It's safe to say that no one could have predicted exactly how huge "Jack"—Breach's sharp-edged house bouncer and a track originally released on a one-off EP for Claude VonStroke's Dirtybird label—was going to be, especially not the creator himself, Ben Westbeech. By the end of the summer though, the sleek, sex-charged tune had become one of 2013's most ubiquitous cuts, finding its way into an increasing amount of DJ crates and festival sets as it was picked up by a major label, given a proper video treatment (the clip currently boasts well over five million views), and broke into the top 10 of the UK singles chart. Even considering its massive success, "Jack" still represents only one small part of Breach's music, which in turn is only one of the latest chapters in the career of Ben Westbeech, a decade-long veteran of UK dance music with a long list of projects to his name. Now, in the post-"Jack" era, Westbeech appears to be left with the tall task of reconciling his newfound commercial success with the underground credibility he previously spent years accruing, or at least figuring out if he should really be concerned with maintaining either one. Read more »
Every year, XLR8R posts something in the vicinity of 1,000 tracks for free download. It's a practice that, though once common, seems to be nearing extinction among music blogs and websites as a whole, which makes it almost a point of pride for us to strive to continually bring new, exciting, and, most of all, free music to our readership on a daily basis. Some of the tunes in our Downloads section are ridiculously obscure, some of them are surprisingly mainstream, and others actually come from some of our favorite artists. But regardless of their origins, each free download has an equal opportunity to climb the popularity chart, and every once in a while, we like to give some extra shine to the most exceptional of the bunch. Now that December has arrived and the end of 2013 is just around the corner, it's once again time for us to kick off our annual Best of the Year coverage, and we're starting things off this week with our list of the top 100 downloads to hit XLR8R during the past year. Read more »
Ahead of Distal'a and Mite's forthcoming split-cassette, Concrete Space (out on December 3), the latter Atlantan producer's "Witch Doctor" tune has been sent over as a preview. The unwieldy dance track crashes in with knocking beats, wobbling pads, and a motoric rimshot pattern, tumbling around a plushy bassline and steady claps. Along with the release, Distal and Mite have teamed up with West Coast design company Nocs to give away 15 high-end headphones with the first 15 orders of Concrete Space, as well as 10 cassette players for the first 10 buyers. Info for the sweepstakes can be found after the jump. Read more »
As far as bass music goes, one would be hard pressed to find a more accessible producer than Synkro (a.k.a. Joe McBride). The Manchester producer's last solo release was called Acceptance and bore the implications of the title out in swooning, heartbroken melodies and the blush of nylon-string guitars and detailed, inventive drum programming. McBride has shown that he's also capable of the steeliest techno vibes as one half of Akkord—his collaborative project with fellow Manchester resident Indigo (a.k.a. Liam Blackburn)—without giving up the core accessibility and inventiveness that define his approach. Techno—of the scrappy, metallic variety—is in vogue thanks to labels like L.I.E.S., but Akkord's take is unique. Although the duo gets a lot of mileage out of fractured, jagged samples for its drum hits, the vibe here is more Consumed/Closer-era Plastikman than, say, Unit Moebius, with tracks patiently coalescing around towering rhythmic riffs. There are no real melodies to speak of, and yet Akkord is an especially articulate album, one that offers a series of wintry industrial scenes that fade into each other with growing urgency. If this is techno, it's the genre at its least monolithic. At every turn, Akkord pushes against the grain of the 4/4 grid, laying heavy swing over the otherwise straightforward stomp of "3dOS" or flirting with 2562/Demdike Stare territory on the eerie fourth-world invocation "Smoke Circle." Read more »
Diligent readers may have noticed that XLR8R has been working with Novation to give away a handful of its new products to a some lucky people over the past few months, and we're wrapping up that series of contests this week with the Launchpad Mini. Read more »
Newcomer Jorge Day has logged time behind a synth in the Plastic Flowers band and dabbled in production work, but his new project, Fast Times, is the culmination of a year spent traveling and crafting his own demos. "Comfort Zone," pulled from his recently released Bodytalk cassette for retro-minded LA label 100% Silk, rides a dusty, drum-machine groove as swelling chords and a bouncy bass riff join the mix and a light-hearted synth melody floats above it all in a haze of reverb. Though Day's track might not necessarily set dancefloors ablaze, it will, as its name implies, bring comfort to those seeking some analog warmth during the long winter nights.
Having previously gained a little bit of attention for his "DMT Usher" single, which saw release last year via Samurai Music, the New Zealand-based Fis (a.k.a. Olly Peryman) has retreated further from his already idiosyncratic vision of drum & bass with his recent Homologous EP for Void Coms and Preparations, his debut release for Tri Angle. The four-track EP presents listeners with some seriously murky skeletal sketches of tunes, which bear only a passing resemblance to the sort of drum & bass that most people are familiar with. Defined by abstract textures, a unique rhythmic sensibility, and deep, ominous bass, the Preparations EP is a release with an eerie, claustrophobic intensity. Read more »
As London DJ/producer/label boss Bob Bhamra (a.k.a. West Norwood Cassette Library) leads up to the release of his 8 Track Cartridge EP for Hypercolour early next month, the man has been sharing free tunes and sizable previews of the music set to drop. The latest of his offerings is a brand-new mix which finds Bhamra giving an aural history lesson of house music spanning from 1988 to present day, and we thought this would be an ideal way to cap off our holiday week before we return to our regular posting schedule on Monday, December 2. Read more »
Brooklyn's William Burnett is a man of many aliases. Some may know him as Willie Burns, others as Speculator, and others still from one of his many collaborative projects. Burnett's latest release falls under the guise of Black Deer, a new alias interested in exploring the more psychedelic-tinged ends of dance music, and whose "Strike 3" cut has been given a cyberspace-referencing video accompaniment. Read more »
London minimalist Kit Grill has shared "Changing Patterns," a cut which appears on his recently released full-length record Mirror Image. The production largely consists of undulating and beatific synthesizer patterns that Kit Grill anchors to a pulsing drum kit. Each tone and melodic structure seems to roll off of the other before locking into place and gradually coalescing into a composition that shimmers with simplicity.
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