天安门 TSQ Dance



OCTO OCTA’S BETWEEN TWO SELVES



Octo Octa has always kind of straddled a thin line separating microhouse and deep house music, crafting intricate, minimalistic jams awash with reverb, echo, and vocal samples. In addition to a plethora of spectacular singles and collaborations, Brooklyn's Michael Bouldry-Morrison (Octo Octa) really made waves in the super techie electronic community and the retro-happy hipster blogosphere with debut EP Let Me See You and followup full-length Rough, Rugged, and Raw via 100% Silk. Creating so much out of so little, along the lines of artists like The Field and The Sight Below, is not easy to do, and it’s even harder to make it engaging and memorable. Spend some time listening to all the unsigned psychill artists on last.fm, and you’ll understand what we’re talking about. This year’s release of Between Two Selves sees Octo Octa at the top of his game, continuing along the path he’s forged between ambient electronic music and four-on-the-floor house beats and vibes. As we mentioned, he’s really cleaned up the sound with this new release, polishing up those synth tones and working in a lot more deep-house-esque echo and reverb. Between Two Selves nearly sounds like something that could come out of Synkro's studio, were it just a little colder and robotic, or perhaps like a brighter, more experimental downtempo-driven collection of old Holy Other outtakes. Album highlights include the above featured “Please Don’t Leave”, with its early 90’s Warp Records era down-the-wormhole echo effects and soulful pitch-shifted vocals, and “Uneasy”, which perfectly personifies microdance music with powder-puff synth sounds and a plodding percussion section that gradually builds in intensity. What’s striking here is how uniform in sound Between Two Selves is and how well it plays as one (akin to the transition from “Shower Nights (Second Chance mix)" to "Memories" in the first album). The whole album works like that, and it’s refreshing to hear not only that tonal cohesion, but also the more euphonious selection of compressed digital instrumentation. It’s more metallic, more liquid, more atmospheric. Do tha right thing, and grab a free MP3 download of our top pick, Octo Octa's R&B-sampling “Please Don’t Leave”, below. Afterwards, grab a paid copy of Between Two Selves via Amazon or Boomkat if you enjoy the subtler, leaner strains of minimalistic downtempo or house music. We recommend it, and we get bored pretty easily, so that’s saying something.





MP3 Download of “Please Don’t Leave”, by Octo Octa (from Between Two Selves)




Dil Withers' work was brought to our attention in a roundabout way thanks to Juicy Tunes, who featured a bedroom beatmaker named Ohbliv a couple of times in their seminal Sunrise Blend two-parter. Ohbliv did a split tape with Brooklyn's Dil Withers, mixing and matching today’s futuristic take on retro funky sounds with uptown trip-hop vibes. “Rainy”, featured on Dil Withers' January split with Ohbliv begins with a gritty hip-hop beat and warm, hazy atmospherics that fade continuously in and out like a flickering lamp post. Samples of people carousing in the background whirl throughout, along with poignant piano plinking that really adds to the jazzy, rainy aura here. Very similar to Dabrye's ghostly urban hip-hop, J Dilla's sample-based funk vignettes, or Pogo's found sound experimentalism. Do tha right thing, and grab a free MP3 copy of “Rainy”, by Dil Withers after the bump. If you find the soft inner city tones to be as captivating as we do, head over to Dirty Tapes and get that Ohbliv split for only $6. Looks epic.





MP3 Download of “Rainy”, by Dil Withers (from Ohbliv / Dil Withers split)




PHASEONE - “BIANCA”



Phaseone needs to stop releasing snippets of his upcoming album If I Tell U, which is due out May 7th via Williams Street Records. Brooklyn's Andrew Jernigan (Phaseone) really knows how to build that anticipation, because what he’s putting out is fuuuuucking good. After “Blood Spirit I" and "Hunter" were purposely leaked, two further jams from the release showed up on XLR8R on Thursday, “Arsenal Magnolia" and "Bianca”, the latter of which is posted above. A thick, dark deep house tune featuring the hazy crooning of Alessio Natalizia (Banjo or Freakout), “Bianca" is easily the stronger track. Layer after layer of impermeable atmospheric synth tracks pile sparsely one upon the other, interrupted only slightly by a chilling underground hip-hop-esque synth lead and a bleary pitch-shifted moan. Perfect for fans of the droning atmospherics of Foxes in Fiction, the urban witchiness of Friendzone, or the haunting house of Holy Other. Do tha right thing, and preorder here, or mark your calendars for May 7th, and hope that Williams Street Records will charge us a reasonable price for Phaseone's If I Tell U, because we will pay whatever they ask.






This one’s a submission that’s dated from 5 months ago, before climactic single “It’s Not Forever" and all of the sneak peeks that Phaseone's being releasing from his upcoming new album, If I Tell U, out May 7th via Williams Street Records. Until that fated date that we both get to indulge together in the most expansive work to date by the Brooklyn producer (and man of few words), we’ll just have to settle for the limited offerings represented on Phaseone's Soundcloud and extremely dated Bandcamp page. This oft-overlooked entry, “No Makeup”, was apparently once tagged “killa”, which jives with Phaseone's apparent early dabbling in rap music. This jam, however, really fits handily in with the sounds purveyed by Juicy or Keats//Collective, modernized synth-funk, digitized slow jams heavily influenced by the sounds of yore. “No Makeup”, with its contemporary-meets-italo-disco overtones, would be right at home between tunes by Jolly Mare or Matt Miller. With its smooth synth lead, its sensual percussion, and its glittering electronic rhythm sounds; we highly recommend you do tha right thing and give “No Makeup”, by Phaseone, a good solid listen. Enjoy a side to the artist that we don’t often see, and be sure also to purchase If I Tell U when it drops in early May. We can’t wait!






PHASEONE - “IT’S NOT FOREVER”



Brooklyn's Phaseone has reemerged with a new single, featured as the A-side of a split 7” vinyl with Parisian. “It’s Not Forever”, named after a very prominently incorporated vocal sample in the jam, utilizes dark digital rhythm tracks along with foreboding vocal snippets looping into infinity, resulting in a weighty, meaty downtempo experience. Scathing synth haze takes center stage towards the end as the deliberate percussion that populates every Phaseone tune gradually becomes more and more ominous and frenetic. As opposed to the direct, occasionally tribal, beats that typically distinguish his electronic output, “It’s Not Forever" opts instead for a more hip-hop-influenced, almost wonky, method of keeping time. Darkly digital and hypnotic, Phaseone's answer to Parisian's offering on their split 7” single may not be forever, but it's definitely a keeper for quite some time. The towering artwork by Vadim Gershman is hella fitting too. Very Isis. Do tha right thing, and grab a free MP3 download via Pitchfork below if you fancy yourself a follower of the more sensible, straightforward side of independent electronic music. Be sure to check out the rest of Phaseone's output afterwards, and watch for the release of that 7” on January 29th via Lefse Records.





MP3 Download of “It’s Not Forever”, by Phaseone (from the Phaseone/Parisian Split 7”)




Brooklyn's Liquid Days popped up on our radar several months ago when we stumbled across his shoegaze-influenced downtempo jam “Ex-Icicles" on a Beko digital singles compilation. Since hearing such a frigidly endearing mashup of guitar reverb and synth leads, we felt that the time had come to explore what more Michael Chau (Liquid Days) had to offer. After dredging up his Bandcamp page, we opted to test-drive another single, “Down the Line”. At first blush, what promises to be an ethereal dream pop experience (along the lines of Auburn Lull's output) is shattered lovingly by spidery hi-hats and soft snowy electronic beats. Akin to an M83 classic or a Sight Below movement, “Down the Line" meshes the electric with the analog so tenderly and thoroughly that the end result is completely inextricable. The listener just wouldn’t have it any other way, as the yearning synth leads complement the choral arrangement of shoegaze guitar to a stirringly perfected point. The wordless chorus of Liquid Days' “Down the Line" is nothing short of a twilight drive under an aurora borealis of stardust and frozen dreams. Please grab a free MP3 download of this gossamer single by Liquid Days above, and spur this fellow on to create some more cerebral babymaking material down the line. See what I did there? LOLS






Brooklyn soulwave producer Rimar has instigated a bit of a name change recently, taking on the moniker “Ballet" with his most recent release. Known best for his R&B-infused chillwave single "Higher Ground”, he hasn’t stopped working on and growing his sound. Ballet's Attempt EP, released for free via Bandcamp about four months ago, builds upon the lo-fi atmospherics and the dusky vocal sampling prevalent in Rimar's Closer, but delves further into that amalgamation of decayed found sound, claustrophobic ambience, and digital manipulation. The title track ends the short offering on a pensive note and closes it out very thoroughly in our opinion. Ratcheting up the beat with Shigeto-esque percussion and retro drum machine, a strong whiff of sentimentality and delusion pervades the jam, manifested perfectly with the use of eerie pitch-shifted vocal lullabies and soft muted keys. The short EP smacks of the sort of breathless emotion present in works such as Ra Cailum's Finding My Way, or the pop culture soul-searching of Chris D’eon's recent output. With the assumption of the Ballet pseudonym, could it be that Rimar is trading in his R&B swag for a witch house phase? Neither do we know, and nor will we complain. Rimar Villaseñor will always be counted among the most prolific and powerful of today’s experimental electronic artists, in our assessment. Do tha right thing, and grab a free download of Ballet's Attempt EP here, or at least snatch a copy of the title track here. Afterwards, support Rimar's continuing artistic evolution by getting caught up on his previous two releases, whatever the cost.





MP3 Download of “Attempt”, by Ballet (from the Attempt EP)




LEMONADE - NEPTUNE (SINJIN HAWKE REMIX)



We’re still not totally sure what this “wonky” shit that 1990 told us about is, but we’re enjoying it. Thanks to Shuffler.fm's curation of wonky jams, we've been able to kind of get an idea of what exactly comprises “wonky”, and we've already found something we're into. From what we've heard, it seems to be a very hi-fi, very major key rap-influenced type of downtempo electronic music. It's like intergalactic dance music on ecstasy. This Sinjin Hawke remix of Brooklyn Balearic pop group Lemonade's single “Neptune",featured on May 2012’s Diver, perfectly exemplifies that sound. An austere, mysterious Korallreven-esque aura is effected from the outset, and yet that atmosphere is then punctuated perfectly by a heavy bassline and a set of some underground hip-hop beats. Like something straight out of Star Slinger's playbook, vocal samples loop and shift pitches throughout the duration of the tune, adding heart to the singing synths and the space-station-dance-floor vibe. We hope you'll excuse the prominent ass featured in the embedded video, as we're pretty sure that everyone likes ass, right? Either way, though, do tha right thing, and grab a free MP3 copy of Montréal beatmaker Sinjin Hawke's retouch of Lemonade's “Neptune" and have fun exploring the planetary tones of "wonky" music.





MP3 Download of “Neptune (Sinkin Hawke remix)”, by Lemonade




ISO50 posted their second Under the Mountain mix today, one of our favorites of their unofficial series of playlists. The compilation included a new retro synthwave jam by Teeel, an André Obin downtempo tune, a warm lo-fi dreampop track from Foxes in Fiction's Alberto, and more. The biggest standout to us, however, was a tragically brief song by Jacob 2-2, entitled “Baby Duckbill”. Jacob 2-2, a Brooklyn-based sound and video artist who takes his name from an obscure, 70’s film about a fearless kid investigator, programs vintage lo-fi “VHS-wave” jams in the vein of 18 Carat Affair, Com Truise, and Dreams West. With heavy emphasis on warbling atmospheric synth leads, “Baby Duckbill" toddles along, accompanied by decayed found sound, a trip-hop beat, and 80’s sheen. Jacob 2-2 consistently boggles us, what with his stunning graphic art and the heavily laden mysticism that seems to surround his growing repertoire. We just wish he’d stop composing music for 16-bit mini-bosses and start penning end of the game type shit. Ya know, something a little more emotional? Maybe it’s just us. Either way, “Baby Duckbill”, featured on ISO50's Under the Mountain 2 mixtape, is the single greatest retro downtempo tune we’ve heard so far by Jacob 2-2. Do tha right thing, and grab a copy of the free mix here, and be sure to check out the featured artists’ work, especially Jacob 2-2.






02.   SMALL BLACK’S MOON KILLER MIXTAPE



On 11/11/11, a day that occurs probably once in a billion years, Small Black released the much anticipated MOON KILLER MIXTAPE. On a night that actually featured a full moon in their native Brooklyn, NY, this foursome of chillwaving trailblazers released for free a veritable onslaught of exciting new experiments with sound for us rabid consumers of current hipster art. In the short span of probably three years or less, the vector of this generation’s alternative music his veered from lo-fi pop to surf rock to retro downtempo and now on to this hip form of funk-and-R&B revival. Happily marching at the frontline, Brooklyn's Small Black does anything but disappoint with this brilliant new release.



MOON KILLER MIXTAPE is neither an LP nor an EP, and you couldn’t really get away with calling it a mini-album either, hence the label “mixtape”. The short, but sizable outing features Heems of Das Racist as a prominent guest vocalist in its two wicked primary tracks, the above featured “Two Rivers" (released early to much internet buzz) and "Sunday Son”. In addition to that collaboration, one particular track, “Love’s Not Enough”, is a climactic rework of Nicki Minaj's “Your Love”. It’s hands down my personal favorite tune on the whole release, if you’re into that blurring-of-pop-and-underground subgenre (à la Korallreven's remix of Britney Spears' “Till the World Ends”). There are two remixes of older Small Black favorites by Phonetag and Star Slinger tacked onto the end of the mixtape, and the remainder of the album consists of a couple more original works and several dreamy segues composed primarily of funky synths, found sound, and fucked up samples, including one of a Carpenters classic. Born of the romanticized inner city childhood we saw on TV and wished we had for realsies, Small Black's MOON KILLER MIXTAPE is short, sweet, and very emotional. The instrumentation is equal parts nostalgic and driving, evoking images of late night strolls down ideally well-lit alleys with the gang, the smells of Chinese food and taxi exhaust in the air, under a full moon, of course. It is a mixtape for the melting pot of urban youth, who desperately need to study for that math test tomorrow, but can’t seem to quit sneaking down the fire escape to their basketball courts, their ghettoblasters, and their illicit drugs. Do tha right thing, and visit this link for the runner up in our top ten countdown of the best albums we’ve heard in the past year: Small Black's free MOON KILLER MIXTAPE, so you can howl and jam with the best of them tonight.






MP3 Download of “Two Rivers”, by Small Black



MP3 Download of “Love’s Not Enough”, by Small Black