Every month, Philip Sherburne listens to a whole lot of mixes so you only have to listen to the best ones.
View Iframe URL
Not long ago, Objekt had a revelation behind the decks at New York’s Nowadays club. He was operating on two hours of sleep, jetlagged, and tasked with keeping the dancefloor going for nine hours. But as the night progressed, something clicked, some ineffable combination of music, audience, and vibes; he has since described the night as “probably the best DJing experience of my life.” For those of us who weren’t there, it’s impossible to say what it might have felt like on the dancefloor. But Objekt’s four-part recording of the full nine-hour set indicates that it was one hell of a journey. The first part is everything you could ask for in a warm-up session: ambient pads, dubbed-out drums, and a long, gradual climb in tempo, touching on vintage Aphex Twin, hip-house, and Balearic beats along the way. Part two brings the heat, slipping sideways through house, bass music, breakbeats, and grime. With part three, he ups the energy, folding vintage trance and acid into gqom and drum’n’bass. The final quarter is the real tour de force, going from hairpin-twisting d’n’b into trip-hop, freestyle, and Autechre’s woozy remix of SOPHIE’s “Bipp.” As the end draws near, he takes bigger and bigger risks; with less than 30 minutes to go, he beatmatches from the atmospheric techno of Forest Drive West’s “Lost Signal” into Colleen’s acoustic “I’m Kin.” For a few minutes, there’s nothing but plucked harp and wafting vocals until a gravelly techno rhythm extends a lifeline back to the dancefloor. In the club, at that delirious moment, it must have felt like swimming underwater.
Back in April, The Trilogy Tapes tapped London DJ Josey Rebelle for a 90-minute mixtape that sold out almost as fast. Now, they’ve upped the whole set to SoundCloud. Weaving between soul-jazz, drum solos, deep techno, R&B, vintage house, and more, it’s a beautiful example of the range that Rebelle routinely brings to the decks, but there’s nothing performative about her eclecticism: Even with all that zig-zagging, she carefully constructs a coherent vibe—moody, murky, a little melancholy—and uses spoken-word fragments and treated snippets of sound like caulk to fill the seams. Where the first half is mostly heads-down house, the back half—the B side of the actual cassette—ups the tempo, slipping from steely techno into bare-knuckled breakbeat hardcore and jungle crosscut with dub sirens. It’s this year’s most faithful evocation of a vintage UK pirate-radio broadcast.
MMM’s recent album On the Edge takes the German duo’s trademark energy and inverts it: In place of strung-out techno anthems, they sink into woozy, spacious grooves, each one slower than the last. In their Bleep mix, they illustrate some of the inspirations behind their curveball of a record, slipping between album cuts and the songs that influenced them. A spooky 1983 cut from UK post-punks Shriekback sets up the melancholy aura of their own “Where Does Ghosting End.” A pair of spongy dub cuts—the Wailers Band’s “Higher Field Marshall Dub” and King Tubby & the Aggrovators’ “D’Rude Dubber”—flank MMM’s “So Nigh,” underscoring the latter song’s aerated interior. Toward the end, they delve into a pair of spacious dubstep tunes from Burial and Pinch, highlighting the influence of UK bass music on MMM’s relentlessly reduced sound design. My favorite stretch is the one that leads from the icy pads of MMM’s “Everything Falls into Place” through disco-sampling breakbeat house from Anthony “Shake” Shakir and a wildly experimental reverb fugue from Pepe Bradock, only to end up with the reassuring boom-bap of Dilla’s “Welcome 2 Detroit”—three radically different examples of artists doing less with more.
Stefan Laubner is an alchemist: For nearly 20 years, he’s been turning dust into gold, harnessing hissing line noise and vinyl crackle into some of the deepest dub techno out there. Though wildly prolific, with more than 70 releases under his STL alias, he also keeps a low profile: Aside from the occasional appearance on Perlon, Smallville, or Echocord, the majority of his work has appeared on his own label, Something; long based in a small town in Germany’s Harz mountains, he seldom turns up on the usual club lineups or festival bills. He makes a rare appearance on the decks here, meting out three and a half hours of well-worn vinyl: vintage minimal, classic Chicago house, and even the odd Moby track. Even when the tracks are familiar, though, it’s all put together with STL’s typically shadowy panache, gleaming beneath layers of grit.
Noncompliant often fills her sets with lean, tracky techno from the ’90s, but in a new mix for Berlin label/promoters Mother’s Finest, she sets aside four-to-the-floor beats in favor of the switchbacking, syncopated cadence of classic electro. Most of her selections are drawn from the past few years, though she reaches back to the turn of the millennium with Fastgraph’s sullen “3DES” and revives the genre’s ’90s heyday with Will Web’s rubbery “Spacewalk,” a 1995 cut from the iconic Direct Beat label. She covers plenty of ground along the way—Detroit, Brazil, Holland, her native Indianapolis—but her selections are chosen and mixed in such a way that they all feel like facets of a single sparkling polyhedron. She describes the arc of the music as an attempt to replicate the emotional roller-coaster of the past two years, veering between bottomless despair and flashes of optimism. But if the set gets pretty bleak in places, it begins and ends with heartfelt expressions of hope. Electro has always had a science-fiction fascination, and in Noncompliant’s hands, it also makes the perfect soundtrack for our own dystopian present.