Dance music has has exploded in the years since this blog began, but for fans size is not all that counts. The interest of the majors in EDM is here to stay and it represents the mainstream arm of a global dance sound still driven by boutique, vanity, and independent labels. After all, no matter how big the festival or bright the headliner, tunes from new and established independent labels dominate the sets. These labels are the primary incubators of dance music talent.
This series of posts recognizes that fact that interest in EDM comes from the ceaseless drive of individual tastemakers and tunemakers to make dance music available to people who want to listen to it. I will point out five more or less new labels that are worth listening to—the only thing they all have in common is releasing amazing music. None of them have been around for more than 5 years but all of them release some of the best dance music out there!
North Carolina is rapidly becoming a center of talent in electronic music. One of the biggest names to emerge from the state is also one of the youngest talents to make serious waves. Anyone who keeps up with electronic music knows that Porter Robinson exploded onto the festival and touring circuit by making music that’s good. “Say My Name” the song that made him famous managed to use the word “honor” in way that was not out of date and actually seemed kind of cool. . .all that, and face it the theme of the song was unexpected given the title. Not yet out of high school, Robinson is one of the wunderkinds emerging in global dance along with other producers such as Madeon from France and Temabes from Russia. These kids continue in the tradition of The Belleville Three, Felix Stallings, Jr (now Felix da Housecat), Tevo Howard, and Steve Porter all of whom were in high school or, even, middle school when they began making club hits.
Being in North Carolina right now, it’s only fitting to take a moment to point out Porter Robinson’s new remix of Lady Gaga. Undoubtedly it’ll be a huge track a huge track. As I write this it’s been up for a less than three hours, and is approaching 600 plays…that’s about three plays a minute. Wow. This remix shows that Robinson is an artist who looks to challenge himself in production. Hardest part of being a wunderkind is, well, being a wunderkind, rather than say just another little Johnny one note. Porter Robinson is working hard, and his remix shows it. For that reason it pairs well with Gaga’s latest hit, the result of her own tireless grind.
Robotic electronica is forever. Every once in a while its interest reaches a critical mass–then it gets a new moniker and dudded up as a trendy Next Big Thing. That’s not a good or bad thing. Its just what happens. When a synth-pop artist survives such revivals they are apt to be like Jason Amms aka Solvent. Solvent’s new artist album Subject to Shift comes out on Ghostly International on May 25th. It’s a reminder of why syth-pop revivals happen at all. This is punky, robotic stuff with an edge–all analog synths and vintage electronic atmospherics. Subject to Shift can feel whimsical, but it keeps the dullness of mere kitsch at bay in each song, most of which like “Formulate” and “Take Me Home” are darkly brilliant.
In support of Solvent’s new album, Soul Reflector is also glad to be reposting Solvent’s recent set from Ghostly International’s podcast. The label pretty accurately describes this one: “a selection of raw analog-synthesizer music, from lo-fi industrial to melodic synth pop.” Check the set and a couple of songs from the release! – set and songs to preview!
The Psychonauts are Pablo Clement and Paul Mogg. A few years ago International DJ Gigolos brought it out a few years ago, and it was an oddity at the time. The remastered version shows how forward thinking it was. Waaay ahead of the curve.
This set is one that Paul Mogg of The Psychonauts did over at Resident Advisor, deifinitely my favorite online magazine for electronic news and culture (Nobody pays me for any of this so I’m not just saying that!). Mogg dropped the set in support of the re-released full length Songs for Creatures. Its a fantastic set that explores an electronic sound replete with organic and psychedelic elements. In fact the set that shows part of the sensibility that makes “Songs for Creatures” such a forward looking and still fresh slice of yummy electronica. Its great stuff. I like it particularly because this kind of a set why I even thought to start putting up this site in the first place. DJing at its best is so much more than playing either your own or other people’s music.
Jon Hassell & Brian Eno – Chemistry
Mosaik – Brass Cannon (Kreidler remix)
Four Tet – Love Cry (Girl With Money Losoul Edit)
Julijske Alpe – Industria
Kris Menace – Metropolis (Serge Santiago Italo Boot Edit)
TJ Kong – The Centre Of The World
DJ Hell ft. Brian Ferry – U Can Dance (Carl Craig Remix)
Andrew Weatherall – All The Little Things That Make Life Worth Leaving
Morel – True (The Faggot Is You) (Poof Daddy Remix)
Modest Goddess – Pan/Tone Remix
Citizen Kane & Sal Principato – Ledger
Mogwai – The Sun Smells Too Loud (James Holden Remix)
Hot Chip – One Life Stand (Carl Craig’s Paperclip People Remix)
Photonz – WEO
Massive Attack – Paradise Circus (Gui Boratto Remix)
DJ Harvey presents Locussolus – Gunship
Sempiternal – Amaranth
Kris Menace‘s Work it Baby label is celebrating its tenth anniversary. Part of the celebration is a double CD set that make s the label’s amazing catalogue available in one place. The first CD features recent and unreleased tracks from the label that includes. With this posting I’m including one of the best tracks from the CD.
Work It Baby is a French House label that specializes in an energetic synth driven sound that takes inspiration from the west coast disco sounds of, say, Patrick Cowley. But this is not some Hi-NRG rehash–the releases consistent are more than the sum of their influences. That’s a good thing in this case–the sound of San Fran. disco can pretty easily become shlocky and cheeseball. Work It Baby is _never_ like that. Their tracks are invariably mostly propulsive dancefloor monsters that manage to strike chords that are at time down right inspiring. Ten years is a long time to be cutting edge in a genre like electronic music-everything is about the future, what is to come, what’s next, the new directions. Any artitst or labels who rest on their laurels for too long are pretty soon played out when they play out. Menace is still generating excitement through both of his labels. (Compuphonic is the other.)
Work It Baby, well, works it. One of the surest signs of that is the selection of artists in its catalogue. Patrick Alavi of Germany has been shining more brightly with each release. His own boutique label, roXour, is celebrating its 5th anniversary right now. His 2004 track “Power” gets a remix from Menace for the anniversary disc. This track manages to showcases all of the best features of the label-an extraordinary build with increasingly complex synth elements that final explode into an aurora borealis of color. The music is like a laser light show, and no worhtwhile dancefloor could resist this track for very long–Menace’s skillful briliance is that he so ably brings his voice to an artist’s track without undermining the spirit what made the original so fantastic in the first place.
Welcome to Soul Reflector–a blog for EDM music selectors everywhere. I’ll be featuring EDM tracks and sets from my favorite artists and DJs, as well as playlists and clips from my radio show on WKNC in Raleigh, NC. . .BTW: WKNC is simulcast live with a webcast at wknc.org. Occasionally I may post some extra, useful chatter. My radio sets are always live and usually vinyl, but for this inaugural post I did a special digital mix. Take a listen to it!
For this particular show I had a special guest, DJ FM of djfm.com–a very cool and talented DJ and producer out of North Carolina. . .he started out as a metalhead apparently, but has been making some killer electronic tracks for a while now. I’ll talk a little more about him in later posts without a doubt! My blog will support and promote electronic music on every level–local, state, national, international, outernational. . . no boundaries, no borders, no divides here–it’s about supporting the most massive tunes and keeping an ear to the ground for the best recent and upcoming stuff. There’s a lot planned for the near future, so keep checking out the site! In the meantime enjoy the set!
Benko Gambit Setlist June 30th
WKNC 88.1 FM/WKNC.org–
Hemiptera–Low Hand. Hemiptera, a married duo, have been guests on my show before so it just seemed right to start with them. Dark, minimal track with morphing layers of syncopation, set a trajectory for the mix to come.
Monkey Brothers–Manuela (Original Mix). Keeping to the minimal, dark elements of the opening tracks this one is a scorching bit of NYC techno.
Snuff Crew-Control. The darkness starts to jack with this one–currently a favorite track. Soon to be released on International Deejay Gigolo, I can hardly get enough! The minimalism begins to thicken a bit with the squelchy 303 lines, that gives the whole a sinister undercurrent.
DJ Hell–Wonderland. Onto the Guru of International Deejay Gigolo’s, DJ Hell. . .this one’s from the recent Teufelswerk double LP, and is a complex, layered, protean piece of sonic nutrition. It’s deepening complexity moves the mix into its next stage of airy, driving tunes.
Oscar G–Innosense. The lead track from the multi-disc artist release. Elements of progressive and electro balance nicely over an organic percussive pulse.
Tiefschwarz feat. Seth Troxler–Trust. I love the talking tracks–there is something so poetic when an artist builds a track around a human voice that’s just talking. This little gem has Seth Troxler musing on immaturity and relationships over deep pulsing drums and a bass line that’s as on the brink as the relationship in the song.
Shit Robot–Simple Things (Serge Santiago Version). Shit robot’s releases on DFA have all been monsters, and this one is no exception. Clocking in at a clean 10 mins in the Serge Santiago remix its worth every second. If Trust is about how hard it is to be in a relationship, Simple Things is about how hard it can be not to be in one.
Tom Neville & Guy Williams–Take No Prisoners. Massive track! This track is both smart and sexy, patiently building groove that doesn’t stop. The title is what this song doesn’t do.
Rockers Hi-Fi–Push Push (M.A.N.D.Y.’s Pusher Remix). This track is one of those tracks that I’ve heard in many different versions, over the last few years. Every version sticks with you, though. A special version of a special song.
Louie Vega vs. DJ Pierre–Da Jungle (The Klienteles Italienisch Workout Mix). I’ve been playing this song in every remix available because they are all fantastic. It brings out the best in every one!!!
Steve Porter – Control (Original Mix). Wow. Just wow. . .last year this time I was having burgers with this guy, and had noooo idea this was to come.
Dave P & Adam Sparkles–Delaze. Featured this track a few weeks back, and then a mix by these guys. Love it love it love it–it’s bonkers, but oddly perfect.
Ronski Speed–Are You ? (Sun Decade Mix). A bit of a departure for me, but a great track. I’ve got a soft spot for the progressive scene because up in Virginia, these were the folks hyping me