Ethiopiyawi Electronic defies the colonialist idea that the cultural (and monetary) value of African art increases only when Westerners pay attention to it. “I worry about appropriation and gentrification because the West.. [has had] a very abusive relationship with my continent,” Mulu says. “I also worry about this attention we are getting [from the West], like African people worry about their raw materials and lands. I think the only way for Africans to be safe here is for people from my continent to take ownership of their cultural evolution.
As Western labels, DJs and producers continue to look to Africa as a source for “obscure” records to be “discovered”, often with little or no financial remuneration for the original artists, the spectre of colonialism feels close and sinister.
“People aren't appropriating just because they love something,” Mulu says. “They are appropriating because they think this is the next big thing. My continent is the future and everyone knows it. This is their gold rush, and I am horrified by it.
Mulu has become involved in a pan-African music platform, Crudo Volta. Run by Rome-based collective Python Syndicate, which has released documentaries on African electronic genres like gqom (in Durban) and afrobass (in Accra), they recently unveiled a new miniseries, Taxi Waves, which showcases a new wave of artists from Lagos, Maputo, and Addis Ababa.
A year on from his debut album, and a year after moving from Australia to London, the latest Air Max ‘97 project has landed, the four-track ‘Falling Not Walking’ EP. The release features two collaborations with artists also impressing with their own distinctive shades of club music — Italian producer TSVI on ‘Paroxysm’, and Manchester’s LOFT on ‘Xhrinicibles’.
Decisions is a label founded on the basis of releasing idiosyncratic “music to move people”. With past releases from the likes of DJ Plead and Oroboro, van der Lugt is excited about the label’s upcoming projects. The first, from Avbvrn, due later this month, and later Isamov, a producer from New York City whose tracks feature in recent Air Max ‘97 sets (including his Recognise mix).
With upcoming shows in London, New York, Glasgow and Madrid, Air Max ‘97 also recently played a show in Hangzhou, China, in a venue called Loopy, behind the food court on the third floor of a mall. “It’s a concrete cube with a huge Funktion-One soundsystem,” he says. “I was so gassed to finally go there, the crowd was amazing, creative, young and free.” Travelling the world is an “indescribable privilege” for van der Lugt, who will never miss an opportunity to meet local people, eat in their favourite restaurants, and explore local scenes.
Peruvian DJ, producer and Arista Festival founder Valicha teams up with Colombia’s feminist collective NÓTT on a new compilation EP, out 11th July.
Entitled ‘Austral’, the compilation features original productions from several female Latin American DJs and producers, encompassing NÓTT's overarching ethos to “explore the relationship between the mind/body/spirit with the environment of the sounds”.
Berlin Atonal has revealed the second wave of acts joining its 2019 line-up.
The festival runs across five days from the 28th August to 1st September at Berlin's Kraftwerk venue, with a program of art projects, live music performances and audio-visual experiences as well as cutting-edge DJ sets.
Sonically and stylistically too, Fofana explains, each place he has lived has informed the music he has loved and been influenced by and, subsequently, the art he has crafted himself, or released through his label, Sci Fi & Fantasy – on which Lotic released their phenomenal ‘Sankofa / Glittering’ in 2013.
“Most of my work has been around black noise,” Fofana says. “Music not merely about music, but music as a tool to explore ideas, open up possibilities, or rather portals to new possibilities or ways of seeing things. That is how I have approached my work for nearly a decade now. At the time I started working in this mode, I called it noir noir, but yeah it’s simply black noise. This concept of electronic music was handed to us by Juan Atkins, Derrick May, Jeff Mills, and Robert Hood.
“Both projects are reflections of me coming across new knowledge,” he says. “New bodies of thought compelling me to rethink things. Sylvia Wynter and Hortense Spillers produced works in the second half the 20th century and in 21st reflecting on the paradoxical conundrum of the black person in the Western world. Black Metamorphosis in particular is me attempting to transmute my interpretation of some of these ideas, which I find deeply inspiring and illuminating of my own experience.”
Last track that blew your mind?
“It’s between Freddie Gibbs & Madlib's “Flat Tummy Tea” or Moodymann’s “Got Me Coming Back Rite Now”
Last film you watched?
“Chernobyl series on HBO”
Last DJ that blew your mind?
Favourite album to relax to?
“Phil Cohran and Legacy - African Skies”
London-based DJ/producer aircode will release her new EP, ‘Dislocated’, this Friday 28th June via TT (fka Tobago Tracks)
The emotional blend of many elements is something Plaid have refined over almost 30 years of recording together as a duo. They’ve moulded a characterful sound from meandering off-world melodies that bound off at unexpected tangents, and beats that skirt the edges of dance music but refuse to conform to stiff regulation. ‘Polymer’ finds Plaid in especially tuneful form, while maintaining the exploratory impulse that has made them one of the UK’s most celebrated leftfield electronic acts.
Though they might intend to make dancefloor-geared material, Plaid’s way of creating sounds instead leads them off on more colourful, non-linear paths, governed by interweaving harmonic ideas rather than gridded beat structures.
“We love dance music and it influences our work, but we find it difficult keeping things simple,” Turner says. “When we’re working on a few bars for hours, it feels natural to keep adding or altering to keep ourselves interested. We want the listener to go back to discover more.”
“The branch of techno we loved initially was the hopeful Detroit version, the Carl Craig, Derrick May, Juan Atkins stuff,” Ed Handley says. “A lot of their earlier output was very positive, it was sort of melancholic, but it was trying to find a better way. It was a response to alienation, trying to create something warm from the technology. I’ve always liked the meeting of the two, where you have this machine quantisation, but then you have these almost romantic harmonies.
Though Plaid appreciate the positive effects of technology — as well as noting its potentially harmful aspects — their feelings on the damage brought about by mass consumption and climate change are clear. Both are supporters of activists Extinction Rebellion, and hail the recent peaceful protests in London as a positive step.
Tristan Arp is back! Rejoice!
The New York-based producer and sound designer returns to his own Human Pitch this month with the release of ‘Specie’, yet another serving of urgent and experimental club sounds.