Michael McKinney absorbs more music in a week than most do in an entire calendar year.
Even on a crowded dancefloor, sometimes it’s worth slowing down a bit. Longer mixes afford DJs more time to stretch their legs (and dancers more time to work them out), whether that means flexing their genre-specific USBs or their miles-deep crates of dollar-bin gems. In November, plenty of selectors showed off the power of blending for a bit longer: Fort Romeau assembled a slowly unfurling collage of ambient, house, and breakbeats for Resident Advisor, while Midland took a decidedly sepia-toned approach in closing up the much-loved HNYPOT mix series, putting together a mix that’s equal parts scrapbook and love letter.
Myles Mac & DJ Possum dug into sun-soaked chillout records for their Melbourne Deepcast, working in flecks of hip-hop, house, and Balearic rhythms along the way; Luke Lund, on the other hand, put together a mix of industrial sonics fit for the dead of winter. The Carry Nation piled up a session of groovy and effervescent house; Amelia Holt & Yumi went further left of center with a back-to-back that explored woozy downtempo, torrential percussion, and everything in between. Livwutang & Wonja cooked up a six-hour odyssey of bass-blasted dub, tripped-out rap, and left-field club sounds; Objekt went longer still, blending nine hours of kitchen-sink dancefloor fodder guaranteed to keep listeners scrambling for track IDs.
Several DJs worked with tighter packages, though. D. Tiffany offered up a cheeky and dancefloor-ready ode to techno and trance; HMT Hard Cru, the UK’s reigning club-music jesters, put together an outrageous mix of old-school rave-ups, yesteryear’s radio hits, and early-aughts indie rock. DJ 13NRV assembled a set for the white-knucklers, blending gabber, hardstyle, and jungle into a blistering package; Jessy Lanza used a similarly wide lens, but applied it to jubilant and punchy house records. The SZNS7N crew offered a few different takes on club-music futurism, ranging from rip-roaring breaks to white-hot noise; the Rupture crew and Tim Reaper worked with older sounds, cooking up sessions of full-throttle drum and bass and jungle rhythms. Shyshaker blended avant-dancehall and club-music deconstructions in a four-deck scorcher for Fact; Grand River dug just as deep but in the opposite direction, providing Resident Advisor with a deep sigh of ambient worldbuilding.
Here are some of the best DJ sets the past month had to offer.
Amelia Holt & Yumi – Animix Fifty Eight
One of the joys of Animalia’s mix series is its sheer range: its highlights have included minimal drum-and-bass, bleary ambience, throttling jungle, heads-down techno, and plenty of unnamable stylings. Animix Fifty Eight leans towards the clubbier end of the spectrum, but it remains similarly tough to pin down. Amelia Holt handles the first hour, moving from gauzy ambience to slippery bass cuts and firestarting hardcore. She pulls off the genre acrobatics with dazzling precision, setting the room to a boil as the patter of percussion turns to a full-on rainstorm. Yumi picks up the reins from there, diving into crates of similarly outré and piledriving sounds, whether that’s zonked-out jungle, blistering dubstep, or spaced-out low-end scorchers. It’s full of sideways and eye-catching blends: elliptical almost-techno into amp-busting grime, ebullient lovers rock into simmering drum-and-bass. Animix Fifty Eight shows two DJs at peak form: each new selection sounds like a wink, a dare, or a tossed gauntlet.
The Carry Nation – Campout Series
The Carry Nation, a.k.a. Will Automagic and Nita Aviance, are two of New York’s most reliable purveyors of floor-filling house records. On their set for 2021’s Honcho Campout, they went long on the stuff, pumping the decks with five hours of effervescent four-on-the-floor rhythms. It’s a joyous set shot through with soul and neck-deep grooves, with soaring vocal-house records one moment and straight-ahead tech-house burners the next. As they momentum, Automagic and Aviance take bigger and bigger risks: there’s a bit of gritted-teeth almost-grime, plenty of minimal and fearlessly unusual bass cuts, a few forays into blazing dubstep records, a touch of ebullient funk, a few jolts of cluttered emcee chatter. But no matter the stylistic leaps, they keep it effortlessly smooth, folding a huge range of genres and sounds into a bubbly and compulsively groovy session.
D. Tiffany – 69.420˚
D. Tiffany has made her name by slinging playful and rowdy house music, but she’s got plenty of experience in deeper and choppier waters. She shows as much from the start of 69.420˚, with the chug of trance basslines underpinning synthesizers as they stretch towards far-reaching galaxies. That contrast only grows trippier and more pronounced as she digs into hypnotic trance and techno records, with walls of bass grinding next to hiss-patter minimalism and bubbly hand-drum workouts sliding into gnarly techno cuts. She doesn’t restrict herself to that approach, though: once she gets the proverbial dancefloor going, she slides in drums that recall the shuffle-and-swing of UK garage and breakbeat, which eventually threaten to flip the whole thing upside down. It’s that kind of approach to genre and style—deep and a bit flippant, reverent without being self-serious—that makes D. Tiffany such a vital name in the club-music circuit. The title may be tongue-in-cheek, but make no mistake: 69.420˚ is serious stuff.
DJ 13NRV – Hard Dance 127
As the head of Southfrap Alliance, DJ 13NRV has been behind some of the most exciting music in the world of modern hard dance. The label’s sounds are as varied as its artists: storming gabber, bass-blasted rave-rap, breakbeat whirlwinds aimed straight for the temple. Their connective tissue is too elemental to miss, though. This is hardcore calibrated to break the Richter scale; it’s primed for warehouse regulars who think most hardcore has gone a bit soft. On Hard Dance 127, DJ 13NRV blends a tour-de-force of the stuff, a windstorm of overblown kick drums crashing atop a huge range of hardcore sounds. The label’s range comes into full focus here: in just an hour, the set moves from X-Files hardstyle to neck-snapping jungle, horror-flick gabber to earth-shaking hard trance, stadium-ready bass-drops to chopped-and-garbled walls of noise. The cacophony works to its benefit: Southfrap Alliance’s music is designed to land like a bag of sledgehammers, and Hard Dance 127 exceeds that criteria with a skull-cracking heft.
DJ Voices – Campout Series
Akanbi & DJ Voices – CNC Live
Brooklyn’s DJ Voices has caught the eye of selectors and critics alike thanks to her fearlessly explorative take on dance music: in her sets, she takes the jagged edges of UK bass, the slicked-up rhythms of techno, and the effervescence of house music, shooting it all with a healthy bit of recklessness. Her set from 2021’s Honcho Campout is as good an example as any. Across three hours, she skips between styles with an unmissable joy: off-kilter techno, chest-rattling grime, shuffle-and-slam UK garage, and hardcore fitted for the finger-gunners. Her back-to-back with Akanbi, recorded live at Brooklyn’s Club Night Club, packs an even more riotous energy into a tighter package. The pair of DJs seem to push each other into ever weirder territories, and the set’s all the better for it; where else are you going to find heaving gqom crashing into vertiginous techno, or slow-motion downtempo folding away to reveal screaming Beyoncé dubstep retoolings? It’s that kind of anything-goes energy that keeps DJ Voices, and so much of New York’s club scene, vital. Here, she stretches into new territories yet again.
Double O, Mantra, Panka, Rumbleton & Soulpride – 08 November 2021
Mantra & Tim Reaper – 24th November 2021
The Rupture crew and Tim Reaper are mainstays in these pages, and with good reason. Rupture—helmed by Double O and Mantra—has been a core force in London’s drum-and-bass scene since its foundation in 2006, steered by an all-encompassing vision of the genre that makes space for new-school stompers and well-worn white-labels alike. Tim Reaper’s approach to jungle isn’t far off; in his productions and mixes, he pushes the style into the future by looking to the old-school masters. 08 November 2021 and 24th November 2021 are linked by attitude if not subgenres; together, they’re three hours of the fleet-footed and precise sides of hardcore. For 08 November 2021, Double O and Mantra linked up with a murderers’ row of DJs and broke into a sprint, turning in two hours of white-hot drum-and-bass: Amen breaks rearranged in countless forms, sped up, and flipped upside down; depth-charge bass and screaming snares; and rhythms locked in constant mutation. On 24th November 2021, Mantra and Tim Reaper trade hands for an hour of similarly white-knuckled jungle. It’s a bit retro, with a focus on the early ‘90s, but they knock any dust loose with slamming breaks and blazing-fast mixing. Taken as a pair, the mixes are a testament to the decade-spanning and riotous power of London’s hardcore scene.
Fort Romeau – RA.807
Speaking to Resident Advisor about his latest mix, Fort Romeau lays out his guiding ethos: “bringing disparate sounds together to tell a single story is, to me, the most challenging and rewarding part of both DJing and making music.” The accompanying session bears this focus out. It is split into three acts, but the curtains dividing each are a bit porous. Rather than sharp delineations, he opts for slick and slow transitions, each flicked knob representing a gradual change of scenery. He opens the show in medias res, with a series of selections titled “In the Deep Black Night of the Morning.” It should come as little surprise that this portion’s cuts are morose and grayscale: Frank Fairfield’s “The Dying Cowboy,” already a mournful bit of bluegrass elegiacs, sounds downright haunted next to Aphex Twin’s aqueous ambient and Nine Inch Nails’s spectral piano excursions. The mood eventually picks up with slow-motion house records, all ever deepening grooves and metronomic rhythms. After a long while, Romeau perks up again with a bit of chunky disco, only to boil the whole thing over with some retrofuturist jungle rollers. By the time RA.807 draws to a close, it feels like a masterfully handled bit of storytelling, full of twists and turns that nevertheless lead towards a satisfying conclusion.
Grand River – RA.805
In her mixes and productions alike, Grand River bridges the cosmic and intimate with a preternatural grace. Her sound is stilled and direct at once; it is ambient music that grabs the listener by their lapels and points their eyes towards the stars. On RA.805, she’s working with a similar aesthetic palette, but the air is crisp and a bit chilly; over the course of an hour, the skies, at first covered with a layer of clouds, clear up to expose starlight. This is music composed of bleary drones and whisper-quiet worldbuilding, all shimmering keyboards draped over the sides of the moon. Early on, this takes the form of Valesuchi’s deep-trance ambience, full of groggy synths sliding in and out of focus. Later, she’s gone deep into relatively chipper territories, like the slow-motion lucid-dreaming electronica of Dylan Henner’s “The Peach Tree Next Door Grew Over Our Fence”—slow-motion synthetics replete with birdsong and deep sighs. RA.805 is full of that kind of quietly unfolding grandeur, stretching between scales, moods, and sounds with a beguiling beauty.
HMT Hard Cru – HMT: Dry
Within the opening minute of HMT: Dry, HMT Hard Cru make it clear what kind of session is queued up: an announcer tells any listeners to “prepare the enter the euphoric fucking crucible,” and the dubstep apocalypticism of Cotti & Kromestar’s “Mozart 3000” ushers any onlookers through. From there, the DJs land a series of high-velocity drops into electro-house AC/DC, Detroit-techno LMFAO, and nigh-hardcore southern rap, and that’s just the first ten minutes. HMT: Dry is cheeky and reckless in equal measure; throughout, the UK ringleaders alternate between dancefloor melters and stuffing the amps with “Bang!” flags. The result is a truly kitchen-sink rave session: a sweaty Elvis Presley bootleg rubs shoulders with the Chariots of Fire theme; early-aughts pop-rock radio crashes into storming nu-jungle; the Spice Girls’s “Wannabe” melts into raunchy hip-house, which itself gives way to hard-techno R&B. This livewire energy regularly lands the mix on the brink of overheating, but, to the group’s credit, it never quite does. HMT: Dry is a raucous tightrope walk, teetering between laugh-out-loud absurdity and old-fashioned dancefloor steamrolling.
Jessy Lanza – DJ-Kicks
Jessy Lanza laid out the stakes for her DJ-Kicks entry simply. “I made this in pursuit of the bleary 4 AM feeling; the moment when you hear sweet soul-burner vocals with drum patterns that won’t let you go home,” she wrote. Her mix for the vaunted series delivers in spades: for much of the hour, she works with bubbly top-end synthesizers, meaty four-to-the-floor kicks, and a winking sense of joy. Lanza’s mixing is slick and unassuming, full of moments where she folds seemingly incongruent tracks into each other thanks to some heretofore unfound crease: she moves from ebullient and retro-leaning house to stripped-back and cavernous gqom in a matter of moments; from the post-everything dance music blaring out of New York to bracing acid with a flick a knob; from dreamy ambience to hard-house stompers with striking grace. This is house music shot through a kaleidoscope, its rhythms refracting and reshaping the dancefloor along the way.
Livwutang & Wonja – Campout Series (Part I / Part II)
Wonja and Livwutang have each rightfully earned reputations as playful and technically remarkable DJs; they’ve got some of the deepest crates on either coast, but their mixes never sound like they’re trying to show off. It should come as little surprise, then, that the pair linked up for a back-to-back set at 2021’s Honcho Campout: two DJs, six hours, and umpteen styles. It starts low-key and a bit alien, with bleary synthesizers and drums that land like rainfall; they deepen the haze with the dimly lit hip-hop of OutKast’s “Aquemini,” only to drop into slow-motion downtempo before kicking things back into gear with a rattling drum kit. They spend the rest of the session stretching into a million corners of dance music, working towards rapturous rave-ups and exploring plenty of blind alleys along the way. Campout Series won’t stop shedding its skin, revealing entirely different forms with each new layer: blissed-out Ibiza chillout music, slicked-up dancehall, devil-may-care UKG-via-R&B bootlegs, busybodied rap selections, full-throttle jungle, vintage breakbeats. It’s just the kind of omnivorous, tripped-out, and wild-eyed selections that Wonja and Livwutang are known for, pulled off with exacting precision and an unrelenting joy.
Luke Lund – JEROME Mixfile #821
JEROME Worldwide’s long-running mix series is frequently madcap and always essential, in large part thanks to its anything-goes ethos. On his entry, Luke Lund offers a fittingly off-kilter mix, wriggling between pitch-black ambient and million-limbed percussion with disorienting effectiveness. In this take on electronic music, the drums are tectonic and unknowable, moving with the weight of meteors and the alien intelligence of locust swarms. Lund’s synthesizers of choice are similarly unsettling, carrying the stomach-churning power of industrial machinery. This gut-punch alienation runs throughout the mix, stretching into all sorts of oddball territories: queasy and livewire acid techno, vocals ripped from rap cuts and film monologues piled into masses of noise, rip-roaring breaks and screaming electronics. JEROME Mixfile #821 is a masterclass in wordless worldbuilding; through sheer force, Lund constructs a galaxy of gnashed teeth.
Midland – HNYPOT 400: Midland’s Everything Comes Back To You Mix
After 13 years and 400 episodes, HNYPOT is drawing to a close. The mix series pulled off an impressive balancing act between a globetrotting ear and an intimate, homespun feel; it was both microscopic and wide-lensed, jumping between a million sounds but giving DJs plenty of space to stretch their feet and spin out new yarns. From that angle, it’s hard to think of a better way to close up shop than with Midland’s entry. Across three hours, he blends like he’s assembling a mixtape, all sepia tones and proudly rough edges. There’s too many styles to count: here, an interview snippet ripped from YouTube, there, stripped-back R&B; jump forward a bit and you might find flamboyant Jersey club, sludgy dub-jazz, or blazing jungle. Midland tends towards the playful and sly here, favoring blends that zig where they ought to zag, like a mid-session bit where he pulls the rug out from underneath some simmering drum-and-bass to reveal a bit of dubbed-out dream-pop. No matter the form, though, Midland’s approach—wide-ranging, singular, and deeply heartfelt—shines through. It’s just the kind of music that made HNYPOT so essential.
MISFYA, Ship Sket, Gracie T, Diessa & Grove – Keep Hush Live London: SZNS7N Takeover
Since its foundation in 2019, SZNS7N has been rocketing London’s club circuit into the future. The label’s records tend towards big and brash sounds, twisting well-worn UK club-music idioms into vaguely familiar shapes: noise-inflected hardcore breaks, late-night horror-flick dubstep, 160-BPM hard-drum with gabber-style kicks. This livewire approach to club-music collagery is on full display for the label’s Keep Hush takeover. MISFYA took the night’s first forty-five minutes, turning in a gnarled pile-up of breakbeats, walls of noise, speaker-busting bass, and plenty of surprises along the way. Ship Sket, up next, assembled a set of trapdoors and left turns, weaving between grime, breakbeat, downtempo, minimal hip-hop, PC-music synthetics, and about a million other styles. Gracie T pulled off a similar kind of alchemy, slamming Punjabi dubstep blasters into radio-rap bootlegs, and hard-drum stormers. Diessia & Grove closed out the broadcast with a blast of old-school MCing over bracing jungle, breaks, and club-music sounds from the other side of the Atlantic. If SZNS7N represents dancefloor accelerationism, consider this four possible paths into the future.
Myles Mac & DJ Possum – MDC.265
Speaking to Melbourne Deepcast, Myles Mac framed the past year as a time for exploration. Lockdowns, he said, afforded him plenty of time to find time-tested and nigh-unknown downtempo and chill-out music. On MDC.265, Mac and DJ Possum kick back and show off the fruits of their labor, putting together nearly three and a half hours of golden-age house, downtempo, hip-hop, and Balearic heaters. The result is supremely laid-back and thoroughly transportive; as the drums pick up and the grooves deepen, the rhythms start to recall a well-loved polaroid of sand and salt water. Highlights abound: the street-soul rhythms of Soul II Soul’s “Keep on Movin’” and Millie Scott’s “Let’s Talk it Over,” Queen Latifah’s jazz-inflected scorcher “U.N.I.T.Y.,” a shuffling chillout edit of Pascale Project’s “Welcome” courtesy of Québec’s Dust-e-1. On paper, it looks like Mac and DJ Possum might be stretching an unmanageable number of styles, sounds, and tempi together; in practice, it’s blended so seamlessly that it turns hypnotic. As the days continue to shorten, MDC.265 arrives as a welcome burst of sun.
Objekt – All Night @ Nowadays NYC
As a DJ, Objekt seems to stretch towards two poles at once: on one end, he can embody the sleek and ultra-refined sheen of the smoothest techno sets; and on the other, he acts as a globetrotting, wrench-tossing firebrand, liable to upend even the tightest grooves with the flick of a knob. The most impressive thing about his practice is that he regularly finds a comfortable middle ground: his mixes are regularly studied but rarely staid, wild-eyed without veering into performative experimentalism. For nearly nine hours at Nowadays, he pulled it off again. Even for a mix as lengthy as this, the sheer range is worth noting: after an extended bit of creaky and nocturnal ambiance, he dives into apocalyptic acid techno and gossamer ambient dub. Jump elsewhere, and there’s no telling what you’ll find: firestarting hard-drum workouts, scorched-earth ragga, riotous footwork, drill-inflected jungle, slow-motion techno, storming donk, corrugated gqom, pitch-black dubstep. The resultant session is both livewire and precisely measured, with Objekt threading countless shades of club music into unexpected shapes. Along the way, he finds plenty of space for wild-eyed rave-ups, full-throttle barnburning, and starry-eyed jubilee.
SHERELLE – fabric Presents
SHERELLE wastes no time with her fabric Presents entry: first, the scream of an air-raid siren; then, thick synth-pads and five-alarm Amen breaks. Then again, why would she? The UK DJ’s mix of old-school hardcore breaks, jungle, and footwork has caught like wildfire in the past few years, the blaze grows brighter every day. On fabric Presents, she shows why. Mixing fast and hot, at a clip that rarely dips below 150 BPM, she keeps her percussion at a roiling boil even as its colors are in constant motion: abyssal basslines and scorched-earth snare drums, streams of white-hot hi-hats spilling out the sides of syrupy synthesizers, light-speed footwork slamming into slippery techno-jungle. It’s a breakneck seventy minutes that seems to go by in a fraction of its runtime thanks to her dexterity behind the decks and the sheer white-knuckle exuberance of her selections. SHERELLE hardly needs a coronation—she is already royalty in the world of modern hardcore—but fabric Presents provides one anyway.
Skyshaker – Fact Mix 834
The name is clue enough. As Skyshaker, Sky Vemanei imagines new worlds, collaging histories together until they gain an entirely new gravitational pull. Fact Mix 834 takes this everything-at-once alienation to an extreme. Mixed with four decks after two years behind a laptop, it is cacophonous, frequently overwhelming, and full of teeth-gnashing power. Over and over, Vemanei returns to the gut punches of hardcore techno, trance, and gabber, leaning into the power of overblown kicks, but they complicate idioms in plenty of startling ways: snatches of R&B and Ying Yang Twins, chopped-up and perrenial ballroom rhythms, the full-steam-ahead energy of baile funk, a bit of synth-crawl ripped from greyscale IDM. In both tone and sound, Fact Mix 834 recalls the wizardry of avant-ballroom don Total Freedom. Both DJs work with unrelentingly heavy forms but offer plenty of catharsis between kicks; they both look towards genre classics and deep cuts for inspiration, fitting each selection to their aesthetic palettes and building worlds along the way. The space that Vemanei conjures here—sitting somewhere between skin-crawling desolation and unyielding mania—is thrillingly unfamiliar, full of unknowable geography that nevertheless invites plenty of exploration.