Every week or thereabouts, Mutant Dance Moves takes you to the shadowy corners of the dancefloor and the fringes of contemporary electronic music, where new strains and dance moves are evolving.
This week: a quick round-up of albums and singles, both old and new, that have been getting lots of dance moves from Mutant Dance Moves at home and in public.
Kuniyuki Takahashi is a well-respected engineer in Japanese electronic music circles, a genre of modern music that doesn’t always get heard outside of its homeland. Which isn’t to suggest that Takahashi is xenophobic with his own full-length. A look at the guest vocalists and musicians on Feather World reveals a producer with wide interests. There’s Malian musician/singer Sona Diabaté on “Africa Univers,” German minimal house master Henrik Schwarz on “The Session 2” and onetime Arthur Russell vocalist Joyce Bowden on the luminous closer “Forest Song.” No matter the collaborator though, Takahashi crafts some of the most sumptuous deep house on the planet right now, both featherweight and heavy.
Basic Soul Unit
If you judge a record by its sleeve, Basic Soul Unit might be easy to skip. The first full-length offering from Toronto producer Stuart Li is quite a gift, regardless of the wrapping. After building a solid rep over the past eight years, releasing singles for imprints like Ostgut Ton, Mule Electronic, Crème Organization, and Versatile, Li finally delivers the goods with Motional Response. I’m hard-pressed to slot it though. There’s the pounding 4/4 of house, the keys and chords to suggest deep house, the more frantic beats associated with techno, synths that gurgle like acid lines, but it feels like a sumptuous whole rather than a set of tracks. Perhaps a clue can be found in the titles themselves: “Across the Room,” “Mind Forest,” Clouds,” all emphasize wide-open spaces. “Breathe” (the remix from Still Love boss Jerome Derradji is stellar as well) is the only track with vocals, uttering “I get so lost … what can I do?” but its measured pacing and audible breath itself makes it the standout among many.
Rosite and Fear Eats the Soul
In just under two years, Ron Morelli’s Long Island Electrical Systems imprint has indoctrinated its fanbase well. If it has the L.I.E.S. logo on it, DJs and heads know that the grooves within will be primitive yet cutting-edge, brusque but beguiling. Their roster is already garnering increased exposure both stateside and overseas. Right at the moment, American producers on the roster like Steve Summers, SvengalisGhost, Delroy Edwards and Morelli himself are tearing through Europe like a Panzer division. But what will keep the imprint vital beyond the current moment is that Morelli continues to bring new producers to light. The Florian Knupfer EP vanished from shelves almost overnight and now comes Vereker, a UK-born, San Fran-based producer who keeps within the L.I.E.S. template: a drum machine that could be mistaken for the wet cardboard box it came in, a synth that sounds like it ate some bad Chinese takeaway, an ambience not unlike the stench coming off of the Greenpoint water treatment plant. And yet with a track on these EPs that namechecks Rainer Fassbinder’s Ali: Fear Eats the Soul, one should know that Vereker somehow gets more inky bleakness than his labelmates. Dark and heavy, just like L.I.E.S. likes ‘em.
The Death of Rave
Recommended to me by a fellow L.I.E.S. enthusiast, the hard-to-trace producer Powell dropped this EP a few months back. It too relies on old-school analog technology to make something bracing in 2013. One track gets shoved along by a bass tone not unlike a tinfoil rubber band, another is half tape hiss/ half ungrounded wire buzz, while “Oh No New York” has all of those sounds in it and thuds along like some lost no wave track.