Each month, we listen to hundreds of new electronic music tracks, test the standouts at full volume and highlight the best of the best in a mix called Recommended Dose.
May's offerings highlight musicians from distant parts of the globe: Japan's Keita Sano, South Africa's Nozinja, England's John Heckle, Los Angeles' Seven Davis Jr, plus two producers living in the Netherlands: French-born Stellar OM Source and Korean-German DJ Hunee.
One of the most boring things about contemporary EDM is how monorhythmic it is. I'm not talking beats per minute (although one number does seem to rule them all), but rhythms per beat. Keita Sano, an adventurous young producer from Okayama, Japan, mixes and matches a plethora of patterns on "Bouzouk," the final track on his latest EP, Sweet Bitter Love. Vibes, percussion and handclaps slowly congregate and build up steam before two riffs jump in: a simple LCD Soundsystem-style 4/4 bass line and a syncopated cross-rhythm. The conflicting elements dance around each other until Sano introduces a bonkers bouzouki sample reminiscent of that Punjabi MCs track. One of the best tracks of 2015 so far.
If you haven't heard of John Heckle yet, it's not for a lack of determination on his part. The Merseyside, England, producer released nine EPs last year (granted, they were anonymous) and has been DJing since he was 15 years old. His next EP, Wet Noises, is due out in early June, and "Alpha Deux" — the A-side's second song, get it? — is basically two tracks stitched together. The opening two minutes of ambient fog give way to a pounding Chicago house beat with nimble acid flourishes and judicious deployment of sirens.
Amsterdam-based Hun Choi, better known as Hunee, will release his debut LP, Hunch Music, in June, to the delight of many left-leaning house fans. The German-born son of Korean immigrants has been a positive force in the dance underground for many years, forming alliances with the Rush Hour Recordings and Future Times stables. He made critical waves last year when he curated Sounds From The Far East, a compilation of hard-to-find Japanese dance music. "Hiding The Moon," the wildest track on Hunch Music, balances a hefty conveyor belt of a beat with shimmering vibes and live hardware squiggles. Things get nuts halfway through when Choi drops in what sounds like some unholy hybrid of cello and bear.
The title to the latest single by Christelle Gauldi, who records as Stellar OM Source, succinctly articulates her relationship with electronic music. The French expatriate, who will release her new EP Nite-Glo in June, prefers to stumble upon her songs using such vintage hardware as the Roland TB-303 bass synth and sequencer, while avoiding digital audio programs like Ableton. The result is decidedly retro, which in these quantized times doesn't sound all that stale. The dirty 303 hook at the foundation of "Live" owes a bit to the Joey Beltram classic "Mentasm," and any excuse to revisit that track is always welcome.
Beat Spacek, "I Wanna Know (Seven Davis Jr Midnight Remix)"
U.K. soul veteran Beat Spacek (a.k.a. Steve White) made some noise earlier this year when he released an album, Modern Streets, produced entirely on an iPad. The record's lead single, "I Wanna Know," gets the remix treatment by Seven Davis Jr, a L.A. funk enthusiast we've featured on this program before. 7DJ scrubs away the original's paranoiac undertones with an irrepressible kick drum/hi-hat combo in his best work since signing to Ninja Tune late last year. Seven Davis Jr's debut full-length, Universes, is due out this summer.
One of our favorite compilations of this decade so far is Shangaan Electro: New Wave Dance Music From South Africa, a staggeringly upbeat collection of raw synth workouts. The man behind that album is Richard Mthetwa, or Nozinja, a former mobile phone repairman from the Limpopo province who transformed a local dance trend into an international cult fixation. Mthetwa signed with the electronic music dons at Warp Records last year, and is set to release his first full-length, Nozinja Lodge, for the label June 2. "Xihukwani" brings the same ecstatic energy we heard on Shangaan Electro, at a slightly slower pace and a brighter resolution.