XLR8R http://www.xlr8r.com Accelerating music & culture Fri, 27 Mar 2015 14:41:18 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 Podcast 379: Fort Romeau http://www.xlr8r.com/podcasts/2015/03/podcast-379-fort-romeau/ http://www.xlr8r.com/podcasts/2015/03/podcast-379-fort-romeau/#comments Fri, 27 Mar 2015 14:00:47 +0000 http://www.xlr8r.com/?p=88699 He's only been producing house music for a short time—his first release, the Kingdoms album, came out on 100% Silk just three years ago—but in that short time, Fort Romeau has managed to develop and perfect a rather idiosyncratic sound, one that treads a fine line between dreamland reverie and dancefloor efficacy. It's a rounded, self-assured and immensely appealing style of house, one that belies Fort Romeau's relative newness—but the London-based artist known to his pals as Mike Greene is actually something of a vet, having worked in an early project with Ital Tek and served time in the touring band of synthpop unit La Roux. Nowadays, it's all Fort Romeau, all the time—and as if to prove the point, he's got an excellent new album, Insides, coming out on March 31 via the Ghostly International label.

Greene's self-assurance isn't limited to his productions—he's also a talented spinner, with a sound that's oozes Fort Romeau warmth, but ramped up ever so slightly for extra-added oomph. He describes this podcast as a truncated version of his club sets, one put together simply by "pulling out my record back and doing a mix with the records that I've been playing out every weekend for the past couple of months." The methodology may be simple—but we love the results, and think that you will, too.

Video: Fort Romeau discusses his XLR8R podcast


01 David Bowie “Subterraneans” (RCA)
02 Steve Moore “Aphelion” (Spectrum Spools)
03 Mutant Beat Dance “Polyfonikdizko” (Rush Hour)
04 Roman Flugel “Dishes & Wishes” (Live At Robert Johnson)
05 Todd Osborn “Put Your Weight On It” (Frankfurt Mix) (Running Back)
06 ItaloJohnson “Untitled” (ItaloJohnson)
07 Headless Ghost “Swept Illusions” (Clone Royal Oak)
08 Levon Vincent “Impression Of A Rainstorm” (Novel Sounds)
09 Reese & Santonio “How To Play Our Music” (Remix) (Kool Kat)
10 Jon Dark “Deep Enough” (Chance & Dark Remix) (white label)
11 Massimiliano Pagliara “Long Distance Call” (With Telephones) (Live At Robert Johnson)
12 In Flagranti “Outsider House” (Phonica Records)
13 RüF Dug “Magnetic Atmosphere” (Lectric Sands Records)


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Lixo "Splurger" http://www.xlr8r.com/mp3/2015/03/lixo-splurger/ http://www.xlr8r.com/mp3/2015/03/lixo-splurger/#comments Fri, 27 Mar 2015 13:00:02 +0000 http://www.xlr8r.com/?p=89012 The last time we heard from Alexander Hislop (a.k.a. Lixo), the London-based producer offered up a full-bodied piece of choppy club music. On "Splurger," Hislop again displays an affinity for sharp-edged elements and truncated sample splices, but this time utilizing those elements within a more tender framework. With soft, glitchy melodies and sweeping chords somewhat reminiscent of Dntel's early productions, "Splurger" still keeps its rhythms rooted in UK club sphere, with booming kicks and a light skip pushing the track forward throughout its four-minute run. No word yet on when Hislop (who also heads up the GETME!) label may drop his debut EP as Lixo, but in the meantime, "Splurger" should do a fine job of holding us over.


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Lockah Announces Upcoming EP for Donky Pitch, Shares New Track http://www.xlr8r.com/news/2015/03/lockah-announces-upcoming-ep-for-donky-pitch-shares-new-track/ http://www.xlr8r.com/news/2015/03/lockah-announces-upcoming-ep-for-donky-pitch-shares-new-track/#comments Thu, 26 Mar 2015 19:04:52 +0000 http://www.xlr8r.com/?p=89004 After releasing his debut long-player, Yahoo or the Highway, via the label last year, Lockah will return to Donky Pitch with the And Blue Brindle Too EP next month. On the upcoming effort, the former Bubblin' Up artist is said to make much more use of live instrumentation in his productions, playing a full drum kit across all five EP tracks while enlisting fellow Donky Pitch artist Mount Bank to add live guitar to the record.

Our first taste of how these new elements mesh with Lockah's penchant for bright, soaring synth work and vintage rhythms comes in the form of "Barcelona Drums," the EP's opening track. A driving, synth-heavy excursion, "Barcelona Drums" can be streamed in full below, where the complete tracklist for Lockah's upcoming And Blue Brindle Too EP has also been included ahead of its release on April 27.

1. Barcelona Drums
2. When Were U In '82, When Heate Legend Dies
3. You'll Suckers Don't Even Cut Corn
4. Canada Gifts
5. Barcelona Linn Reprise

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Clark Shares New Video for "To Live and Die in Grantham" http://www.xlr8r.com/news/2015/03/clark-shares-new-video-for-to-live-and-die-in-grantham/ http://www.xlr8r.com/news/2015/03/clark-shares-new-video-for-to-live-and-die-in-grantham/#comments Thu, 26 Mar 2015 18:15:09 +0000 http://www.xlr8r.com/?p=88978 After releasing his Flame Rave EP via Warp earlier this week, Clark has today shared a new video for formidable EP cut "To Live and Die in Grantham. "The track reminds me of my old rave days," the video's director, Christopher Hewitt, says of the tune in a press release. "Its also the perfect piece of music to convey different energy states through imagery and action," he continues. "It got me thinking about the archaic, almost tribal nature of a nightclub and how best to tie this into the track. Even though I believe we’re about to see a resurgence in archaic revival, I think as people we've kind of lost a lot of the traditions in what make us human. The rights of passage is a big one for me. The film for Clark is a modern take on that ritual, maybe a twisted take on it."

Hewitt's resulting video for Clark's "To Live and Die in Grantham" can be watched in full below, where the dates for Clark's current North American tour—which kicks off today in Athens, Georgia—can also be found.

March 26 Slingshot Festival 2015, Athens, GA
March 27 Big Ears Festival 2015, Knoxville, TN
March 28 Club Downunder, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL
March 29 Bardot, Miami, FL
March 31 Terminal West at King Plow, Atlanta, GA
April 2 U Street Music Hall, Washington, DC
April 4 Music Hall of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY
April 6 Johnny Brenda's, Philadelphia, PA
April 7 Brighton Music Hall, Allston, MA
April 8 Théâtre Fairmount, Montreal, QC
April 9 CODA, Toronto, ON
April 10 Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL
April 11 2720 Cherokee Performing Arts Center, St Louis, MO
April 12 Vega, Lincoln, NE
April 13 Bluebird Theater, Denver, CO
April 15 Fitzgerald's – Downstairs, Houston, TX
April 16 Club Dada, Dallas, TX
April 17 Red 7, Austin, TX
April 19 Lowbrow Palace, El Paso, TX
April 21 The Crescent Ballroom, Phoenix, AZ
April 22 El Rey Theatre, Los Angeles, CA
April 23 The Independent, San Francisco, CA
April 24 Electric Owl Social Club, Vancouver, BC
April 25 Neumos Crystal Ball Reading Room, Seattle, WA
April 26 Doug Fir Lounge, Portland, OR

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Steve Huerta and Urulu Prep New 12" for Dirt Crew http://www.xlr8r.com/news/2015/03/steve-huerta-and-urulu-prep-12-for-dirt-crew/ http://www.xlr8r.com/news/2015/03/steve-huerta-and-urulu-prep-12-for-dirt-crew/#comments Thu, 26 Mar 2015 17:03:52 +0000 http://www.xlr8r.com/?p=88974 Steve Huerta and Urulu (pictured above) will return to Berlin imprint Dirt Crew next month with their sophomore joint EP. Originally hailing from the West Coast, both producers have resettled in Berlin, logging recent releases on Amadeus and Let's Play House and Shabby Doll, respectively. Their forthcoming 25 Cent Color 12" trades in stripped-back, atmospheric deep house and follows from a debut collaborative effort for Dirt Crew in 2013. No official previews have been shared as of yet, but clips are available via Boomkat here, while the EP's tracklist can be viewed below ahead of its release on April 13.

A1. Settle Back Easy Jim
A2. Laura Don't Touch That
B1. D.E.G.L.
B2. Jamais Vu
B3. Katsu Dub

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Cafe Lanai "Lanai" http://www.xlr8r.com/mp3/2015/03/cafe-lanai-lanai/ http://www.xlr8r.com/mp3/2015/03/cafe-lanai-lanai/#comments Thu, 26 Mar 2015 16:00:25 +0000 http://www.xlr8r.com/?p=88915 Cafe Lanai is a budding duo who hail from Vancouver and are set to release their first proper EP via the Hybridity imprint next month. Entitled Paradise, the record pairs subtly tropical textures with the more subdued strains of house and disco, as well as bits of dark-tinted R&B. "Lanai" is one example of what that sonic concoction can yield; a non-EP cut, "Lanai" begins by looping a series of dubbed chords which pulse above a simple kick pattern while interweaving layers of muffled falsetto vocals rise to forefront. Eventually, Cafe Lanai pull their production apart, introducing a buzzing bass synth and a slew of electronic blips as the track takes on a more floor-ready form. Cafe Lanai's "Lanai" single can be downloaded below before the pair's Paradise EP sees its official release on June 30.


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Deadboy Preps New EP for Local Action; Hear a Track Now http://www.xlr8r.com/news/2015/03/deadboy-preps-new-ep-for-local-action-hear-a-track-now/ http://www.xlr8r.com/news/2015/03/deadboy-preps-new-ep-for-local-action-hear-a-track-now/#comments Thu, 26 Mar 2015 15:54:44 +0000 http://www.xlr8r.com/?p=88965 Deadboy will issue his first release for London's Local Action label next month in the form of the six-track White Magick EP. Said to take shape as "his longest and most complete release to date," Deadboy's forthcoming EP is set to see him continuing to run club music through his own unique set of filters, with nods to both new-age ambient music and grime said to be heard throughout. On "Inner Palace," the EP's lead single, Deadboy appears to be operating in familiar territory, crafting a skipping club track lined with pop hooks.

Deadboy's White Magick EP will see its official relase via Local Action on April 20; in the meantime, EP cut "Inner Palace" can be streamed in full below.

1. White Moon Garden
2. Inner Palace
3. Rye Angel
4. Sad Sniper
5. Copwar
6. I Will Let His Ocean Flow Through Me

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Omar Souleyman Readies Debut Album for Monkeytown http://www.xlr8r.com/news/2015/03/omar-souleyman-readies-debut-album-for-monkeytown/ http://www.xlr8r.com/news/2015/03/omar-souleyman-readies-debut-album-for-monkeytown/#comments Thu, 26 Mar 2015 15:02:21 +0000 http://www.xlr8r.com/?p=88960 Prolific Syrian singer Omar Souleyman will debut on Berlin label Monkeytown this summer with a new album. Souleyman got his start as a wedding-party singer in the Hasake region of his home country—yielding hundreds of DIY cassette recordings—before his music was picked up by Sublime Frequencies and brought to wider attention. Entitled Bahdeni Nami, the seven original tracks on this latest outing were produced by electronic music figureheads Four Tet (with whom he worked on 2013's Wenu Wenu), Gilles Peterson, and label founders Modeselektor, with a title-track remix from Dutch synth specialist Legowelt. The record was recorded in Istanbul and also features traditional accompaniment from longtime collaborators, including the poet Ahmad Alsamer, saxophonist Khaled Youssef, and keyboard player Rizan Said.

Bahdeni Nami will see an official release on July 24, and both its artwork and complete tracklist can be viewed below, along with a batch of upcoming tour dates; album cut "Enssa El Aatab" (produced by Modeselektor) is also streaming below.

A1. Mawal Menzal
A2. Bahdeni Nami (prod. by Four Tet)
B1. Tawwalt El Gheba (prod. by Gilles Peterson)
B2. Leil El Bareh (prod. by Modeselektor)
C1. Darb El Hawa
C2. Enssa El Aatab (prod. by Modeselektor)
D1. Bahdeni Nami (remix by Legowelt)

March 26 – Treefort Music Festival / Boise, ID
March 27 – Slingshot Festival / Athens, GA
March 28 – Big Ears Festival / Knoxville, TN
May 21 – Obey Convention 8 / Halifax, NS
May 22 – Le Poisson Rouge / New York, NY
May 23 – Jewels Catch One / Los Angeles, CA
May 30 – Colston Hall / Bristol, UK
June 6 – Distortion Festival / Copenhagen, DK
June 12 – Bestival Toronto / Toronto, ON
June 26 – Down The Rabbit Hole / Beuningen, NL
July 11 – Pohoda Festival / Trencin, SK
July 16 – Dour Festival / Dour, BE

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Hear Another Track from Lapalux's Upcoming LP http://www.xlr8r.com/news/2015/03/hear-another-track-from-lapaluxs-upcoming-lp/ http://www.xlr8r.com/news/2015/03/hear-another-track-from-lapaluxs-upcoming-lp/#comments Thu, 26 Mar 2015 14:14:58 +0000 http://www.xlr8r.com/?p=88956 With the release date for his Lustmore LP on Flying Lotus' Brainfeeder imprint fast approaching, Lapalux has shared yet another album cut for advance streaming. News of the London beatmaker's forthcoming effort first broke in January, with a second single from the record, "Don't Mean a Thing" arriving late last month. This latest offering, "Puzzle," is threaded with sax lines and sleek vocals from Andreya Triana”. "“It'’s a very visual song for me, searching for something more lustful and fleeting," Lapalux says. "I think it sums up the whole feel and mood of the record, that kind of sultry, seedy undertone and the pieces of the puzzle not fitting together properly, as if in a state of limbo where you don’t know where you are, but there'’s something strangely comforting about it."

Lustmore will see an official release on April 7; until then, "Puzzle" can be heard in full below.

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Q&A: Ben Sims http://www.xlr8r.com/features/2015/03/qa-ben-sims/ http://www.xlr8r.com/features/2015/03/qa-ben-sims/#comments Thu, 26 Mar 2015 14:09:30 +0000 http://www.xlr8r.com/?p=88925 Tune into digital-radio station NTS late on a Wednesday night, and you'll be greeted by what sounds like a fractured, cut-and-paste jingle. It's the sort of program opener that a morning drive-time host might adopt—if that host were just a little bit crazed. But that demented goofiness does nothing to prepare you for the fierceness that follows on NTS's Run It Red show—that's because it's hosted by Ben Sims, the U.K. techno powerhouse who's been hammering out his no-nonsense, tough-as-nails rhythms for almost two decades. He's one of the scene's best-known figures, and he's one of its busiest as well: Besides hosting Run It Red, he's a hugely prolific producer and one of its hardest-working DJs, purveying his three-deck magic at clubs and festivals around the world. But Sims wasn't too busy to take a phone call from XLR8R, and he happily conversed about the relationship between hip-hop and techno, the North American scene, spinning in front of his idols, and plenty more.

I love those slightly silly intros to  Run It Red. Are they an effort to make your sets a little more warm and cuddly?
That’s something I used to do with mixtapes, and even with a few mix-CDs that I’ve put out. That sort of cut-and-paste thing kind of harks back to when I was younger, back to my hip-hop days. Initially, when I started doing the shows on NTS, there wasn’t any of that; it was just turn up and go through a load of tracks for a couple of hours. Now I’m prerecording it and spending a little more time on them, so I thought it would be good to reintroduce that side of me. And I don’t want the whole thing to be too serious.

The music itself is pretty serious though, and throughout your career, your sound has generally been on the tough and uncompromising tip. What first attracted you to that sound?
I guess that comes from the hip-hop thing, specifically that aggressiveness and energy that it had. That’s what attracted me to hip-hop. But as much as the music itself, it was the aggressiveness of the deejaying. I really liked that and took it to heart. Even when I was classed as a house-music DJ in the late ’80s and early ’90s, and I was playing softer, more melodic tracks, I was attacking it like a hip-hop DJ—which didn’t really make much sense. But it made sense to start doing energetic techno. For me, it’s a logical procession. The way that this techno is primarily loops and layers—some of them don’t even feel like finished tracks, just rhythmic ideas—is similar to cutting up two copies of an old funk record, as you would in hip-hop. There’s a strong link there for me, and I try to keep that alive in what I do.

You’ve been playing in North America a bit more often lately. Do you think that the general clubbing population here is more accepting of your style of techno than they once were?
It’s been interesting to see how the scene’s kind of changed. Like when I recently played Stereo in Montreal; there were a lot of heads down, with people getting really into it. There was almost a Berghain, four o’clock Sunday afternoon kind of vibe. And I just played Output in New York, which is a great space with a great sound. I’ve been coming to New York for a long time, and in the past there never were clubs like that where techno was appreciated, which says something. There’s a lot more interest.

You’ll be playing Detroit’s Movement festival this May. Do you feel any additional pressure to prove yourself when you play in Detroit?
This is actually the third time I’ve played the festival. There is some pressure, I guess; it is the birthplace of techno, after all. I actually came over for the KMS 25th-anniversary event a couple of years ago, and that felt like a crazy amount of pressure. Kevin [Saunderson], Derrick [May] and the rest of those guys were there, and I was so fucking nervous the whole time. But it was great, and I think it’s very important for me to keep links with the place where it’s all from.

You and Kirk Degiorgio have an ongoing night called Machine. What can you tell us about that?
I’ve known Kirk for quite a while, and came up with this idea to do something that focuses on playing just new music and featuring new acts. We’ve been doing that about four years now—and I think that back then, there wasn’t such a boom in techno and there weren’t as many new faces coming through the doors of clubs, so we wanted to do something that might fight against that a bit. We started out quite humbly; the first one was me, Kirk and Luke Slater playing at a venue for perhaps 250 people. We’ve slowly built it up and moved it around to different clubs in London, and now we regularly do it at Corsica Studios and Fabric. And we’ve taken it around the world: I just did one in France, we’ve taken it to Bangkok and Singapore, and at the end of this month I’m doing one in Rome. We’re doing about five a year in London, and another two or three a month at various spots.

Ben Sims 6-web

After 17 years, you recently closed up Theory Recordings. Why is that?
There are quite a few reasons, but the main one is simply that it’s been going for quite a long time. I’ve found that I get very excited by all these new artists and labels and projects that are around—but I’m slightly less excited about labels that have been around since the ’90s. If I’m in a shop, would I listen to a record from a label like that? Would I be as excited as I am about a release on a label I’ve never heard of that says ‘001’ on it? Probably not. Also, it been hard to keep it going; I think it’s survived three or four distribution companies going bust. It’s been a rollercoaster of emotions. I mean, I think it’s been musically stronger than ever over the past 18 months or so, but I wanted to end it on a high. I think the upcoming focus will be to work on a lot of new music and give it to labels that I like, and maybe do some more collaborations as well.

But as one door shuts, another opens. You’re resuscitating the Symbolism label, right?
Yes. Symbolism was one of the three labels that went down because of the distributors going bust and I realized, fuck, I can’t carry on with these anymore. Looking back at its back catalog, I’ve realized how happy I was with it. And there was definitely a couple of Symbolism projects that were never completed, and I going to go back to them. There will definitely be at least five or six more Symbolism releases, and we’ll see how it goes. And now that I’m not focusing on Theory, I’ll actually have the focus to do it.

"If I stopped deejaying, I don’t think I would have the need to make new music at all."

Is it true that you largely produce in order to have music for your own DJ sets?
Yeah, I’m not a musician at all. I’m a D.J And most of the time, that really is what I’m aiming for. I’ll go to the studio during the week and try and make tracks that I can play on the weekend. There are plenty of people who produce, and then built a DJ career after that; I’m completely the other way around. If I stopped deejaying, I don’t think I would have the need to make new music at all. Deejaying is my overriding passion, and I make music because of that.

Your studio got robbed last year. That must have put a damper on your production chores.
That was a pain in the ass! It came at a time when I was moving out of my previous studio, which was just around the corner. I had been there five or six years. I had had enough of being there; it was in a basement, and it was a bit dark and a bit damp. Particularly when I was making my album, when I was basically stuck down there for three months without any air or any fucking daylight, it wasn’t ideal. I realized I needed to move somewhere that was a bit better, and found this place that was above ground and had windows. But that also made it more accessible for people to break into. [laughs] Luckily, I didn’t have my records there, and they didn’t take any of the rare stuff; they mostly took the shiny stuff. The 303s and stuff like that, they just dropped them on the floor because they probably thought they were shit.

Other than yourself, what other artists tend to find their way into your sets?
There are a lot of artists who are staples, people who I’ll always be carrying with me: Mark Broom, Paul Mac, Rolando, Jeff Mills, Robert Hood…and a lot of others, really. Something I’ve found fascinating over the past couple of years is where people coming over from different genres are coming from. Producers are coming over from the bass scene, for instance, or what used to be the minimal scene, or the tech-house scene. They’re like, “Oh, I feel like toughening up for a little while.” Then they’ll do that for about three releases, and then go off and do something else that has no relevance for me. So there are lots of artists who I’ll play a lot, but only for a really short period.

Other than the Symbolism relaunch, what’s next on the agenda? Another album, perhaps?
I did actually start working on one in the old studio. It was one of the last things I was doing there before I moved out. But in the end, it was just a lot of tracks that I liked; if you put them together, it wasn’t really an album. Otherwise, I’m just going to be working on music for other labels that I like. The great thing is that now I don’t have to constantly be feeding Theory. I’m very proud of that label, and it’s what people associate me with—it comes after my name on nearly every flyer. But it is nice to realize, oh, it’s not there any more—time to do something else! It makes me feel a bit more alive, really.

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Premiere: Stream the Upcoming Fourth Installment of One Night in Cómeme http://www.xlr8r.com/news/2015/03/premiere-stream-the-upcoming-fourth-installment-of-one-night-in-comeme/ http://www.xlr8r.com/news/2015/03/premiere-stream-the-upcoming-fourth-installment-of-one-night-in-comeme/#comments Thu, 26 Mar 2015 13:30:28 +0000 http://www.xlr8r.com/?p=88920 Bringing together new remixes, alternate versions of previously released cuts, and a handful of unreleased original tracks, Matias Aguayo's Cómeme label will drop the fourth installment of its One Night in Cómeme compilation series next week. Ahead of its release, the 10-track collection is now available to stream in full on XLR8R.

Incorporating cuts from label staples such as Ana Helder, Christian S, Philipp Gorbachev, recent XLR8R podcast contributor Lena Willikens, and of course Aguayo himself, One Night in Cómeme Vol. 4 again highlights the imprint's eccentric slant on dancefloor music. Across its run—which also includes contributions from Barnt, rRoxymore, and Lord Byron—the record offers an equally fun-loving and adventurous collection of club tracks, with streaks of machine-made house, proto-techno, new wave, and heavy doses of Latin percussion to be heard throughout.

Officially out on March 30, the Cologne label's forthcoming One Night in Cómeme Vol. 4 compilation is streaming in its entirety below.

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DJ Haus "Feel the Change Comin On (Innershades Remix)" http://www.xlr8r.com/mp3/2015/03/dj-haus-feel-the-change-coming-on-innershades-remix/ http://www.xlr8r.com/mp3/2015/03/dj-haus-feel-the-change-coming-on-innershades-remix/#comments Thu, 26 Mar 2015 13:00:29 +0000 http://www.xlr8r.com/?p=88910 Earlier this year, Innershades (a Belgian producer we highlighted as one to watch in 2015, and is pictured above) took it upon himself to release a very limited single-sided 12" containing his remix of recent XLR8R podcast contributor DJ Haus' "Comin On" tune. Now, Innershades has made his organ-heavy rework available to grab digitally; propelled by booming drum machine rhythms, the remix is a simple-but-effective affair, one which looks to chopped vocal samples and flute-like melodies to provide a bit of playful movement to the rolling house number.

Feel the Change Comin On (Innershades Remix)

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Carl Craig and Green Velvet Release Collaborative LP; Stream It Now http://www.xlr8r.com/news/2015/03/carl-craig-and-green-velvet-release-collaborative-lp-stream-it-now/ http://www.xlr8r.com/news/2015/03/carl-craig-and-green-velvet-release-collaborative-lp-stream-it-now/#comments Wed, 25 Mar 2015 18:29:37 +0000 http://www.xlr8r.com/?p=88899 Veteran producers Carl Craig and Green Velvet (the former hailing from Detroit, the latter Chicago) have combined forces for a new seven-track LP entitled Unity. The record, released without much warning earlier this week, sees the pair of experienced craftsmen utilizing their combined talents to piece together a collection of sci-fi dancefloor fare that exists somewhere between the sharper edges of techno and house.

Out now via Chicago's Relief imprint, Carl Craig's and Green Velvet's Unity LP can be streamed in full below.

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B2B: Machinedrum Interviews His Sepalcure Production Partner, Braille http://www.xlr8r.com/features/2015/03/b2b-machinedrum-interviews-his-sepalcure-production-partner-braille/ http://www.xlr8r.com/features/2015/03/b2b-machinedrum-interviews-his-sepalcure-production-partner-braille/#comments Wed, 25 Mar 2015 17:50:17 +0000 http://www.xlr8r.com/?p=88823 He might be best known as one half as Sepalcure with Travis “Machinedrum” Stewart—but Praveen Sharma is a formidable producer in his own right. The man behind the long-running Percussion Lab collective, he first hit the production scene via some charmingly low-key IDM–tinged workouts, released in the mid-’00s under the Praveen moniker; later, he teamed with Thomas Meluch, making lush sounds as Praveen & Benoît. But it was in 2011, recording as Braille, that Sharma hit his solo-artist stride. Laying down a series of hazy, hallucinogenic dance cuts for Rush Hour, Hotflush and Glass Table, Sharma managed to carve out a niche on the phantasmal end of the house spectrum that was all his own.

In February, Sharma put out the Everybody’s Crazy EP for the Friends of Friends label. It’s a release that saw him both slowing down the tempo and obliquely baring his soul, hinting at the kind of heartbreak emotions each of us knows all too well—but that was just a stepping stone on the way to his new full-length album, Mute Swan, also released on Friends of Friends. Featuring guest turns from Body Language’s Angelica Bess and Seafloor, Jesse Boykins III, Throwing Snow, and Olivia Sholler, Mute Swan is a beautifully poignant work, expanding upon the dreaminess inherent to Sharma’s solo material and draping it over a swooning R&B–esque framework. On the eve of the album’s release, Sharma was quizzed by production partner Stewart about the album, and about the emotions behind it

Travis Stewart: You used to make music under your own name, and that music was largely organic in nature, but going through an electronic filter. What was the purpose behind starting Braille?
Praveen Sharma: Yeah, “organic in nature, but through an electronic filter” is a good way to put it, actually. It was some really personal stuff that I wanted to put out. It was actually through doing this that I learned there was a whole world out there that wanted to hear dance music that had emotive qualities. And I’ve always loved house music, so I just naturally gravitated toward that. We had a lot of downtime—Sepalcure was between releases—so I thought, why don’t I just keep making dance music with emotive qualities, but a little more focused on the dance floor than I was before? So initially, Braille was supposed to be house music.

Stewart: You’re into a lot of different styles of dance music. Why specifically house music?
Sharma: House music speaks to me because it speaks my love to dance, my love for emotion and soul, and for its timelessness. Throughout my entire life of enjoying electronic music, I’ve always loved it. And it was an experiment for me—like, let me make some dance tracks! Of course, as happens whenever I try to make anything, it turned out all sorts of bastardized. It still hit the notes that I wanted it to hit, though. And that was really the initial purpose—just make some straightforward dance tracks.



Stewart: I think that making house music is often inspired by deejaying, and seeing what works and what doesn’t work. It’s definitely a learning experience.
Sharma: I still try to play some of those old Braille tracks into my sets, at least the housier ones—and it’s tough, man. [laughs] One of the reasons my new change of pace came about was that even when I was trying to do dancefloor tracks, that’s not really where my head was at. They always meander a bit too much to the melodic side, and you’re really trying to run that dancefloor from behind the decks, those tracks are tough to mix in. I’ve heard that from other people, and I’ve experienced it myself when I’ve tried to mix in a track like “Riverbed.”

Stewart: I want to talk about the album now, but first, I wanted to ask you: Is there a meaning behind the name Braille?
Sharma: I was trying to have something that wasn’t tied to Praveen, or Praveen & Benoît; that stuff was all IDM, ambient or whatever, and I wanted to do something different. I started going through all these names, and I landed on “Veil”—but then I thought, that is the most ridiculous name ever. So then I just started rhyming it, trying to figure out what was better, but had the same vibe—and I fell on “Braille.” When I landed on it, I was like, I feel it.

Stewart: How about the name of the album, Mute Swan?
Sharma: Well, you know that I was having a rough time when I was making the album—emotional things, breakup things, the most clichéd things in the music world. There’s this fantasy world, which some people seem to achieve, but the majority don't—finding that one person, that lifelong partner or whatever. The mute swan is a bird that mates for life, and that’s really where it come from—it's the feeling of having a connection with someone for life. That idea is where the title comes from.

Stewart: That might explain why a lot of your older material that came out on Rush Hour, Hotflush and Glass Table had a more celebratory, cheerful feel—whereas Mute Swan, for the most part, has a slower, brooding feel.
Sharma: Well, that Rush Hour release, “The Year 3000” was an important moment for my production career. It was like, oh shit—I made a track for the dance floor, but was also really relevant to me. But as I went on, I started feeling that some of the music, especially with that Glass Table release, was being muddled by emotion. I realized that you really have to clear your heart out before you’re ready to make dance tracks. I mean, I personally love a lot of emotion in the music I hear in the club. But I’m a rarity, and I’m not sure most people need to hear that. They don’t need to hear dance music mixed with heavy emotive stuff. I was aware of where my music was going—and it wasn’t going anywhere positive for the dance floor. I had a lot of shit going on, and I had to get it out in an honest way, and that way was not by making dance tracks. After the Glass Table release, I started working on the Everyone’s Crazy EP, which I think is a middle ground leading up to the LP; it’s way lighter and more accessible, and doesn’t require as much work on the listener’s party. But between that EP and the LP, I was making a lot of really noisy stuff. And I think that helped me to carve things out for the LP.

Stewart: I heard a lot of that stuff—it was pretty extreme, with a lot of raw emotion. It was almost punk, if I’m allowed to say that. [laughs] But I think you can also hear a lot of that emotion in the album, even though it’s much less visceral and noisy.
Sharma: I wanted to make the album more approachable and maybe a little less self-indulgent. I think the majority of my music is self-indulgent. I make it for myself first, but hopefully people enjoy it. I also knew, once I got the album locked down, that it had to be something a little different than the EP. I really wanted to challenge myself as producer; I wanted to make something that was as restrained as possible. And for me, it’s extremely restrained. I was trying to boil it down to the rare essence of what I wanted, yet to make it as accessible as possible.

Stewart: I can definitely hear that restraint. Sometime with the Sepalcure stuff, it almost feels like there’s too much going on. But anyway, I think you did a good job with the restraint.
Sharma: Thanks, homie!

Stewart: Do you feel that this album was cathartic or therapeutic? Did it help you work things through?
Sharma: With every track on there, it was like, if I didn’t write that track, I didn’t know what the fuck I was going to be doing. The process of creating it was more raw than I’ve ever experienced. It was not the happiest period, and there are some lines in there where I’d wake up the next day, look at what I had written and think, where did that come from?

Photo: Sean Maung

Photo: Sean Maung

Stewart: You used a lot of field recordings when you were making the album, right?
Sharma: Yeah. There were a lot of really personal recordings from the past that I used. And there were some funny ones, like days when we’d be hanging out on the back porch, and I would just set the phone down and record with no one noticing. A lot of the time, I wouldn’t use the voices, just the snippets between the voices. My neighbors had this waterfall thing, so a lot of the water sounds are just random moments from that.

Stewart: All albums are like time capsules, but it really feels like this one is about capturing moments and filing them all into tracks.
Sharma: In the end of the day, you want to make music that goes beyond just the time you are making it. But I’m always writing music that is emotionally relevant to me at that time. I think you can relate to that; you’re creative style is. “Let me get it all down right now, because this is the purest creative moment that I’ll have.” It’s a little different for me, though. I take months to write tracks, and those months are condensed into the album. That’s just for me and for anyone who knows me—but in the end of the day, it’s about the song. And hopefully anyone who hears them with think, hey, that’s a really unexpected sound, or that’s a really weird vocal.

Stewart: Mute Swan finds you recording your own vocal lines, but also working with other vocalists, which you haven’t really done in the past. What made you want to put the emphasis more on what you’re actually writing, rather than what other songwriters are writing?
Sharma: I wanted to get away from what has become sort of a trope in electronic music: the ghostly sampled vocal line. I mean, I love it to death and will continue to use it. But I wanted this to be more personal than that—not just hey, there’s a cool vocal that was manipulated. But I’m not a great vocalist; that’s not what I do. But I was realized that I knew a lot of great vocalists, and there’s so much to be said for working with someone in a studio. And these vocalists are a part of my life; there’s not a single person on this album that I’m not connected to. And they knew what was up in my life. It’s like, this is my world, not just something that’s constructed from bits and pieces that I pulled off the Internet. It’s a lot more than that.

Stewart: Are you interested in performing Mute Swan live at any point?
Sharma: It’s a tricky situation. I’m in a weird place where I’m playing the Braille house sets all the time, and I love doing that. But when it comes to an album performance, it’s more of an artistic expression—and it’s something that I’ve always wanted to. It might not be the most accessible experience, but I think I think I can make it something that’s both artistically fulfilling and enjoyable for an audience. The problem is having people come to your show expecting to hear the latest throwing down from your heart and soul. But that’s what’s going to have to happen. It’s a delicate balance between overindulgence and accessibility, but that’s something I’m going to have to tread.

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Ptaki Announces Debut LP, Streams New Track http://www.xlr8r.com/news/2015/03/ptaki-announces-debut-lp-streams-new-track/ http://www.xlr8r.com/news/2015/03/ptaki-announces-debut-lp-streams-new-track/#comments Wed, 25 Mar 2015 17:06:30 +0000 http://www.xlr8r.com/?p=88865 Featured as an Artist to Watch during our Bubblin' Up Week earlier this year, Ptaki has made an impression outside of their native Poland for unusual disco edits, counting releases for the likes of Young Adults and The Very Polish Cut-Outs to its run. Now, the pair has broadened its stylistic range for Przelot, Ptaki's debut album which is reportedly set to demonstrate the pair's love of reggae, Balearic house, and yacht rock. To celebrate the upcoming release, Ptaki have shared the dubby lead single "Nie Zabijaj," where a female singer coos over echo-chambered snare hits and sparkling chords. Przelot is set for a May release date via the fast-growing Transatlantyk label; until then, Ptaki's "Nie Zabijaj" can be streamed below.

1. Czula Jest Noca
2. Nie Zabijaj
3. Warsaw
4. Ostatni Kurs
5. Skit 1
6. Stacja Zagluszania
7. Za Daleki Sen
8. Skit 2
9. Sloneczny Pyl
10. Deszczem
11. Gdy Nadchodzi Pora Ksiezycowa
12. Juz Tyle
13. Jelitkowo
14. Girlandy

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Sónar Adds New Wave of Artists to 2015 Line-Up http://www.xlr8r.com/news/2015/03/sonar-adds-new-wave-of-artists-to-2015-line-up/ http://www.xlr8r.com/news/2015/03/sonar-adds-new-wave-of-artists-to-2015-line-up/#comments Wed, 25 Mar 2015 16:48:09 +0000 http://www.xlr8r.com/?p=88855 Although at least 100 artists have already been rolled out for Barcelona's 23rd Sónar festival, today the event's organizers have announced another wave of names. Newly added artists include Jimmy Edgar and Machinedrum's collaborative J.E.T.S. project, Palms Trax, Rone, Floating Points, Larry Gus, and Lorenzo Senni. J.E.T.S. will showcase their four-deck performance during Sónar by Day, while Rone will help to round out Saturday's Sónar by Night festivities.

To add some artistic charm to the festival, Swiss brothers André and Michel Décosterd will also bring their Nyloïd installation to the Hall+D space. Composed of three bendable limbs, the arachnid-like sculpture moves in tandem with André's algorithmic sound collages. Passes for the 2015 festival—which takes place from June 18 to 20—are still available, while more information (and the complete line-up) for the upcoming festival can be found here.

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Bass Sekolah "Lighthouse (Phon.o Remix)" http://www.xlr8r.com/mp3/2015/03/bass-sekolah-lighthouse-phon-o-remix/ http://www.xlr8r.com/mp3/2015/03/bass-sekolah-lighthouse-phon-o-remix/#comments Wed, 25 Mar 2015 16:30:21 +0000 http://www.xlr8r.com/?p=88790 The Bass Sekloah duo (consisting of producer Cee and multi instrumentalist/vocalist Darren Ashley) released the original version of its sprightly "Lighthouse" tune late last year via the Mouthwatering imprint. Now, the Malaysian pair's airy single is set to become the focus of a new remix collection, featuring reworks from the likes of Daedelus, Perera Elsewhere, and the rework featured here from 50 Weapons affiliate Phon.o. As to be expected, Phon.o takes the buoyant track to more subterranean territory, giving "Lighthouse"'s textures a sharper edge and infusing the song with more densely packed rhythms, while still leaving space for glimpse's of the orignal tune's vocals and floating chord progressions. Led by Phon.o's contribution, Bass Sekolah's nine-track Lighthouse Remixed EP is set to see its digital release on April 10, with a vinyl release to follow soon thereafter.

Lighthouse (Phon.o Remix)

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Floating Points and James Holden Announce Split 12" http://www.xlr8r.com/news/2015/03/floating-points-and-james-holden-announce-12/ http://www.xlr8r.com/news/2015/03/floating-points-and-james-holden-announce-12/#comments Wed, 25 Mar 2015 15:50:40 +0000 http://www.xlr8r.com/?p=88838 Last March, a group of European musicians traveled to Morocco to participate in the fifth Marrakech Biennale, a creative residency which allowed producers such as Floating Points (pictured above), James Holden, Vessel, and Biosphere to collaborate with local Gnawa musicians like Maâlem Mahmoud Guinia. Now, Floating Points' Eglo imprint will release a 12" to commemorate the event, which will also include a 20-page booklet of photographs by Camille Blake.

The Marhaba EP will feature two cuts that Floating Points and Holden performed individually with Guinia, a singer and master guembri (three-stringed bass lute) player. Although Marhaba's official street date is set for April 20—with Holden's Border Community label handling a digital release—Floating Points has confirmed that advanced copies can be purchased at the Independent Record Label Market in London this Saturday. (via Resident Advisor)

1. Maâlem Mahmoud Guinia & Floating Points "Mimoum Marhaba"
2. Maâlem Mahmoud Guinia & James Holden "Bania"

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Dekmantel Shares 2015 Evening Line-Up http://www.xlr8r.com/news/2015/03/dekmantel-shares-2015-evening-lineup/ http://www.xlr8r.com/news/2015/03/dekmantel-shares-2015-evening-lineup/#comments Wed, 25 Mar 2015 15:24:11 +0000 http://www.xlr8r.com/?p=88831 Situated in the Amsterdamse Bos just outside of the city proper, as well as the Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ concert hall and the Melkweg venue in the city center, this year's Dekmantel festival is definitely expanding. Today, organizers for the 2015 edition have released an extensive lineup for Dekmantel by Night, which features 35 acts performing in Melkweg's four spaces. So far, artists announced for the night program include Andy Stott, Gesloten Cirkel, Omar S, Tessela, Dopplereffekt, Lone, Matrixxman, DJ Harvey, Joey Anderson, Huerco S., and Call Super. Tickets for the nighttime events at Melkweg—which run from Friday, July 31 to Sunday, August 2—can be purchased separately as a weekend pass here. The entire list of artists announced for Dekmantel by Night can be found on the flier below, while more information (and the complete line-up) for the upcoming festival can be found here.


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XLR8R Presents Round Two of Our All-New Events Section http://www.xlr8r.com/news/2015/03/xlr8r-presents-round-two-of-our-all-new-events-section/ http://www.xlr8r.com/news/2015/03/xlr8r-presents-round-two-of-our-all-new-events-section/#comments Wed, 25 Mar 2015 15:07:25 +0000 http://www.xlr8r.com/?p=88837 Last week, XLR8R unveiled its new curated events section, presenting six of the world's  best festivals and fiestas. Hot on the heels of that launch, we're back with five more hand-selected affairs—and, needless to say, it's another stellar quartet of world-class electronic-music gatherings. Southern California's, Desert Hearts Spring Festival; Amsterdam's DGTL; the Berlin Festival, located you-know-where; Barcelona's Sónar; and the final Garden Festival, held along Croatia's Adriatic Coast—these are among the best fests that the clubbing universe has to offer. And, frankly, we can't wait—see you there!

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Boska "Saviour" http://www.xlr8r.com/mp3/2015/03/boska-saviour/ http://www.xlr8r.com/mp3/2015/03/boska-saviour/#comments Wed, 25 Mar 2015 13:00:30 +0000 http://www.xlr8r.com/?p=88786 Norway's Balsa Wood label saw its launch earlier this month with "Saviour," a new single which comes ahead of a forthcoming EP for the imprint from Berlin-based artist Boska. A producer who initially cut his teeth in the Norwegian capital Tromsø's club music scene—and eventually landed releases on imprints such as Permanent Vacation and Studio Barnhus—Boska's bass-heavy brand of club constructions sounds alive and well on "Saviour." Lined with sharp bits of percussion and precisely tuned bass drums, "Saviour" spends most of its six-minute run rolling and rattling alongside a string of sci-fi synths, with a few new-age chords thrown in for good measure. "Saviour" is out now as a digital single, while the Balsa Wood label is set to issue its proper inaugural release, Boska's Cascades EP, on May 22.


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Check Out the First Single from Hudson Mohawke's Upcoming Lantern LP http://www.xlr8r.com/news/2015/03/check-out-the-first-single-from-hudson-mohawkes-upcoming-lantern-lp/ http://www.xlr8r.com/news/2015/03/check-out-the-first-single-from-hudson-mohawkes-upcoming-lantern-lp/#comments Tue, 24 Mar 2015 20:49:04 +0000 http://www.xlr8r.com/?p=88794 Set to return to Warp in the coming months with the 14-track Lantern LP, Hudson Mohawke has today shared the first single from his new album. Utilizing the the talents of French vocalist Irfane, "Very First Breath" is a neon-bright, space-age pop effort, one which features a number of Mohawke's calling cards with its full-bodied boom-bap and glowing melodic content. Set to serve as the second track on the Glaswegian producer's Lantern LP on June 16, "Very First Breath" can be streamed in full below; the full details of Hudson Mohawke's upcoming album can be found here.

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Jamie xx to Release Debut Album http://www.xlr8r.com/news/2015/03/jamie-xx-to-release-debut-album/ http://www.xlr8r.com/news/2015/03/jamie-xx-to-release-debut-album/#comments Tue, 24 Mar 2015 16:42:41 +0000 http://www.xlr8r.com/?p=88747 Jamie xx has revealed plans to release In Colour, his debut solo album, in June. The news originated in a cover story in Mixmag, which was then flagged up by Gorilla vs Bear. The forthcoming LP is set to feature previously released Jamie xx productions "Sleep Sound" and "Girl," as well as a number of new songs including ones titled "Gosh," "Loud Places," and "Seesaw." The forthcoming LP will also include collaborations with Four Tet and Romy Madley Croft of The xx.

The Young Turks label will release In Colour in June; more details are expected to arrive in the weeks ahead, but in the meantime, both "Sleep Sound" and "Girl" can be revisited below.

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Listen to a New Track from Matthew Herbert's Upcoming Album http://www.xlr8r.com/news/2015/03/listen-to-a-new-track-from-matthew-herberts-upcoming-album/ http://www.xlr8r.com/news/2015/03/listen-to-a-new-track-from-matthew-herberts-upcoming-album/#comments Tue, 24 Mar 2015 16:30:39 +0000 http://www.xlr8r.com/?p=88769 As we reported last week, Matthew Herbert will release a new album entitled The Shakes in May. With that news, the UK producer shared a video for the record's lead lead single "Middle," and now he has shared a second track/video from the LP. The gentle, vocal-led "Battle," and its odd, parking lot-based video, can be streamed below prior to the release of Herbert's The Shakes LP on May 29 via Caroline International.

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Stream the Lead Track from Adesse Versions' Upcoming 12" for Numbers http://www.xlr8r.com/news/2015/03/stream-the-lead-track-from-adesse-versions-new-12/ http://www.xlr8r.com/news/2015/03/stream-the-lead-track-from-adesse-versions-new-12/#comments Tue, 24 Mar 2015 16:21:43 +0000 http://www.xlr8r.com/?p=88753 If you've heard Jackmaster play in the last few months, then chances are you'll have heard a so-far unreleased nugget that blends a jaw-droppingly powerful and charismatic female vocal into a simple-but-effective brew of discordant piano notes, rolling subs, space echo, and clicking drums. Until now the identity of the track's producer has been something of a secret, but the Numbers label has today revealed it to be none other than Adesse Versions. The Glasgow label will duly release Adesse Versions' "Pride" on a 12" of the same name on March 31, and ahead of that the label has shared a full stream of the record's title track, which can be found below along with the upcoming record's complete tracklist.

Adesse Versions, and presumably a rather prominent airing for "Pride", can also be heard on Numbers' home turf of Glasgow this Saturday when he guests at the Notsosilent party (which—in the interest of full disclosure—we should point out is partially run by XLR8R contributor Ray Philp) at La Cheetah.

1. Pride
2. First Time
3. Pride (Dub)

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