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Hyperspecific: Dance Music For June Reviewed By Jaša Bužinel
Jaša Bužinel , June 7th, 2022 11:07

Our electronic music columnist Jaša Bužinel is back with his 25 summer bangers list, plus ten fresh reviews, including releases by Pariah, rRoxymore, Nick Leon & Bitter Babe, Metrist, Slikback and more

Pariah by Kasia Zacharko

"Professional DJs hate him, amateur DJs love him!" could be the title of this column. Summer is just beyond the corner, and just like last year, we are kicking off tQ's now bi-monthly dance music column with an exhaustive list of summer tunes that will 100 percent be making the rounds at festivals around the world.

I have been listening to a lot of DJ shows recently and trying to separate the wheat from the chaff in terms of which tracks are gonna really move crowds. Compared to last year, it was even easier, to be honest, perhaps because 2022 is really gonna be that 'normal' festival year again, and producers have really made an effort to bring us the heat.

So yeah, there is little to no chance that the 25 tracks presented below are not gonna grab your attention on a sweaty dancefloor in the coming months. Better get prepared! Peak time hits, sun-soaked gems for sunset sets, certified festival bangers, and tunes with that 'love is in the air' vibe abound, in no particular order.

KH – 'Looking At Your Pager'

A reinterpretation of a '00s R&B sample with the signature Kieran Hebden touch that will define summer 2022.

Pariah – 'Caterpillar'

A devastating techno floor sweeper without equal that goes brrrrrrr!

Two Shell – '[round]'

There are actually two versions of this track, an ingenious remix of Sugababes' tune 'Round Round', and people seem to prefer the old one, but in any case, Two Shell's signature UK-flavoured bangers ('Pods' included) are gonna shell festival dancefloors across the globe.

Roza Terenzi & JD – 'Memories Of The Secret'
(Step Ball Chain)

A progressive trance gem in the tradition of my hero Robert Leiner, this is euphoric, vibey and punchy, and engineered to activate your third eye on a dancefloor.

Breaka – 'Mass Gathering'

Even though it came out as a single last year, it also landed on Breaka's recently released, magnificent debut album, and as the title suggests, it is designed as a soundtrack to collective rave euphoria.

Killjoy – 'Roof It (Soul Mass Transit System Remix)'
(Shall Not Fade)

A speed garage anthem with familiar old school melodies.

Joy Orbison – 'pinky ring'

Something of an instant classic by the one and only Joy O.

Overmono – 'Gunk'

Another utterly simple but beautifully uplifting tune by the Russell brothers that is gonna soundtrack summer 2022.

Daphni – 'Cherry'

Sparkly and off-kilter in the signature Dan Snaith way.

Jamie xx - 'Let's Do It Again'

Borderline cheesy but splendidly produced. A true mainstream gem bridging mainstream and underground aesthetics.

Floating Points – 'Grammar'
(Ninja Tune)

I could have also picked his other recent single 'Vocoder', but I believe this one is simply more effective and has potential to really become one of the defining sounds of the coming summer.

Saoirse – 'Gentle Romance'

'90s trance euphoria and didgeridoo mysticism via a modern tech-house lens.

Dance System – 'Bring The Noise'

Unabashed feel good dance music with the French touch.

Mr. Fingers – 'Around The Sun'

A timeless summer house jam from the legend himself Larry Heard.

Seb Wildblood – 'For Emotional Use Only'
(All My Thoughts)

A simple but effective house tune that will move festival crowds.

Elkka – 'Head Back'
(Femme Culture)

A Four Tet-inspired vocal breakbeat roller by the rising London artist.

TSHA – 'Boyz'

TSHA's most significant release to date, you'll be hearing this one a lot.

Farr – 'Give Me Shelter'
(Out Of Sorts)

I'm not sure many DJs are gonna discover this one, but I think it could function perfectly as a closer in a uptempo festival set.

Moderat – 'Neon Rats'

Deep, thickly layered and blissful – perfectly designed for emotional release.

Andhim – 'Choose Love (Gerd Janson Remix)'
(Higher Ground)

Another one of those classic Italo-flavoured Gerd Janson remixes.

Lipelis x TMO – 'Diet 505'
(System 108)

Such a simple yet effective retro-sounding tune.

DJ Lag & Sinjin Hawke – 'Raptor'
(Black Major / Ice Drop)

Gqom fire that wreaks havoc on any dancefloor.

Anthony Naples – 'Swerve'
(Running Back)

Not even officially out yet, and already one of the definitive dance tunes of summer 2022. This one has been appearing in radio shows by Ben UFO and others recently.

Nikki Nair – 'I Ain't Got You'

This man has done so much for breaks-based dance music in the past two years that I cannot simply praise him enough. Banger after banger. I love you Nikki!

Peder Mannerfelt – 'All In Your Hands (FT Version)'
(Peder Mannerfelt Produktion)

Yet to be released, but I guarantee this is gonna be huge (both versions, actually). Signature Mannerfelt techno!

Bonus: There is new material from Pangea and Pearson Sound that should be included here as well, but is not officially out yet. Keep your ears peeled…

This month's releases

Pariah – Caterpillar

I have no idea what Arthur Cayzer, AKA Pariah, is up to during the breaks that separate his sporadic solo releases. His fans have become used to being patient, though, as it is always worthwhile. It is telling that his last EP came out a decade ago, and it has been four years since his ethereal ambient debut album Here From Where We Are (I imagine he has been focusing on the project Karenn, which he co-runs with Blawan). Is he a nitpicky perfectionist? Perhaps that is the case, but it's clear he has the Midas touch when it comes to TUNES. His sublime remix for Nathan Melja, for example, was one of the highlights of 2020, and now his solo debut for Voam, the label he runs with Blawan, is something else.

I could almost sell it to you as a game-changer, but I would much rather describe it as a revelatory next step in the long evolution of the techno idiom. The framework of the title track is plain deep techno, but the way that he introduces the gargantuan earworm-y laser synth motif, to melt the listener's brain, and how he uses bouncy snare rolls to give it some alien funk is what really does the trick (not to mention the surrealistically crisp sound). When I first experienced the breakbeat-indebted stomper 'Frogspawn', another of the EP's three tracks, I immediately imagined hearing it just before dawn kisses the festival dancefloor – one of those tracks that lets you breathe just before the final sprint. It is a different story with 'One On One', a hauntingly disorienting electro roller marked by amorphous modular bleeps that lurk ominously. Clocking in at almost 160bpm, it comes off as a modern iteration of spooky acid house classics such as 'Make U Scream (Deep House Mix)' and 'Your Only Friend'. This is an early contender for techno EP of the year.

Slikback – 22122

Even in the most niche electronic music scenes, these days everyone is following the same promo model. Pre-release PR activities, pre-arranged features and reviews, social media shares, and little or no innovation when it comes to pitching new music. Contrarily, Kenyan club experimentalist Slikback, one of the few contemporary electronic music artists who fall into their very own category, has been successfully defying norms for the past two years, self-releasing EPs and full-length albums on Bandcamp without a set price and little to no prior warning. He is so prolific that it is sometimes hard to keep track of his creativity. This non-conformist approach, along with his unique sound palette (abrasive and noisy hi-def frequencies, rude bassbin pressure and intricate polyrhythms) and club sensibilities (taking notes from gqom, trap, techno, drill, grime and ambient), has forced people to take note of what he's doing.

His latest outing encapsulates everything he has done so far – fresh musical ideas condensed into two minute hallucinatory club tracks. My favourite is the opener 'SEQUENCE', a rare gem that sits on the boundaries of noise, footwork, jungle, glitch and bass, simultaneously intense AF and blissful. There is a sense of urgency in his productions, a feeling that these tunes must be put out without too much overthinking and over-arrangement (in a similar fashion to the early boundary-pushing dance music of the '90s). It may not even be my favourite release from him (there is something about SHOTOTSU (2021) that gives me goosebumps), but it is definitely further proof of his unparalleled sonic vision – be sure to check out his tour schedule as he will be on the road in the next months.

Nick León & Bitter Babe – Delirio
(Club Romantico)

Miami's club scene is blooming right now with producers and DJs like INVT, Jonny From Space, Coffintexts, Pressure Point, Sister System, Bitter Babe and Nick León (who recently contributed to Rosalía's latest album) as its agents of change. The latter two, known both for their solo outings on labels, such as NAAFI, Future Times and TraTraTrax, as well as their various collaborations, now present a new chapter in Florida's dance music scene. The two are part of a larger global movement (with protagonists like Nicola Cruz, DJ Plead and Florentino, to name a few) that is connecting the dots between niche scenes in the UK, Australia, the Middle East, Uganda, the US and various Latin American countries.

Hailing from Florida, the Latin American influences are there as expected, especially in how they adapt and translate various ancient percussive traditions into propulsive club ballistics. Yet, this nexus of influences is much more complex, owning a lot both to Colombian guaracha, Venezuelan "raptor house" and also the Dutch heritage of Afro-diasporic "bubbling styles" (unsurprisingly, one of its main new gen representatives, the Nyege Nyege affiliate De Schuurman, provides one of the two remixes on this EP, along with DJ Python). Even though the three original tracks are essential tools to be combined into new exciting forms, they are tools of utmost quality, engineered to wreak havoc on any given dancefloor. Delirio is a high-energy, percussion-heavy EP that captures the essence of Florida's cutting-edge club scene in 2022.

Metrist – Forova

While we are still waiting for the third and final part of his Pollen trilogy to drop on Timedance, London producer Metrist returns with something a bit different on his latest release, though it also bears his immediately recognisable sonic autograph. Barring his relatively recent zippy remix for Nihiloxica, Metrist has not been really focusing that much on the high-velocity zone of dance music. But speed ist krieg on the inaugural release for his newly established label, SOSOSO.

It sees him continue to explore the jaw-dropping sound palette that has shone through on past releases for Timedance, with some added playfulness. In a feature from sometime ago, the producer and Hessle Audio affiliate Joe talked about humour in tracks, using tricks for transitions between various sections and including funny "pulling-out-the-aux-cord" moments, mentioning names like Bruce and Objekt in the process. Metrist belongs to the same league, no doubt. Reflecting his top-level production prowess, Forova is an intense hypervelocity affair blending high resolution neurofunked sounds, hyperactive arrangements filled with micro-events (echoey vocal fragments, synthesised explosions, electroacoustic-sounding synth warps and more), contemporary UK club tropes in the Timedance mould, and his signature sound design. If the average proggy producer is trying to impress you, even metaphorically attacking you in order to heighten your senses, Metrist in a sense exaggerates so much that rather than causing awe he makes you smile and bounce around the room.

Galaxian – We Are Power
(Foul-Up / Shipwrec)

The Glaswegian ambassador of cosmic bass-ladden electro has been regularly impressing us for years with top-notch productions, most recently via last year's impressive LP, Like Sunlit Threads, for Ilian Tape, released under the moniker Kas. A singular depth and spaciousness defines his psychedelic whilst hard-pounding productions. On his first Galaxian full length in over a decade, he frames his ideas as a concept album with punk, or rather countercultural inclinations, exploring the nature of power in relation to the environment, humanity, spirituality and industrial growth. The tracks are slightly more restrained and mellow than previous Galaxian outings, especially the intense 2019 release Coming Up For Air, on Ilian Tape, which was one of my favourite electro records of the past decade. Still, they bear the essence of the Galaxian sound: eccentric, trippy and immersive.

There are certainly some parallels with the recent productions by the Detroit legend DJ Stingray, but most of all the album owes to the transcendental mystique of early Underground Resistance. It is built from propulsive syncopations, chopped vocal samples, post-industrial timbres, razor-sharp synth stabs and bubbly sonic adornments. In comparison to the intense Galaxian EP Destroy Your Future, released back in March, it invites you on a more profound listening experience. Above all I rate his synth motifs and non-generic melodies that conjure up liminal atmospheres – not really dark but far from mellow. There are still plenty bangers on here, such as ‘Messianic Delusions’, but it seems the whole LP is a buildup to the highlight ‘We Are Power (The Final Assault)’, an absolute beast of a track featuring an emotive monologue, funky flutes, dense background textures and rolling d&b breaks.

Low End Activist – Hostile Utopia
(Sneaker Social Club)

Like Galaxian, Bristolian bass/grime fusionist Low End Activist comes from a lineage of socially conscious music producers whose music is (not always, of course) a reflection of their immediate surroundings. In the case of his new LP for the Bristol institution Sneaker Social Club, home of some of the best modernist hardcore renditions and UK club heat of recent years, there is a direct connection to his origins in the multi-ethnic area Blackbird Leys. In an age where the majority of younger dance music producers tend to isolate their creativity from their social reality, opting instead for abstraction and fantasy, this comes across like a very welcome move, almost an unfashionable one.

An ambitious collection of 15 tracks running just below the 60-minute mark, Hostile Utopia is one of the few 'club' albums I have heard recently that functions beautifully both as a concept album and a go-to place for devastating club tools. Grime, hardcore and dubstep are the foundations on which the producer constructs his own utopia, which addresses the strange feeling of nostalgia for the griminess of (sub)urban UK municipalities, plagued by social inequality and sometimes also violence, which nevertheless often function as the last bastions of street-level solidarity. The music expertly captures a vibe of urban doom mixed with a sense of communal belonging to a certain group, scene or district. I could easily imagine it being used in a British equivalent of The Wire set in the UK in 2022. Low End Activist definitely boasts his own fierce style in the 130 to 150 bpm territory, defined by low frequency tension and rock-solid rhythms that sometimes take you by surprise. Additionally, the album includes a who's who of top tier guest British MCs, like Killa P, Mez, Emz and Cadence Weapon. If you adored The Bug's Fire, you should not sleep on this one.

Azu Tiwaline – Vesta

Following her Livity Sound collaboration with Al Wootton, which I reviewed in one of my previous columns, Tunisian trailblazer Azu Tiwaline, a producer consistently at the top of her game for some time now, continues with her hot streak of releases, this time with the brightest visible asteroid Vesta as its main protagonist. Interestingly, the EP consists of tracks that were produced during the creation of her 2020 Livity Sound debut Magnetic Service, so we can intuitively draw parallels with the latter, even if this new record is more spacey and cosmic.

The shiver-inducing tambur hand drum-playing of Cinna Peyghamy sets the pace on the meditative opener 'Loww', a kind of modern rendition of Muslimgauze's esoteric ambience with an unexpected melodic twist in the second section of the track. 'Medium Time' steers towards pensive percussive techno, riding on an echoing polyrhythmic groove with minute modulations and a minimalist synth motif, while 'Into The Void' reminds me of the show I witnessed at Dimensions Festival some years ago by Moritz von Oswald Trio and Tony Allen – interstellar dub techno with a dynamic rhythmic arrangement. Closer 'Deep Theko' is the most adventurous cut, and it is exactly this point that I would really love to see her explore further on her future endeavours.

rRoxymore – I Wanted More

I have honestly missed rRoxymore's productions in the last few years (her last full release Face To Phase came out in 2019). The French artist occupies a special interzone between house, techno and downtempo. Her music boasts a lush, velvety and mostly tranquilising patina (there is a 'Balearic' dimension to it – I can imagine DJ Alfredo playing the EP's celestial new age closer 'Last Day Last Dance’ in one of his sunset mixes). It is her approach to sequencing and arrangement, though, that makes her melody-driven productions stand out among the rest.

It makes sense that her most house-y release in recent memory has landed on Will Saul's label, AUS. The EP has a distinctly summer vibe to it. I've been sipping morning coffee listening to the silky downtempo tune 'Drunken Clouds' (perhaps a nod to The Orb's 'Little Fluffy Clouds'?) all week. Hearing the breakbeat house heater 'I Wanted More', I immediately knew it had the potential to be a popular club tracks in the coming months – you can't really go wrong with such a soothing combo of vocal chops and marimbas. Yet, the centrepiece of the EP is 'Midnight Shift', whose brilliant sequencing and unexpected transitions make it stand out among the rest.

DJ Pitch – Spiritual Claustrophobia

If on last year's album It's Not What You Said It's Because You Spoke, All Centre and TT founder DJ Pitch showcased his poetic take on modern-day electronic fusionism, this follow-up EP is a completely different story. Not another COVID-19-inspired release, eh? Well, partly, but what if I said it is not an ambient album? Despite the perhaps misleading title, Spiritual Claustrophobia is all about mutant club beats (dancehall, reggaeton, UK funky, IDM) with a lot of emotional charge (unsurprisingly, the sentimental club music of DJ Python springs to mind while listening to it).

Comprised of four tracks, the EP conjures a warm, welcoming and communal vibe experienced only on the kind of intimate dancefloors that we all missed during the hard times (the track titles, too, reflect these motifs). 'Exit (Time To Leave)' is a slow chugger with spiralling iridescent synths and subdued vocal cuts, an uplifting and calming tune to accompany your morning self-care routines. 'Missing In Action' takes the energising vocal samples of M.I.A. and successfully transposes them into a TT mould, retaining their vital energy but complementing them with floating pensive pads. 'Fractured Collectivity' comes across like an unlikely marriage between lo-fi house sonics circa 2017 and Roska's "kicks and snares" UK funky, while the title track harkens back to sound design-adjacent IDM explorations. It's a thickly layered and rowdy production with video game samples, analog drums and meditative keys that makes you reflect on the emotional transformations that we all experienced in the past two years.

C.V.E. – Chillin Villains: We Represent Billions
(Nyege Nyege Tapes)

I never thought I would discover something like this through Nyege Nyege Tapes, but the label has once again proven why it is at the forefront of progressive musical expression, even if this time it is something scraped from the past. Chillin Villains: We Represent Billions is a retrospective collection of music by the cult LA collective C.V.E., an influential underground outfit that went on to inspire giants like Jurassic 5 and Kendrick Lamar (compare their track 'C.V. Vault' to 'HUMBLE.' and it will all immediately make sense). Made up of rappers, producers, designers and engineers, all part of the social nexus around the Good Life Café, the crew have been hailed for their authenticity, making music without samples and implementing free association verses early on.

Including material produced between 1993 and 2003, which is mostly skeletal and simplistic, Chillin Villains: We Represent Billions puts an emphasis on the forward-thinking aesthetics of this trailblazing group, blending bouncy West Coast electro, horrorcore, proto-industrial hip hop, '90s thug rap, illambient and trip hop into an explosive cocktail of original hip hop expression that could almost be considered a predecessor to grime.

In this column I did not include the absolutely fantastic new albums by Oyeshack and Afrorack as they have been covered elsewhere on tQ recently, but do not hesitate to check them out.