Far from the bright lights and neon colors of huge outdoor festivals, Detroit’s pitch-black after-hours spots are always spawning new additions to the city’s storied techno legacy. One new sound in particular is as gritty and grimey as the floor of the GM factory, and almost as industrial. While still in its infancy, Sludge is by far one of the most unique takes on dance music I’ve heard in a long time. With that said, any longtime dance music listener will find something eerily comforting in the constantly evolving song structures, heavy sub basses, raw drums, slower tempos and analog sounding synths. These are not accidental moves on the part of the producers responsible, either. As Marshall Applewhite lists on his souncloud, (almost as a mantra)

“If edm is drug music, Marshall Applewhite is the anti drug. Every 16 year old on molly would run from this stuff. Every person who understands underground dance music though, they will get it, they will love it.”

Starting as a collaborative hunt between Applewhite and Detroit producer Simple for something darker and different in dance music, their first inclination was to slow things down.. Sludge lives in the slower bpm ranges (108-115)  recently popularized by the Moombahton movement, but otherwise it shares little in common with its bpm bedfellows. It has none of the latin funk, instead taking its cues more from the minimal techno and ghettotech genres that Detroit is famous for. The clean and over compressed arena style mixdowns of most modern dance music are traded for very raw, dirty, small room focused mixes. One listen to “Wet” by F.A.M.E.  or  “lonfe (too slow)” by Simple will clue you in to these elements.

It’s definitely not ADD music either, requiring patience to get to the payoff moments. In the hands of a skilled tune blender however, these tracks start a hypnotic, churning wave of sweaty bodies on 3am dancefloors.

While largely a dubplate genre at the moment, Sludge got its official debut release into the world via the newly formed How to Kill record collective from Detroit. Receiving vinyl treatment, How to Kill 001 features three Sludge tunes out of its four tracks; Marshall Applewhite’s “Leave with us” and F.A.M.E.’s “Wet” and “Tips”. Both How To KIll and YoSucka! records have more sludge releases on tap for late 2013 and early 2014.

Our exclusive for you is from Marshall Applewhite himself. Turn off all your lights and enjoy.


Text by : Steven Klingler

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