Randomer’s Running Dry is a brand new EP from a label I’ve come to love over the past couple months, Dekmantel. Not only have they released a pair of the best progressive techno 12″s from Danish producer Central; they’re sending out some of the most innovative short-form music I’ve heard all year in the form of their new UFO series. This little release is the best so far.
I haven’t listened to footwork this bracing since the first time I heard DJ Rashad.
That thought ran through my head mere minutes into this incredible set by DJ Paypal, the brief but incredibly energetic Sold Out. If you’re familiar with the Rashad and the wider genre at all, you’ll know how bold of a statement this is. The guy was the first genre superstar, and a true auteur. His sudden death in 2014 cast a pall over the relatively tight-knit community. Surprisingly, the first artist to step out of his shadow is not from Chicago but Berlin, Germany. Lacking a geographic one, Paypal still has a direction connection to the more well known artists: he met the rest of the famed Teklife crew, including DJ Spinn and Rashad, through a footwork Facebook group.
Here’s his debut album, Sold Out. It’s 37 minutes of light speed bliss that will have you hyperventilating.
I’m caught up, soaring over shattered landscapes on fast-foward, somewhere in the middle of second track Ahhhhhhh, when it hits me. I’m riding a crest of vertical samples, sharp points of horns and vocals, strung together with a piano solo, out of control and on my back. Hysterical. It’s the same inexorable rush that hits when you realize you’ve truly gotten carried away in the torrent of a great wild jazz tune. It’s that rare experience: behold! a gang of vital, angry, and independent pieces slam together in unthinkable clockwork precision. This sort of rollercoaster used to be conjured by the likes of Pharoah Sanders’ The Creator Has A Master Plan.
This album is another brick in the fortress of evidence that jazz never died; its simply outgrew its constrictive, recognizable forms. While it’s true that the fun stuff has seen a revival, thanks in no small part to artists like Kamasi Washington, reincarnating the structures of free jazz at its commercial peak, the real innovation is happening in unexpected ways. When DJ Rashad broke through half a decade ago, it wasn’t because he was the best, most skilled footwork artist. He brought visibility to the genre because he evolved it in unexpected ways, adding melodic hooks while setting the often rigidly hyperspeed template on its ear. He bent the known playbook. He played with our perception of time.
This is the exploratory heart of what makes the best free jazz so revelatory. It’s also what I’m hearing in a new album for the first time since Rashad died. Sold Out does more than stand on the shoulders of a great artist. The album earns my ecstatic response by leaping beyond, exploring past the horizons we’ve heard from Chicago so far.
If you google DJ Paypal, you might notice that he seems like a very private person, to put it lightly. “I just don’t want pictures of my face posted everywhere, I’m opting out,” he told Meaghan Garvey in an interview for Pitchfork. He hasn’t given out his real name and currently enjoys an anonymity previously only known by Burial. I admire his humility, and his deference to the original Chicago footwork community, but he’s got to know, deep down, how special his work is. Continuing in the same interview about Rashad, after describing the day he died, Paypal says, “his role is not going to be filled by anybody else. It can’t be. So we’re gonna work harder, because it’s not going to be easy.”
The album just dropped on November 13th, so I’m a little late but hopefully not before everyone’s made their best of the year lists. I’ve got a feeling this might make an appearance on mine. You can pick up the vinyl or digital version from the Bandcamp page.
When I saw the name Gr◯un土 on a list of recently released albums, my first thought was to pass right on by. After all, there are countless indistinct artists with unpronounceable ascii-fun names. Then I saw the cover art and was intrigued. Something called to me. I found a stream of Vodunizm and a smile immediately crept across my face.
DJ Spider’s new album is a hot revelation, a refractory slab of noisy techno and deep house. Upon The Gates Of The Great Depth grabbed my attention out of nowhere this morning, leaping from a list of new releases with a sense of inevitability: “I’m going to be really into this,” I thought, seeing nothing more than the abstract cover art. As it wormed its way into my skull, lifting my cheeks in a smile, I realized that I was right.
The album opens throbbing with the sub-aquatic pulse of Drexciya, but quickly enters some outer space turmoil. This is compulsive, looping techno erupting into storms of noise and distortion, running light speed through an asteroid belt. It’ll give whiplash to anyone expecting a more traditional dance experience. All is not harsh, however: there’s a pervasive but slippery heart of deep house in DJ Spider’s work, a sense of belonging and warmth that says you belong nowhere more than here. It reminds me of spiritual embrace of my favorite DJ Sprinkles tracks.
There are moments where the addictive rhythms give way to peals of abrasive noise, like wind whipping over pixelized rocks on a blasted out digital tundra. The effect is more a gripping story than a collection of individual songs, replete with harder moments that give weight to the soaring peaks. The central dynamic pivots between an industrial as it completes a mostly unspoken arc, rising and falling and exploding into new forms over its running time.
Kendrick Lamar is back and pulling absolutely no fucking punches.
Marching on an over-driven martial drumbeat, the new single from my favorite rapper stomps directly into your ears from the get go. After the scene’s set, Kendrick enters, all righteous anger and heavy swagger. This is hard talk, with a sudden shot to the gut before the outro rolls on a funk groove groove.
If this doesn’t get your blood pumping, raise the hair on your neck, I don’t know what will. This song hits the post-Michael Brown, post-I can’t breathe violent American zeitgeist harder than anything I’ve yet experienced. These lyrics will be analyzed for weeks going forward.
I just want to get this out to all my music friends as soon as possible. Thanks to my friend Lou for the tip-off! Amazing surprise, coming home from work to find this. I can’t wait to hear what he brings us next. good kid, m.A.A.d. City is one of the best albums of the past couple decades. Can he top it?
Here’s Andy Stott spinning dark techno brilliance for almost an hour. I’m totally unsure of how I managed to miss this. Dropping two years ago – just before his stunning full length Luxury Problems – this live set mixes in a whole lot of his signature abrasive 4/4 monstrosities and searing vocal colors from Alison Skidmore. It’s a dark, sinewy construction, shambling its way through the back caves of your mind.
Basically, it sounds exactly how you’d expect Andy Stott to sound like live. Fans of Luxury Problems will be especially pleased around the 19 minute mark.
In typical Boiler Room fashion, the crowd consists of listless hipster types sipping on beers and occasionally tilting their hips. The real draw is the sound. Turn your volume up, and read something interesting while you listen. I suggest this illuminating treatise on the philosophy behind invisible prisons that shape our lives. It’s called The Black Iron Prison, a term birthed by Philip K. Dick in his final novel, VALIS. You should probably read that at some point in your life. It’s a transcendent (and partially autobiographical) dissection of sanity itself.
I don’t have much else to say about this. Just listen. Or watch, too, if you’re in the mood to see people looking miraculously bored at one of the most intimate, brilliant techno sets I’ve ever heard.