There is no denying the raw talent of D.V.S*. He manages to blend guitar and electronic frequencies in a unique and tasteful manner. His range of sounds is actually quite astounding. Throughout his new release, Hit the Clouds Running, he incorporates funk, jazz, 80’s, and other varied sounds in a way that makes listeners want to move. It’s fun, upbeat, feel-good music that’s good for your ear holes. While you’ll often find me gettin’ weird to crazy-ass beats, this type of music so speaks to my soul. It’s crisp and refreshing – just nice easy listening. However don’t mistake that for simplicity, for it’s far from that! D.V.S* is a sound wizard casting tasteful resonant spells on us all with his complex yet effortless tunes. I particularly enjoy Heartmaps; it has an awesome buildup that I love and then some radical outer-space feeling sounds, all on top of a catchy beat.
D.V.S* first got on my radar with his remix of Emancipator’s Jet Stream which was very impressive. Since then he has only climbed up from that; I also loved his 30 track double album, Coming up for Air. Quality sounds all around. I was stoked when I heard that he linked up with Gravitas Recordings, one of my favorite labels. Gravitas has been killing it lately overall, with stellar releases from D.V.S*, Ill-Esha, Goldrush, ChrisB., Aligning Minds, One4All, Mr. Bill, The Digital Connection, and so many more!
Profresher, formerly known as Billy Blacklight, has been pumping out insane quantities of tracks for a few years now, turning his soundcloud and especially Bandcamp into a treasure chest for DJ’s, lyricists, and listeners alike. Profresher has developed and perfected an extremely unique and interesting sound that doesn’t limit him, but instead allows him to successfully experiment and work within a large range of sounds, tempos, and styles, while still staying clear of any type of cookie cutter sameness. His background is in piano and keyboard, which is very obvious when listening to his melodically based beats. Many of his tracks carry a soft, whimsical sound that could easily serenade the listener into a state of comfort and bliss. Excellent for relaxing, doing work, or driving to, as well as often times being very friendly to rap or sing over. But he is also quite competent at producing heavy hitting dancefloor ready tracks, laced with fat bass and a retro reminiscent feel.
His bandcamp is currently home to TWENTY SEVEN self released albums, twelve of which create his recently finished Zodiac Project. The Zodiac project was one of the more challenging and unique ventures I’ve seen from an electronic musician and I find it even more exciting and beautiful now that it’s in it’s finished form. As you can probably guess from the project’s title, Profresher wrote an EP for every Zodiac sign. Each EP had three tracks and was started and finished within the duration of each zodiac sign, beginning in April 2012 with Aries and ending this past March with Pisces.
Profresher wrote the music as he always does, but when listening to each album within it’s time period as I did, one can’t help but notice the natural correlation between each release and the feel and vibe of the time. I figured I would find instant solace and love in mine (and his) sign, Gemini, and although I did adore and appreciate that particular release, I found myself really falling for some of the other signs, especially Aries and Aquarius. Below are some of my favorite tracks from the entire project and rumor has it, if you contact Profresher through his artist page, he’ll give you your sign for free Keep an eye out for his next release on 4/20, Zentai, as well as music from his brand new label, Anamnesis.
It’s been quite some time since we’ve heard anything from Phutureprimitive. He’s always been one of my favorites with his smooth, gorgeous signature sound. He always manages to lure me into a trance, whether chilling and listening, or experiencing his live performance. There is always attention to detail, with plenty of texture interweaved throughout each track. This is my kind of music. As much as I can appreciate the more recent evolution into eclectic, experimental, and trap (eh actually, not really with the latter) sounds, music like Phutureprimitive’s will forever be my go-to, almost like frequencies of comfort. I love the natural ebb and flow of his style. You don’t even have to try to dance to this music and can easily lose yourself in the deep yet soothing resonations. If you let it, it will take you on a sonic journey into another dimension.
I enjoy his newest release, Searching for Beauty in the Darkest Places Pt. 1, very much. It incorporates just that… both darkness and luminosity. It gets me thinking about equilibrium; for when you light a candle you also cast a shadow. In “Only You” he incorporates darkness with the wubby dubstep sounds, but then veers off into a bright effervescent hook. That range is quite satisfying to me! I absolutely love Phutureprimitive’s remix of Jillian Ann’s “Passes Away”. It also embodies both obscurity and beauty effortlessly. Then there’s his remix of The Human Experience’s “Dusted Compass”. He does a marvelous job of reworking an already beautiful song and making it his own. It’s common for remixes to sound chopped up and unincorporated, as if there are two songs in one. Not with this one. It sounds organic and elegant… meant to be. I’m excited for what Part 2 will bring!
This release came out over a month ago but my recent experience at South by Southwest has led me to revisit the work of several producers. One of those producers is Brooklyn’s Sweater Beats and the EP he released with Lawrence, Kansas’ Morri$. I’ve been a huge fan of Morri$’s unique Goombahwave sound since first coming across his excellent track “Rashida Jones” about a year ago. Sweater Beats on the other hand, is much newer to me, but I’m already expecting amazing things from the dude and am very impressed with his current arsenal of music. His tunes are vibed out, thick, futuristic, and so glossy it slips through your ear drum and into your consciousness like butter on bread.
Their collab EP, Young Love/Heartbreak Vol.3, which is home to two tracks by Sweater Beats and three by Morri$, was a perfect Valentine’s day release, comprised of lush, sentimental beats that fit just as well in the club as they do in the bedroom. Of course music this good should in no way be limited to one day a year, as these love laden vibes provide the listener with a warm fuzzy feeling that never really gets old. There is no better adjective I can think of to describe this collection of beats then SMOOTH. Enjoy, lovers and friends.
Out of all the moombah whatevers, trap madness, juked out, lazer bass, goombah blah blah trends that have hit the music scene the last couple years, my favorite by far has been the emergence of that bright, 80’s reminiscent, maximalist, surrealist electronic pop sounding stuff (think Rustie, Bobby Tank). I know that’s a pretty lengthy and ridiculous description, but I have yet to find a name for the style that I think truly fits it…which I like. Genres and categorization can be really helpful when first getting into a new kind of music, but after awhile I find them to become awfully limiting. I feel like a weird set of unwritten rules come into play once a style gets solidified as a genre and it can lead to a loss of experimentation and the dreaded cookie cutter sound. I pray to the bass gods that this won’t happen to this kind of stuff! It takes influence from a lot of different styles, time periods, and cultures and is such a refreshing and fun strain of music.
One of my favorite members of this movement is Russian producer, 813, and his long awaited Recolor EP (released by Slugabed’s new label, Activia Benz), is a perfect embodiment of the style I am trying to describe. Sparkly, colorful, and extremely visual, the release appeals to my love of fantasy, obsession with retro futurism, and addiction to the dancefloor all at the same time. Although songs from the EP had shown up on soundcloud over the last year, being able to listen to the release in it’s entirety was a treat. The aesthetic of “Fantasmo”, “Crystal Raw”, and “The Whaler” might originally come of as a little cheesy to lovers of downtempo or dubstep, but I hear those tracks as hyperactive and anthem like, like some kind of awesome future robot arena rock band. Huge bass and powerful frequent drops makes this EP a joy to dance to, especially the particularly dance floor friendly tracks, “Charger” and “256 Colors”. But the one track that stuck out to me the most was the joyous and bright “Elastique”. Stuck right in the middle of the EP, cute inaudible vocal samples scattered among atmospheric and trancey synth lines melt into a smooth luscious banger that grabbed me by the heart strings and demanded a second and third listen. I’m stressed like crazy right now, being in the middle of final projects time in school, and the few listens I had of this EP while writing this review greatly enhanced my mood and struck a creative chord in me. I hope it does the same for you!
Since first falling in love with electronic music in 2008, I have never underestimated the importance of having extremely trustworthy music sources. There is an insane amount of music out there, some great, some terrible, and unless you’re ready and willing to spend hours searching through the depths of Soundcloud to find two, maybe three, new artists you genuinely like, then you’re left with what I have figured out to be the best options: blogs(but you’re on Afro Monk right now, so I’m assuming you’ve already got this one down ) and following labels. It’s not true for every record label, but many often focus around a genre or style. To find a record label you really love is like finding a key. They are doing the dirty work for you, sifting through hundreds of promos and hours of research to find artists that are going to represent the label and their sound. There are many labels I love and follow devoutly, but my favorite is Rwina Records.
Rwina Records is an Amsterdam based collective, specializing in innovative, underground bass music, heavy in science fiction and gritty futuristic influences and not afraid to push the boundaries. Rwina means “never ending chaos” in Moroccan, and the label stays true to the title with every release. Their international array of releases is impressive and consists of some of the best in underground bass music including Eprom, NastyNasty, Starkey, Doshy, and Krampfhaft.
Although I own and love so many of Rwina’s releases, I’ve never know much about the man behind it all, Akkachar a.k.a Akka. What I definitely did not know, was that a release by him and label mate, Taz was going to become one of my favorite pieces put out by the label ever. After a series of collaborative works spanning over three years, the two recently graced us with a mini mix of their upcoming spring release, Synergy. The mix is a futuristic hip hop hybrid, blending old school video game vibes with lush and dreamy like synths, producing perfect dance floor bangers for humans and cyborgs alike. Each track is unique and brilliant within itself, but as a group, works together effortlessly. I absolutely love it and am ecstatic for the official release of the EP on April 1st.
Oh Camp ?, words cannot describe the fun I have had getting down on your dusty dance floor. Whether it be on the playa, or at their festival, Emissions, or at all night parties in the bay, their shows and gatherings have been the backdrop of some of the best nights of my life. What always not only impresses me, but totally wins me over, is their tendency to book a ton of truly up and coming artists. And not just a few thrown at the bottom of the billing with a shitty time slot, but awesome quantities of them. Youngins’, innovators, the potential next big thing, Camp ? is paying attention and trying to get them on a sound system near you. I can not express how important this is to me. There are so many incredible producers getting zero bookings while the same mediocre DJ’s and producers play at every other show or festival. Yes, I understand that is where the money lies (In NAMES. People love them big names.) and although the electronic music scene often times promotes the facade of being some kind of ultra conscious, society defying movement, money is still the driving factor of many of these parties. But whatever, that notion just makes me appreciate communities like Camp ? and their party philosophy even more. With that being said, I love and support Camp ? in any way I personally can and here is a chance for you to do the same (and score some amazing tuneage while you’re at it!)
I introduce to you, The Campilation, an 18 track compilation released on the ever killing it, MalLabel music, to raise funds for Camp ?’s 2013 Burning Man camp. The compilation is home to tracks from a range of artists and styles, including some more established names such as Minnesota, Stylust Beats, Love and Light, and Sugarpill, as well as a collection of other very talented producers. I’ll admit my devout obsession to glitch hop has been dwindling over the last year so it was so refreshing to hear some great stuff from the genre, especially from two of my favorite, and in my opinion, highly underrated artists, Kll Smth and Mad Zach. The variation in style makes it hard to choose a favorite, but Guttstar, an amazing producer who if you aren’t familiar with, you should be, really brought it to the table with his atmospheric yet bangin track, “Where Do Dead Stars Go?”. I also may or may not have listened to G Jones’s “West Cliff” 4-5 times before changing to the next song. But we all already know how I feel about him ;)
Whether you’re planning on attending this year’s Burning Man or not, know that by buying this album you are supporting a truly great organization of bass loving humans. And if you are hoping to make it to the playa this year, know that your financial support will be going to one of the most poppin camps in all of Black Rock City. Regardless of the philanthropic aspect, this is a great release for all kinds of bass music lovers and I hope you all love it as much as I do.
Sixis may be a new name to you, but the influence on and from his sound is closer to ancient. Heavily textured and deeply organic, Sixis’ music represents to me the holiness of the merger of technology and nature. Alien like pads, swampy bass, and rhythmic drums create a natural yet unique experience, encompassing the listener in a deep, hypnotic embrace- warming the soul, exciting the conscience.
Sixis is the moniker of Bay Area native to Pacific Northwest transplant (hey, like me!), Ben Taecker-Wyss. Ben is currently attending Evergreen State College (hey, like me!) to study music production on a serious level. His first official release, Transhuman EP, put out by Substruk Records, blends tangibly thick bass with earthy elements to create a powerful energy, full of movement and oozing with psychedelic creativity. His sound design is excellent and his music complex and interesting, reminiscent of early work of the legendary Heyoka. After extensive listening of his soundcloud, I can hear the improvement in his most recent work and am really looking forward to seeing what this up and coming artist has in store for us in 2013! Big ups, Sixis!
I have a very personal love for Greg Jones’s music. He lives in my hometown of Santa Cruz, California and I have seen him play countless times, mostly at small bars and our much loved outdoor parties, more commonly referred to as renegades. Known originally as Grizzly J, he was easily one of my favorite local DJs; never disappointing me in a set, never sounding like the person before or after him, and always keeping me dancing from start to finish. Eventually I started to notice his original productions. Tracks like his “Totoro” Remix and “Stardust” genuinely impressed me with their melodic and whimsical feel. Enamored with his somewhat distinctly Bay Area sound, I soon realized he was going to become an important part of the local bass community.
A couple years down the road, a name change, and a jump in popularity later, G Jones is making some of my favorite music out there. His work in 2012 landed him a spot on both me and Afro Monk’s top of the year lists. His latest EP “Transmissions”, released on the wonderful MalLabel Music is a fantastic mix of heartfelt melodies, thick basslines, and hyphy undertones. “Heart Cave VIP” took a quick lead for my favorite track, as I had fallen in love with it in his excellent New Originals 2012 Mix last summer, but by my second or third listen, the complex movement and glitchy aesthetic of “Kretek” had me sold. Oh, and did I mention there’s a freaking Widdler remix on there?
G Jones’s live sets are a mix of epic originals and really well chosen works of others. I was lucky enough to see him perform last weekend at a great warehouse party in Tacoma, Washington and it was probably my favorite set I’ve seen so far in 2013. I highly recommend checking him out if he’s on the bill of a show you’re attending. Or even better, try and get your favorite local promoter to book him now, cause I know this kid is only going up from here.
I’ll NEVER forget the moment I was introduced to Aligning Minds music. It was while I was in Asheville, NC for a show. Mike Folk, 1/2 of Aligning Minds, was playing an early morning set in the small barn they had set up. I was totally blown away by everything he played. After that set Mike and I have become close friends and stay in touch on a regular basis.
I recently finally met Daniel over the summer and was beyond impressed by the live dynamic both of them bring to a live performance. The quality and detail that goes into their music is rare. Lets not even get into the fact that beautiful music like this doesn’t come around often enough.
Give it up to Gravitas Recordings to bring you Aligning Minds most recent release, My Heart Is Love. The title track might be a bit familiar to you as it was released on Vermin Street earlier last year. This is the completed LP that includes the full spectrum of sound behind Aligning Minds.
I’m extremely bias and adore these guys so much but it’s for a reason. They make some of the most inspiring music out there. My Heart Is Love is a piece of work that showcases a gorgeous vibration of sound and emotion. I can’t encourage producers enough to produce more music like this. It’s a blessing to finally hear the final mastered versions of these tracks. Chances are you might have heard some of these in my recent mixes.
Be sure to grab this album and give it a proper listen. Also big congratulations to them for being added to the Re:evolution Agency. Word on the street is they’ll be all over the country in 2013.
Much Love goes out to both Mike and Daniel!
Stunning piece of work <3