This is kind of a new thing. While I’ve never really been super keen on the thudding, chugging dance beats of, say, the Ruby Lounge downstairs at Voyeur (unless it’s been a long night of drinks) or even the sounds of Dave P’s Making Times, I think I’m starting to come around. It feels like a natural progression, very organic. Listening to six brand new records a week’s been both a chore and a delight over the past four years. And I honestly try to listen with open ears, even if I think a record’s going to be shitty or totally not up my alley. And in this regard, a few records over the past several weeks from the dance genre have lit me up, and I have a feeling this summer’s going to be awful dancey.
First, a couple of older discs:
1. Daphni, Jiaolong
Yes, this one’s more than seven months old, but I’m still hollering from the top of my lungs about it and discovering new joys the more I give it a listen. Caribou’s Daniel Snaith likes to play with beats and production, as evidenced by standout remixes of Cortney Tidwell and Hot Chip. And what’s wild is that the previous two EPs under the Daphni moniker are leaps and bounds less dance-oriented than his Merge debut. One listen to the intoxicating “Cos-Ber-Zam Ne Noya (Daphni Mix),” and you’ll be hooked. It incorporates samples, tribalism, drum ‘n bass and deep grooves. Try to listen and not move at least one part of your body.
2. DJ Koze, Amygdala
Released this past April, the German producer, mixer and beat-weaver is also known as Stefan Kozalla. Having competed in scratch and mix competitions since 1988 at the tender age of 16, you could say the Hamburg vet’s teeth are cut. And in 2010, he created his own label and released his newest on it, and it’s a honey. He deftly intertwines bizarro found sounds, weird splices of conversation and, on this new one, employs guests like a modern hip-hop emcee: Caribou, Apparat, Matthew Dear, Ada, Dirk von Lowtzow and Milosh. It’s another slow burn that’s easy to settle into and get comfortable with. Less of a movement piece than a meditative, trip-hop and DJ-perfected blend of electronic tones, it’s still dance music that’s brilliantly conceived and executed.
And some newer joints:
3. Disclosure, Settle
This one’s been bangin’ nonstop since I bought it for a measly $7 on iTunes. Of course, it didn’t hurt that Pitchfork just branded it a Best New Music with a whopping 9.1 rating. With 14 tracks and a few key guests, including two of my favorite up-and-coming Brit soul stars, Jamie Woon and Jessie Ware, this one’s got amazing transitions and plays so smoothly from beginning to end that when it’s over, you’ll find yourself just pushing play again. It’s gonna be a long, worthwhile wait till the two brothers from Surrey, England land at Union Transfer on Oct. 28.
4. Classixx, Hanging Gardens
The DJ duo from L.A. are childhood friends whose debut knocked a bunch of critics right on their asses. They’ve done a ton of remixes, including a lauded version of Phoenix's “Lisztomania,” and have been associated with acts like LCD Soundsystem (and a host of other DFA acts) and Active Child (who appears on the track “Long Lost”). But going alone, their official debut’s a beautiful, stretched-out mediation on beats and grooves. It’s only a few weeks old, and clocking in at 55 minutes, it’s a solid $7 Amazon purchase. Can’t wait to catch them at Morgan’s Pier this Fri., June 14.
5. Jagwar Ma, Howlin
From a few thorough listens on NPR’s First Listen feature, we can tell this one’s gonna leave a mark. This Aussie-Brit collaboration (the duo of friends are from Australia, but it was remixed and tracked by noted U.K. producer Ewan Pearson) is a full-on halfway hybrid between dance music and rock music. Slightly similar to a Matthew Dear show, where things are looped but guitars and drums and synths are used, they strike this delicate balance between rock that’s dancefloor friendly and straight-up dance music that uses instruments as well as electronics and production tricks. This is blissful psychedelia via the aforementioned marriage, and it’s a lovely addition to the summer’s dance catalogue.
We just can’t do without Caribou
You heard wrong: Stars aren’t blind