Ocobaya is the new moniker for Washington, DC producers Aaron Leitko and Mike Petillo. Previously known for their work as Protect-U on the Future Times imprint, here they’ve teamed up with DC label and Truants favorite 1432 R to inaugurate the new project. The Messix EP finds them experimenting more than in past releases, sometimes using randomized patterns and loops. The record opens with a brooding title track that thrives on contrast, with keys fluttering on the surface while weighty percussion looms beneath. Driven by its thumping kick, silvery sounds weave in and out to create ever-changing scenery. The following track, “Adult Parking”, is similarly loop-based, but with more playful drum patterns and a quickened pace. At moments it has qualities reminiscent of Dynamo Dreesen’s Acido label, with its plucky rhythm and water drop percussion. “Karma Slap” takes the groove to more surreal heights, and is refreshingly upbeat and zany with a dancing beat and tin roof hi-hats. Last is “Quality of Life”, a late-night dance track that starts in darkness before illuminating, airy voices answer in harmony. Overall the dreamlike atmosphere of Messix represents a welcome contrast to the duo’s previous output as Protect-U, both mysterious and fully inviting.
In both the mainstream and the underground, dancehall is having a moment. Drake’s heavily dancehall-influenced Views has been the most unmitigated commercial success story of the year and Rihanna’s “Work” has been ubiquitous. A bit more off the beaten track, Swing Ting – with dancehall making up a substantial part of their core – have cemented themselves as one of the most fabled active clubnights in the UK and have been hitting a stride with their label releases too. Whilst we’ve not managed to get Drake and Rihanna in yet, we’ve been lucky enough to work closely with Swing Ting over the last while and through that we’ve had two Puppy Disco tracks premiered on the site: “I Swear” with Fox, and his remix of Samrai & Platt’s “Tease Me”. Puppy Disco is from Kingston’s Equiknoxx crew who together make some of the most genuinely interesting music that you’ll hear all year. More of a compilation of material dating back to 2009 sitting alongside some newer tracks, the rhythms and tempos on Bird Sound Power reveal their music’s dancehall tendencies alongside their ears as finely tuned to contemporary experimental club sounds that have emerged over the last half-decade. “Someone Flagged It Up!!” is Lee Gamble-esque in its disorienting sound design but still manages to sit comfortably by the deep, bassy, shoulder-popping groove of “The Link”. The record carries the dub torch through dark playfulness, best heard in “Timebird” and “A Rabbit Spoke To Me When I Woke Up”, but Equiknoxx do not deal in tradition by any means. When you hear “Clunk” and “Clink”, two intensely and impeccably crafted tracks, and realise that this crew are also producing for MCs and vocalists, you can’t help but feel that their further exposure from this release could become a touchstone and reference point for many in the future by virtue of its sheer freshness. It’s a special moment when you hear something new which manages to join dots you never thought could be joined, but Bird Sound Power manages to do that with incredible flair.
Houston-based duo Santa Muerte’s sounds have been infiltrating some of our favourite mixes for months now. Lords of the bootleg, their output is instantly recognisable as a triangulation of their influences, owing as much to Texan titans like Beatking and UGK as to groups like NON, N.A.A.F.I. and GHE20G0TH1K. Having shared associations with these groups for some time, and following a conversation with members of N.A.A.F.I., the duo decided to launch their own micro-label. Now we have the inauguration of that label, Majía, with the four-track Oraciones EP. Preconceptions and first glances might have led you to expect darker dancefloor thrashers, but that’d miss the point; Sines and Panchitron are driven by spirituality. Per an interview with Remezcla: “We see the good and the bad in everyone. We wanted to make something that was going to be — not dark, but místico”. It’s this balance that ties it all together. When “Trembla” (with French producer King Doudou) kicks as a dembow/club rap hybrid you can’t help but grin. When the synths on “TAK” (with KUNQ’s Kala) are at their most mangled you might have to stifle a wince. Sure, Imaabs is in typically destructive form on the remix with sharp unidentifiable sounds of industry and bass that conspires to lurch up on you from behind, but the end result is still somehow uplifting. Here’s to more from Santa Muerte, here’s to more from their label and here’s to more collaboration.
The self-released Movin’ On Up EP from Chicago-based producer Cameron Traxxx surfaced on the net a month ago, featuring remixes from Supraman, City Fitness and more. As Cameron Traxx gradually developes his online catalogue, one can expect to hear dance tracks of some form coupled with strong vocal samples in his work. There’s a heavy presence of dance and drum tracks throughout the EP, and Movin’ On Up presents itself as more than suitable for the club. Travelling through the record is undoubtedly reminiscent of the various stages you might even find at a club night: Cameron Traxxx’s stripped back version opens the project (fitting for an earlier DJ set), Jeremiah Meece’s remix around the midpoint dives deeper with more playful and heavier tones, and City Fitness’ bouncy percussive take on “Movin’ On Up” is the finale.
Before we knew they were from Merseyside but based in London, before we knew their EP was created in Liverpool, London, Boston and New Orleans, even before we knew the record would be titled Where We Were, the most evident thing about God Colony’s music was the multiplicity of its sense of place. “Where I Was” is the sound of being alone with your own thoughts. The cut-up vocal samples in its instrumental stutter whilst distant keys take considered breaths. Stash Marina’s poetry is filled with vivid recollections and lamentations, self-aware and self-berating. “Challenges to see if I’m serious / Both intoxicated and sober-day, delirium / The rain through the month could have been a hallucination / Felt real nonetheless / Impossible to just, blow out the stress / I let it sit, and fester,” she considers,, always leading the music. Whilst likely inspired by Marina’s life in Boston, it feels more about the places and struggles one traverses through in the journey of the grind, and how those places appear when looked back on. The first half of the EP is centered around Bermondsey, the place of the MC Flohio. Whilst the track “Steady” is more upbeat, God Colony operate with a darker-sounding palette. The attitude of the bass is undercurrent through the percussive flourishes, sirens and party FX. Flohio focuses on working with the beat rather than against or apart from it. Through this approach, she then really owns her space and her earworm delivery moves, shakes and mic drops all in one.
Words by Taylor Trostle, Antoin Lindsay, Matt Coombs, Michelle Ulor and Tayyab Amin.