This week in dance music: Carnage went deep on ditching the project to focus on his house alias Gordo, debut San Francisco festival Portola dropped a scorching hot lineup for its September event, Above & Beyond launched a new label focused on downtempo and ambient, Purple Discoo Machine dropped a predictably excellent edit of Lizzo’s “About Damn Time,” San Holo partnered with the Calm meditation app for a mix series reflecting a trio of moods, Alison Wonderland’s album Loner debuted at No. 3 on Hot Dance/Electronic Albums, we delivered a definitive guide to the nine stages at EDC Las Vegas this weekend, asked Goldie and James Davidson 20 questions in conjunction with their latest album as Subjective, and posed Flume that same number of questions about his new album and his vegetable garden.
New music? For sure, that too. Let’s dig in.
KH, “Looking At Your Pager”
As with his 2019 track “Only Human,” KH (Kieran Hebden, aka Four Tet) ignited the hype around his latest single, “Looking At Your Pager,” with a single sentence: “The sample has been cleared.” (Prior to the statement, he had been playing the song in his sets to much interest from fans.) Hebden over the years has shown his distinct mastery of manipulating pop voices into dance floor bangers such as “Only Human,” which samples Nelly Furtado’s 2006 song “Afraid.” On “Looking At Your Pager,” KH samples “No More (Baby I’ma Do Right),” the 2000 debut single from American pop-R&B trio 3LW.
In his hands, groupmember Kiely Williams’ already-sugary vocals take on a more otherworldly tone, providing an eerie high to the revved-up production and wubby bassline. KH flips the script (obligatory “playa pleathe”) partway through, complementing the hard-edged sounds with a breakdown of soft, trance-y chimes that falls somewhere between floating on a cloud and baby’s first mobile lullaby. What on paper sounds like it shouldn’t work, strangely does — because in Hebden’s world, of course it does. — KRYSTAL RODRIGUEZ
Sub Focus feat. Gene Farris, “It’s Time”
People, it’s time to get up out of your seats and freaking rave. We’re talking laser beams, smoke machines and hard synth rave. We’re talking Chicago house legend Gene Farris talking over a hyper London beat. We’re talking about Sub Focus’ latest single that just lit up the dance floor at the producer’s debut live show at Printworks in the U.K.
“After seeing Chemical Brothers play live at Glastonbury 2019, I felt energized to redesign my live show culminating in the first Circular Sound show at Printworks last year,” Sub Focus says. “This track was designed initially as one off special for it, trying to capture some of the Chem’s very special, brain-melting energy with spoken word house music and drum & bass. Many of my tracks start as ‘what would happen if you combine these two genres’ kind of experiments, and this is a good example.” We’d have to agree. – KAT BEIN
Roosevelt feat. Nile Rodgers, “Passion”
The sound and vibe of this one is right there in the title. German producer Roosevelt linked with his idol, disco icon Nile Rodgers, and the two artists spent two years hammering out this track over phone and email and international file sharing. The final result exudes its namesake emotion, with Rodgers’ classic disco funk guitar work, synth flourishes and full gospel choir on vocals giving this one that big night out feel.
“The man is a living legend to me, and just talking to him about the early disco days was such a big inspiration,” Roosevelt says of working with Rodgers. “‘Passion’ is an ode to Studio 54, a homage to the energy and ecstasy of late-70s disco.” Roosevelt is on tour in North America and Europe this summer, with dates including Splash House, Electric Forest and a flurry of clubs shows. — KATIE BAIN
Chien Méchant, “Disco Féroce”
Over the past two years, Chient Méchant have really only existed in minute-long spurts. The Parisian duo’s Dans La Niche video series on YouTube uncover blink-and-you’ll-miss-it jam sessions with jazzy keyboard runs and drum solos as celestial as the tapestries that line their studio walls. Their first original release finally arrived this week (May 18) in the form of track “Disco Féroce,” a taste of Nowadays Records’ forthcoming compilation Club Nowadays, Vol. 1.
“Disco Féroce” sounds like piano house on a double shot of espresso. The spontaneity of Chient Méchant’s jam sessions runs through their bright keys and bursts of fluttering percussion, tied together by whimsical synth oscillations and sparse vocals. A hushed breakdown and build back to the wild, for a total of five minutes and change, caps a passionate display of just what this duo can do with more than 60 seconds. – K.R.
G Jones & Eprom, “Final Lap”
Two of the world’s weirdest and most wonderful experimental bass producers just dropped a collaborative EP that will send your ears down a rabbit hole. G Jones and Eprom proudly present Acid Disc 2, a collection of songs that unfold like a psychedelic tunnel of twisted metal.
“This EP has been in the works for a few years, and I’m extremely happy to finally see these tunes make their way into the world,” G Jones says. “Eprom is one of my all time favorite artists and biggest inspirations, and I feel proud and honored to have collaborated with him on this body of work.”
Some of the songs on this EP are true collaborations, while some are singular works by each artist independently that sit together to tell a greater sonic narrative. Here, we’re highlighting the EP’s closing track, which is a manic yet melodic collaborative track called “Final Lap” — but definitely listen to the whole thing and enjoy the full-length visualizer, too. “So very happy to have this EP out in the world,” Eprom says. “This is our spin on the genres that influenced us. We love acid music and the versatility of the sound in all its forms, and we hope that shines through on this release.” – K. Bein
Sylvan Esso, “Sunburn”
The North Carolina duo returns with “Sunburn,” their first release since their Grammy-nominated 2020 album Free Love. An extension of the married couple’s quirky, playfully intelligent sound, the track is an homage to getting too much of a good thing. The duo write: “‘Sunburn’ is eating candy til you’re sick, riding your bike too fast down a hill, when you’re five years old and don’t want to get out of the water, and by the end you’re shivering and all your fingers are pruney and your lips are turned purple, an undertow that sneaks up unsuspectingly, the painful pulsing pink of swollen eyelids leftover after a day lying in the sun, plunging forward without time for second-guessing.” Like all those aforementioned things, this concise electronic pop bop is well worth your time. — K. Bain