Well into the new year, the long awaited new edition of Essential EP’s, most of which are from 2015 still but too essential to skip. An exciting selection which finally has a fair share of cumbia included, some of which you may have seen supported already in Sexxy Saturday Cumbia, but deserves to be included among the essentials. At the same time, the selection is an attempt to be a perfect bridge into the coming year!
1. Mixpak Holiday Bundle 2015 (MIXPAK)
There are few things so essential and broadly influential as everything that future-dancehall label MIXPAK does. To my surprise, after our own show on Stranded FM last Friday where I played Florentino’s romantic future-zouk tune ‘Leave’, El Maria from the Bright label club-night & radio show in my hometown, played the exact same track as well as MM & Kid Antoine‘s anthemistic banger Final Response. The other contributors are Escape From Nature’s Orlando Volcano and the London based grime & dancehall producer famous eno. MIXPAK’s Holiday Bundle is by far the most essential compilation in all your sets and playlists for a while ahead this year!
2. NON WORLDWIDE COMPILATION, VOL. 1 (NON)
This enthusiastically received compilation has been out for quite a while already and it’s a shame we haven’t been able to support it yet. Where the label made a powerful start with only music from the founding members (ANGEL-HO, Chino Amobi and Nkisi) here the family extends into a wide variety of artists from all over the world, notably gqom collective Rudeboyz and upcoming star GAIKA but also so lesser known artists like Farai and FAKA. I’d love to see the NON family extend even further in the new year. They announced a first edition of a magazine with critical essays, art, photography, poetry and more so that will certainly happen. More about this soon on Generation Bass!
The future Latin club duo Santa Muerte was one of the greatest newcomers last year and will continue to grow in 2016. It was exciting to see how they would connect to many different scenes and sub-scenes, releasing with the futurists from The Astral Plane for example, but also with the tropicalistas from El Flying Monkey. Two weeks ago, they kicked off the new year with an exclusive bootleg pack for the influential GHE20G0TH1K platform.
I listed Tomás Urquieta from Viña del Mar, Chile, as one of the artists to watch in 2016 and I’m almost convinced that his mechanical, even techno-flavoured club EP, which pushes the sounds of the club avant-garde beyond the current club scene’s inner circle, will in retrospect prove to be among the most forward looking works of the year. Therefore here again, in case you haven’t checked it out yet, the entire EP, including exlusive tracks for influential platforms as XLR8R and Complex UK.
In a time where what we once called ‘bandwagons’ look rather like a swarm of spaceships in a Star Wars battle, it is both refreshing and impressive to see somebody undesturbedly pushing a personal style. Few have done this so persistently over the years as the Dallas based future Latin producer Erick Jaimez. His catchy blend of sampled cumbia with crunk beats and house grooves had lots of potential from the very beginning but fell just in between the different centres of gravity existing at the time. Too ‘urban’ to be ‘hipster-tropical’, too much roots to be ‘EDM’ and too experimental to fit into the Mexican tribal, cumbia & norteñas underground. But as time has passed and his followers base has grown steadily, there is finally space arising in the shifting music landscape. Since the beginning, Erick Jaimez has been closely affiliated to the next generation Latin culture movement around El Dusty and his Americano label, which will be gaining even more gravity and attention this year. One of the great signs is the new club night Sonidero Dallas, launched recently, where Erick Jaimez will perform next to Track Meet curator Shook Nite, which smoothly links him to the club avant-garde (circle closed!). More about this soon. For now, feel the vibrant anthem potential of this fresh EP, where Erick’s recognisable style is notably crystallise even further from an innovative experiment into perfected quality production.
Almost a year ago, I selected a previous EP from this upcoming Montreal based Japanese producer as essential. I must also immediately confess that I promised a major post on the mysterious rock-climbing cult genre GORGE, which I never managed to write. But I can tell you that the draft is already sitting on the dashboard to be completed and published soon as one of our major new things this spring. Also an exciting observation is that with releasing on this avant-garde label with close connections with Classical Trax for example, Kazuki as an artist but also gorge as a genre is finding it’s way into the club avant-garde! Compared to the percussive, uptempo dreamy ambient flavoured tone of his previous, equally breathtaking EP, this release is a lot heavier. The rather maximalistic melodic synth, sample and ambient patches and take over the leading position from percussion drums, in a way that often strongly reminds me of 2814‘s post-vaporwave ambient. Also shout out to experimental producer and vocalist Così e Così, whose vocals appear on the second track!
7. GAMEFACE – Alpha Centauri 2
Without any doubt the most independent and enlightened mind in trap, even in his own niche of dark trap which has developed into a vivid underground over the last one and a half year. With Alpha Centauri 1, already two years ago, he was very much pioneering the ‘dark trap’ sound. Not only did that genre not exist yet at that time, its closest cousins, dark trillwave and Chicago drill on the hiphop side were still very underground and very separate from the EDM-trap movement. His unique combination of distorted leads, drums and vocals, indian chants and mystical imagery would completely open new ways for trap music in the years that followed. Now with the second volume, he aims to take the initiative for another next step. Now not against the background of a genre at its peak, but rather after its downfall, free from the dominance of EDM trap and its expectations. Out of the crucible of darkness and its post-apocalyptic ashes he now rises, reborn, transformed into a divine cosmic being, like a transdimensional butterfly, drying its wings in the endless sea of galaxies. Collabs contributions are from fellow dark trap OG Hounds (Canada) and new talent Donny Coke (Amsterdam).
8. Morten HD – Darkside Kygo
If anyone deserves the honour of being Classical Trax’ most active member, it is certainly the experimental ambient grime producer Morten_HD from Oslo. Next to his contributions to compilations, appearing on every compilation project released by the CT collective and other platforms, he occasionally releases EPs by himself. As a matter of fact he also just released his newest EP via Apothecary Compositions some days ago, while I was already writing this post. Darkside Kygo is such a personal outburst of creativity, re-interpreting EDM-pop hits from the Norwegian superstar DJ Kygo into a wild conceptual blend of ambient noise and classic hardcore with bubbling and soca beats!
>> DOWNLOAD VIA SOUNDCLOUD <<
As we speak, KUMBALE’s nestor René Gamez a.k.a. SSDSS is on tour in Mexico together with his friend and Esperanza nights co-host Bogdan Krawalski and the Hungarian tropicalist Stas. Meanwhile, they continue releasing fantastic stuff. Bigote, curator of his own cumbia based label and collective Caballito in his country Spain, continued his friendship with KUMBALE, celebrated last month with a special Esperanza edition, with an EP released on KUMBALE: ‘Cumbia Maluca’. Maluca, a Brazilian slang word for a wild, crazy girl, used a lot in baile funk, is the ultimate fusion of the raunchy pleasure vibe of funk with the hypnotic slow grooves of cumbia.
>> DOWNLOAD VIA SOUNDCLOUD <<
Check out the aftermovie of ‘Esperanza vs Caballito’ here!
10. GRAVETON IV (Caballito)
Around the same time, Caballito Netlabel itself returned with the 4th ‘Graveton’ compilation, started back in 2010 to showcase the most creative underground bedroom productions with cumbia and reggaeton elements. Unfortunately, not all editions are available online any more, but in its successive releases you would notice the successive development in sound, from the digital cumbia scene’s origins in psychedelic dub towards the banger sound of ‘tropical bass’. This time, the mega compilation with 39 tracks seems dedicated to the sound shift towards the club avant-garde, including not only established names from the digital cumbia scene such as Tribilín Sound and Real Cumbia Activa and but also London club underground OG Endgame, future dembow pioneer Kid Cala and the enigmatic Mexican underground formation Grupo Jejeje. Even more excitingly, even relatively mainstream names from the Andean electrofolk scene are involved like Animal Chuki and Dengue Dengue Dengue, who are normally operating at a fair distance from the new club scene. Yet broad compilations and flexible labels like Caballito are able to bring these worlds together, and that is where the most interesting things will happen.