This week the wide (and wild) world of dance world saw the OnlyFans debut of Deadmau5’s cat, Steve Aoki expounding on his dream of working with Elon Musk (“we can lock in the studio for a few hours and talk about space and s–t”), Diplo peaking over on the Dance/Electronic Albums chart, Bob Moses performing from a famous L.A. landmark, Paradigm’s Paul Morris leaving the agency to work full time with Tiësto, and Dillon Francis doing typically zany excursions in VR.
And yes, there was also new music, with the dance/electronic scene delivering huge (and also subtle!) sounds across the genre spectrum. Let’s dig in.
Jungle, “Keep Moving”
Welcome (back) to the Jungle. The British duo returned earlier this week with the announcement of their third album, Loving in Stereo, heading our way this summer. In the meantime, they’ve shared its lead single, “Keep Moving.” Taking cues from second-LP songs like “Heavy California” and “Beat 54 (It’s All Good Now),” “Keep Moving” is a funky, feel-good disco-soul sermon with its almost gospel-choir-like chorus and stirring strings. While a year of lockdown has left many of us feeling down, the song serves as a divine source of encouragement to power through the sludge. One lyric in particular — “I could live with it, I could live with it, oh!” — repeats near the end, creating a glorious burst of catharsis and the record’s rawest moment, as if giving oneself permission to acknowledge their doubts and pain before expunging them full-force with newfound optimism. — KRYSTAL RODRIGUEZ
Zhu feat. Yuna, “Sky is Crying”
The last 12 months have been historic, to say the least. Police brutality and protests, death and disease, Tik Tok dances, virtual concerts and Twitch streams have all bombarded our brains, all while we’ve been stuck inside the same four walls, quarantined for a year and counting. Zhu has always been a vessel for the dark and surreal, and his latest single “Sky Is Crying” meets an age of hope and despair with somber groove. Malaysian singer-songwriter Yuna joins Zhu in a poetic performance that laments as much as it invigorates. There’s a lot of jazzy synth and some stellar sax, as is to be expected with Zhu songs. The influence of quarantine really comes through in the official music video, which sees a shadowy figure explore the strangeness of our year via web articles and broadcasts.“Sky Is Crying” is the first single from a new Zhu album, Dreamland 2021, set for release on April 30. — KAT BEIN
Elkka, “Burnt Orange”
On a gray and dreary day like today (if you’re in Los Angeles), mood and motivation levels are inching ever downward. But even just the first few notes of Elkka’s “Burnt Orange” bring light and warmth like the gentle beam of sun peeking out from behind those clouds. What begins as a transcendent plane of resonant chords and flowing, ribbon-like synths blooms into a delicate, yet sprightly percussion-led groove you can’t help but shimmy and grin to. Meanwhile subtle bird chirps in the background take this track to springtime in the open air — a place we’re all missing dearly right now at the start of what should be festival season. These themes of light, euphoria and nostalgia are core to Elkka’s newly announced Euphoric Melodies EP, which is due to arrive via Ninja Tune’s Technicolour imprint on May 21. — K.R.
Floating Points & Pharoah Sanders, Promises
Ladies and gentlemen, we are far, far away from the mainstage. In fact, via the celestial seasonings of U.K. producer Floating Points and 80-year-old jazz saxophone legend Pharoah Sanders, we’ve more or less floated into the peaceful expanses of the outer atmosphere. The duo’s much-anticipated collaborative album, Promises, is an ambient voyage of strings, sax and synth, with the nine movements intended to be played as a single piece. Dually infused with analog and electronic elements, the album plays like a cross between Alice Coltrane’s 1971 mystic classic Journey In Satchidananda (Sanders in fact played with Alice’s husband, John Coltrane, during the ’60s) and Brian Eno’s Ambient 1: Music For Airports. Sanders’ first LP in 15 years, the album was recorded in Los Angeles in 2019 and melded with socially distanced sessions from the London Symphony Orchestra. The album’s artwork comes from Julie Mehretu, whose exhibit opened at the Whitney in New York City early this week. — KATIE BAIN
The Magician & Wuh Oh, “Life”
Strings, glorious strings! Belgian hero The Magician links with upcoming Scottish producer Wuh Oh for the aggressively ebullient “Life.” The song is aptly named, in the sense that if there was a documentary made about our life, this is the track we’d want playing in the final scene when everyone we love gathers together to dance in celebration. (And in that sense, it’s certainly giving us light at the end of the pandemic tunnel vibes, too.) If you hear some French Touch in the mix, that’s no accident — with The Magician saying the song took influence from the greats via “heavy influence by Daft Punk’s Discovery album, and also Justice’s ‘Dance’.” — K. Bain
Dimitri From Paris & Fiorious, “Music Saved My Life”
Feeling down? Turn it up. Here French legend Dimitri From Paris and New York-based singer/songwriter Fiorius deliver a shot of pure disco adrenaline that will surely boost your brain’s serotonin production in three minutes and 45 seconds flat. Recorded in conjunction with 20 musicians working it out on the strings, percussion and rhythm guitar, the track is giving us serious cruising-in-the-car, windows-down, springtime vibes. It’s out via the disco-tastic Glitterbox Recordings. — K. Bain
Some songs have a way of picking you up and laying you down gently in a dream. Krane’s “Coastal” is that kind of track. Birds, chimes and breezy feelings sweep the listener off to some far-away land, a tropical paradise steeped in ancient mystery. That’s why we chose it as the highlight from the Bay Area producer’s latest LP Sessions Vol. 3 — but don’t assume it sets the tone for the rest of the collection. Each of these nine tracks centers around a different vibe, perhaps because each tune was written in collaboration with a different artist. That’s what the Sessions series is all about; collaborating with new minds to create something fresh. “Coastal” was written alongside Miami-based producer Arbetter. Give each of the Session Vol. 3 songs a spin. — K. Bein
H3000, “July Heat”
Empire of the Sun’s Luke Steele takes off into a new domain with H3000, a collaborative project with Australian/British artist and producer Jarrad Rogers. Together the duo conjure the futuristic vibes of the year 3000, with their first single “July Heat” giving an optimistic vision of the far-off future. The vocals are pitched up to robot level, and the track is a dually spare and brightly glitchy amalgamation that’s altogether sleek as the chrome on your hovercraft. “Working on H3000 was like a dream,” Steele says in a statement. “We started at one place and ended at another; we don’t really understand how we got there, but we know it was guided by something very special.” — K. Bain