A selection of our favorite music submitted by XLR8R+ members last month.
With each passing week comes another wave of vaccines, and therein lies an optimism that live music might return soon. To help you pass the time, we’re delivering another musical fix through our latest roundup of submissions from our valued XLR8R+ members. Transcending well beyond the realms of straight up house and techno, February’s list is notable for its diversity, from the woozy, downtempo hip-hop of Asta Hiroki to the ambient jazz of lifelong friends Olec Mun and Michael Sarian. There’s also some deconstructed pop from Canada’s Saint Idiot, a slice of euphoric melancholia from London’s Wandour, and an improvisational jazz fusion delivery from Vulcan Nightclub. Among these new names, we welcome back Erik Strauss, Stature, and Aspetuck, all of whom have featured on the XLR8R pages before. (The latter of these delivers a sumptuous all-originals mix.) As always, there’s sure to be something for everyone, so please dig in and support the artists.
Editor’s note: we’ve made a point of linking each artist’s name to their social media page, or a place where you can buy their music, and we encourage our readers to support these independent artists by buying their music. Let’s keep independent culture alive.
For those unfamiliar, XLR8R+ is a member-supported music community and curated music experience. Every month, you will get three exclusive tracks—sometimes more—by a wealth of amazing artists that XLR8R has supported over the years, as well as access to the member’s area where you can submit tracks and DJ mixes to be showcased in this feature series and to the XLR8R+ community, as well as exclusive editorial content, mixes, FREE passes to music festivals and events, playlists, and more. You can find out more here.
Sistema Aero “Running Parallel”
Sistema Aero is the collaborative effort between Charles Taciturn and xenonyms label boss GFXIII. The title-track from Running Parallel, their new EP, captures its genre-bending mood by incorporating distorted jungle breaks inside a dreamy, buoyant atmosphere. It’s joined by “Tierra Maldita,” a sinister four-to-the-floor mutation full of hypnotic synths and eerie vocal sections. A highly recommended release and one of our favorites of recent months.
Ambien “Hold On” feat. SaaD
lo fi spiritual, a label based in Thirroul, Australia, releases “a sonic balm for the spirit.” Most recently, they’ve released Postcards, an ethereal collaborative release by Dylan Regtop (a.k.a SääD) and Ambien, an alias of Chris Hancock. The two musicians have long been musical muses; they each have two children and met in the playground while on dad duties. Sadly for their friendship, Chris has now moved out of the city and this record is therefore more of a postcard from Chris to Dylan—a record of their former lives. Expect lush atmospheric sound beds with auto-tuned, male falsetto to guide the tracks’ emotive direction. We’re streaming “Hold On,” a gorgeous and affecting beat cut, here.
Okay Vivian “Tasin Kanayan Kalbi”
Okay Vivian is the project of Turkish singer and producer Pervin Güzeldere, whose music combines ethereal silent spaces with heavy beats, scattered vocals, breaths, and whispers. “Taşın Kanayan Kalbi,” the first single from her new album, Saye, available now, is an unnervingly beautiful and captivating listen.
James Vernon “Web Flight”
With its rough-edged modulations, looping rhythms, and haunting pads, James Vernon’s “Web Flight” is a standout on Stories, Chapter One, a compilation on UZ MI Records. The young label, headed by Vernon and Rick Silver, focuses on stripped-back, dubbed-out sonics. Previous releases from the two label bosses and the enigmatic Yallahs have captured the attention of some established names, and Stories, Chapter One is the latest extension of their musical vision.
Olec Mun & Michael Sarian “Ravda”
In their first collaboration, lifelong friends Michael Sarian and Olec Mün created MAKARA, channelling the legendary sea creature from Hindu mythology. Whether a dragon, a crocodile, or a gigantic fish, MAKARA is an ever-changing being, adjusting its form to fit its surroundings. Using trumpet, flugelhorn, and effects, plus copious synthesizers, Sarian and Mün bridge the gap between their respective homes in Brooklyn and Barcelona with a 20 minute EP inspired by the depths of the ocean and its magical creatures. Ambient jazz rarely sounds this good.
Saint Idiot “Bubblewrap”
Saint Idiot, real name Tomáš Andel, is an independent musician based out of Edmonton, Canada. His music is a sort of deconstructed pop, characterized by familiar forms and sophisticated sound palettes. Inspirations for Andel include the multi-sensory worlds of Björk and David Bowie, but also ambient, deep-listening music. With “Bubblewrap,” his newest work—and an early taste of an upcoming album—he was inspired by the book “Anger: Wisdom for Cooling the Flames,” by the Vietnamese Thiền Buddhist monk Thích Nhất Hạnh. It’s a rich, uplifting musical experience with world-class sound design.
Lorenzo Filips is a 24-year-old London-based producer who in January launched his new alias, Desk. The project is focused on merging the vast world of electronic music with classic jazz, funk, blues, and rock, using drum machines and glitchy drones with guitars and pianos. “t0rch,” a chunky groove-led cut, is the first taste of this project; expect more soon.
Fitzzgerald “Moon Jam”
Fitzzgerald, a DJ-producer from Minsk, Belarus, resurfaced last year with Suncream, a collection of soulful edits. Then, earlier this year, he went one step further with an all-original EP on Mysidian. The record comprises three deep house cuts plus a Roy Comanchero remix of “Moon Jam.” We’re streaming the original version here, but we encourage you to check out the full EP—a feel-good collection of summer jams if you ever needed one!
Asta Hiroki “Slumber” feat. Dontmesswithjuan
Asta Hiroki is an experimental producer based in Brighton, United Kingdom. Having honed his craft composing in the world of moving image installations, he laces his music with textural beats and an ethereal quality that’s common across film scores. His sound flutters between downtempo hip-hop and ambient but always possesses the sensibilities of jazz. He’s also inspired by electronica, lo-fi, and glitch, and through a handful of singles and an EP, he’s built up strong support. After a period of studio hibernation, he’s set to emerge with his debut album, Entropy, recorded across studios in Colombia, United States, and Cyprus. “Slumber” feat. Dontmesswithjuan is the first taste, and it turns our excitement up a notch.
Erik Strauss “Into The Greenwood”
Erik Strauss is a musician and visual artist based in Venice, Italy who grew up listening to jazz and funk from his family’s vinyl collection. Only later did he begin digging into more electronic sounds. He’s part of French label Nuit Blanche but he also independently shares trip-hop and downtempo tunes like “Into the Greenwood,” a swinging beat that perfectly encapsulates his sound. He’s featured on XLR8R before with “Darkside” and “Behind and Over.”
Marco Tracks “Emerge”
Marco Tracks is a mysterious DJ-producer from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, with a deep passion for ambient, dub, and house music. “Emerge” is a new track that’ll have you coming back for more with its insatiable drum-machine rhythms and fizzing samples.
Wandour “September in London”
Apriori, the third EP of Wandour, is rooted in memory. The opener, “September in London,” explores the more melodic side of the north London producer, and it’s named after the experience that inspired it. As with all Wandour’s work, it’s a euphoric combination of melancholia and nostalgia, with distorted but lush atmospheric melodies.
Connor Harrison, better known as Stature, is an electronic music producer based in Nottingham, United Kingdom. An avid music fan, he makes high-energy garage-based beats, and “Astral” is a new track that has us lusting for the return of the dancefloor. Earlier this year, he released “Otto,” a piano-led jam that made it into our September 2020 roundup.
Thomas Blondet, from Washington, has teamed up with improvisational producer Steven Rubin to create Sea Sons. For the record, the pair turned to the likes of Thievery Corporation and other major names in trip-hop, resulting in a similar style but there are also sonic references to Portishead and Boards of Canada. “Seascapes” is the delicious lead single that touches on the work of the aforementioned acts whilst presenting something new and intriguing.
Vulcan Nightclub “Halfling”
Like many bands, before the pandemic hit, Vulcan Nightclub, an improvisational jazz fusion band from Kitchener, Ontario, were gearing up to hit the road. Unlike most groups, however, their music is created live, in front of your eyes and ears. So with the stage off-limits, the band developed tools to get their music out through live stream performances and this led to Anthropomorphize, a debut EP of groovy, progressive jazz-tinged rock. “Halfling” is the stunning opening track that will have your head nodding.
Afar “Masked Pets”
Afar is the project of Matthew Gibson, an artist based in Australia. Not much is known about Gibson, other than that he featured in our May 2020 roundup with “Division.” Afar is the portal to his deeper, heads-down productions, and “Masked Pets” is another killer tune that shows his deft hand at creating smooth and swinging dubby grooves. (“Can’t Swing My Cat” is also worth a listen.)
Almost 12 months have passed since Italian-Congolese producer BLCKEBY released “Origin’s Riddim,” taken from the INNER mixtape. Following on, doubledoubleu, the Milan, Italy label, has released a remix EP featuring five alternative versions of mixtape originals, realized by producers chosen by BLCKEBY. We’ve picked Fight Pausa’s remix to showcase here.
Elijah Nang “Atlantis”
Elijah Nang spent his south London youth playing around with genres such as grime, garage, and rap, and around 2010 he began to create his own niche: a type of downtempo hip-hop flavored with Asian elements. His latest track draws inspiration from the book “Outlaw Ocean,” written by Ian Urbina, and the idea was to communicate the experience of being lost at sea through music—an idea we think he has nailed.
Politaur, from Budapest, Hungary, started to make music in 2000 but he’s only recently adopted the new alias. His goal is to synthesize his feelings, and with the Solaris EP he directs his attention to the book of the same name by Stanislaw Lem. Expect four transfixing ambient cuts in the style of “Newcomer.”
Aspetuck, whom we’ve featured in March and June, is the alias of Griff Fulton, a Vermont producer fascinated by groove, percussion, and the influence of dub on electronic music. Following his feature in our September roundup, he’s now submitted a thrilling all-originals mix, recorded last month. Most of these tracks will be released later this year on various labels, he tells us, and we’ll be awaiting on each drop to snag some of these killer grooves.
Malcolm ‘Shine A Light On‘ Mix
Following the release of his second EP, Everyone Knows Malcolm Is Full Of Shit, Malcolm prepared a mix for Ransom Notes’ Shine A Light On series. Across its one-hour run time, Malcolm, head of Global Warming Records, shifts through half-time drum & bass and futuristic dub beats. Tune in for original edits and unreleased tunes from Identified Patient, Mutant Joe, and Gamma Intel—it’s a wild ride.