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Hi-Five: Doc Daneeka Shares His Favorite Piano-Led Tracks

We've been charting the progression of Welsh beatmaker Doc Daneeka (a.k.a. Mial Watkins) for quite some time—he first was singled out as one to watch in our Bubblin' Up series in 2010, and delivered an exclusive XLR8R podcast shortly thereafter. Back then, Watkins was turning out a particularly percussive brand of UK funky-leaning house, but in the years that have followed, he's shifted his sound toward propulsive, club-centric sounds. (He's also founded his own label, Ten Thousand Yen, joined up with the 50Weapons camp, and relocated to Paris following a stint in Berlin.) Last year's anthemic "Walk On In" single for Glasgow's Numbers imprint was one of XLR8R's best tracks of 2013, and its follow-up, "Treptow" b/w "Paname (Piano Vers)," which dropped on Numbers last week, prompted us to enlist Watkins for the latest installment of our Hi-Five series. Both of Doc Daneeka's new tracks prominently feature the piano, so we asked him to dig through his archives and select a few of his favorite tunes that highlight the iconic instrument. Read more » 

Track by Track: Martyn Examines His New LP, One Song at a Time

This week, veteran producer Martyn (a.k.a. Martijn Deykers) is releasing his third album, The Air Between Words, via Ninja Tune. There has already been plenty of discussion about the new full-length from the Dutch-born, DC-based artist, but in lieu of adding to the speculation about his work, we decided to hit him up directly for a bit of inside information. While many artists prefer to keep things mysterious, Martyn was happy to lift the curtain and give us some insight his latest effort. Taking on the record track by track, he's commented on many of the processes, influences, and motivations behind the LP. Read more » 

Sónar 2014: Winners and Losers

Last week, the annual Sónar festival set up shop in Barcelona for the 21st time, offering three full days and two long nights of (mostly) electronic music. According to its organizers, 109,000 people attended the festival this year, and that doesn't even include the thousands who came to Spain solely for the week's bounty of unofficial Off-Sónar events, many of which featured line-ups that rivaled Sónar itself. In short, Barcelona was once again stuffed with people looking to party, and XLR8R did its best to mingle amongst all of the mayhem. During past years, we've often tried to keep our focus on the official Sónar activities, but in the interest of telling a more complete story, we did a lot more dabbling in the Off-Sónar side of things this time around. Now that the festivities have come to a close, we've done our best to collect our thoughts and jot down a few observations, which are admittedly far from comprehensive—the list of artists that we didn't see could fill a festival on their own. At the same time, we did manage to take in quite a bit of the Sónar experience, and since we've never been shy about sharing our opinions when it comes to festivals, we've once again compiled a list of "winners" and "losers" from the week gone by. Read more » 

Hi-Five: Answer Code Request Selects His Favorite Tunes from the Ostgut Ton Catalog

It feels like a severe understatement to say that Berlin's Ostgut Ton imprint has been on something of a tear over the past year or so, but even amongst the label's all-but-bulletproof release schedule, a few artists have managed to stand out. One of them is Answer Code Request (a.k.a. Patrick Gräser), who officially joined the Ostgut Ton roster earlier this year with the Breathe EP and followed it up this week with the release of Code, his stellar debut full-length. These efforts—not to mention Gräser's excellent DJ and live sets as a Berghain resident—make him a natural fit for the Ostgut Ton roster, but we wanted to explore his relationship with the stalwart techno label a bit further. As such, we invited Answer Code Rquest to take part in our Hi-Five series with a simple caveat—he had to select his five favorite tunes from Ostgut Ton's storied catalog. Read more » 

Bubblin' Up: Austin Cesear

Over just a handful of releases, San Diego, California native Austin Cesear has established a palette that is both unique and highly redolent of his home state. From tracks like "Yep," with its winding, wavy G-funk repetition, to the dubby, foggy expanse of his Deep Breakfast mixtape and the field recordings of his West Oakland neighborhood on "7HF9B.383348H.382753J," it's clear that Cesear has been influenced by his environment. He's spent much of his brief adult life around the Bay Area, living in San Francisco and Oakland, but when XLR8R contacted him last month, he was actually two weeks away from moving across the country to Brooklyn. For anyone familiar with his music, it's difficult to conceive what effect this will have on his sound, and Cesear himself seems just as perplexed. "It's definitely gonna have a difference on my mental state," he says. "And that's really what affects how I make my music, is depending on what kind of mood I'm in. It's hard to say. Maybe I'll start making dubstep," he laughs. Read more » 

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