Monthly mix roundup: slick house, spanking fresh rave and turntable scratches
Chal Ravens’ column collects the best DJ mixes and sets that have dropped in recent weeks.
This column rests on the inexhaustible novelty of playing records one after the other, a process that never fails to produce new ways of hearing the world. On that note, March’s selections include two special pairings from the cities of Bristol and New York – Bruce and Ploy, Nick Boyd and Olive T – which demonstrate that infinite variety on which dancers depend. We’ve also got an edge-seeking radio set from Brazilian DJs Lyzza and Nora, an ode to the vanished NYC genre of illbient, and a taster session from new gen raver Mystique.
Before diving in, make a note of two special radio shows from the month: an hour of glossolalia and other mouthfuls from avant-garde vocalist Meredith Monk on Istanbul’s Root Radio and a magical NTS hour hosted by Martin Newell, DIY godhead and frontman of cult jangle-poppers Cleaners from Venus.
Bruce for Truants
Gritty glamour for grotty punks
A new mix from Bruce: praise be! The Bristol DJ’s first recorded mix in nearly four (!!) years begins appropriately, with a rendition of the hymn Morning Has Broken, albeit deconstructed by sound artist Andrew Liles. But such a tranquil opening cannot last. The next 100 minutes deliver some of the most unreasonable music you could ever expect to hear on a dancefloor, from Icelandic “cigarette rock” band SKRATTAR to noisy synth freaks Shit & Shine to the mighty Coil – and that’s the more recognisable stuff. A subscription to Truants’ Patreon allows a peek at the tracklist, which includes UR techno god ‘Mad’ Mike Banks, unreleased tunes from Lurka and Batu, and a loping slab of industrial by Berlin punks ML – but no further information is necessary to appreciate just how far this “Bristol techno” boy has come in recent years.
Ploy’s DJ Mag mix
Precision club circuitry from Bristol to Brazil
In contrast to the industrial grease and ragged edges of Bruce’s mix, observe the hard lines and vivid polychromatic fields etched out by his fellow Bristolian (and former housemate) Ploy on this one. It’s evidence, should any more be needed, that both DJs have moved on from “bass techno”, or whatever you want to call the dub-weighted scene that emerged from Bristol in the mid-’10s. But it’s still striking to hear where they’ve ended up. For Ploy, that’s an accelerated circuit of global inputs combining technoid thrust with the side-to-side rhythms of kuduro, Brazilian funk, Afro-trance and Houston rap. The eclecticism is impressive enough, but it’s the precision finish that really elevates this session.
Intearnet Radio w/ Lyzza & Nora on NTS Radio
Daredevil blends and zig-a-zig-ah
If you’re the kind of clubber who thinks “good taste” is just the annoying guardrail between you and the time of your life, then Lyzza’s NTS Radio show is essential monthly listening. Hers is a world where the beats go hard, blends stray off-key and dancing bodies can be anything from fluid vectors of transgression to goblin-mode outcasts. The first 20 minutes is a platter of weirdo Zoomer vibes (Post Malone; Drain Gang’s Bladee & Ecco2k) and abrasive ‘00s electro (Hatiras) from our host. The last 40 minutes gets handed to Nora, a fellow Brazilian with a taste for mad mash-ups, blending the frantic effort of Sao Paulo’s current funk wave with modern divas (Bey, Rih-Rih), blasts of Euro-house, sped-up Vengaboys and the most deranged Spice Girls edit ever conceived. This is living!
Nick Boyd for XOXA NYC
Total spontaneity on the New York dancefloor
As the boss of Sorry Records – one of New York’s finest contempo dance labels – Nick Boyd has been giving multiple leg-ups to a fresh wave of producers like Tony G, C Powers, DJ Wawa and Olive T (another of this month’s picks). On a radiant mix for queer collective XOXA NYC, Boyd plays with the kind of unabashed freedom and spontaneity that most DJs can only dream of, bumping between big basslines, deep hypno-zones and spindly funk (The Slits!) with ease. As explained in the vivid accompanying text, the set includes some of Boyd’s all-time faves (David Morales, Stevie Wonder) while celebrating the kind of “bleary-eyed weak knees joy that only house can give me”. Pure and satisfying.
Jake Muir for Juanita’s
A scratchy ode to illbient
The self-described “curious, shy, anxious” Jake Muir is an artist who works between genres, taking sample-based ambient music into increasingly heady zones on records like last year’s Mana for Ilian Tape. For the Juanita’s series, the Berlin-based musician offers a companion piece to Mana which explores his vinyl sampling practice through the lens of the misunderstood ‘90s New York scene known as illbient – you know, like ambient, but ill-er. Fans of smoking weed and watching weird movies will feel immediately at home here between the blunted fragments of sound art, field recordings, fourth world collage and shimmering ambient tones. Listen out, especially, for a hypnotic blast of turntablism from the recently departed vinyl sorcerer Philip Jeck.
Mystique on Threads
Spanking-fresh rave material from the new gen
Manchester new kid Mystique plates up an hour of freshly cooked rave for Threads Radio, switching between piano house, ghettotech and modern jungle while focusing almost entirely on new material. As well as releases from Juke Bouncewerk and Hospital Records, there’s a fair weighting of self-released tunes from a younger generation of Bandcamp-based producers and extremely online junglists. It’s not all straightforward dancefloor stuff, either – listen for the queasy back-and-forth boogie of Machine Girl’s Ghost, from the ever-weird Orange Milk Records, for a hint of Mystique’s less obvious interests.
Olive T for DJ Mag
Slick house paying dues to the lineage
Expect solid selections with a hard-wearing, historical feel in this set from Olive T, a New York DJ and whose time has surely come. As a regular at hotspots like Bossa Nova Civic Club and Nowadays, Olive T has developed a personal style that’s groovy, slick and self-aware, funnelling classic house and techno between newer selections that nod to the depth and majesty of the old school. Older heavyweights like Danny Tenaglia and Ian Pooley mingle with upfront bass from Leonce and Lisbon’s PT Musik before accelerating into a roof-raising final third – drinks abandoned, sunglasses on, heads in the speaker. Some feelings never go out of style.