This week in dance music: Beatport released the first round of programming for their first-ever ReConnect summit this fall, we spoke with NERVO about the banger they made to help raise awareness around child trafficking, Beyoncé’s Renaissance pushed four tracks onto Hot Dance/Electronic Songs, Madonna and Nile Rodgers got down to Bey’s “Break My Soul” at the release party for Madonna’s forthcoming remix album, we experienced ecstasis at the New Jersey/New York stop of Lady Gaga’s Chromatica Ball, and we caught up with L.A. duo Phantoms about their new album.
There’s also a glut of other great music out this week, so let’s get into it.
Hudson Mohawke, “Intentions”
You know Hudson Mohawke? The Scottish producer who practically built the foundation of sounds that drove dance music during these past 10 years? The man who got with Lunice to create the seminal duo TNGHT, transcending their trap genre in the process, while landing major production credits that bridged the worlds of techno and hip-hop (including Ye’s “Mercy” and Drake’s “Connect”)? Well, he’s f–kin’ back with a monster of a new album that’ll face-slap your preconceived notions of sound and groove while breathing life back into your post-rave bones.
Out via Warp Records, Cry Sugar is a 19-track behemoth that runs from dark mechanical jungle to hyper-rainbow house. It’s reportedly inspired by apocalyptic film scores and soundtracks, citing the late great Vangelis and ‘90s John Williams as influences. It unfolds with grandeur and masterful intent, glitching out with reckless abandon only to come together in large, cinematic spaces. We chose to highlight “Intentions” for that very reason, but this is only the second song — and you should strap on a seat belt and go for the full ride. – KAT BEIN
Four Tet, “Mango Feedback”
Four Tet has been keeping his fans fed this year with an ever-lengthening string of singles, including the 3LW-sampling “Looking At Your Pager” and Fred again.. collaboration “Jungle.” Up next, the producer offers up two tracks in the form of Mango Feedback / Watersynth, which both featured in his Essential Mix (as KH) from last month. “Mango Feedback,” the clubbier track of the pair, scales back a bit from his big room-filling bangers of recent years. Built upon plucked synths, soft synths and a simmering bassline, it feels gentler and more subdued, almost serene — as if it came from Four Tet’s New Energy era. As chill as “Mango Feedback” may sound, that creeping white-noise build and tension release gives goosebumps that an always-in-your-face track just simply can’t. Perhaps that’s the beauty of Four Tet, who can do a lot with a lot, and even more with a little. — KRYSTAL RODRIGUEZ
Ultra Naté, ULTRA
30 years after the release of her debut album, dance queen Ultra Naté returns with ULTRA, a 14-track statement piece from the DJ/producer/singer/songwriter/all-around legend. Embedded into the often off-the-charts energy of the LP is a sense of urgency about a flurry of issues: self confidence, power, wealth disparity and other heavier topics not always touched on via the dancefloor. With an expert touch though, Naté makes these topics both serious and seriously fun, keeping the vibes high and high-minded across the powerhouse tracks.
“This ULTRA album, unlike any other, was the most cathartic and anchoring experience!” Naté says. “Pandemic isolation and grief over the loss of many friends, unravelled the protective walls I had built around myself. Stripped bare emotionally, confused, and weary of the world, I needed to remind myself every day, who I was at my core.”
A run of uptempo house — think of it like a relative to Renaissance — the entire album is worth a listen or four, but we’re highlighting the urgent opener “HAPPY FEELING,” because that’s what it gives us. — KATIE BAIN
Mark Knight & Armand Van Helden, “The Music Began to Play”
Two absolute legends walk into a studio, and you know what happens next. “The Music Began to Play” is a luscious and shimmering dose of French Touch-style disco, a groove that circles and swirls around its sample, pumping out a heartbeat signature that will touch any tepid wallflower and lure them to at least tap their toes. We’d expect nothing less from these decades-spanning hit makers. The cool collaborative single is out now on Knight’s own Toolroom Records. – K. Bein
David Guetta vs. Benny Benassi, “Satisfaction”
If you’ve never thrashed around cybergoth-style to Benny Benassi’s “Satisfaction” with reckless abandon, have you even lived? Since its 2002 release, the Italian producer’s tremendously successful single has been a staple not just at festivals and clubs, but at weddings and the school dances and pep rallies of our youth. Having recently marked its 20th anniversary in June, “Satisfaction” gets a high-profile remix from fellow Euro heavyweight David Guetta. Leaning on the techno side of tech house, Guetta offers a version of the electro-house classic that feels modded for 2022’s main stages with a heavier-stomping kick that makes those iconic saw synths sound even more vicious when they rip through the air. Add in some melodic breakdowns and mountainous builds and you can already hear the crowd “woo woo”-ing as drinks go a-flying. — K.R.
Nora En Pure, “Gratitude”
There’s a sort of secret sauce in any given Nora En Pure production, something intangible that elevates the Swiss/South African producer’s work to a level of often near hypnosis. Whatever recipe she’s working with returns with En Pure’s latest, the two-track Gratitude EP. The title song is a propulsive slice of dark melodic house that occasionally stops to take a deep breath before En Pure turns the dial back up on the BPM, the strings, the synth, the percussion and the mood of intense catharsis that all of it whips up. — K. Bain
Braxe + Falcon, “Creative Source” (A-Trak Remix)
This one is pure weekend joy, with A-Trak adding loads of bounce and verve to the already pretty bouncy jam “Creative Source” from French Touch legends Braxe + Falcon. The Fools Gold boss gives a satisfying downtempo shift mid-song, before turning the thing all the way back up, giving the edit an almost hi-NRG vibe reminiscent of his work with Duck Sauce. The purely delicious remix is, like the original, out via Smugglers Way, the new dance imprint from Domino Records. — K. Bain