Every month, Philip Sherburne listens to a whole lot of mixes so that you only have to listen to the very best ones.
Summer may be coming to a close, but do not go gentle into that pumpkin-spice season. These cracking DJ sets—like a mind-erasing techno session from Umfang and a celebratory Brazilian funk mix from Batekoo—will stave off fall for just a little longer. Also on deck are ambient forays from Sold, Don’t DJ, and Carmen Villain, which will have you craving longer nights and darker moods.
Umfang – Bossa x Umfang 001
If you’ve been looking for a techno mix, this is the one. Umfang was the first DJ ever to play Bossa Nova Civic Club, a New York underground staple, back in 2012, so it’s only fitting that she kick off their new series. Mixed fast and tight, this is an exhilarating hour-long set to be enjoyed in the middle of a lit-up dancefloor, as sweat-slicked limbs are caked in plaster dust falling from the ceiling. Interstitial voices semi-ironically mimic commercial radio ads (“Your club’s favorite club!”), hyping on a set that’s already careening thrillingly into the red. Umfang’s selections are resolutely no-frills, all punishing snares and flayed ride cymbals, and she pushes relentlessly all the way to the didgeridoo-fueled finale. Start to finish, it’s a scorched-earth campaign.
Call Super – Crack Mix 300
Call Super (aka JR Seaton) shows once again that he has some of the keenest ears in dance music and some of the most finely calibrated motor skills, too. The London DJ’s set for Crack Magazine takes an invigorating trip through breakbeats, electro, drum’n’bass, and fast, flickering techno; he has a knack for making unexpected cuts between disparate sounds and moods without breaking the overall flow. Case in point: the shift from the heart-in-mouth chord stabs of Response & Pliskin’s “Ostrich,” a peak-time triumph, into Joe’s “Get Centred,” a 7/4 mind-melter that reimagines Steve Reich’s phase minimalism as Detroit techno.
Gavsborg & Time Cow – SYSTEM MIX 001
Gavsborg and Time Cow, of Jamaica’s Equiknoxx crew, kick off Boiler Room’s SYSTEM series with a set that sketches playfully around the edges of dancehall. Equiknoxx’s productions typically bend dancehall’s signature rhythmic cadence to encompass a host of sounds and ideas not typically associated with reggae, and their DJing is no different. Glowing synth chords cushion a sped-up sample of Ann Peebles’ “I Can’t Stand the Rain,” nodding to Missy Elliott’s “The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)”; minimalist bass music with a Bristol bent gets cut up with the Eric Burdon and War sample from De La Soul’s “Potholes on My Lawn”; chopped vocals with a funk-carioca feel bob nervously above a dulcet loop of jazz saxophone. It’s a game of connect the dots scribbled on origami paper: Every new fold marks a new dimension in the duo’s fanciful architecture.
Carmen Villain – NE292
Following the recent release of Carmen Villain’s third album, Both Lines Will Be Blue—an all-instrumental departure from the singer-songwriterly bent of her first two LPs—she turns in a flat-out incredible mix that traverses the spongy terrain of ambient-jazz fusioneer Jon Hassell, Spanish globetrotters Finis Africanae, and Japan’s new-age/ambient experimenter Motohiko Hamase. A number of fellow travelers have been exploring similar turf in recent years—and a few of them, like Visible Cloaks, turn up in the tracklisting— but Villain puts her own stamp on the style, threading drowsy, late-afternoon vibes with an almost narrative sensibility. This was the first music I played at home following a month-long trip in which my cat died while I was away, and while the house still feels weirdly empty, Villain’s mix, tender and graceful and strange, seemed a fitting soundtrack for a space made newly incomplete—the aural equivalent of burning sage.
Don’t DJ – IA Mix 312
The polyrhythmic productions of Don’t DJ—aka Florian Meyer, a member of experimental collectives Institut für Feinmotorik and the Durian Brothers—often feel like they’re pulling at the fabric of space and time, stretching dance music’s outermost fringes in the process. Recorded ahead of Meyer’s appearance at Under the Desert Stars festival in Morocco later this month, this DJ set maps his esoteric tastes onto the sort of records not often heard in a club context, including folk flutes, doom drone, and Japanese noise provocateurs Melt-Banana. Propelled by slow-motion 4/4 beats and slinky dancehall cadences, this should still be considered dance music—even if certain passages leave you with the desire to lie flat on your back and let your face liquify to the rumbling of the sub-bass.
Sold – RA.689
“I think there’s an idea that ambient is typically peaceful and I really enjoy dismantling that,” says Chicago’s Sold (aka Glenna Fitch). You can tell: Their Resident Advisor set, recorded in the wake of what they describe as an extended stretch of pretty heavy shit, takes its inspiration not from tranquility but from disturbance—from the productive energies that come from stirring up already murky waters. Rumbling drones are punctuated by trudging drumbeats; chopped-up voices splash like waves against the rocks; the ethereal footwork of Jana Rush swirls together with the rock-tumbler sampledelia of Gayphex Twin. Long passages prove to be a real headfuck, but it’s never dark just for the sake of being dark; while often abstracted, it’s hardly formless. By the time you arrive at the swarming woodwinds of the climax, there’s hard-won catharsis.
Batekoo – An Afropunk DJ Mix
In a recent New York Times piece on Brazil’s queer communities of color, the Batekoo collective was hailed as a counterbalance to the homophobic and transphobic atmosphere fostered by the country’s right-wing president, Jair Bolsonaro. Founded in Bahia in 2014, Batekoo now operates in Salvador, São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Recife, and Belo Horizonte, throwing parties with a dual ambition: safe spaces for LGBTQIA+ people, and platforms for the expression of “culture, black music, dance, and aesthetics,” say founders Mauricio Sacramento and Artur Santoro. In advance of Batekoo’s appearance at Brooklyn’s Afropunk festival last month, the crew mixed a set of Brazilian funk, dance, and rap, and it’s a rousing affair, mixing traditional Brazilian rhythms with hard-edged electronic production and hypnotic vocals. Parts of it remind me of 21st-century diasporic styles coming out of Portugal and its former colonies; even if you don’t understand the vocals, the underlying point is clear: betrayed by history, this crew is creating its own future.
Massimiliano Pagliara – RA.678
Here’s a bonus set from a few months back that I’ve only just discovered, with a sun-drenched sweetness that’s just right for easing into the next month. There’s a particular energy that denizens of Berlin’s Panorama Bar may recall from certain Sunday mornings: spirited, playful, and gently ecstatic, a lightness of mood accentuated by the occasional bursts of sunlight let through the mechanized blinds. Massimiliano Pagliara’s contribution to Resident Advisor’s mix series is positively drenched in that vibe—no surprise, given that he’s a resident DJ at Panorama, and also at Offenbach’s Robert Johnson, a club specializing in a similar brand of hedonism. His opening moves draw on the pulsing colors and punchy grooves of his own productions, and then things take a darker, ravier turn about 30 minutes in before smoothing out into Detroit-inspired pads and disco-infused deep house. When the telltale freight-train whistle of Telex’s “Moskow Diskow” comes barreling in, right at the very end, you can just picture the dancefloor’s reaction, like a kids’ birthday party erupting at a balloon drop.
Originally Appeared on Pitchfork