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20 Questions: Simian Mobile Disco Talks Robert Johnson, US Customs, Pioneertown, and the Meaning of "Whorl"

Somehow, Simian Mobile Disco has only gotten better with age. Initially emerging alongside—and somewhat unfairly lumped in with—the electro-house movement of the mid 2000s, the pair (consisting of synth-obsessed Londoners James Ford and Jas Shaw) has evolved at its own pace, forging a path which eventually landed on Unpatterns, the duo's spellbinding 2012 LP and most accomplished release to date. In the two years that have followed, the group has only continued to gain momentum, as Simian Mobile Disco has refined its heralded live show while steadily releasing intriguing one-offs and collaborations via its own Delicacies imprint. Now, the pair is set to return to the full-length format, with its upcoming Whorl LP dropping in September via Anti–. The result of a live performance recorded earlier this year in Pioneertown (just outside of Joshua Tree National Park in the desert of Southern California), then mulled over and mixed back at SMD's headquarters, the next chapter of the outfit's saga is just around the corner. In the meantime, we've tapped Ford and Shaw for a quick session of 20 Questions, in which the pair talks about the sound at Robert Johnson, the headache of going through US customs, and the completely illogical location where Whorl was recorded. Read more » 

XLR8R's Top 20 Downloads of June

During the month of June, XLR8R's Downloads section was again home to an eclectic mix of electronic productions, with original tracks and remixes coming from an array of international artists. Now, as the calendar turns to July and summer begins to get into full swing, we've compiled the top 20 downloads from the past month—a list populated by a handful of more familiar names in Mark E (pictured above), Steve Huerta, Avalon Emerson, Marley Carroll, and TÂCHES, alongside a number of relative newcomers to the XLR8R pages. Read more » 

Hi-Five: Hercules & Love Affair's Favorite Bits of Industrial and New Beat

Hercules & Love Affair's self-titled debut was essentially declared a contemporary classic upon its arrival in 2008, and the group's subsequent albums, Blue Songs and the freshly released The Feast of the Broken Heart, have entrenched the ever-evolving outfit as one of the last true bastions of New York's resolutely eclectic '90s club scene. From the beginning, Hercules & Love Affair has flown the flag for rave-pop and disco-tinged house, but the latest album finds the group exploring what founder Andy Butler describes as "fiery, rough, tough, and ragged" sounds, adding, "I didn't want polite, I wanted aggressive." Given that, his contribution to our Hi-Five series is far less surprising than one might assume. Instead of disco darlings and dancefloor divas, Butler has elected to mine some darker musical territory, and has come up with a rather idiosyncratic selection of industrial/new beat live-performance clips from the depths of YouTube. Read more » 

20 Questions: Venetian Snares Talks Coffee, Cats, and the Power of Love

Often cited as one of the leading producers of breakcore, IDM, and other microgenres in that vein, it's nevertheless somewhat parochial to label the music of Aaron Funk (a.k.a. Venetian Snares) with any kind of overly specific terminology. Over the years, his work has been inspired by everything from Hungary and Winnipeg to cats and surrealism, resulting in a diverse—and rather extensive—catalog. Still, the prolific Funk has been somewhat more selective with his output as of late, taking time away from the constant assault of the album cycle to dedicate himself to his collaborative Poemss project with Joanne Pollock, along with the editing and curation of My Love is a Bulldozer, his new LP as Venetian Snares for Planet Mu that dropped last week. Given the chance to speak with the reclusive Canadian producer, we tabbed him for our 20 Questions series and got him talking about love, music, coffee, and cats. Read more » 

Hi-Five: Lone Selects His Top Madlib Productions

Considering that Manchester-based producer Lone (a.k.a. Matt Cutler) got his start crafting exploratory beats for labels like Werk Discs before moving into prismatic UK rave, it's not a total surprise that his freshly released Reality Testing LP for R&S finds him revisiting some of his hip-hop roots. In that spirit, Lone has selected his top five tracks from Madlib for the latest installment of our Hi-Five series. The legendary LA-based beatmaker and Stones Throw affiliate has produced for everyone from MF Doom to Freddie Gibbs, and has also issued a dizzying number of his own releases, both as Madlib and Quasimoto. As such, Cutler had to do plenty of digging, but he's gone through the extensive Madlib catalog and come up with a collection of influential standouts. Read more » 

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