The Month In Electronic Music: Jam City, 2562, Sigha & More

The sequel to last week's scuzzier edition of Hyperspecific takes a trip through some new and upcoming club-friendly records, care of Middle Eastern samplescapes, badly named jazz ensembles and day-glo digital detritus. Rory Gibb leads the way

As a sequel to last week’s February edition of Hyperspecific, this forms something of a club-centric second half to last week’s noisier treats. As the year continues to warm up there’s no shortage of interesting/enjoyable/intriguing music turning up on dancefloors, so this edition slaps on its best shoes and takes a running dive for the club, courtesy of Sigha’s ever-more-refined techno, Distal & Hxdb’s dubstep hybrid ‘Booyant’, new music from October, 2562, Jam City and more.

Jam City – The Courts/The Nite Life (feat. Main Attrakionz) [Night Slugs White]

B-side ‘The Nite Life’ takes a more divergent path. It tackles the sort of ethereal rap made famous last year by Clams Casino, drafting in duo Main Attrakionz (whose 808s & Dark Grapes II mixtape has also been issued on wax this month) to add heavy-lidded ramblings that reference sci-fi and Sega’s short-lived Dreamcast console (remember that?). Most net-age genre titles are aggravating in the extreme, but the name that’s starting to catch on for this sort of stuff – ‘cloud rap’ – is one of my favourites for a while, both managing to capture the music’s supremely substanceless feel and the crowd-sourced nature of its production and dispersal.

VCMG – EP2: Single Blip [Mute]

By way of contrast, Raster Noton man Byetone’s remix is understated in the extreme, especially when placed next to last year’s far bolshier Symeta album: the gooey synth pads that light up the original make another appearance here, but they’re used to burnish a slice of tight, minimal machine-funk. It gets even better during the final minute, when everything dissolves in a wash of hot, corrosive fluid. Matthew Jonson’s remix forms the link between Byetone’s studied restraint and VCMG’s showy muscle-flexing, stretching the track out into 11 minutes of punchy but rather low-key house.

2562 – Air Jordan [When In Doubt]

The EP’s more interesting material, though, lies at its start and end. Huismans’ music has always been a stickler for detail and careful sound placement – something he shares with European contemporaries like Efdemin, whose simple-seeming track constructions belie their intricacy and complexity. So his less beat-driven pieces on here prove of remarkable depth, bringing to mind the more Middle Eastern-drawn of Demdike Stare’s material, or the half-rhythms of Muslimgauze and Vatican Shadow. ‘Solitary Sheepbells’ is sparse, beatless and airless, its atmosphere humid, rippling with nocturnal life and punctuated by the wheezes of a car struggling to start. And EP highlight ‘Nocturnal Drummers’ rounds the record off with in a moody whirl of hand-struck percussion.

Distal & Hxdb – Booyant/Amphibian [Tectonic]

Kodiak – Spreo Superbus EP [Numbers]

Kodiak’s ‘Spreo Superbus’ is another such mutant beast, a vaguely garage-tinged number lent its propulsion by snares that loiter in gangs and land in short, UK funky-tinged flurries. For all that they attempt to push it forward the track’s seasick, zig-zagging motion ends up locking it in a peculiar state of stasis – something emphasised further still by a mid-song breakdown that slows everything into a torrid, stormy, digitally clipped slur. While certain artists have begun using the flakey, brittle nature of computer audio as a device in its own right, few dance producers have dared to wield it quite this brashly thus far. In that, if nothing else, ‘Spreo Superbus’ is a fascinating listen.

For out-of-club listening, Actress’ remix continues his ongoing run of form with a muted nocturne that retains barely a trace of the original. A few short vocal stanzas are all that remain, and they’re set as glistening landmarks towering above a sticky hip-hop frame. It doesn’t really go anywhere per se, merely lingering sweetly within its own self-contained universe for five minutes, in the manner of last year’s ‘Gershwin’ or some of Hazyville‘s more withheld moments. But in Darren Cunningham’s hands that’s more than enough. Appetite suitably whetted for his upcoming R.I.P long player.

Sigha – Abstractions I-IV [Hotflush]

October – Planet Of Minds/Singularity Jump [TANSTAAFL]

October – String Theory EP [Simple]

Smith’s music has been improving in leaps and bounds lately – the title track of his new String Theory EP is a great example. One of his most accessible recordings to date, its rhythm section, all staccato bass prods and hi-hat tics, initially feels intentionally brittle and alienating – it would likely slow a dancefloor in its tracks – until it gathers momentum and finally blossoms into a lovely, gloopy mess of canned brass and slippery bass. October is also about to release the second 12" on his recently minted TANSTAAFL label, with something entirely different again. Further evidence of the restlessness that defines his output, both ‘Planet Of Minds’ and ‘Singularity Jump’ are driving Berlinesques primed for late night/early morning play. The former feels as though all its colour has been purposely drained away, leaving a xerox’d dub techno skeleton behind, and the latter starts in the same vein, until a jaunty saxophone offers a blast of surprise brass.

Jam City header photo by Steve Braiden

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