With the semi-regular feature .ext e n s i o n, Will Cash reaches deep into the Internet to map electronic sight and sound.
Resolutions: practice, patience, focus, absorption, fitness, witness. To start off this new year, .ext is going to pick up right where it left off—a full year ago. In the interest of moving forward, I'm going to share some things from the past that are worth bringing into the future.
Our first list is a series of SoundCloud accounts worth following. I'm not trying to advertise for the site; obviously there are many, many ways to find new work, but this one has been the most fruitful and fulfilling for me over the past few years. Accounts are free, and even if you aren't uploading, you can follow artists and their new uploads will be organized into a dashboard for you. It's a great way to engage with exciting creators at every point in their process.
That said, here is part one of four. First, I'm going to get some of the more popular heavy-hitters on my list out of the way. These 10 clouds belong to labels, magazines, promoters and a blog. They all ooze the juice on a regular basis.
1. Unknown to the Unknown
"Hot Haus," indeed. Unknown to the Unknown (also Hot Haus Records) is a label run by a dude whose last name is actually Holthaus and makes tracks as DJ Haus. The simultaneous joy and triviality of that short stretch does a lot to illustrate the raw vibe of this outlet, which was once, and still is, a YouTube channel. Haus was energized by the volume of cool, unreleased tracks he was receiving via the Internet and decided to embrace the influx full stride. "No one has gotten really noodly about their 'piece of art,'" says Haus. "It doesn't always have to sound perfect. At the end of the day, it's usually just an MP3 that goes up online and people really dig it. The more you think into it, the more you take away from the rawness, which is what made those [old] Chicago house and Detroit techno records so great in the first place." As you might imagine, this is an active cloud that's always ready for a good time.
Bonus mix: FACT 409 - DJ Haus
2. PC Music
PC Music is a label fronted by young savant, A.G. Cook. Along with cohorts including Dux Content, Forever Traxx, easyFun and Life Sim, these artists comprise what I thought was the most interesting label of the year. This music is so intensely textured and pristine that it imparts a feeling of disembodiment to experience it. Cook finds inspiration in pop producers who, "epitomize the minimal, synthetic, almost robotic potential of commercial music," he says. "Often when my immediate reaction to something is hatred it'll only be a while before I'm quite into it, or even mesmerised by it to some extent." His work connects the individual with the untouchable world of commercial HD in a truly refreshing way. "The label's called PC Music, which alludes to how the computer is a really crucial tool, not just for making electronic music but for making amateur music that is also potentially very slick, where the difference between bedroom and professional studio production can be very ambiguous."
Bonus mix and an excellent interview are over at Tank Magazine.
3. UNO NYC
Eclectic, unexpected, artful, underground New York. This dark but vibrant label is consistently challenging aural expectations with releases by artists like Arca, Fatima Al Qadiri, Mykki Blanco, Jacques Greene, Kuhrye-oo, CFCF, Gobby, and Kallisti (d'Eon). This work is vital and weird, and these artists are pushing punk rock digitalism forward in a big way. With curatorial nods by one of my favorite DJs, Physical Therapy, and the addition of their free release series, *GIVEITAWAY*, this cloud will surprise you with gifts of inspiration.
4. Night Slugs
Nothing new really needs to be said about this much-studied UK conglomerate of club beat geniuses. What's important here though is that i'm not playing catch up or paying dues with this mention. The new work in and around this group of artists is still evolving and still exciting. Jam City, L-Vis 1990, Girl Unit (aka Hysterics), Bok Bok, and Georgia's own Helix continue to astonish with their innovative body pieces. Breath-taking drum architecture delivered by sleight of hand straight to your hips.
5. Fade to Mind
Again, the herald for this clique is quite extensive yet entirely worthy. Night Slugs' American sister likes a little more melody and a lot more range. Art riddim blasts through your cerebral cortex to confuse, arouse, massage, and generally stimulate your system. Fade put out what is probably the year's coolest R&B crossover thing, singer/writer Kelela's challenging Cut 4 Me mixtape. The tape features sparse, twisting tracks produced by some of the rising artists you'll hear elsewhere on their cloud including Kingdom and Nguzunguzu. Oh, and Massacooramaan, Mike Q, Rizzla, Total Freedom… Along with our next mention, these artists skate the razor's edge of art and fashion.
6. dis Magazine
"DIS is a multimedia arts magazine. DIS is a dissection of fashion and commerce which seeks to dissolve conventions, distort realities, disturb ideologies, dismember the establishment and disrupt the dismal dissemination of fashion discourse that’s been distinctly distributed in order to display the disenfranchised as disposable. All is open to discussion. There is no final word." Dis is some satisfying shit. Dis is as developed and stimulating a wormhole as you're likely to find on the net. More art and artists that I find of interest on the web seem to intersect here than anywhere else. Their SoundCloud most notably features their excellent DISco mix series (which is best viewed on their own website), but also interesting one-offs and singles.
Beastonleash.biz (not a real website anymore) is a Berlin-based booking agency for freaks and/or DJs. This cloud puts out a stream of intense promo-mixes for the artists it books. Generally the result is some pretty fringe shit that is either going to scare you into laughing, or make you laugh until you're scared. Your response is most likely to be some kind of body-banging convulsion or a bunch of drugs. Personal highlights include doses by SICH MANG, Forever Traxx, Dj P4ri$L4dY, Al Tariq, Lotic, PRODUCT, Craxxxmurf, Baglady—OK, I love this stuff.
8. Interscape Records
Interscape is a very net-based label that began early last year with a release by DJ PayPal. In a short 12 months, the catalog has grown to feature an interesting list of contributors including Traxman, Al Tariq, Music For Your Plants, Baglady and a new project that I'm entirely clueless about but enamored by called Gunge. Surely there will be some diamonds in this rough next year.
Bonus Gunge video here.
9. Lit City Trax
Lit City might be the most integral American label working with current Chicago footwork. Run by one of the Tekz themselves, J-Cush, this cloud is home to the most complete releases by the three biggest names in their game, DJ Rashad, DJ Spinn and Traxman. The music within is absolutely essential dance-jazz, and if you've heard anything about footwork or juke, this is an excellent place to jump into the present. 2013 saw J-Cush's deejaying and a release by Visionist take an interest in new modes of Grime, and saw the label's party nights in New York absolutely explode. With a partnership to release content on dontwachthat.tv, 2014 will be an entertaining time to follow this cloud.
10. Virtual Crack Distribution Services
Ok, so this is obviously not a SoundCloud. But, it's a blog that features a lot of SoundClouds. This is some more Euro trash/treasure that I can't get enough of. A lot of really aggressive and distant sounds get found here at this mecca manned by Danish superfreaks Lisbent and Why Be (whom we'll mention later). This page is worth a deep dig if you're feeling it.