Ciel is an open-format DJ in the fullest sense of the term. Her 2019 mix for DJ Mag’s Recognise series was a near-90 minute ceremony of the “soft-touch slammers” she’s become known for. Darting from technicolour techno and blissful breakbeats into speaker-shaking jungle and percussion, it demonstrated the Discwoman affiliate's dextrous technique and impeccable taste. “I think that dynamics are the most powerful thing that defines me,” Ciel told DJ Mag writer Anna Cafolla at the time. “In every part of my life.”
Three years later, that statement rings truer than ever. The Toronto artist, producer and promoter has had a busy summer of festival and club sets across Europe, the US and Canada, and recently released an EP with UK producer Kilig on Unknown Untitled. This month, she’ll release an EP as part of a new collaborative project, Loopchasers, with fellow Canadian artist Priori, via Pittsburgh label is / was.
Her label, Parallel Minds, also returns this month after a two year break, presenting a “dub-infested celestial dance” six-tracker from Toronto’s Ficilio.
Ciel’s contribution to the Selections series is another reminder of her status as a tastemaker, encompassing everything from spaced-out jungle and boundary-pushing electro (courtesy of recent DJ Mag Fresh Kicks mixer Ngoni Egan) to sun-baked garage, asafo techno and trance-imbued rave cuts. Dive in below.
“This came out late 2021 but I only just discovered it on Bandcamp this past month. The lead track is a highlight. It's the perfect combo of that UK techy roller sound mixed with elements of garage and progressive house.”
“Absolutely bonkers compilation! It's very rare that I'll download a VA and like every track on there. This one is beautiful mayhem throughout and I'm especially a huge fan of the third cut 'Bladerunner' and the final cut from DJ Fuckoff. Big ups to OCB for pointing this out to me. “
“Overall I'm kind of burned out from the UKG revival that has completely swept the DJ circuit this year and last. But every once in a while a release will still make my ears smile, so to speak. This release from Velvet Velour is just pure summer vibes. It's got that spaced-out 2-step drum programming mixed with funny vocal samples that I really love about old UKG. I especially love the closing track 'Meticulous'.”
“Just received this record in my inbox and it was the best thing I had heard in months. I love the bouncy and frenetic energy of the drum programming which lays the foundation for the Ghanian DJ Katapila's vocals in Twi. It combines everything I like about Midwest American techno and house with more traditional asafo percussion. Plus it's just super fun to listen to.”
“This is the kind of techno that really excites me! I read the artist Ngoni Egan has worked primarily with electro. You can hear that on this record without a doubt, but it's really not like any electro record I've heard this year. After the years of electro revival churning out so many samey-sounding electro, it's really refreshing to hear an artist work with the iconic genre and arrange it in new ways. I'm especially a huge fan of the tracks 'Phase 2' and 'Gaborone West Groove'.”
“An absolutely gorgeous slice of liquid & jungle. Equal parts thumping and spacey, every track on this is fun to play and has so far garnered a big reaction from audiences. 'Dreams' is my personal favourite and when I played it at Honcho Campout, it brought the house down.”
“Pure slappery. Every track on this is a wobbly banger. I especially love to play ‘System Test Dub’ because it's such a great flip on an iconic vocal sample and the 4/4 drum programming makes it very versatile for an open-genre DJ.”
“This EP is a wonderful collection of acidy trance and rave tunes. ‘Ex Machina’ (both cuts) is a highlight, as is ‘Ethereal Tubes’. I personally find a lot of contemporary rave tunes to just be a touch too corny for my taste. This one feels really dialled in and the samples used aren't super wacky so I find them very easy to incorporate into my sets.”
“This release channels a lot of the hardware incantations of the 90s American Midwest techno scene. It reminds me of the records I used to love from Todd Sines, DJ Slip, which is absolutely not a bad thing! Personally I do not mind if a producer wears their influences on their sleeves, as long as the record slaps. This one is pure slappage!”
“Stunningly beautiful contemporary trance cuts with a subby foundation. I find it sounds incredibly like nature, which is some of my favourite styles of electronica and house-trance hybrids. I love to open my sets with either 'Star Vertigo' or 'Incense Trip'. I love a deep sub layered beneath euphorique chords and spoken word vocal samples and 'Star Vertigo' is the ideal encapsulation of that formula.”