In this column, we cover songs for you to nod your head to in the EDM scene [electronic dance music, not extra dancy music, for those not in the know]. There is enough dance floor pressure here to get you out of the tryptophan malaise with a quickness.
1. Grenier “Here Come The Dark Lights”
If your idea of dubstep is Skrillex–and shame on you if this is the case since Skrillex is brostep, it is time to edumacate yourself. A far cry from the Shrillex sound, dubstep originated in South London, with singles usually landing on the B-sides of garage records [btw, it’s pronounced ga-ra-dj like a proper Brit]. BBC Radio 1 DJs John Peel and Mary Ann Hobbs brought the genre fully into the mainstream, but its hallmark has always been heavy bass lines–in other words, not the kind of “wobble wobble” abuse/overuse in dubstep-by-the-numbers would have you believe.
Grenier, aka DJG, has been toiling in the bass trenches of San Francisco producing quality music for a while now. His show in DC in 2011, brought by the bassxperts of 88DC, was a testament to what good dubstep sounds like–dark and heavy and mercifully free of screeching girls.
2. Lana Del Rey “Ride” [MJ Cole Remix]
Speaking of garage and dubstep, UK producer MJ Cole has churned out a solid catalogue of garage hits, including Sincere. On this latest remix, he takes Lana Del Rey’s languid Ride and makes it shimmer and seethe with the traditional syncopated garage beat. This is one very rideable hot beat.
3. Jodi & Hosta “My Life”
Time to talk about drum’n’bass, my ever-present love. Drum’n’bass has more offshoots than Bob Marley, all with different Moms too. There is liquid d’n’b and its close brethren, chillstep. Some might argue chillstep is more of the dubstep ilk, with producers like Sierra Leone and Mount Kimbie as an example, but this track is just straight up chill drum’n’bass. Lush and pure aural delight.
4. Little Dragon “Sunshine” [Shlohmo Remix]
In the immortal words of Dave Chapelle, everything is better in slo-mo and downtempo purveyor Shlohmo proves this to be the case indeed. Taking Little Dragon’s effervescent Sunshine–oh, and btw, Yukimi Nagano can do *no* wrong in my book–and layering it on top of a wistful and wispy beat produces a shining sonic delight. You will be flying high on this particular lotus.
5. Alexander Spit “A Breathtaking Trip”
I first chanced upon this rapper when I noticed Alchemist appeared on his “Getaway Car” track. When asked who he wants to work with, San Francisco rapper Alexander Spit references Portishead and Kanye. His languid yet sharp delivery is definitely trip-hop-worthy and no less trip-worthy. Psychedelic explorations and phantasmagoria abound. “Bodies feel like costumes after I ate the mushrooms.” This is one hazy breath-taking trip to the other side. “I stay gone, my chick thinking we long distance.”
This month’s Monthly Mixtape is from Jangala DJ, a DC native behind the trail-blazing Temporal Fusion podcast, which showcases talented electronic dance music producers and DJs from around the world. Jangala, along with long-time co-conspirator Xunfusion, has been on a mission to expose unknown deejays and producers to a wider audience Temporal Fusion‘s seven year reign is a testament to its draw of a true “head” audience with a voracious appetite for drum’n’bass, glitch hop, hip hop, dubstep, and trip hop.
When Jangala DJ first added me as a friend on Facebook, his profile picture was that of a shell (not to mention he is so humble, I had to convince him to actually send me a picture of himself for the article). The shell was a reference to a poem about “the shell of jangala.” In Hindi, jangal means forest–appropriate reference for the offshoot/kind of drum’n’bass music known as jungle. The metaphor of the shell always stayed with me–Jangala’s style has an organic echo and resonance to it and his flair for chiaroscuro is palpable here. This set starts out sort of quietly ominous and brightens up as the sun shining through the leaves of a forest. Few drum’n’bass DJs are able to freely pick from the many branches of the genre’s tree, usually staying grounded in one style, but Jangala has a facility and an unique talent in that regard.
“I mixed this with a thoughtful attitude, wanting to harmonize the dark and light; the old and new; the masculine and feminine; the complex and simple. Mixed together in this set are tunes from new school d’n’b badboys like Dub Phizix, Roy Green, Protone, and DatA along with up-and-coming Russia producers Nuage, Getz, Z Connection, topped off with smatterings of Dillinja and Ray Keith for nostalgia and a sense of completeness.”
“Now settled in DC, I have spent a greater part of my life split between the East and the West and have finally been able to embrace the contrasting and contradictory nature of the universe by mixing heavy baselines and effervescent drum beats.”
Check out his exclusive boundary and genre-defying set for ReadySetDC here and open your ears up to the sounds of the shell of Jangala.
The May Monthly Mixtape: Toni Tileva
“Losing things is about the familiar falling away, getting lost is about the unfamiliar appearing.”
-A Field Guide To Getting Lost
“Lost in the city
Running out of choices
Going nowhere fast
Still hearing voices
Come on legs come on feet
I’m just tryin’ make a little bit of history.”
– Cool Calm Pete “Lost”
“I just wanna live life and survive it.”
– Ghostpoet “Survive It”
“I spread my mind’s wings and watched these verbs take flight.”
– Emskee “Dreams”
When I set out to make the May playlist, I wanted to encapsulate the ethos of summer, while playing homage to my two great musical loves–indie/old-school-vibe hip hop and trip hop/downtempo. The idea was to [wax] tailor together a pastiche of beats and samples and tell a sonic story, with a palpable flow. Only when I was done making the playlist did some themes start to emerge, as though bubbling up from my subconscious. Summer always reminds me of being in the city, kind of finding one’s way, weaving and wandering through the urban terrain [Blockhead’s Insomniac Olympics is Jack’s Insomnia in musical form]. That’s why I had to put in DJ Vadim, Blockhead, Dan The Automator, DJ Shadow, MF Doom, who literally live and breathe the New York aesthetic.These tracks showcase the organic and very natural synergy between turntablism, hip hop, even dubstep, and downtempo, and showcase why the genre has managed to stay fresh because of its broad influences. Trip hop has long transitioned to/been a turntablist’s game, even if the most obvious examples one can think of are Geoff Barrow’s scratching on Portishead’s “Only You” or the seminal DJ Shadow Endtroducing. In the early 2000s, artists like DJ Krush, Blockhead, J. Dilla, Nujabes, and DJ Vadim continued to carry the torch, despite public opinion that “trip hop was dead” or relegated to Buddha Bar compilations–i.e. pretentious “chill-by-the-numbers” CDs.
If I had to name the themes here [as any respectable English major would], it would be the city, being lost in the city, dreams/miasmas, and love [not the cheesy “summer lovin'” type, I promise. See Murs’ “Love And Appreciate” and Slum Village’s “Fall In Love”] and its dark underbelly [Cage’s Scenester, Ivan Ives’ “Wedding Funeral,” Mickey Avalon’s “So Rich, So Pretty”].
Everyone has a summer.