This week in dance music: Domino Records agreed to pay Four Tet a 50% royalty on streaming and downloads after a years-long dispute, we ran down the seven dance music producers on Drake’s surprise house album, we spoke with Andy Butler of Hercules & Love Affair, we re-lived Splash House 2022 with exclusive festival sets from J. Worra, Channel Tres, Gene Farris and more, we caught up with U.K. producer Darren Tate and Above & Beyond’s Jono Grant about their new album as JODA, we spoke with pioneering club director Steve Adelman about his new book recapping decades in the scene, Marshmello and Khalid debuted on the Dance/Electronic Songs chart with their collaborative single “Numb,” ODESZA broke down (some of) the details of their upcoming tour and Moore Kismet told us about their debut album and life as an electronic music wunderkind.
Is there more? You bet there’s more. Let’s dig in.
Empress Of & Jim-E Stack, “Turn The Table”
“I’ve been describing it as a collection of breakup songs, but I’m not broken,” Lorely Rodriguez, a.k.a. Empress Of, recently told Vogue of her new Save Me EP (out today via her Major Arcana label). Though songs like the disco-orchestral title track and “Cry For Help” reach out to the past with a wanting hand, there are spots on Save Me on which Rodriguez sounds in firms her grasp of self-confidence: “When I break, I fix myself real fast,” she declares on the ‘90s house-pop single “Dance For You,” while she fantasizes out loud about her next relationship in the equally daydreamy “Kept Up.”
On new song “Turn the Table” with frequent collaborator Jim-E Stack, Rodriguez sings like a woman glancing one last time in the rearview mirror before speeding off into the sunset. Her voice alternates between saccharine near-whispers and full-chest determination over a dance-pop beat that follows her lead from syrupy grooves to its boiling hook: “No more silence/ Turn the table you’re the one who’s quiet/ That girl ain’t afraid of you now.” Forget new love — Rodriguez just might be her own savior. — KRYSTAL RODRIGUEZ
Diplo & bbno$, “Pogo”
Pogo sticks were certainly a simple pleasure of childhood, but don’t get it twisted, because this new tech house track from Diplo and Canadian rapper bbno$ is not nearly as innocent. With lyrics focused largely on money, sex and getting women to move their bodies “up and down” like the titular toy, this peak-time hitter is a far more adult type of entertainment, and is likely to provide the same physical thrill for bodies on dancefloors as a good old pogo stick itself. — KATIE BAIN
Skream & Jackmaster, “The Attention Deficit Track”
Some songs are just meant to send your body in a tizzy, and what else could one possibly expect when two madmen like Skream and Jackmaster get in the studio? “The Attention Deficit Track” is a blood-rushing bopper built on a deliciously-chaotic series of sonic layers: Tribal drums, hand claps, thrumming bass and a woman’s voice come together in an exhilarating rhythm. Seriously, this song is all percussion, and it just freaking works. It’s out on CircoLoco Records, and it’s probably tripping out the crowds in Ibiza as we speak.
Barry Can’t Swim, “Sonder”
When Billboard named Barry Can’t Swim one of its 10 dance artists to watch in 2022, the producer in his brief career so far had already built a promising reputation with his silky-smooth and jazzy house music. On his new More Content EP, out today via Ninja Tune’s Technicolour imprint, Barry delivers more of that low-key ease while showcasing his widening range of sonics and style. Previously released songs like “God is the Space Between Us,” “Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore” and “Can We Still Be Friends?” dip heavily into breakbeats with moods ranging from wintry melancholy to gurning giddiness.
New and final track “Sonder” elevates to a new level of beauty. It feels organic, vast yet intimate in the way it invites introspection through its resonant piano chords, warm crackle and hazy sax solo. Its progression from moody breakbeats to a mellow yet bright house groove, complete with ascending runs of sparking synth keys and clinking metallic percussion, makes it worthy of a rousing set finale — the kind that makes you look around at everyone else grinning around you and realize just how damn good life can be, even if only in three-minute increments. — K.R.
Sam Paganini, “Rave” (Adam Beyer & Layton Giordani Remix)
You’ve heard it before, the slow and haunting synths of Sam Paganini’s seminal 2014 hit “Rave.” It’s a brooding bit of mood and quite literally the biggest hit on Adam Beyer’s label Drumcode. It’s thus only right that the song get a revival from the man himself.
“The word ‘anthem’ isn’t a word I’d use lightly, but ‘Rave’ was, for me and for many of the Drumcode family across the world, the anthem that defined that period,” Beyer says. “You couldn’t go to events at that time without hearing ‘Rave,’ often multiple times in the same night, and when that signature hook, vocal and drop landed, the crowds would respond. They loved it. And so did I.” Beyer teamed with rising NYC-based producer Layton Giordani to give “Rave” the respectful treatment it deserved, with their edit breaking modern edge into the original, but keeping all its memorable marks.
“I’ll never forget the first time I heard ‘Rave’ live,” Giordani says. “It was a Drumcode showcase in New York City on Governors Island. This was long before I got signed to the label, but the DC crew were all just super friendly to me. I remember Sam saying it was coming soon on his album, and it absolutely melted my mind. For me personally, it is the biggest record release on Drumcode. Period. This will be the remix I’ll be most proud of probably for the rest of my life. It connects my younger self to where it all began and to the artist I’ve become today.” – K. Bein
Fei Fei, “My Body Is a God on Acid”
Longstanding L.A. bass producer Fei Fei was burnt TF out: from the hustle of creating art in a male-dominated world, from the merry-go-round party scene, from the pressure to even make music. So the artist took a break from DJing and touring, finding new modes of expression including singing, guitar lessons and going back to the basics by reteaching herself Ableton and even started a pop-punk band.
But her signature banging production were still part of her, and after five years away from electronic music, a revitalized Fei-Fei is back with a brand new banger. A relenteless slab of pure rave music, “My Body Is a God on Acid” is a six-minute swirl of techno on acid that grabs you by the collar, drags you onto the dancelfoor and doesn’t let go for more than six minutes. You can hear Fei-Fei’s catharsis in it; it’s likely you’ll find some for yourself in this one as well. — K. Bain