Monthly mix roundup: peak-time bangers, post-dubstep nostalgia and a tribute to a ballroom legend

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

This month’s best mixes just stumbled out of the function with a sweat patch down their back and a slicked-down fringe. It’s getting hot in there. May’s essentials go wide and deep, from a tracky spin on Latin club directions by Miami’s Nick León, to a spun-out throwback to 92’s biggest party.

We start plotting a post-dubstep revival with Aurora Halal and DJ G, pay tribute to a ballroom icon with Jay Jay Revlon, and enjoy a sweaty half-hour of original grooves from Lisbon’s DJ Lycox. There’s also time to celebrate a heady moment for UK rap with Bempah and JK, and drive deep into those perverse polyrhythms with Nowadays resident DJ Voices.

Nick León for Resident Advisor

Club modernism with a Caribbean bounce

Nick León is without doubt one of the most exciting producer-DJs in action right now. His releases for Colombia’s TraTraTrax and the ever-cool Future Times represent a new era in Miami’s long club lineage, fusing elements of reggaeton, perreo, electro and Miami bass with a modern sensibility. In other words, León is Making Club Music Constructed Again.

León’s RA mix is a peak-time sesh focusing on the kind of irresistible grooves generated from putting a tracky spin on Latin-derived music. Naturally there’s space for Mexicali-born artist Siete Catorce, whose singular style will go down as a huge influence on this particular club wave, as well as Matias Aguayo – the Cómeme boss who’s still putting out some of the best Latin-influenced club music in the world. Also keeping the mood as high and heady as a night cruise down Route 1: TraTraTrax label owner Bitter Babe, Slink honcho Simisea, and DC’s James Bangura. Air con recommended.

Castlemorton Revisited – Ixindamix 30th anniversary mix

Where were you in 92?

Ixindamix was a new age traveller in the early 90s, living on the road with the horse-drawn hardcore” and dropping into free parties and festivals around the UK. After crossing paths with the Spiral Tribe, she threw in her lot with the legendary sound system crew and became one of their go-to DJs, playing the kind of rackety rave that was at the bleeding edge of the electronic counterculture. Thirty years on, here she reflects on the musical madness of 92 with a tribute to Castlemorton, the infamous free party that marked a turning point in UK rave history. Change is in the air sonically, too, with crusty breakbeats, shouty samples and big hoovers forming a hair-raising hardcore sludge, which was soon about to break off into jungle, happy hardcore, speedy techno and chin-stroke IDM. Packed with boss-level belters like Kid Unknown’s Nightmare and Project One’s Roughneck, this is grassroots experimentalism turned up to 11.

Scary Things w/ DJ Bempah & JK on NTS

Only the best new drill and rap from two opinionated experts

Scary Things is one of the most informative and entertaining shows on NTS. Hosted by Bempah (tour DJ for 67 and Digga D) and JK, it’s a two hour specialist slot focusing on drill and rap from both the UK and the US, blending up regional styles from Coventry to Compton. The best bit is the review section, where our hosts deal out firm-but-fair ratings for the week’s new tunes. Not many online radio shows bother actually talking about the music, let alone judging it openly, but Bempah and JK’s passion and knowledge for the material makes their opinions more valid than most, whether it’s the dreamy new A$AP Rocky tune, Rema & AJ Tracey’s summer flute boogie, or Digga D and StillBrickin putting a Scouse ring on a throwback 00s bop.

Jay Jay Revlon’s Vjuan Allure: An Icon Tribute for Mixmag

A ballroom legend finally gets their flowers

This fabulously chaotic mix from London DJ Jay Jay Revlon is a multimedia tribute to the late Vjuan Allure, a pioneer of the ballroom house genre who died unexpectedly in March 2021. Built from Vjuan’s own archive of stiletto-sharp floor moments, mixing tracky rave with tweaky pop vocals, the mix is also peppered with extracts from an interview Vjuan gave in the summer of 2020. He talks through his 20-year affiliation with the House of Allure, tips for standing out on the runway, and how the ballroom scene makes connections around the world. I just had to try and make something big for Vjuan: as loud as life like him,” explains Jay Jay. The mix is all Vjuan Allure originals he gave to me after we first met at my ball in Shoreditch.”

DJ Voices for Mixtape Club

Contemplative cruisers for the designated aux-holder

In the olden days, before we got the idea that dance music could live primarily in the digital ether – or indeed in various Soundcloud URLs fashioned into a mix column” – we had the car stereo. Call shotgun on your next journey and grab the aux, because the ninth submission to the Mixtape Club series is your perfect mix – a journey through shifting pulsations and curious vistas from Miami-via-NYC’s DJ Voices. Some of my fondest musical memories involve driving, usually alone and for long stretches, completely immersed in the sounds I was hearing as the road stretched out ahead of me,” says the Nowadays resident. For me there’s a shared affinity between the club and the car as forms of escape through being totally consumed by the music you’re hearing.” This is mood curation at its finest: hypnotic yet driving, relentless yet relaxing, occasionally fruity; endless fun-fun-fun on the autobahn. The tracklist is a treat too, packed with underground names to keep the diggers busy while nodding to a lifetime’s worth of contemplative cruising.

DJ Lycox for Groove

A power half-an-hour of slick Lisbon grooves

DJ Lycox – who’s currently based in Paris, but has long been associated with the scene around the Príncipe label in Lisbon – demonstrates the grooviest possibilities within the batida spectrum in this stomping short mix of original productions. As ever, it’s a family affair, with 17 tracks squeezed into 30 minutes, almost all of them credited to Tia Maria Produções, the production crew that includes Lycox, B.boy, Danifox, Poco, and Puto Márcio. On earlier records, like 2017’s Sonhos & Pesadelos, DJ Lycox carved out a sound that was less frenetic, more chugging and ultimately more accessible than some of his fellow Príncipe artists, and that deeper sound proves to be a strong fit with the new waves of afrohouse, gqom and amapiano filtering onto European dancefloors.

Aurora Halal and DJ G

Extremely loud and incredibly deep with two NYC trendsetters

Don’t panic, but we might be due a post-dubstep revival. Close observers will have noticed that a subset of trend-setting East Coast DJs have really been feeling the 140-ish melancholy in recent years, with broken beats filtering into otherwise-techno sets, and UK legends like dBridge and Batu booked for parties like Sustain-Release – the summer camp festival run by Aurora Halal. This mix from Halal and her party comrade DJ G seems to confirm a deepening obsession with that sound, travelling from dub techno into twisted acid, brainy wobblers (from Instra:mental, no less), garage monsters (Stenny’s Stress Test) and indeed post-dubstep at its purest from Scuba. They’ve even left the Hotflush Recordings promo tag in the mix – not so much an embarrassing oversight as a powerful flex from two long-time fans. For a less tiresomely nerdy interpretation, refer to DJ G’s description: The vibe on this one is more drag racing on the rings of Saturn for me.”

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