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What goes on outside directly affects what occurs inside of you.
It’s not for no reason that the damp, cold and grey winter months make for listening sessions of moody and melancholic music. From the heart-wrenching quaver of Armenian duduk to murky raps by JPEGMafia or even Mozart’s requiem, dark tones suit dark times. Then, seemingly suddenly, the rising sun starts beating you out of bed in the morning and you can downgrade your outerwear to something other than your very warmest.
Naturally, as blossoms begin blooming, so too does interest in tunes that make you want to move more. Something with a beat to get your creaky bones bouncing seems preferable to put on the player. But it’s still not spring, so you can’t jump right into sunny day party jams.
Here are five recent releases that straddle this inter-season time perfectly.
Trois | Crammed Discs
Genre: Global groove
Key track: Döne Döne feat. Cem Yildiz
Album three from this French-Algerian collective continues the group’s exploration of North African and Middle Easter sounds with contemporary club music. The 10 tracks all tend toward dance floor bangers with a marquee list of guest vocalists from North Africa, Syria and Turkey such as Cem Yildiz and Sofiane Saidi to star Rachid Taha. From mutant oud to big bass drops, the sound is both familiar and cutting-edge. Tracks such as Döne Döne draw in traditional Aleyi ceremonial rhythms with driving minimalist grooves to create compelling dance music that is still a bit reserved and melancholy. Perfect to blast when planning your garden plot.
God Complex Re:Mix | gentleparty.com
Genre: Experimental pop
Key track: Bird Song with Gentle Party and Tee Krispill (NADUH)
If ever there was a group whose self-described “avant chamber pop” was begging for remixing, it is Vancouver trio Gentle Party. This new seven inch remix album includes reimaginings of music from the group’s most recent release, God Complex, put through the studio board by a who’s who of local electronic/hip hop/dance artists. Devours remixes Unsafe into a goth-tinged breakbeat that showcases lead vocalist Jessicka’s choral stylings, while Maravilla’s spin on Little 3 actually amplifies the song’s pure pop sensibility. Fishdoll’s Cosmic Lament is straight-out trippy, while Tee Krispill’s turn at Bird Song suggest that a NADUH/Gentle Party collab might be a very good idea indeed. Each single release is being matched with a live event listed below:
• Miguel Maravilla, March 24, Neptoon Records
• Fishdoll, May 19, the Pink Palace
• Tee Krispell (NADUH), July 7, Field & Glass Studio
• Launch party with Devours, Gentle Party and special guests, Location TBA
Transmissions from Total Refreshment Centre | Blue Note Records
Genre: Jazz/Hip hop
Key track: Crescent (City Swamp Dub) by Jake Long.
Another great compilation of artists from London’s exciting and vital contemporary jazz scene. Comfortable blending in elements of pop/hip hop/funk and more, the artists involved in the scene around the Total Refreshment Centre range from such breakout crews as the Comet is Coming to many less familiar names. While noise complaints from the increasingly gentrifying Hackney borough lead to the venue being shuttered, the recording studio is still going and that’s where artists such as Byron Wallen are still operating. His track, Closed Circle, is a lovely string heavy set that smacks of French Mediterranean jazz, while Neue Grafik’s Black feat. Brother Portrait is straight-ahead grime. A lot of exciting ground is covered in the seven song selection.
Optical Delusion | London Recordings
Key track: Frequency (feat the Little Pest)
Still making cutting-edge sounds, acid house progenitors Orbital have placed themselves back on top with this new 10 track release. Not only did the single Dirty Rat (feat. Sleaford Mods) rage across the U.K. earlier this year, but brothers Phil and Paul Hartnoll prove they still have huge ears for collaborations. Ten albums in, they continue to surprise with track such as the cheeky Ringa Ringa (the Old Pandemic Folk Song) featuring Mediaeval Baebes to the breathy trip hop vibe of Are You Alive? featuring vocalist Penelope Isles. It’s a delightfully fresh collection from these revitalized scene veterans.
Someone You Can Count On | Monstercat
Here’s a new release that should generate a lot of attention with tastemakers. Vancouver-based Whipped Cream (a.k.a. Caroline Cecil) got into making music after a figure skating career was cut short by a severe injury. More luck for listeners as this producer/musician/photographer is bringing a lot of talent to the table with this excellent new release. Songs such as the single the Dark, featuring co-vocalists Jasiah and Crimson Child veers from avant-garde opera to arena EDM and back again with production so razor sharp you want to approach it with caution. Add in the video for the track being given a VR experience and the amount of stylistic variety in the seven tracks and this is one to both enjoy and an artist to follow moving forward.
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