo SCRAAATCH, is a multi-talented musician, visual artist, poet, critical internet theorist, activist and futurist from Philadelphia whose work is an interrelated patchwork of visions for the future of Blackness and queerness in a high technological world. With a combination of music, designs, performance and more, she exposes and radically rejects the ongoing systemic colonialist, racist and patriarchical oppression structurally built into the technology shaping the world. Like Chino Amobi’s has shown for airports, control, exploitation and exploration are persisting, white-colonial dreams that have shaped the internet to such extent that its language, assumptions and default structures produce an othering and agressive universe. Her resistance is itself cybernetic, embracing, bending and using rather than rejecting technology in order to create new, radically independent futures for Blackness and queerness to flourish.

‘Hivemind EP’ addresses the existential nature of social media as a networked space and the way it visualises the workings of collective consciousness, power relations and the impact of art and social change. With six stunning, thoughtful experimental ambient tracks she paints panoramas of and lays the cornerstone for her Utopian visions, for and by Black women. Two tracks are co-produced with teammate plus_c under their joint project SCRAAATCH, and another one together with Generation Bass favourite DJ Haram.

>> BUY HERE <<

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9. Compilation Japan Edition (Club Late Music)

Club Late Music is an exciting, relatively new, globe-spanning collective & label curated by 100% HALAL (Frankfurt), AZN Girl (Brussels), Bubbles (London), Dragon UMA (Yachiyo), Ideal Corpus (Marseille), Michel Ours (Paris), Prince Lucien (London) and T/B/O (Los Angeles). Their musical focus ingeniously connects the world of avant-garde club to the euphoric and kawaii flavoured sounds of retro-rave and nightcore – a combination that we will definitely see more in 2016. Earlier releases like the ‘Summer Hits Compilation‘ and their mixtape series have our radar unfortunately. But ‘Compilation Japan Edition’ is a perfect, much more diverse follow up that shows even more pronouncedly the forward looking direction in which this blend of music is paving the way for new developments this year and beyond. It probably got its name after the download-for-free-entrance promo for the club night at Lounge Neo in Tokyo, already three months ago. In the run-up to this party, it used to be downloadable via this interview on the Japanese music & culture webmagazine Public Rhythm, but the link is now broken. We’ll keep you updated about future releases!

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10. Abu AMA Riad Noir (hexx 9 Records)

Finally the debut album of Abu AMA, the producer whose absence of support from our blog for so long still puts me to shame. I recently called his unique ‘ArabXo’ sound, blending Middle Eastern music with tarraxo and mesmerising experimental dub, the most Generation Bass sound ever. But even more importantly, his engagement with Middle Eastern culture is far from a gimmick, either exoticising or demonising Arabic culture. Quite the opposite, his strong political message, weaven continuously into the titles as well as the compositions, is an incisive denouncement of the demonisation and fearmongering depiction of the Middle East, refugees and muslims in Western media and culture and a passionate cry for end to the vicious geopolitical destruction of the region. This is significant, especially considering the producer’s embedding in the dark ambient music scene, a world where harmful, othering exploitation of the fears from our collective prejudices can still be bread and butter.

‘Riad Noir’ (‘Black Garden’) contains 10 delicately produced tracks that show the full breadth and depth of Abu AMA’s style, released back in January broad multi-genre dark underground label hexx 9 Records, also home to a number of essential producers from the ‘new dark underground’ like Volkanos or Bedtime Stories.

>> BUY HERE <<

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

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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 <<

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Maramza : Umlungu WeGqom

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Since the Tarraxo wave, one of the only things that’s been grabbing more and more of my interest, save for Arabic stuff, is Gqom and its evolution, especially in the hands of dudes like South African Maramza.

Maramza has added an Apocalyptic flair to his Gqom productions much in the same vein that dudes from the Portuguese Bass Underground did to Tarraxo & Fodencia. This makes it super exciting, interesting and highly relevant.

Maramza has just dropped this 4 track EP consisting of Gqom set in a dystopian, apocalyptic world where the future is bleak. There’s very little hope for humanity mirroring much of the world today. Where you have a savage Neo-Facist Nazi like The Trump trying to take over the world and lead one of the world’s most powerful nations into total annihilation. A world devoid of dignity and respect for humanity.

It’s an intoxicating listen:

Don’t forget to check the awesome remix he did for our recent Neki release: