The first in a series of exclusive editions of releases we've loved in 2019 comes from Indonesian nutters and notorious live act Gabber Modus Operandi. Their debut album for Shanghai’s maverick Sbvkvlt kru despatched eight hooligan alloys of heavy metal, militant Dutch kick drums and native styles of gamelan and Dangdut Koplo - local folk-pop - for a totally unique proposition no matter what angle you’re coming from. It’s a seethingly up-for-it and puckishly immediate sound, lending a thrilling new spin to well-trampled tropes in a way symptomatic of the current wave of rave goods.
Working a sound bound to unite scallies from Sunderland to Rotterdam and Jakarta, ‘Hoxxya’ toggles the pressure between mixtures of industrial panel beating and BM atmospheres in ‘Genderuwo’ to the hypnotic meld of pealing horns and bonehead stamp in ‘Sangkakala III’, getting the heart rate up with the adrenalised stepper ‘Semeton 10 Ton’, along with the scudding swagger of ‘Kon’, nodding south to the Bloody Fist crew and their apocryphal Pyongyang Hardcore Resistance in ‘Tekyan’, while ‘Trance Adiluhunxxx’ gives a stinging shot of melodic energy, and the hyper percussion of ‘Calon Arang’ and ‘Padang Galaxxx’ get us gurning like a hellish tribal mask.
Pangaea, Karenn and Objekt remix Jon Hopkins' 'Collider'. Cut from Hopkins' widely acclaimed 'Immunity' album, the posh trance thud of 'Collider' is ruffed up and taken to a darker corner of the club by each participant. Pangaea gives it a crushing swing-techno overhaul mauled with abrasive noise whilst retaining a vital trace of the original's proggy lift. Blawan and Pariah's Karenn duo opt for a darker, pounding techno overhaul powered by thuggish kicks and laced with an EBM synthline. Objekt does his crafty IDM thing with intricate, polymetric syncopations and fractal electronics.
rRoxymore opens a warm and canny space between dancefloor-centric and sofa-bound sound on ‘Face To Phase’, her debut album proper for Don’t Be Afraid.
The result of her annual hibernation ritual, the album was produced during winter 2018 and sees the producer/DJ dice with a hybrid of styles that just as easily lend themselves to warm-up hours interpretative dancing as duvet diving and post-party slompin’. As such it’s built for the here and now, and pointedly doesn’t concern itself with reflection or projection, but rather offers space to immerse and gently revel in the moment.
Without the need for straight kicks or urgent arps, rRoxymore sets herself adrift between woozy, curdled synths in a beatless jazz-fusion style on ‘Home Is Where the Music Is’ a cut inspired by her friend Planningtorock, while ‘Passages’ sees her introduce drums in a style shared with Batu, but dreamier, while the more insistent likes of ‘Forward Flamingo’ speak to dusky veranda vibes, sloping off into the heady shimmy of ‘Energy Points’, and more knotted tresillo patterns recalling Debit or Amazondotcom in ‘Hectadrums’, and the simmering meter of ‘PPS21,’ all tied together with what sounds like Claude Young and Dego after an astro-blunt in ‘What’s The Plan.’
Darkly absorbing new dembow mutation from Tayhana for the CDMX powerhouse of NAAFI
Hailing from Argentina via Mexico City, Tayhana brings a salubrious knowledge of new club movements and regional hits to her productions on the ‘Tierra Del Fuego’ album following appearance on the ‘NAAFI 2.0’ comp and Debit’s Fader mix, and remixes of Lechuga Zafiro and Zaliva-D.
The mood of Tayhana’s debut album is unmistakably melancholy and full of furrow-browed minor key chords in a way that celebrates negative ecstasy and sexy darkness. Its nine parts veers across the tempo scale from slow, heaving perreo grinders to reckless uptempo ravers, sometimes in the space of the same track, as with the transition of ‘Hasta Hoy’ from stumbling dembow to helter skelter pounding, while others sustain a wickedly mutable suspense between mashed meters, as with ‘Conozco tu debilidad’ feat. Wasted Fates, and others simply get straight at it and keep it there, such as the raucous ‘Petrolera’, and the zippy hotfooter ‘Maravilla’ feat. Aggromance.
Caterina Barbieri somehow recalls both Laurie Spiegel and Lorenzo Senni on her staggering debut album for Editions Mego, with ‘Ecstatic Computation’ yielding her most striking and accessible experiments in pointedly explorative synthesis
Working at the point where deep, learned R&D meets sophisticated expression of soul, ‘Ecstatic Computation’ is one of those rare LP's that comes close to divining the ghost in the machine. In further pursuit of the themes underlining Caterina’s ‘Patterns of Consciousness’  and ‘Born Again In The Voltage’  records, here she uses more complex sequencing techniques and pattern-based operations to generate the kind of vivid, hallucinatory trance states that many electronic music followers arguably spend their lives seeking.
With ‘Ecstatic Computation’ Caterina’s basically mastered the art of extracting a contemplative wonder from her machines, creatively using formal process to manipulate the listener’s temporal and proprioceptive senses, subtly distorting our perception of time and space with spellbinding and psychedelic effect. Most crucially, just like her fellow Italian composer, Lorenzo Senni, Barbieri achieves this effect through minimalist means, with a certain magick lying in the way she allows her machines’ full voice to speak as fluidly as the languages of classical music, but with the immediacy of Trance.
From the vertiginous scale and epic breadth of ‘Fantas’, thru the intensely expressive miniature ‘Spine of Desire’, to the balletic agility of ‘Closest Approach to Your Orbit’, Barbieri veritably dances on our nerve endings, before swiftly inverting that headlong futurism with the chamber-like design of ‘Arrows of Time’, featuring vocals by Annie Gårlid (UCC Harlo) and Evelyn Sailor, and wrapping up with the visceral ecstasy of ‘Pinnacles of You’ and a spine-freezing finale ‘Bow of Perception’.
It’s glorious, life-affirming stuff, sure to send her audience stratospheric.
Heavy ambient comfort blankets from Malibu; the new moniker for DJ Lostboi, whose string of self-released enigmas 2017-2019 found cult acclaim with the likes of Julianna Barwick among many others.
Bringing a gorgeous pop-ambient sound sensitivity and directness to the current groundswell of ambient music in the air right now, Malibu’s ‘One Life’ is set to touch susceptible souls with its supine, spine-playing qualities.
Strongly reminiscent of Celer and indeed even Julianna Barwick’s style of plainchant, Malibu doesn’t f#ck about when it comes to heart aching composition, stirring up the sweetest, forlorn feels between her windswept intro ‘Nana (Like A Star Made For Me)’, the wistful string figures of ‘Tilting On Windmills’, her Enya-esque mini-epic ‘Camargue’, and the cinematic sweep of ‘One Life.’
xin tears out on Subtext with a vital detournement of neurofunk D&B, hardcore and dubstep dynamics in their utterly compelling debut album, including a superb link-up with Aya (fka Loft)
Leaning deeper into hypermodern dance musick after 2018’s introductory EP ‘To Shock the Sky and Shake the Earth’ and a key live show in support of Holly Herndon’s ‘PROTO’ launch, xin first full length embraces the breath of their vision from mercurial sci-fi noise sculpture thru bodily-fluid dance swerve and seething hardcore ecstasy.
Working within a resoundingly diffuse, steeply layered framework of sloshing grids, ‘Melts Into Love’ appears to limn a process of transition or even transcendence of thought and body into virtuality and back into imagination and the dancefloor. Using contemporary palettes of snarling synths associated with millennial D&B and dubstep, and swirling layers of atomised, granular synthetic texture, xin terraforms a vividly singular world that works in parallel to dimensions manifested by TCF, FIS and Cam Deas, yet remains distinguished by its own, elusive sense of meter and unique laws of physics.
Catalysing the process with the sound of gamelan or wood block percussion frozen and rendered into the void on ‘All That Is Solid’, the album twists from chrome-tear vamps in ‘Crrrash!’ to writhing RTeese bass figures that gnaw the noumenal ‘floor in ‘Real Frenzy’, leading to a soaring hook-up with Aya in the vaulted choral designs and inverted flashcore rush of ‘Spent, Wasted and Saved’, while ‘Declared Denied’ comms off like a Torn or Current Value mauler shorn of its percussive exoskeleton, and the brownian acid swill of ‘No Relief, No Perspective, No Vanishing Point’ will make sure your grey matter remains rearranged long after ingestion.