If you’ve never before experienced the collision of trap, hip-hop and bass: you are missing out. This sweat-inducing musical collision is having a moment right now and producers — even whole labels — are devoting themselves to the future of this booty-shaking genre. All things considered, if it weren’t for the efforts of Machinedrum, who knows whether our ears would have ever enjoyed this hodge-podge of beats, bass and drops the way they do now. Ever since encountering one of Machinedrum’s tracks in 2011 I’ve wanted to see him perform live, and in the years that followed I eagerly consumed each new track or collaboration. Two weeks ago at Webster Hall, I finally got to witness him bring the house down.
There’s often a misconception that so-called “laptop producers” don’t know how to put a fresh spin on their music to captivate a live audience, but Machinedrum sure knows how to put on a show. Over the course of 90 or so minutes, he took us on a journey through his new album — complete with live visuals by A/V master Strangeloop — and he even threw in some brand new tracks at the end. Throughout his performance, I was struck by his playfulness, energy and sheer athleticism. It takes a lot to simultaneously manipulate tracks on a laptop and riff beats on drum pad, while pumping up a crowd to keep everyone engaged, but Machinedrum made it all look incredibly easy.
As the music continued to swell around me and I lost myself to the drop of my favorite songs, I began to feel something I hadn’t felt in months: Escape. For me, as with many electronic music aficionados, escapism drew me to the scene. The freedom to leave the world, dance judgement-free on a dark dancefloor and lose myself to the music became my drug, but somewhere along the way life (and the Election) got in the way. There on the dancefloor of Webster Hall, I closed my eyes, welcomed the synergy surrounding me and smiled.
As for Machinedrum’s latest tracks, I’m happy to report that trap and bass lovers will greatly approve (as do I). For a taste of his upcoming releases, check out the video below, and you can listen to Human Energy in full over on Spotify.
(Photos/Videos taken by Mallory Johns)
I’ll never forget the first time I heard Cut Copy. It was way back in 2009, and a classmate sent me a mix filled with electro-pop acts to introduce my ears to new music. The CD (you remember those things!) was filled with tracks from Miami Horror, MSTRKRFT and more, but one track reigned supreme above them all — Hearts on Fire. As a child of the 80’s the nostalgia hit me pretty hard, and everything from the synthesizers to the vocals reminded me of Depeche Mode — a way more upbeat and less emo version no less.
For the next 4 years I made it my mission to seek out each new Cut Copy release. I purchased 2011’s Zonoscope on vinyl and marveled at how they masterfully weaved political statements into insanely danceable tracks:
And though 2013’s Free Your Mind wasn’t high on my list of favorite albums from the group, I still enjoyed it for what it was: a great album of House tracks for late-night groovin’. But as with many of my favorite electronic acts from the early aughts, Cut Copy too disappeared. That said, you can imagine how I felt when I heard the group was working on a 44-minute cassette tape of instrumental ambient music. Of course I was even more thrilled when I saw the album pop-up on Spotify a few days ago, and after spending countless days listening to each track I can confidently say I’m loving their new direction.
If (like me) you enjoy the meditative pleasures of Aphex Twin, Brian Eno or Kraftwerk, you’ll instantly be entranced by January Tape. Over the course of 5 tracks (titled Parts 1 through 5), we’re introduced to a more subdued version of Cut Copy. Hushed, reverberated vocals give way to longer tracks filled with hazy, analog synthesizers that linger in-and-out of phase, never quite reaching release. And as subdued as the album begins, it slowly fades into the ether on the wings of some truly ethereal synth pads. In short, January Tape was well worth the wait, and if the switch from electro-pop to ambient is any indication of Cut Copy’s future, I welcome it with open arms.
About a year ago, this young DIY producer from NYC dropped an ambitious EP of future bass/house tracks using the celestial bodies for inspiration. It was mystical, transcendent and utterly otherworldly. Well now he’s back — on Fool’s Gold Records no less — with a stunning 4-track EP chock full of spacey chords, hypnotic beats and Daft Punk samples to boot! But the opener — Gallivanture — is a 2-minute sonic exploration filled with dopamine-inducing drops that will make the hairs on the back of your neck stand at attention. Check it out below, and pro tip: grab a pair of noise-cancelling headphones and turn it way, way up.
Nearly 4 months ago — after leaving us high and dry for almost 3 years — Justice finally blessed us with new music. Safe and Sound was like that warm embrace you get from a friend you haven’t seen in years, and in the best way possible, it hearkened back to their 2008 smash hit D.A.N.C.E.
Well, brace yourselves: Justice has dropped a new track in advance of a their latest album release on Tuesday. I repeat: new Justice album this Tuesday! All things said, Alakazam! is a playful, (and extremely) funky tribute to 70’s disco and the underground club scene that developed as a result — check out the video below, and you’ll see what I mean. In a nutshell, if this new single is any indication of what we can expect on Tuesday, I know what I’ll be listening to for the next 3 months.
Age ain’t nothin’ but a number, and this 20 year-old producer from The Netherlands has the skills to back it all up. This mix is the perfect fire-starter to kick your mood up a notch, and you’ll be enamored with the way Jengi Beats seamlessly transitions from Destiny’s Child re-works to 90’s hits (released before he was even born!!) and more. Oh, and he even manages to throw in a few tracks from my personal fav Kaytranada — who has clearly influenced Jengi’s sound. My only complaint: I wish this mix was an hour longer! Give it a listen below.