This week’s Bandcamp selections include Colombian techno, deep house from Toronto and UR affiliate Santiago Salazar.
With venues closed and gigs cancelled, it’s a hard time to be an artist. More than ever, they need our support.
Bandcamp has emerged as one of the most ethical platforms for buying music, with a favourable fee structure that means most money spent on Bandcamp goes directly to the artist or label. In an effort to support the music we love, we’ve started a weekly Bandcamp roundup highlighting our favourite new releases available on the platform, as selected by our staff.
Various Artists – SUBSISTIR & From A Lost Place Colombia, as we know by now, is one of the world’s greatest hotspots for techno. Things aren’t looking to great for the (near) future of clubbing there, but the country’s plethora of producers are banding together to raise money for even more vulnerable people with two new compilations. First there’s SUBSISTIR, a collaboration between labels Pildoras Tapes and Raw Quarter, that showcases blackened EBM techno with all proceeds going towards Embera indigenous people who are trapped in Bogotá during the pandemic. (Fans of Phase Fatale and Terence Fixmer will want to check this one out.) Meanwhile, From A Lost Place raises money for the densely populated Santa Cruz del Islote island and the Fundación Rediseñándonos, which works to reintegrate vulnerable and disadvantaged people. Learning more about a world-class techno scene and raising money for those most at risk from the pandemic sounds like a win-win to us. (Side note: crucial Bogotá club Video Club is also hosting a fundraiser to keep them afloat.)
Haley Jin Mee Chung – s:gnal Boston-based Haley Chung asks us to consider the sustainability of digital media. After all, streaming and downloading requires real-world resources to do, sometimes worse than the impact of physical media. On this self-released EP, she offers an age-old solution by repurposing data she’s collected over the years, from field recordings to recorded conversations and other bits and bobs. The result is an arresting record that sounds like tapping into someone’s mind and getting a flood of memories all at once, fragmented and out of order, full of hard-to-place noises and slurred and edited speech. URA – Blue What if DeepChord released records on Mo’Wax? Excuse the music-journalist hypothetical, but those are the vibes we’re getting from “Dirge,” the first single off URA’s new mini-album Blue. Originally meant to come out in fall, Canadian label-to-watch NAFF Recordings decided to drop the record this week because, well, we don’t know what’s coming.
Arcadio Alcalá – I’m Still Alive The name of this latest release from a producer you might know better as Beaner refers to a difficult mental health problems he’s been suffering through for the last few years. The lengthy 12-track album is a look at all sides of this producer, from wiggly, Berlin-style tech house (“The Vadim Clone Radical Autonomous Empathy Army”) to chunky deep house (“Barn, Work, Slavery”) and even nu-disco (“Strawberry Cadre Jam”) all with an economical approach, highlighting hints of melody that glint like shards of glass in the sand.
Ground Tactics – Reality Implant The German label Midgar is something of a buy-on-sight prospect, but more for their unpredictability than consistency. The imprint that helped introduce Wata Igarashi to the world now offers up an EP from Ground Tactics, who makes music that you could call IDM, though it doesn’t fit into any established mould for the genre. The drums spit out in odd, shuttering patterns, while basslines wub and groan like dislocated dubstep. It’s kind of electro, kind of techno, kind of UK bass, and it’s never boring—another stellar, truly unique release from a label that specializes in them.
Ilana Bryne – Strange Adventure Midwest producer Ilana Bryne took us all by surprise with her debut EP Low Earth Orbit on Naive in 2019, which has since become one of the Portuguese label’s key releases. Her second record is highly anticipated, and it doesn’t disappoint. This time, the mood is ultra-smooth lounge house: check out those ultra-cool keyboard notes and slight Latin flair on “I Used To Love T.H.E.M.,” or the breaky chug of “Exclusive Shit Holds No Weight,” which sounds like an old Detroit electro record suspended in thin air. The Russell E.L. Butler remix is icing on the cake, rounding off an EP that might just outdo the first one as the best record on Naive.
Phew – Vertical Jamming Japanese underground figure Phew has collaborated with Can and Ryuichi Sakamoto, but what’s truly impressive is her uncompromising approach over 30-plus years. While recent Phew material, like 2018’s Voice Hardcore LP, focused on the ghostly manipulation of her own voice, her new tape Vertical Jamming is a difficult, droning and ultimately worthwhile listen based around the sound of a very simple oscillator.
Boha – Serenity In Chaos Montreal’s Boha makes techno-bass hybrids that don’t pull any punches: bright trance synths that feel like they’d be white-hot to the touch, and kick drums to piss off your neighbours. Just listen to those incredible sub-bass squalls in “East Van Cross,” or the Travis Scott-style reverbed yelps. This is stadium bass music. But it’s more than that too: there’s a dextrous flexibility to how Boha programs drums, the kind you hear on UK labels like Timedance or Wisdom Teeth. His music is a tad rowdier, which makes it all the more convincing. Turn up loud, make sure your subwoofers are on, and pretend you’re in your happy place.
Active Surplus – Active Surplus Fresh on the scene, Toronto duo Active Surplus (AKA Evan Vincent and Ian Syrett) are already becoming a duo to watch. In January, they featured on Vancouver label Pacific Rhythm’s Rhythms Of The Pacific series, doling out sunny, jazz-influenced chords over swinging percussion. The label now releases the pair’s debut EP, spanning four tracks, which owes its breezy grooves to the pair’s obsession with water. Listen for the playful children’s chorus on “Yaye,” the incredibly spacious “Ambrosia,” the psychedelic jazz of “One Beyond” or the gentle amen breaks and deep, three-note melody in “Meera.”
Sleep D – BSD_01 With their Butter Sessions catalogue sitting around the 30-record mark over a seven-year period, Australian electronic pillars Sleep D have chosen a timely moment to launch a digital-only arm of their label. The duo christen the BSD prefix with three diverse cuts, opening with the downtempo house chugger “Grass Bath” and ramping up with gritty 808 workouts “Tram” and “Dog Eye.”
Santiago Salazar – 1998 Talk to anyone who’s met Los Angeles producer and UR affiliate Santiago Salazar, and you’ll hear he’s one of the nicest, friendliest guys in techno. Recently, his work music a breezy affability to it as well, which you can hear on 1998, which kicks off with a hybrid acid-G-funk track called “Celebrate Life.” Elsewhere, you’ve got gliding Detroit melodies and the deceptively titled chillout track “AK-47 And Coffee.” So he’s not only one of the nicest guys in the game, he makes some of the nicest music, too.
Greg Beato – New Format “THESE WERE ONLY MADE FOR HOME LISTENING BECAUSE WUT FUCKIN CLUB ARE YOU GOING TO PLAY THEM AT?” That’s the note that comes with New Format, from Miami producer Greg Beato, who you might remember from very club-oriented EPs on L.I.E.S. and Apron Records. And first track “Remember That Time That…” is pretty chilled out, but don’t get fooled—this EP has several grooves to dance to, from deep house to sputtering techno, albeit with a weirder touch than usual. Solvoid (Noah Pred) – Solvoid EPs Okay, these records aren’t exactly new. Over ten years old, in fact. But they’re new to us, and newly revealed to be the work of Canadian house producer Noah Pred. This is not house, though—is this pure post-dubstep circa 2010, full of excitable drums, chirpy bleepy melodies and zig-zagging basslines. There are three EPs to dig through, but maybe start with number two and “Mendicant.” Just listen to those basslines, as satisfying as ripping off a velcro strap.
Andrew Ryce, Andy Webb, Matt McDermott and Kiana Mickles contributed to this roundup.