A selection of our favorite music submitted by XLR8R+ members last month.

Our submissions portal was overflowing in January, making it our busiest month yet, but not at the expense of quality. It’s taken us some time to listen and digest all the submissions, but after some consideration—and some intense debate—we’re ready to share our favorite tracks; the ones we’ve been revisiting over the weeks since we received them. This month’s list is full of cinematic music delivered by the likes of Australian sound designer 16 Faces, Romania’s Ioana Selaru, and Deri Dako, but there’s some peaceful ambient, too. If that’s what you’re into, dial into Ses, from Turkey, or pianist Thomas Valverde in France. Adding some spice to the list is some ghettotech from DJ Godfather, breakbeats from Milan’s Acidgigi, and some instrumental hip-hop from the inimitable Samurai Guru in Los Angeles. Dig in, and thank you to all those who shared their work with us.

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.

To Life “As Heron”

To Life is a London-based alternative instrumental group whose sound explores the experimental boundaries of folk, jazz, art-rock, and neoclassical minimalism. It’s made up of Sharon Lynch, Kathryn Joy Monteiro, Romão Goth, and Nicolas Vandenborre. They released their debut album, Being Human, in 2019, and up next is And Find About Kind.

While Being Human was built on melodic loops of pure improvisation, And Find About Kind sees songs go through structural journeys, evolving with “risk-taking uncertainty,” we’re told. The foundations, however, remain, which is to say soaring cello, floating guitar lines, and soothing piano empowered by dynamic, organic percussion. “As Heron” is one of the latest tracks to be shared and is a shimmering example of the swinging grooves and affecting instrumentation To Life employ. 

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Acidgigi “Melancholia

Milan-based label Alzaya is the work of Volantis and Nicodemo, and it has developed quite a reputation for its psychedelic vibes over the past year or so. Luigi Guadagnino, better known as Acidgigi, recently signed to the label with a track that bridges the world of breakbeats with left-field pop music via sharp-edged percussion and introspective melodies. It’s named after the Lars Von Trier movie, and we can’t stop listening.

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CITIZEN:KANE “Proceed

CITIZEN:KANE is the alias of Lisbon-based Marco Guerra, head of the Fungo label. Ahead of his forthcoming album, he’s set to release Mutation, a new EP to start the Maquiavel label. “Proceed,” the first taste of this new work, is dark and brooding but also quirky and funky. Once again, a strange and danceable piece of strutting analog techno.

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Thomas Valverde “Rave

Thomas Valverde is a French musician who trained at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris. He’s slowly veered towards more electronic sounds and he released his first EP, Hyperbole, as Kazian in 2014. Earlier this month, he released Vortex, a culmination of his career to date featuring 11 original tracks dedicated to keyboards and electronic music. “Rave,” the track we’ve chosen, is a serene piece of music akin to the works of Nils Frahm and Ólafur Arnalds in that it’ll melt your problems away.

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Samurai Guru “Above Waters”

Samurai Guru, real name Jeremy Henry, is another Californian specialist in off-kilter beats and textures. He released his debut album, Recalibrate, on Alpha Pup in 2018, having been selected by Flying Lotus as a finalist for Low End Theory’s Open Beat Invitational in 2015. His new EP is called Better Days, on which he looks forward to a brighter future amidst the chaos of the present. “Above Waters” is exactly what you’d expect: a luscious slice of sun-tinged instrumental hip-hop from one of Los Angeles’ finest.

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Wittgenstein “A Mind That Sinks

Constantin Wittgenstein, from Munich, Germany, releases music under his family name. He developed his production skills through his studies in Creative Music Technology at London Metropolitan University, having been experimenting since he was 15. He’s driven by the work of Ron Trent, David Mancuso, and Larry Heard, and he aims to make music for the mind, body, and soul. “A Mind That Sinks,” one of his first works, is a delicious dub techno cut that’ll make you want to move with its silky chords and hip-moving groove. It’s available now on Bandcamp.

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The Lone Flanger “Be Me

Be Me is the fourth release on Infinite Refractions, and it comes from label head The Lone Flanger, better known as Jasen Loveland. He calls it “emotionally intelligent dance music,” which just about sums it up. It’s fun, frantic, and a little bit freaky—dub-wise electronics for the heads.

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Ses “Astral Forest”

Emre Surmeli, better known as Ses, is a DJ-producer with Turkish roots residing in Brooklyn, New York. His journey began as a listener looking for goosebump-inducing sounds, and he now finds himself deep in the realms of minimal electronic frequencies. “Astral Forest,” a soothing piece of ambient, is one of his earliest works, released via Bandcamp in January.

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Mitry “After

The Sun is the second EP that Mitry, a mysterious dub techno producer, has released, and it comes through London label Drift Deeper. “After,” the closing track, caps a gorgeously calm EP with its warm analog vibe and pulsating rhythm.

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COD3 QR “Technique

Each release on Cod3QR features three or four artists, whether known or unknown, and they’ll work under a secret code-name so that their true identities remain out of the public domain to avoid any preconceived ideas or a particular bias. By doing this, the music will always come first, the label says. Each release will be identified by a simple QR code, which, when flashed, will take you to a web page that will give, among other things, the artist’s code name. In the current market, most digital and vinyl sales occur over an average period of two months and once this time period has elapsed, the true identity of each artist will be revealed on the label’s site. QR009 included “technique” from Biz, a key player in the spread of techno since the early ’80s, and it’s a beauty. Deep and driving Detroit-influenced house music aimed squarely at the floor.

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59Perlen “I” (feat. Atlas Castle)

59 Perlen is the solo music project of Matthias Rosenkranz. He was born in Germany and now lives in Zurich, Switzerland. On Garagen, his new EP, he’s teamed up with Atlas Castle from Copenhagen, Denmark. The release formed out of an intended live collaboration at Sonic Playground; when the event was canceled by the pandemic, the two artists decided to meld their live set into an EP. The opener, “I,” is a smooth and emotive minimal track; it makes you feel a lot by doing little, focusing on an insatiable groove and Jan Jelinek-esque sample chops.

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Deri Dako “Axon

Deri Dako is a Lithuanian producer with a background in art. He believes in art’s potential to address social and environmental issues, and with his music he always tries to go into unexplored territories, which means there’s a lot of trial and error along the way, he says. In January, he released Plantago Major, an album that explores the concept of transformation—from injury to regeneration, from pain to pleasure, and from destruction to growth. It stems from a three-year sonic exploration, and it comes accompanied by a music video for the track “Axon,” which was made in collaboration with Japanese multimedia artist AUJIK. It’s strangely danceable and also addictive.

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Propulse “Digiform

Propulse is an electronic duo from the small town of Aylmer, Ontario consisting of brothers Kyle and Jon Wall. They operate on the fringes of ambient music, with a balance of dancefloor momentum and experimental electronics, and they’re connected to Canadian label A Person Disguised As People. Digiform, their new EP, is a captivating balance of glitch and IDM, and the title-track encapsulates this sound perfectly with an intriguing balancing act between pure experimentation and accessibility.

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J Lym “But Memories”

J Lym is a Jakarta native who currently resides in Boston, United States to write music and live with his husband. His writing reflects on his experience of time, moving from place to place, bringing stories of his youth, the present, and the future. “But Memories” is a new song, doused in melancholia and nostalgia, that brings to mind the work of artists such as Anohni for its heart-aching emotion and honesty.

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16 Faces “Into The Abyss” (Circadian Ambience Mix)

16 Faces, a Berlin-based Australian sound designer and music producer, has unveiled Into the Abyss, an intense yet somber score. The release weaves together distorted staccato synths fluidly with hauntingly dissonant strings, dystopian textures, and eerie melodic motifs. It builds on the artist’s love for melancholic bass music, and contemporary jungle and rave, albeit recontextualized into something more cinematic, vivid, and dramatic. The track features as the soundtrack to the short film “Circadian,” directed by Petter Jensen for the Japanese fashion brand Beaugan. We’re playing the “Circadian Ambience” mix here.

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ŽAGAR “Baikonur 2030 (Free Sequence)

ŽAGAR, real name Balázs Zságer, is a live electronica act from Budapest, Hungary. His live sound is a mixture of techno, dub, electronica, and ambient soundscapes. After composing soundtracks for feature films and television shows, most notably for CSI, Žagar is diving into the world of techno music through his own label, Free Sequence. The label’s first release is a 16-track compilation featuring up-and-coming producers of Budapest’s music community, and it includes ŽAGAR’s “Baikonur 2030,” a new slice of pulsing dub techno with masterful production.

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Inerit “Unfolded Pattern

In January, Inerit, a French producer, shared with us a collection of 12 tracks that piece together his emotions and memories since he was 18 and living in Hong Kong. He’s now based in the French countryside, where he’s preparing to release his music for the first time; he’s decided to wait until he feels his work is sufficiently mature, and now the moment has come. “Unfolded Pattern” is a track we kept coming back to, and it’s a snapshot of where Inerit is at musically now, that is to say deeply woven rhythms and floating atmospheric pads. The artwork comes from Clémence Rivalier, a gifted graphical designer based in Paris. 

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Ioana Selaru “Seventy Times Seven

Ioana Selaru is a classically trained violinist born in Bucharest, Romania. Her compositions include original scores composed for short films, documentaries, and animations, but her portfolio stretches out beyond the traditional media, covering music production for art installations and exhibitions. Her works are marked by unusual combinations of instruments and sounds, designed to strike that particular emotional chord in the audience. On A Mind of Your Own, her debut album, she invites you into her world of remarkable sound storytelling, with thrilling violin layers, evanescent sounds, distorted fragments from speeches, and her own vocal improvisation. We’re sharing the delicious opening track here, but we suggest you check out the full release, it’s a stunning collection of cinematic sounds.

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DJ Godfather “Sunday Morning Spliff

DJ Godfather, real name Brian Jeffries, is a founding father of the Detroit ghettotech scene. He started DJing at the age of 15 and within a few months, he was playing in clubs across the Motor City. By 17, he’d started making music and a year later he released his first solo record on Twilight 76, the label he started with DJ Dick and Brian Gillespie. “Sunday Morning Spliff” is the lead single from his debut album, Electro Beats For Freaks, on Databass Records. It’s a stellar collection of 44 tracks across almost two hours, moving through ghettotech, electro, and juke.

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a_ @braila “System Echo

A new compilation on Coral Riffs features work from a_ @braila, a one-man project driven by the use of soundscapes to explore ideas of nature, rituals, and consciousness. The man behind it is called Adrian Braila. The track is called “System Echo,” and the idea is that the artist is just a medium between the void, where everything that is or will be created already exists. Built from intriguing rhythms, “System Echo” strikes a wonderful balance between dark atmospheres and beautiful introspection.

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DJ Gear “Ode To M1”

DJ Gear is Dan Orbach, a DJ and producer based and operating in Tel-Aviv for the past decade. Orbach recently started Phlex Recs, an outlet for music from fellow Tel-Aviv producers, as well as his own projects Danya and DJ Gear. The latest release to land on Phlex Recs is Ode To M1, a rolling house single that lands with an original and dub mix. We’ve chosen the original mix here for its chunky rolling groove and euphoric synth work, but the dub mix is equally potent with its low-slung bass energy.





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