🔥13095

Please support our efforts to give you the best writing about the world’s best music by subscribing to Passion of the Weiss on Patreon.

Sam Ribakoff misses the days when Bandcamp didn’t cater to Fortnite streamers on Twitch.



Bruxaria means witchcraft in Portuguese. It’s the name of both DJ K’s Sao Paulo-based crew of DJs and MCs who make a sinister Brazilian funk music called bruxaia. Panico No Submundo, or, panic in the underworld, is filled with droning, piercing synths that are so loud that they collapse the whole mix of the song into white noise. Then there’s the maniacal laughter, the demonic distorted bass, the shrill noises that are supposedly put into induce hallucinations and euphoria in users of lança perfume – the drug of choice in the Sao Paulo funk scene. But there’s also really funny, brief snippets of samples, like a Cherrelle song you’d hear at a family party, and a Lil Uzi Vert song they used to play at every school sports game for at least two years. A lot can, and probably will, be written about why kids in Brazil are dancing to such dark and satanic music, but one should note that this also just sounds fun and outlandish, and it probably pisses off parents in Brazil just like it pisses off dance music geezers online.



For the past couple of years Damar Davis has been working hard to craft a uniquely L.A. house sound based around the deep grooves of Detroit house, G-Funk bass lines, and New York piano and organ vamps – all brewed together into a glossy, textured, nocturnal euphony. That’s all here on Percussion in hi-fi, but as the title would suggest, everything is clearer, crisper, smoother, and at an even higher quality than his previous releases. On this record, he also adds some interesting nods to footwork, gospel, and a Garrett-like ambient-bounce track at the end.



There are odd moments of flickering clips of melody on Memphis’ African-American Sound Recordings The Private World of Correspondence. Stuff like samples of jazz sax solos over ominous ticking clocks and subterranean bass rumbling. But also, a lot of the tracks here just consist of eerie hiss with snippets of looped melodies that sound like they were taken from a recording taped over multiple times until the individual notes have been subsumed by resonant frequencies like “I Am Sitting in a Room.” It’s ambient music shrouded in thick clouds of frankincense and myrrh.



The Bronx’s El Blanco Nino has been grinding it out in the New York club scene for a couple of years and experimenting in different underground dance styles like bass, footwork, and breakbeat. This year he blessed us with two perfect remixes. Both remixes take a good slice of R&B songs from the ‘90’s and early 2000’s, a dash of a decade old Imasu! guest verse, and turn them into sun-drenched, ecstatic, serotonin filled breakbeat tracks. Repent you remix doubting heathens, and respect the art of the remix, especially if they sound this good.



I love ambient music, but the genre can be a little too snooty and overly serious for its own good. On “Eternity,” a 43-minute long track (I’m calling it an album. What the hell.), More Eaze injects a little fun and playfulness into a familiar, airy, drony, ambient synth loop, by adding on layers of blipping and blooping sound effects, electronic sweeps and swirls, and chattering percussion. The moment those electronic embellishments are stripped away, and we’re left with the original synth loop and a chorus of chopped voices singing something that sounds like “I need to know,” it feels like one of those Laraaji laughing meditation videos. Silly, but heartwarming.



The Discos Piramide label out of San Jose puts out some of the most interesting and forward-thinking cumbia music around. Their standout release this year was Mexican film composer Ima Felini’s nom de plume, Amantes Del Futuro’s (lovers of the future, fyi), spacey goth-cumbia album Kumiatitlan. It’s slow, a little dubby. You’ll maybe hear a couple of horror movie reverb heavy synth stabs, maybe even some auto-tuned singing, or even a couple verses from a grime-esque MC, maybe a little crunch texture, but mostly just filled with those chopped not slopped cumbia rebajada rhythms and looping piano chords. Like taking a blacked out slab to Chichen Itza.



This is like Windham Hill for kids burnt out on hyper-distorted, bass-boosted meme music. There’s very little information out there about Arista di Merda, but if you take a look at their Soundcloud account, which has only been posting music for three months now, you’ll see a prolific stream of bugged out lo-fi noise veering towards new age circus music. The tunes on Music is Your Only Friend are different though. They feature ploddingly slow, repetitive, cheesy piano chords underneath ambient synths. Like a CVS pharmacy at 2 am in purgatory. There’s something so unmoored from reality in the driftless-ness of the two 18-plus minute tracks. Everything sounds so plastic, but played with such intention, that it makes you want to pull up a chair and test your blood pressure in the CVS and bliss out. Is the artist’s name a reference to Piero Manzoni’s Artist’s Shit, a performance art piece where the artist displayed cans of his own poop? I hope so.



Mac Dre once said “go stupid, come on, go stupid with me.” Oakland’s Bastiengoat’s new album Harmony follows that slice of sage wisdom. Bastiengoat has been releasing a pretty constant stream of music for years, with forays into footwork and other dance genres in the past. Harmony sounds like the most fun he’s had in years. The music on this album is all big room ass-shaking rave music. I’m talking big, trebly bass wobbles, whizzing synths, slamming breakbeats, hands in the air causing vocal commands, with brief asides to UK garage, house, EDM, and drum and bass. The first track, “Everybody in the Club,” with its diva house piano chord intro, strobing bass, breakbeat drums, and vocal callouts, is destined to be a dance floor classic. It’s music to get stupid to.



Redeyes is from Toulouse, which Wikipedia leads me to believe is a lovely looking city in the south of France, but his style of drum and bass music sounds like it exists in the same grayscale urban ennui that Burial’s Untrue was made in, albeit, with a little more soul. As the title would suggest, all five tracks on this album are remixes of new soul and R&B adjacent songs from people like Cleo Soul and Amaria, most of them sweet hushed voice singers that Redeyes matches with bitter, cold, liquid drum and bass beats. Even when he adds a little early ‘70s Brazilian music sample into the mix at the end, it’s almost like a cruel reminder of summer’s days past when the sun’s been blotted out all winter, all while Aminé is babbling on about not giving up on himself or something. In other words, it’s a great Christmas album for the whole family.




If you’re still having trouble getting into the whole new idiosyncratic Brazilian funk scene, Rio’s DJ RaMeMes put out two new albums that will get you on board. The more recent release, Tamborzin de Voltra Redonda is all based around different variations of the classic tamborzão beat familiar to any old hipster that’s heard Deize Tigrona’s “Injeção,” or M.I.A.’s Diplo produced sample of the song on “Bucky Done Gun.” There’s still all of the cacophony of distorted drums, ear piercing samples, and kind of spooky ambiance of contemporary Brazilian funk, but it’s all firmly tied to the tamborzão beat. The constant vocal loops and samples, and production assists from DJs Pretinho de VR Ramon, and LC DA VG, give the record this feeling that there’s a community behind it. If you like that record, check out RaMeMes other record from this year, Sem Limites. It’s much faster, much more hyper, much more indebted to Euro-dance, trance, EDM, and more maligned and cheesy dance music genres. But it’s also much more in tune with what the kids in Rio are dancing to. You don’t have to love it grandpa, but you do have to respect it.



Toronto’s Pursuit Grooves says 100 Seams is an album of self-produced dubby Detroit-esque deep house driven by her poetry about her grandmother. At times it shares some affinity with those early Linton Kwesi Johnson records, like Dread Beat an’ Blood where Dennis Bovell’s huge and spacious dub rhythms uplift and propel Johnson’s ferocious poetry, and the poetry deepens Bovell’s music. Instead of huge dubby rhythms, Pursuit Grooves uses a lot of elliptical, ambient-adjacent, minimal grooves, with deep bass, low end heavy synths, and skittering drums that sound like extended jams on the intro to Theo Parrish’s “Lost Angel.” While the artist recites her impressionist poetry like they were esoteric religious rites in tribute to her grandmother. Be thankful we were allowed to hear them. May the memories of all grandmothers be a blessing.



Jiddy’s 1 Up is not the most experimental, most frenzied, most distorted and screen- time damaged Jersey club record of the year, but it does take all of those tendencies into consideration while coming up with a totally unique sound. When the drums kick in, they’re crunchy and swinging, and there’s also a pretty brilliant cut up of samples that make the human voice into a propulsive percussive element. But listen to the space Jiddy creates, the almost footwork-type magic where even at pumped up bpms, there’s this time stretching, meditating in the middle of the eye of the storm quality. Then the bouncing bed spring sound effect comes back in to remind you where you are.



Remixing a whole album for an artist sounds tricky. You have to be able to change the setting of the artist’s songs without changing the plot and characters that made it worthwhile to remix, while putting your own ideas and style into it. Texan Ben Hixon threaded that needle well this year on this record. GITHPREMIXEDITION is Hixon’s deep house remix of fellow Texan Liv.e’s beautiful, and uniquely produced, jazz and electronic music inspired R&B, Girl in the Half Pearl. On the original album Liv.e’s voice was sometimes subsumed by breaks and almost ambient synths, Hixon lets her voice ride right up alongside his deep house grooves, mahogany wood grain synth chords, purple G-Funk bass, and even some occasional Miami Bass percussion (check “NoNewNews!!!).

It changes the general vibe of the record from evening lo-fi confessional bedroom R&B, to late night house party, but keeps the structure and emotional impact of Liv.e’s songs – like a very emotionally intimate late night house party.



[embedded content]

Ever since Mic Terror’s severely underrated 2015 mixtape Live from Your Mama’s House, I’ve been hoping and praying late into the silent darkness that someone would rap well over footwork tracks again. HiTech’s DÉTWAT has delivered. There are some caveats. There are elements of footwork in these tracks, especially the high bpms, the frenetic triplet high hat patterns, the sense of time stretching space between the snare hits, and the simple, scandalous, earworm repetitive choruses, but there’s also a lot of techno, booty house, Jersey and Baltimore club, and a dash of club rap, but that’s all good. The rapping itself might be hidden behind a layer of hazy distortion,much of the time, but the three Detroiters make their mission pretty clear with the beats, which grab the best pieces of Black Detroit dance music and puts them together to build this psychobilly ass shaking causing machine of an album. Their music’s a little harder to find since they cut ties with their formal label boss Omar S after artist Supercoolwicked claimed he assaulted her, but it’s well worth it.



Lisbon’s DJ Narciso makes some of the darkest batida music around. Affiliated with Principe, the Portuguese record label that’s been working hard to get various styles of Afro-Portuguese electronic dance music out, Narciso adds a ominous, chilly psychedelic flavor to his tracks. There are washes of white noise, time stretched samples that feel like they’re stumbling along to the icy persistence and offbeat hits of South African gqom, and burbling bass and shuffling percussion straight out of Cajmere’s “Percolator.” It’s a sound that nobody outside of Lisbon’s Afro-Portuguese communities could conjure up, but it doesn’t sound that far off from what’s going on in Sao Paulo, or even Philly and New Jersey’s club rap scene.



In the very niche world of field recordings (like listening to birds chirping, ocean waves crashing, and wind rustling past loose pieces of material [the real trap shit of the field recording world]), Nairobi, Kenya’s KMRU is like the Ice Spice. His recordings have always had a kind of edge of foreboding dread and gothic grandiosity, but nothing like this year’s Dissolution Grip. On this record, rustling wind and other sounds are stretched out and elongated to sound like experimental drone music made on medieval organs by a possessed monk at 3 a.m. in an abbey deep in the Pyrenees. The three tracks here are all over 12 minutes, and have a lot in common with the long-form droney experimental organ music of modern classical composers like Kali Malone and Sarah Davachi. Like them, KMRU is interested in enveloping listeners in the grainy, distorted, foggy textures of his compositions. If he keeps it up, one day KMRU will definitely get his own fast food corporate sugar bomb drink.



Uganda’s Nyege Nyege Tapes remains one of the best electronic music labels now. Not only do they put out a lot of great music from their home country, but they also work overtime to find and proselytize the best, most forward thinking, DJs, producers, and styles from all over Africa. On this record, DJ 0.000001, aka Jonah Mociun, compiles a bunch of unreleased South African Shangaan electro music. It’s all breakneck tempos, folk music and traditional percussion recontextualized into techno and electro music, vocal chants, chops, and manipulations. Music that’s made for dancing and audience participation. It’s completely unique, but also connected, at least spiritually, to the tempos of Malian Balani Show music, Tanzanian singeli, and even Chicago footwork/juke. Not only is it fun to hear this music from years ago still sound so ahead of its time, but also how much this music does exist in context and in a continuum of mind blowing electronic dance music that’s been coming out of Africa recently.




NewJeans are the most interesting and experimental K-Pop groups, Bandmanrill is one of the most interesting and experimental Jersey club rappers. Sha EK is one of the most interesting and experimental Bronx drill rappers. This year, they all were reaching for pretty similar things, casting out their nets to bring in different kinds of dance music to expand their sound (for NewJeans, that’s drill and Baltimore club.

For Sha EK and Bandmanrill on their shared record, that’s hints of New York house, vogue and footwork), while sanding down the edges to make their sounds poppier and more accessible. Both arrived at very different sounds, but they took similar routes there. Somewhere along their trajectories you can see where they could cross over where Jersey club, drill, and pop meets, and damn if it’s not better than a lot of boring ass dance music out there.



Before thrift and second hand stores were systemically stripped bare thanks to Grailed and DePop flippers and Macklemore, you used to be able to find CASIO SK 5 keyboards pretty easily. The compact little synths don’t have a lot of built in sounds, but they do, famously, have a bright yellow pad you can hit to summon a laser and lions roar sound effect. You can also change the keyboard’s tone from a regular piano-like sound, to the sound of a dog barking. If you’ve ever played with one, it’s fun as hell. If you haven’t, just listen to this album and feel it for yourself. DJ Rata Piano hails from Barranquilla, Colombia, a city northeast of Bogota on the Caribbean coast that’s known for their huge carnival celebrations. He makes guarapos music, which are remixes of African songs in the champeta style, which in itself is a Afro-Colombian style which fuses together Carribean, Afro-Cuban, and African rhythms, which he then adds loads of dog barking sounds and lions roars from the CASIO SK 5 and piercing vocal hits and reverb and echo heavy shout outs. It’s fun, infectious, and tight without taking itself too seriously. I’m glad somebody’s putting those keyboards to good use.



Ignore the hyperbolic title of this record for a minute. There are a lot of synthesizers on this record, and the artist, Jantra, does hail from and play parties around Al-Fashaga, an agricultural area disputed by Sudan and Ethiopia. He makes improvisatory Sudanese electronic music called jaglara, but the sound of this record is much more from the soil of than of the stars.

First, there’s the classic heartbeat rhythm of East African music provided by a dinky drum machine that makes you want to roll your shoulders and clap along to the downbeat. Then comes the synth, it sounds a little old, a little dusty, maybe in need of a tuning, but that just adds a little character and texture to Jantra’s elliptical, improvisatory, trance inducing synth playing and phrasing that doesn’t sound too far off from Palestinian dabke music.

Like dabke, Jantra’s jaglara music is dance music to find a brief sanctuary and sense of community around for people who’ve known far too much violence and death and displacement. This music is a rebuke against that dehumanization, and a symbol of steadfastness.



There’s an endless stream of Brazilian funk singles and remixes, and remixes of remixes, to listen to and hit yourself over the head with on Soundcloud and YouTube. But DJ Arana is best taken in through his albums. Last year’s Carreira Solo was a chaotic cauldron of noisy, chaotic, minimalist musique concrete club music with Brazilian rhythms, somber piano loops, shouting, chanting, and rapping in various languages.

This year’s Rock Pesado 2 takes one further step into the void with bass drums so loud and distorted that when they hit they sound like they’re breaking the space time continuum. Alarms and medical machines wail and whirl over a rapper trying to find their footing in the madness. It’s sound collage where Brazilian rhythms and bro EDM is juxtaposed with white noise, choral singing, field recordings, and even a stray Cher sample. But it’s all for dancing, not pondering in a basement noise show. There’s also a lot of beauty in the record. Listen for the soulful singing that peeks out, especially on the last track, which leads straight into the surprisingly tender and goofy bonus track full of strained singing and accordion.



Detroit house hero Theo Parrish has always drawn from jazz stylings, but last year’s underrated Cornbread and Cowrie Shells for Berthal saw him go even deeper, with live (or at least live sounding) instruments, sultry purple keyboards, deep blue basses, and dusty black drum machines. He seemingly jammed and improvised, live on grooves, like a group of dudes getting together in a Detroit basement on a Saturday night.

This year’s Free Myself sounds like a continuation of those hypnotic, elliptical, jam sessions from late Saturday night into early Sunday morning. Simple drum machines, shuffling, percussion, and midnight hued Rhodes chords, and Maurissa Rose’s voice turn into devotional instruments at the intersection of gospel, house, soul, and jazz music. Like a funkier Azusa Street Revival, or like the title of one of the best tracks on the album, the “Spiral Staircase,” which sounds like it leads straight to the upper room.



Nondi is a producer from Jonestown, Pennsylvania that makes footwork music that’s as sparkling and glittery as it is gritty and hazy.It’s fast and dense with jittery, clipping layers of percussion, chopped up vocal samples, and ear piercingly loud synth melodies. They sound like they’re emitting from the back of your own lizard brain.

Nondi has rolled around and collected influences from all over the place: Chicago footwork, field recordings, breakcore, vaporwave, ambient music, and all other bits of musical ephemera. It allows her to make her own colorful, heterogeneous, and almost rustic sound that focuses on texture and color (listen to those firework sounding effects on “Orchid Juke”) and a breakneck moments of serene calm next to noisy cacophony, without sounding forced or contrived. This is a very homespun ball of musical spirits, and a couple of demons.



Chicago’s RP Boo created footwork in the late ‘90s by speeding up booty house records. Since then, he’s been at the forefront of genre experimentation from the heavy time stretching and manipulation of soul and pop sample chops style, to the almost ambient minimalist spacey sound studies style. As is appropriate for a composer of such stature, Planet Mu put out a previous compilation of RP Boo’s early tracks 10 years ago called Legacy. Legacy 2 picks up where the previous compilation left off, with tracks collected from some mixtapes, some of which were included on the two Bangs and Works compilations that introduced footwork to a lot of the world outside of the Midwest. “B.O.T.O,” starts out with a slinky guitar line looped so that the couple milliseconds of the end of silence at the end of the loop makes it sound like a skipping record. RP adds a thudding sub bass drum that sounds slightly faster than the loop that sounds like you can hear him hit the pads on the sampler to trigger the drums. To that, RP adds his own vocals and two other vocal samples that run in and out of the track. As all the elements phase over each other, dragging in and out of time, about a minute and 14 seconds into the track, a sultry electric sitar line from a pretty famous ‘70s Philadelphia soul group (no sample snitching) comes in to the mix, and the whole thing snaps into the palace perfectly. However old that track is, and others on this compilation, it still sounds like the future.



There’s no music that felt truer and more sincere about big corny emotions than Chuquimamani-Condori’s surprise album, DJ E this year. They’ve gone by a number of different names, E + E back in the day, Elysia Crampton Chuquimia more recently, and just Elysia Crampton, but whatever name they’ve gone by, they’ve always worked with big sounds, and big ideas, like a cumbia-club-ambient meditation on Christianity, colonization, Appalachia, and being trans and Indigenous on American Drift, or a noise-huayno-collage about 18th century Aymaran revolutionary Bartolina Sisa on Demon City, or a poetry-classical-opera-club dedicated to an incarcerated man who fought fires for years in California’s Sierra Nevada on Orcorara 2010.

But DJ E feels something like a peak. On the album they’re working with a similar palette, big distorted Andean huayno rhythm, whipping and zapping sound effects, along with big radio drop announcer samples, plastic keyboards playing big power chords, snatches of guitars, flutes and accordions from songs across Latin America, whirlwind walls of noise that break into beautiful serene ambient synths. There’s even a part at the end of “Know” where Chuquimamani-Condori breaks out a slowed down, tranquil and deep, piano chord progression that they’ve gone back to a number of times in the past.

DJ E ratchets all those things up another level. The walls of sound are bigger, with more and more layers of samples, sound effects, synths, instruments, and human voices. On the first song, “Breathing,” the elliptical siren synths mixed with chopped and screwed plaintive voice of a singer, trumpets, flutes, drums that sound like they’re emanating from the soil itself, and layers of what sounds like fireworks, laser beams, and God knows what else, are almost too much to handle. Not because of the volume of it, but because of the emotional impact of it. It feels f*cking rapturous.

Eventually, you’re given an emotional break for a bit, until “Return” and “Know” hits you with another, almost gospel level of intensity. Then comes the country music finale gut punch. Using a sample of a lonesome, yearning, country fiddle and a pedal steel duet, Chuquimamani-Condori plays a chord progression on what sounds like an accordion sound on a keyboard over a huayno rhythm and similar firework, explosions, and laser sound effects as the beginning, drawing together disparate places, disparate cultures, and disparate times into one interconnected space. It’s probably the best song put out this year.

On Instagram Chuquimamani-Condori wrote that the album “is the sound of our water ceremonies, the 40 bands playing their melodies at once to recreate the cacophony of the first aurora and the call of the morning star Venus.” Even if you have no knowledge of those water ceremonies, you can feel the artists reaching out towards the spiritual, towards the Earth, towards the past for connection, guidance, and clarity.


We rely on your support to keep POW alive. Please take a second to donate on Patreon!

image

Related Posts

Pastor Troy Under Fire For Homophobic Comments About Lil Nas X

Mr. Lif & Producer Stu Bangas Introduce Vangarde Super Duo With ‘Basquiat’ Single

Da Brat Explains Why She Kept Her Relationship With Jessica Dupart Quiet

Ari Lennox Delivers ‘Shea Butter Baby’ Remix EP

2 Dead & 5 Injured After Man Open Fires On San Antonino Rap Concert

Mobb Deep’s Havoc Talks ‘The Infamous’ Unanswered Questions For Its 25th Anniversary