Beshken – Faceless (feat. Gus Dapperton)

As you comb through discover weekly you may find that a lot of electronic music sounds the same. That’s partially because the the future of electronica is still unfolding and artists are experimenting with new sounds.

It’s also because electronic music propagates musical mutations. A new sound emerges, resonates, and almost simultaneously, copy-cats and musical off-shoots are born.

But there are outliers. Artists who leap beyond the next logical progression. People, like Beshken and Gus Dapperton, a clairvoyant duo who seem plugged into some futuristic frequency.

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ODESZA – Corners Of The Earth (feat. RY X)

RY X’s vocal performance in Shortline is nothing short of spectacular (h/t E.M.K). Somber and sweet, he descends into a mournful puddle of salty tears.

So, a pairing with ODESZA makes sense. It’s melodrama paired with heartbreak. A tune so lofty, so aery, that it expands into your subconscious almost immediately.

Horns blast. There’s a tickling drum track. It’s so crisp, it’s cinematic. We wonder why ODESZA released it on Spotify instead of a Christopher Nolan trailer.

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Morale is High (Food is Low)

Sorting through my pack for a water bottle, I feel a puddle of sticky liquid at the bottom. I lean closer and inhale. It stinks and my lips feel numb and blue.

I go into damage control, slower than usual after repeated tugs from a whiskey bottle. Luckily, a pair of boxers and bag of bagels are soaking up most of the gas. After pulling everything out of my backpack, I toss the bagels into the fire and watch a fiery plume spike into the night sky.

The flame wilts a bit and I retreat back to the tent. It’s dark and my brother breathes deep in his sleeping bag. I shift to get comfortable but a looming paranoia has loosened my brain cells. They fire off a laundry list of potential disasters… Rattlesnakes! Ticks! Bad water! Food shortage! A field of poison oak. Death by combustion.

Laying there I think I sense a sudden heat-spike. Maybe it’s just lighter. The clouds have moved to reveal the moon. But in my heightened state of awareness I can hear the pop of old redwoods and sand nearing its melting point. I will the tide to swell – to surge – to put out the fire.

The next morning I wake to a moral hangover. The clouds have us socked in and the waves are grey and lifeless. My brother and I start to make breakfast, but I swear it tastes like gasoline. He seems to not notice.

We pack our things. My sleeping bag goes first. Then, the rain fly, a can of beans and a roll of toilet paper. I clip the fuel bottle into a carabiner and attach it to the side of my pack.

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We walk with everything on our back and already we’re making progress. I skip from rock to rock, trying to avoid stepping in tide pools. The act of placing one foot in front of the other gives rhythm to the day. We’re moving which means we’re closer to something.

I pull away from the group, to conduct a check-in of sorts, wondering why through all of this I haven’t once wished to be anywhere else. The muscles in my legs are warm and my pack fits nicely against my back.

The rest of the group catches up and I silently join the ranks. Nothing is said about my retreat and we begin to walk again, eager to get to our next destination before the tide covers our tracks.

Ivy Lab – 20 Questions

South African dance music has a certain depth of sound. It’s hollow. Spacious. Fleet of foot. And when it’s accompanied by the chatter of drum and base, it’s infectious on a dance floor.

Years ago WalterCronkTight and I would cruise down Long Street, SA listening for rattling speakers, hoping to discover a DJ or even just a song that hadn’t made the transcontinental journey to Europe or North America.

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When these jewels surfaced, we’d write down lyrics or maybe turn to someone flexing in the crowd, “yo, you know what this is?” 

Some nights, WalterCronkTight, more ballsy than me, would approach the DJ, drink in hand, feet still moving to the base. The DJ would pull one ear from his headphones and lean in.

“I can’t hear you, mate…” he’d mouth.

In the spirit of musical adventure, test your ears on 20 questions by Ivy Lab. (Not South African) but undeniably influenced by the crisp SMACK of o.g. drum n’ base.

HNNY – Nothing (Original Mix)

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As the Chainsmokers and other teeny-boppin’ trap has become painfully sweet, lo-fi house and it’s blissfully underwhelming sound has started to creep into the musical zeitgeist.

Unlike it’s counterpart, lo-fi house is quiet and unassuming. At first glance you may mischaracterize it as elevator music – background beats to pass the time between floors.

Careful.

Good lo-fi house is infectious. It’s elemental. The sum of simple parts coming together to unlock a primordial foot tap and the overwhelming urge to shimmy and shake. Probably best characterized by the viral YouTube sensation: Russian kid dancing at club can’t be bothered.

HNNY’s Nothing (Original Mix) invokes a similar reaction. Your joints loosen, instantly feeling less mechanical, less bound at the knees. Dip. Hop. Snap. Then, your arms unhinge. You start to make wild gestures. Fingers wave, hands twirl. And when the beat drops, you realize that you and the rest of the blurry dancefloor are grooving to a new frequency.

The War on Drugs – Thinking of a Place

According to David Bevan’s article on Pitchfork, at one point Adam Granduciel was so anxious that after he cut the basic tracks for “Red Eyes” in Hoboken. NJ, he worried about never witnessing its release.

Oh man, I hope I don’t die before this record comes out, because I want people to hear that song.

It’s impossible to listen to The War on Drugs without feeling some sort of malaise. Their 2014 album, Lost in a Dream, has track names like, “Red Eyes”, “Suffering”, “Under Pressure” and “Disappearing.” When you read David Bevan’s article you understand the severity of Granduciel’s depressive state (“today is just going to be another long, shitty fucking day”). But there was a turning point – a moment when Granduciel started to understand that making music was for him a powerful and cathartic process.

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The War on Drug’s newest release, Thinking of a Place, rings with the same melancholic wandering, but you can hear a turning point personified at 5:50. Where most songs fade to meet their natural end, Adam Granduciel hesitates, and for a moment hangs on this precipitous ledge, as if weighing his options. Then, Granduciel relights his heaving, undulating guitar to dive back in.

I’m moving through the dark

Of a long black night

And I’m looking at the moon

And the light it shines