Hyperspecific: Dance Music For July Reviewed By Jaša Bužinel

Our electronic music columnist shares his number one beach read for 2023, and presents 29 certified summer festival anthems by Pangaea, K-LONE, Hudson Mohawke, Nikki Nair and many more

Olof Dreijer

This summer I’m looking forward to diving into the debut book by seasoned electronic music journalist Shawn Reynaldo, First Floor Volume 1: Reflections On Electronic Music Culture. It’s a collection of his most thought-provoking essays, originally published in his weekly newsletter First Floor, which focuses on electronic music and the industry and culture surrounding it.

I’ve namedropped Reynaldo’s newsletter on many occasions in this column, which coincidentally started at around the time I took on this role at tQ. His essays provide insight into topics which are often overlooked by the music press, or intentionally ignored, given his critique is also focused on questionable editorial and business strategies.

In recent years, we’ve seen major shifts take place, as explored in his piece ‘Going Through The Motions’. In the brilliant ‘Who’s In Charge Of The Culture?’, Reynaldo talks about older versus younger gatekeepers and generational divides that define the current climate. He questions the omnipresence of poptimism in the post-COVID era in ‘Wrestling With Pop Embarrassment’, and is highly critical of the hold social media has on contemporary DJs and influencers in ‘The Rise Of The Avatar DJ’.

As US DJ and producer Martyn writes in the book’s foreword, it’s not as much about agreeing with Reynaldo as it is about gaining new perspectives. One question that keeps bugging me in particular is connected to Reynaldo’s writing on intergenerational relations. Since I belong to the ‘post-dubstep generation’, I share a lot of his beliefs about what the ideals should be – there’s a sense of continuity between our generations. But if Reynaldo represents the third generation (2000s), and I the fourth (2010s), what does the fifth generation think of all this? Are listeners between 20 and 25 bothered by the current plague of bland pop edits in DJ sets? Is the mutation from DJ to influencer something to be critical about? Do they care about the roots of dance music and clubbing or is their focus mostly on the now?

One of Reynaldo’s essays I don’t agree with, however, is ‘Lots Of Bangers, Not Many Anthems’, and here’s proof against it: 29 summer festival tunes, each offering a different understanding of what represents an ‘anthem’. The criteria was simple: tunes that I could easily replay five times in a row. Or, as one ultra-saccharine comment I found under one track on Bandcamp put it: "Hands in the air, lasers everywhere, giving your mates a big hug; the soundtrack of those beautiful moments in a rave." Drop everything you’re doing, and dive in.

K-LONE – ‘Love Me A Little’
(Wisdom Teeth)

A serious contender for track of summer 2023, this single from K-LONE’s second album, Swells, ticks all the boxes when it comes to collective epiphanies on the dancefloor – a groovy deep house bassline, iridescent sun-soaked synths, soft and echoey ragga vocals that send shivers down your spine. I can only imagine how special it was when Ben UFO recently dropped it at dawn at Glastonbury.

Minor Science – ‘Workahol’
(AD 93)

Minor Science has been busy in the past few years working on crazy donk and psytrance edits as STRIPE N CO, but he recently came back to his main moniker with the biggest possible bang. Both the A- and B-side of his AD93 release are impressive, but the former, ‘Workahol’, really stands out thanks to the artist’s signature envelope-pushing production. It’s cheeky and saccharine in the UK rave tradition, and simultaneously geeky in the way he combines tropes of bassline, electro and bass with rushing hardcore breaks and top-notch sound design.

DJ Koze – ‘Blissda’

DJ Koze is one of the major hitmakers of our age. Despite being a headlining act for years now, he still manages to infuse his productions with a sensibility that is more akin to ‘underground’ producers. The slow-burn melancholy jam ‘Blissda’ is one such brilliant example – a masterful tear-jerker with blissful synth arpeggios that’ll make dancers long for their loved ones amidst a mass of strangers.

Otik – ‘Unorthodox’
(Aus Music)

Like DJ Koze, Otik is also a master of emotional liminality, inventively blurring the lines between euphoria and a strong sense of yearning. The standout track from his recent EP is definitely ‘Unorthodox’ in which a kaleidoscopic synth melody majestically glides above a sturdy UK funky groove. An ideal tune for creating dramatic moments at peak-time.

Anunaku – ‘Andromeda’
(AD 93)

Hilariously dubbed as nundance by a YouTube commentator for its use of vocals that sound like Gregorian chants, the track ‘Andromeda’ takes you on a retro-nostalgic trance trip. Revolving around a repetitive infectious wobbly melody and pensive pads, it sounds like something from the mid-’90s West Coast scene that Eris Drew could drop in one of her sets, but with a decidedly contemporary sound image.

O’Flynn – ‘Vesta’

A tune that will probably find (or has already found) its way into the DJ sets of the likes of Floating Points, Four Tet, Overmono and the likes, ‘Vesta’ is a recognisably British summer festival anthem – an effervescent blend of mellowness and nostalgia characterised by soothing female vocals and uplifting melodies riding along a hip-shaking UKG beat.

Unknown Artist – ‘Cynical Gringo’

Though this anonymous track ostensibly did the rounds already last year via Bradley Zero & co., it will probably be even more present this year. A groovy house flip of cuica-infused samba riddims, familiar piano chords, vocal chops from ‘Mas Que Nada’ and cocky saxophone moments, ‘Cynical Gringo’ makes for an exemplary beach party banger.

Spray – VT Trad
(Kalahari Oyster Cult)

The competition in the progressive trance sphere is fierce these days, with so many great tracks coming out from all fronts. Still, ‘VT Trad’ is one of this year’s highlights, a fist-pumping affair with intoxicatingly psychedelic synths, a steady stomping beat and a hallucinatory vocal that will make you melt away.

Doctor Jeep – ‘Push The Body’

One of the most amazing dubstep-via-techno mutations of 2023 so far, ‘Push The Body’ sets the bar really high both in terms of energy and sound design. Rowdy and relentless, it’s a remarkable production with a gargantuan bassline and strikingly crisp percussion programming, but it’s the alien voice frantically commanding you to "push your body" that really makes it a standout festival roller.

Leon Vynehall – ‘Rosebud’
(Studio Ooze)

There are a ton of tracks playing with similar dub techno/house tropes and piano chops out there, most notably the iconic ‘30003b’ by WAX (AKA Shed), but Leon Vynehall spices things up on ‘Rosebud’ by making it sound even more huge, more in-your-face, more festival headliner-ready. The soulful diva vocals only make things better, and the prolonged break and drop are sure to cause mayhem on festival dancefloors across the world.

Hudson Mohawke & Nikki Nair – ‘Set The Roof (ft. Tayla Parx)’

In recent years, we’ve been kind of forced to associate fun dance music with cheeky, sped-up, TikTok-inspired trance, jungle and footwork edits of pop songs. On their Warp debut, HudMo and Nikki Nair show us that we can do much better, delivering one of the most straightforwardly feel-good and amusing tunes of the year, without ever betraying their knack for jaw-dropping sound design and mischievous arrangements; see that rude bassline on the third drop!

DAPHNI – ‘Cloudy (Kelbin Remix)’

Sometimes tunes can be so good that they stay at the top for two years in a row, and Kelbin’s new "boosted" version of Caribou’s 2022 highlight ‘Cloudy’ is such an example. The frame remains the same, but its Floating Points-inspired beat turns the original already delicious production into an even more powerful weapon for bringing crowds to tears of gratitude.

Y U QT – ‘Y’All Ready For Dis (Extended Mix)’
(Y U QT)

A track most true to its name, Y U QT’s absolute bomb was first noticed because it marked one of the most exciting moments in Yung Singh’s iconic Boiler Room set. An explosive mixture of jungle breaks and roaring basslines, happy hardcore piano samples and familiar Eurodance motifs, I can hardly think of any remotely similar track from 2023 in terms of immediate dancefloor impact. You’re not ready for this.


This collaboration between the prolific US duo INVT and cherished UK MC Logan_olm is something probably nobody expected (perhaps it was created in response to ‘Rumble’?) Still, the results are nothing but astounding. It feels like a royal wedding between the UK bass/UKG continuum and the flourishing Latin-inspired Miami dance music scene, and I definitely want to be invited to the afterparty.

Olof Dreijer – ‘Rosa Rugosa’
(Hessle Audio)

I rarely hide my affection for all things Hessle Audio, but they really floored me good this time. First, I didn’t even know that I actually knew Olof Dreijer from his Oni Ayhun days. I’ll never forget hearing ‘OAR003-B’ for the first time in Four Tet’s Essential Mix during my early uni years, a life-defining moment. ‘Rosa Rugosa’ is easily one of the most outstanding Hessle tunes in recent memory, an exhilaratingly fresh take on kuduro-influenced riddims and Dreijer’s signature colourful synthlines – the sound of a Midsummer night’s dream.

Pangaea – ‘Installation’
(Hessle Audio)

Summer festival season isn’t even yet in full swing, and this tune’s already been played everywhere by every possible DJ, from headlining mainstream acts to your best friend’s first show. It’s a trademark Pangaea tune, and arguably one of his greatest yet – seductive and uplifting, impressive in terms of production and yet accessible to everyone. It’s probably about to be the most Shazamed and talked-about tunes in the coming months.

KETTAMA – ‘Feeling Emotions’
(Steel City Dance Discs)

Irish producer Kettama has built a reputation for his big room bangers, and his recent AVA Festival performance was simply an outstanding lesson in controlling a crowd. One of the tracks played was ‘Feeling Emotions’, a self-descriptive, no nonsense, euphoria-evoking hard house summer tune that can set fire to any dancefloor.

Amor Satyr – ‘Rebola’

Amor Satyr’s had a streak of stunning releases in the past years, and while he usually mostly bets oN Baile funk-inspired syncopation and breaks, in ‘Rebola’ we see him go full peak-time techno mode. Still, he infuses it with sexy syncopations and Portuguese sample chops (both low-slung, evil-sounding and childlike, chipmunk-inspired ones!), adding some personal flavour to the mix and making it a singular track.

Fantastic Man – ‘Beyond Control’

Retro-sounding breaky deep house by one the ambassadors of sun-soaked trancey house? Sign me up! Harkening back to Italo house masters like Dave Lee from some 30 years ago, ‘Beyond Control’ is a go-to tune for any house selector, apt both for daily beach stage settings and illegal nocturnal gatherings.


As with many of her productions, SHERRELLE’s track ‘GETOUTOFMYHEAD’, a 160 BPM nu-hardcore heavy-hitter from a split release with I. JORDAN, manages to hit a sweet spot between rave nostalgia and contemporary dance music. It attentively switches between early jungle-inspired ethereal pads and ghostly vocals, an antithesis to its violent synth riffs galloping over subtly programmed percussion. A track in which daydreams and nightmares meet.

Clara! x Le Motel – ‘Su Boca, Su Sabor’

A follow-up to the fantastic ‘Rapido’, the second collaboration between Brussels-based Le Motel and Clara! builds on the post-‘Xtasis’ club music sound. But the duo opt for a more pop-adjacent rendition of the Miami sound in the mould of Nick León’s edits, centering the track on Clara!’s disarmingly charming vocals and the sensual delivery of the line "His mouth, his taste."

1tbsp – ‘Sleeves Touch My Elbows’

This track released under the new moniker of Australian producer Golden Vessel is marked by a similar sensibility as the above collaboration, though compressed into a more Four Tet-adjacent, or rather Two Shell-inspired package. Featuring the cute vocal sample from the song ‘Gran remera’ by Argentinian project Mora y los metegoles, ‘Sleves Touch My Elbows’ is sure to make the rounds under midnight summer skies.

Pouch Envy – ‘NO PANTIES’

Pouch Envy, a New York-based Slovenian producer, has left a mark on the US scene with his cutting-edge club edits. A new release, VIP Club Edits Vol. 4 is on its way, but the hot tip here is the track ‘No Panties’ from the series’ third instalment. Employing a hook from Wax-A-Million’s eponymous track and a radiating repetitive bassline, this old school house rendition comes across like an inspired reimagining of L-Vis 1990’s 2014 classic ‘Flash Drive’.

Sin Limites – ‘Sin Limites (D. Tiffany Remix)’

The original track by producer supergroup Sin Limites (Nap, Ex-Terrestrial, Roza Terenzi and Priori) is already pure fire. Bordering on proper psytrance, this remix by the ever-creative D. Tiffany is something else, though. The resonance on its colossal bassline and elusive Spanish vocal fragments are beguilingly hypnotic. It’s the kind of track that would make forest sprites, elves and fairies come out of their dwellings at forest raves.

Shanti Celeste – ‘Fluffy’

We all know Shanti Celeste is one of the foremost representatives of fluffy techno and house aesthetics, but her latest production, which comes with a pretty self-explanatory title and appears on the latest fabric presents mix by Saorsie, truly stands out as an incarnation of her vision. Dreamlike yet possessing a strong driving force, ‘Fluffy’ falls into the same category as the best old tech-house releases by Bushwacka!

Anz – ‘Clearly Rushing’
(Hessle Audio)

It’s officially gonna be another Hessle Audio summer. In contrast to the other two Hessle tracks featured above, ‘Clearly Rushing’, by Manchester-based DJ and producer Anz, bets on E-fueled rave energy, mixing legacy sounds with her own distinct style. Fat rolling breaks and in-your-face synth arpeggios, underpinned by a massive kick drum – a perfect soundtrack for rave mosh pits.

Coen – ‘Pressure Roll’

There’s always one percussive track that wreaks havoc during peak-time moments. This year, it’s probably gonna be ‘Pressure Roll’, an ambitious production built around skeletal but intricate percussive programming that gives the impression of a live percussion band, with members soloing simultaneously. This one surely doesn’t need more cowbells. A perfect tool for any DJ.

Breaka – ‘Like Water To A Fish’

Taking inspiration from the current wave of trance-y trippy techno and applying it to his distinctively UK sonic palette, ‘Like Water To A Fish’ is one of Breaka’s biggest tunes to date. He describes it as his first proper 4×4 tune in which he connects the dots between breakbeat, techno, trance and juke. It’s an inspiring production, transfixed with many dramatic moments – a true face-melter.

Fred again.., Skrillex & Four Tet – ‘Baby again..’

2023 is definitely the year of this big three (following appearances at Madison Square Garden, Coachella and Primavera Sound), and although I don’t care that much for Fred or Skrillex, I’m definitely elated to see one of my early dance music heroes really getting the recognition he deserves and making it to the top. Due to that one insanely hyped Boiler Room set by Fred again.. from 2022, this track could already be considered old, even though it was only released in March. As with many of the biggest crossover dance music hits of recent years though, it definitely has that indistinguishable ‘Tet-house’ touch, making it a reliable companion for both mainstream DJs and underground selectors.

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