Monthly mix roundup: dark garage, acid punk and thunderous Afrodance

Chal Ravens’ column collects the best DJ mixes and sets that have dropped in recent weeks.

The clubs have thrown open their doors and the coronavirus is out where it wants to be, mingling the night away in steamy basements. Our saga continues, but this month’s best DJ mixes and radio slots look to the past and the future for inspiration, capturing that contemporary feeling that time has lost all meaning.

We get a six-volume history of UK garage and an archaeological dig into 80s body music and punky dance. We familiarise ourselves with futuristic dance from Africa and the next generation of Fabric residents. We admire freshly captured club sets and slow-moving soundscapes, and we marvel at the singular talent that is Loraine James.

A couple of bonus hits for the video game spotters first: this power-hour of music from 90s Playstation racer game Wipeout is a perfect Y2K time capsule that hits like a dusty Lucozade sweet, and Brooklyn’s DJ Wawa has teamed up with VJ slimebubble for a visualiser twist on a video game soundtrack mix.

Loraine James – Dekmantel Podcast 342

Controlled chaos from the Hyperdub auteur

Loraine James cares not for your expectations of a festival mix series! The Hyperdub artist delivers a hyperactive and unpredictable set for Dekmantel, proving just how differently it can be done. Her selections centre around glitching beats and IDM-hop from the likes of Squarepusher, Telefon Tel Aviv, Faulty DL and Xela, but James has a way of layering and slicing her way through a set that makes the familiar seem new. A chipmunked Cardi B here, a controlled explosion of hyperpop there, then a sudden left-turn into Japanese chamber-pop. It’s the most exquisitely controlled chaos.

Bruce B2B Árni – Live at Buxur, Reykjavík

Hard and hilarious selections for a big night out

It’s good that we’re wrapping our heads around the concept of IRL raving again, but hearing this set, recently captured on an Icelandic dancefloor, might give pause for thought. Was it always this good?! Bristol’s inimitable Bruce goes B2B with local talent Árni for Reykjavík’s first big night out since the pandemic ruined everything, and they pull no punches. Two and a bit hours of the hardest, weirdest, most hilarious dance music you could dream of: wiggy techno loops, steel pan acrobatics, skinny-tie electro and taps-aff ecstasy, it’s all here.

Rey Sapienz for Crack

A perfect storm of thunderous Afrodance

Congolese rapper and producer Rey Sapienz is a core asset of the Nyege Nyege crew in Uganda, making some of the label’s most out-there music and supervising its brilliant dance-oriented sister label, Hakuna Kulala. This tracklist-free mix contains nothing but Sapienz’s own original and unreleased productions, over which he scatters his own yelps, grunts and yeah-yeahs to brew up a perfect storm of thunderous Afrodance, live and loose. Laden with mad FX, Foley sound and false endings, it’s more like a live performance than a DJ mix. Absolutely next level material.

UK Garage Evolutions: Shots in the Dark

Finn celebrates the aggro underdog of UKG

NTS spent the last Sunday of July digging through the evolution of UK garage, speaking to scene figureheads about the journey from sped-up US house imports through to speed garage, 2‑step, dark garage and bassline. We could have chosen any one of the six mixes – pieced together with nerdish flair by Manchester DJ and NTS regular Finn – but there’s something about the dark garage chapter that feels rare and precious, featuring spartan rumblers from Menta, DJ Narrows, Sunship and Wookie. Dark garage is so often invoked as the stepping stone to something bigger (grime and dubstep, basically) that it feels good to wave the flag for our aggro underdog, especially with breaks and garage having a moment on international dancefloors.

Josh Caffé’s Fabric resident mix

Explosive moves from the London club’s new regular selector

It’s all change at Fabric, with a new class of resident DJs ready to launch the London superclub into its third decade. About time, too. Among the fresh faces is Josh Caffé, one of the hardest working acts in town between his party Love Child, his label Night Sheen, various radio residencies and vocal turns with live techno outfit Paranoid London. His showreel for Fabric starts out smart and restrained, with drum jams and rolling loops luring us into the tunnel – but after 20 minutes of that, he slams in some filthy LFO robotics and the gloves and wigs come well and truly off. Hard and explosive with a streak of acid hypnosis: that’s the Caffé way.

Caro – Daisychain 183

A slow-moving meditation on life and land

The Chicago-based Daisychain series always has treasure to offer. This month, Caro steps up with a mix that feels deep as a mountain lake and wide as a prairie. Influenced by bells, chimes, old film, storms, The Caretaker, staring into the sun with my eyes closed,” the set is a slow-moving soundscape, with cavernous dubstep, twilit soul and broken beats crunching underfoot. While they have our attention, Caro, who’s located in Sinixt Territory in western Canada, takes the opportunity to highlight an Indigenous occupation project, Unist’ot’en Camp, and the Indian Residential School Survivors Society.

Shubostar on Rinse France

Quality chug from a next wave acid punk

Shubostar is originally from South Korea, but she’s been dragging her dark and drowsy disco-chug around the world, relocating to Mexico, Thailand and, most recently, Berlin. Her guest mix for Curses’ radio show on Rinse France is a nod to the host’s latest project, Next Wave Acid Punx, an excellent compilation of dark disco, industrial and EBM tracks sourced from the 80s up to the present day. Shubostar is one of several modern artists who appears on the tracklist, and her guest mix has the same kind of retro-forever mood: a timeless celebration of the squelchiest, snappiest, chuggiest, moodiest, Euro-est dance music ever conceived.

Check out last month’s mix roundup here.


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