Functions Of The Now is a mix series charting modern developments at the innovative edges of dance music. Originally conceived in 2013 to shine a light on the once-again fertile grime production scene and its influence, the remit of the series quickly widened to incorporate all manner of interesting manipulations of existing club modes. Whether it’s Air Max 97’s “oblique club trax”, M.E.S.H.’s gaseous abstractions or DJ NJ Drone’s hyperkinetic take on Jersey club it all has a home in Functions Of The Now. We hope to draw connections between these often disparate forms.
On the last edition of Functions Of The Now we met Rushmore from the essential London club night House Of Trax. Continuing that theme, this month we travel to Sweden to meet Malin (FKA M. Wrecker), who runs the excellent Stockholm party Evolver alongside Al Tariq and IINATTI. In just one year the club night has hosted a swathe of Functions Of The Now favourites: Janus members Lotic and Kablam, Endless/Bala Club affiliates Endgame and Kamixlo, Oxford noisenik Grovestreet, recent Halycon Veil signing Why Be, standout kuduro producer Nidia Minaj and Staycore’s new shining star Toxe. It goes without saying that it’s our kind of party.
It’s through the last of those names that we discovered Malin. Earlier this year we came across the essential collective/mix series Sister: “a platform created with the aim of solidifying a network of women within underground club music. Every instalment is mixed by a woman and every track in every mix involves a woman in its creation.” Seeking more music from group co-creator Toxe, we came across her set for Don’t Watch That. In the accompanying interview Toxe was matter-of-fact in her response to the question of who her favourite DJ was: “I would say [Malin], she’s based in Stockholm and makes amazing mixes.” A cursory investigation revealed this to be an understatement if anything: Malin makes incredible mixes.
Across sets for Rodeo, Sister and Tobago Tracks, Malin has refined a unique and abrasive DJing style, joining the dots between Quantum Natives’ noisy abstractions, the more deconstructed end of NON Records and the sound art of E. Jane and plus_c’s SCRAAATCH project – with a hefty helping of dark ‘n’ doomy club tracks for good measure. Mixing the sweet with the sour, beautiful acapellas peek out of the static, offering a brief respite before they’re submerged again. Malin is one of our favourite discoveries this year and we’re thrilled to have a mix from her in the series. We may be biased but we think this is her best yet. Warning: it starts LOUD.
Soundfile Round Up
Toxe Muscle Memory EP
Fawkes Dusk Dawnflower
First up is the debut EP from Toxe, out on the ever-reliable Staycore. Across five tracks, Toxe finds the sweet spot between propulsion and weightlessness, with playful, reverb-soaked melodies (and the occasional T-Pain sample) floating stationary above piston-powered kicks and snares. The closest comparison is the infernal machinery of Rabit’s spectacular debut album Communion – albeit with the anxiety substituted for wide-eyed optimism – but it’s a remarkably singular sound. Everything from the drum patterns to the track structures follows Toxe’s own idiosyncratic logic and it’s no surprise that RBMA tapped her up to join them for their 2015 class.
Taking some similar tropes in a completely different direction is newcomer Fawkes on her pay-what-you-want Bandcamp drop Dusk Dawnflower. We first became aware of Fawkes through her excellent footwork collaboration with Jlin on Planet Mu’s gargantuan 20th anniversary compilation µ20, but her solo work is perhaps more impressive. Stand out track “Invocatio” pulls the hydraulic drum work of Toxe’s EP outside of a club context, marrying it instead to disembodied, Holly Herndon-style vocal processing. Both tracks are as texturally rich as they are beautiful, with a depth in sound design that rewards repeat listens. We’re really excited for where both these producers will go considering how fully-formed their respective aesthetics already are.
Dread D Siege EP
Iron Soul Iron Soul EP
Elsewhere, our pals at Local Action top off an incredible year (well, we say top off – apparently they’ve still got an album to release before 2015’s over,) with an EP from T. Williams under his old grime alias Dread D. At this stage Williams is most well known for his crossover house anthems but back in the early 00s he was part of Jon E Cash’s legendary Black Ops, representing an early grime sound they called sublow. It’s a real shame that Black Ops’ presence in 2015 conversations on grime productions is generally absent as they were a key component of that mythical era. Hopefully that’s about to change though; The new EP goes straight for the jugular, revisiting the sound palette of those essential early releases and sounding no less explosive for it. Just try and listen to “Siege 1” without getting that earworm synth line stuck in your head. Last week Jon E Cash and Dread D came through on Rinse with an unbelievable set digging deep through the Black Ops dubplate archives and a mysterious EP of lost Jon E Cash productions has turned up in a few shops for preorder, so perhaps we’re finally about to see a Black Ops revival.
On a similar resurrection tip, Kromestar brushes off his old Iron Soul alias to show the new wave how it’s done on a new EP for his Soul Music label; The samples have been around for the best part of 2015 at this stage but this week the 12″ finally surfaces. It’s really no coincidence that the lead track is called “E-Motion”, with all three tracks tugging at the heartstrings in his inimitable, chipmunked-vocal way. If you’ve enjoyed the cut-up-RnB instrumentals of Finn, DJ Milktray and Gundam then this is utterly essential. There’s been some complaints about the ubiquity of square wave-wielding eski copyists, but if this recent surge of interest means we get guys like Black Ops and Iron Soul back we’ll happily put up with them all.
DJ Haram Sustained Crisis
DJ Haram & Moor Mother Goddess “Basic Bitch”
Earlier this year Philadelphia’s DJ Haram dropped her first Identity Crisis mix for Browntourage, a flawless blend of Jersey club and Middle Eastern instrumentals that reflects aspects of the multitudinous self that arises when you’re a member of a diaspora. After a busy year setting up the “club-not-club night” ATM with SCRAAATCH and Lil Island, as well as releasing a superb mix for Mask Mag (our introduction to her work), the sequel Sustained Crisis arrives. It bangs both conceptually and in the club sense and we highly recommend it. If you’d like some reading material to go alongside it, check out her truth-filled interview with Spark Mag – you can also buy her great new collab with Moor Mother Goddess while you’re there. Stay tuned to Truants for much, much more from DJ Haram next month.
Malin Mix And Interview
Let’s talk a little about Evolver – what’s the story behind the night’s creation? Does your creative history with IINATTI and Al Tariq extend past the night? “We were in a pretty similar situation: either we moved here for the first time or as me and Daniel [IINATTI] had grown up in Stockholm, left it and now returned. I especially remember the first time I met Tariq. He was wearing a Syg Nok shirt so that immediately led to music conversation.”
You’re now almost a year into running the party, how do you feel it has gone so far? Any highlights? The night with Nidia Minaj, Kablam and Toxe looked particularly incredible. “That line up was amazing. We were so grateful to have them play. I have never seen so many people coming up after the club and desperately wanting someone to stay or come back as they did for Nidia. All of our nights have had huge atmospheric variety, and we hope for something we can’t predict in advance. We put together acts that we hope can connect socially and feel comfortable, as much as we wish them to put on a great set.”
Nowadays a lot of this kind of music is perceived to live on the internet, is it important to you to represent these sounds in a physical space? Does the global dispersion of DJs associated with these sounds present any challenges to you, especially considering you’ve booked internationally from the beginning? “I feel a great conflict in representing anyone else’s music: the responsibility to do it respectfully as well as aiming for my personal outcome. The people we book, we usually have some kind of relation to. So that they will know what we are on about, as well as we know they have some similar ideas of what a club night can be.”
I notice you’ve also used the night to showcase visual art – do you see a relationship between the music you promote and the art you’ve showcased? “For us to put forward an image to present the acts is essential, as many people may not know the acts before turning up to our parties. We like to get the acts involved. Like on our first night we booked the art collective Gallery Fist to make a performance, but they also helped create another dimension to the space picking and forming with objects and lights. Or when ECCO2K played, he had also been involved making projections.”
From the outside it looks like some exciting things are happening in Stockholm – between you guys, Toxe, Kablam and Staycore it seems like a really interesting scene is developing. Could you tell us a little bit about the club music landscape there? “I’ve changed location almost every other year and don’t really see myself as a part of the Stockholm club scene. Wherever I’ve lived, I’ve needed to create a safe space for myself and other people enjoying whatever we do. Even though Stockholm is working hard on its image putting out ads in trendy papers selling a lifestyle, it’s a heavily segregated city. Making it difficult for people to move in and get established, unless you have been on the association list for a long time. All cities (and especially Stockholm) have a non-correlating perception from the outside to living inside. It’s well different. It might have to do with too much media interference: as soon as anyone put on anything new, media will pick up on that and format it so it will become easily understandable to a wider public.”
What I love most about your DJing is how idiosyncratic and well realised your style is, especially since you don’t produce (unless those ‘unknown’ tracks belong to you). Is there a particular aesthetic you’re looking to tap into? “Nah those unknown are just unknown, not my own, hehe. For the moment I don’t have any certain aim for the music, other than to keep it as a personal thing. Cos I need it to get by but I have no interest right now in putting it out and have other people comment, analyse or review it. Hopefully I will want to share it one day.”
We absolutely adore the mix you’ve made for us: can you tell us a little bit about it? “I always do my mixes in Ableton, and edit and modulate to make it work. They all border an unpleasant/pleasurable mood and I like when it goes slightly off tune.”
What’ve you got lined up for the future; both personally and with Evolver? “I think I will just continue move around and do stuff that will make me keep progressing. I hope I will eventually find a space or community where I feel comfortable releasing my music and mixes under a banner. Obviously Evolver is a platform for me but we try to make that less about ourselves and more about the guests we invite. I’m waiting for this weird phase of ultra competitiveness in club music to pass, one of the reasons why I haven’t showed a lot of people my music is because a lot of people like to categorise and compare different artists usually because of where they’re from. I want to be my own thing, not clumped with everyone else purely because of where I reside. I’ll continue to grow my work, probably try a few other cities out and keep on putting on parties. As for Evolver, we’ll still be here :)”
N-prolenta – plastr’d, projected, purpled
Ziúr – Deeform
Darkmatter – Mu-Nma
Brood Ma – ESTEEM
Unknown – Wounded
GROVESTREET – Hazardous Child
Sasha Manik – Adar Conwydd
N-prolenta – Scream Pa Mi (for @deezius and Kola)
ANGEL-HO – REMOVALS
Brood Ma – RUBBEL BODY
Rihanna – BBHMM (E_SCRAAATCH EDIT 3)/4Serena
GROVESTREET – Metallen Soundtrack
Bladee – Reborn (prod. WhiteArmor)
Artwork: Joe Jackson