Monthly mix roundup: deep psychedelia, playful percussion and wine-bar chillouts

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

As it turns out, this month’s mixes have a very loose grip on reality. With hardly any straight-up dance sets and plenty of introspective music to get the brain cells going, it’s a feast of playful percussion, psychedelic jungle rites and 3D-printed cocks. Scroll down to get wiggy with sets from Karima F, JQ, Tornado Wallace, object blue, Diamin & Lychee, Darwin and Nathan Melja.

Before we dig in, pour one out for two departed heroes: Martelo’s tribute to DJ Mehdi, the Ed Banger co-founder whose influence lives on 10 years after his tragic death aged 34; and Luca Lozano’s radio dedication to Richard H. Kirk, whose releases as Cabaret Voltaire, Sandoz and Sweet Exorcist laid the blueprint for so much electronic music of the last 40 years.

Darwin for Dekmantel

A third eye-opening mix for deep inner journeys

We are challenging nature itself, and it hits back – it just hits back.” Any mix that opens with the words of filmmaker Werner Herzog – recorded here on location in the jungles of Peru – is setting a high bar for itself, and Darwin delivers. She unleashes a mix that’s suitably filmic, taking us on a tough journey through dappled glades, murky rivers and psychedelic rites. Leveraging the sublime power of heavy bass and hypnotic rhythm, with tunes from Batu, Imaabs and Forest Drive West, Darwin drags us into some very strange, very deep places.

Karima F’s Truancy mix

Playful rhythms and 3D-printed dicks

Perfection is an illusion,” says Karima F. Why not just settle for mediocre?” As a personal mantra it’s not the most inspiring, but in the mind of this Norwegian-Algerian DJ, freedom only comes when you stop striving and start enjoying. Her mix for Truants is something of a manifesto for this laidback ideology, mixing up drowsy house, kawaii vocals and D&B refits of Lana Del Rey with tons of playful percussion. If someone could get us an ID on the riot grrl-ish diss track about 3D-printed cocks, then life really would be perfect.

JQ – High Speed Music 001

A sweet n’ sour sugar spike

High Speed Magic is a brand new mix series with no speed limit”. The first instalment from London’s JQ – an artist previously known for making luscious ambient on the New Atlantis label – is a zippy 30-minute sugar spike, mixing DJ Paypal’s chipmunked romance with sinister gabber-stomp, monster EDM-pop and the Ridge Racer soundtrack. No other mix this year has (so successfully) brought Carly Rae Jepsen together with the nu-IDM of Rian Treanor.

Tornado Wallace’s Bar Part Time mix

Liquid chillout with a Pacific view

Bar Part Time is a natural wine bar in San Francisco which has been commissioning chilled-out, oddball and retro-leaning mixes over the past year. The concept is, indeed, almost unbearably bougie – but the execution is reliably fantastic and so is natural wine, so what’s your problem? Kick back in your sun lounger, beanbag or $11,000 Eames recliner and enjoy the downtempo dreams of Melbourne’s Tornado Wallace, featuring blurred shoegaze, rave exotica, emotional electronica and some lovely stuff from Sinead O’Connor and Dido. Chin chin.

Object Blue live at Unsound 2019

Very intelligent dance music from the before times

This time two years ago, object blue was establishing herself as one of the most creative, unpredictable and best-dressed DJs in the UK. But two years is a long time in a pandemic, and there’s something genuinely archival about this live set from the medieval cellars at Unsound 2019, which has been dug out by the festival to herald object blue’s return to Krakow in October. Rhythmically intricate and of no fixed genre, her side-winding set is full of deconstructed versions of sounds you think you know: flashes of grime, a barrel-load of funky, a micro-snippet of Charli XCX. Intelligent dance music for real.

Diamin w/ Lychee on Tbilisi’s Mutant Radio

Day into night with the international selectors

Based in Tbilisi, the techno-loving capital of Georgia, Mutant Radio is a vital cog in the city’s small but well-oiled musical machine. Among the roster of international residents is Diamin, a Chilean DJ currently based in Buenos Aires, who’s come up with a neat concept: Circadian Rhythm. Divided into two halves – day and night – the show opens with guest selector Lychee, a Brooklyn-based DJ who runs the fantastic Spontaneous Affinity dance community. They open with an hour of soft moods, ambient zoners and sun-baked wonkiness, repping the daytime with tracks from Susumu Yokota and Slowdive. For the nighttime half, Diamin takes over with a barrage of trip-hop, new beat and darkwave delights.

Nathan Melja’s dense music for C-

Lonely internet music from across time and space

T‑Pain has had enough of your one-finger-piano-emo-mumble-SoundCloud-rap, thanks: We have Lil Uzi Vert, we have Lil Yachty, we have Lil everybody else!!!” Taking this very angry man as his cue, Parisian artist Nathan Melja responds with 45 minutes of internet pop, eccojams, lonely Justin Bieber and dusty post-punk, picking tracks from the likes of Yung Lean, Durutti Column and Dean Blunt. Melja segues with ease from Babyxsosa’s Lonely Nights in Ny’ to krautrock OGs Popol Vuh. It shouldn’t make any sense at all, and yet…

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