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Mhysa - Fantasii
Mhysa’s Fatasii

The amazing music you may have missed this year

Looking at some of 2017’s best under-the-radar releases so far, from Syrian singer-songwriter Bedouine to ethereal spiritual sounds by Mhysa

The xx, Kehlani, Migos, Sampha, Syd, Future, Stormzy, Khalid, Drake, Kendrick Lamar, Mount Eerie, Perfume Genius, Slowdive, J Hus, Jlin, SZA, Lorde, Vince Staples, Jay-Z… these are just a few of the storied names who’ve delivered jaw-dropping albums, and dominated wider musical discussion in 2017. And while we’ve seen some remarkable efforts from the more visible echelons of rap, R&B, grime, electronica, and indie, some incredible new talents have been bubbling up from the underground as well. In celebration of hardworking, lower profile musicians and producers with big visions and important statements to make, we look at ten of our emerging favourites, from Aldous Harding’s arthouse folk rock to 6LACK’s moody trap R&B.


WHO: New Zealand’s newest wild woman of song, an elemental force turning eyes and ears worldwide.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE LISTENING: With her new album Party, Aldous Harding shed the ancient language of her self-titled debut. Working with PJ Harvey producer John Parish and Mike Hadreas (better known as Perfume Genius), she hones her minimal, neo-gothic folk music into something substantially more contemporary – but also hallucinogenic in its strangeness. Party scored Aldous a deal with storied British record label 4AD, allowing her to build on the years she spent gigging at port town dive bars and busking outside village theatres in her home country before moving on to become an increasingly familiar figure in the European, UK, and US touring circuits. Accompanied by a series of unsettling but visually stunning art-house music videos, Party is Aldous making a play to be considered alongside her heroes and heroines, and hinting at theatrical and dramatic capabilities that suggest movies and television might be part of her future as well.

FOR FANS OF: PJ Harvey, Vashti Bunyan, Elliott Smith


WHO: A Los Angeles-based, Syria-born singer-songwriter who took her time and trusts in the art.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE LISTENING: Introspection, hushed voice, and guitar will probably never go completely out of fashion, as Bedouine (Azniv Korkejian), and her self-titled debut album artfully illustrate. Cast in the classic storyteller mode, Bedouine’s songs see her baring herself and her truths against instrumentation equal parts austere 60s folk, funked-up 70s country, and swaying bossa nova. A child of Syrian immigrants, who studied sound design, and worked as a music editor in Hollywood, Bedouine only started pursuing music seriously three years ago at age 29. It’s a late start, but she came to music with a lifetime of stories to draw from, and the results are evident.

FOR FANS OF: Sibylle Baier, Carole King, Nick Drake


WHO: A New York-based electronic band, radio show, and dance party, where everybody gets their fifteen minutes of fame.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE LISTENING: Taking their cues from electro boogie, classic house, and early 2000s post-punk and nu-disco, House of Feelings push back against the crunch of modern life, with euphoric dance jams. Founded by New York dwellers Matty Fasano (a member of the choir at LCD Soundsystem’s “final shows”), Joe Fassler, and Dale Eisinger (of noise rockers YVETTE), their debut EP Last Chance features guest vocals from friends Shamir, GABI, Meredith Graves (the frontwoman of New York hardcore punk band Perfect Pussy and an anchor for MTV News), and film critic Kristen Yoonsoo Kim, lending a sense of wider community to the project. Fun, smart and thoughtful, their songs are the sort that stays with you well after the party.

FOR FANS OF: Hercules and Love Affair, Cybotron, LCD Soundsystem


WHO: A self-described “black queer femme cultural producer, sound designer, womanist + Diva”, from West Philadelphia who connects the dots between R&B and church music.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE LISTENING: Fantasii sees MHYSA – best known as one half of the Philadelphia performance and sound art group SCRAAATCH – combining the spirit of classic R&B and strip-club rap with a sense of space that recalls the sonic cathedrals of 80s 4AD releases (by the likes of Dead Can Dance and This Mortal Coil), while touches of ruptured grime instrumentation provide rhythm. She created Fantasii in homage to black women’s voices, as an acknowledgment of black suffering since the advent of slavery, and a source of joy for, “ people (and black women and femmes especially) that want to live and rejoice because we are still alive, even if the war is far from won.”

FOR FANS OF: Klein, Grouper, Rabit


WHO: A North Philadelphia-based interdisciplinary artist and activist who connects the dots between punk, avant-garde jazz, poetry, and electronica.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE LISTENING: As a musician, Moor Mother (Camae Ayewa) locates a liminal zone somewhere between the cathartic potential of punk, the expansive possibilities of improvised jazz, and the power of rap and electronics. Also a writer, poet, and member of the black Quantum Futurism collective, her overall practice is informed by Afrofuturism, reassessments of black history, feminism, and social activism. These influences are all apparent throughout her remarkable 2016 album Fetish Bones, a record that pulled ten years of work within the underground into a razor sharp focus. Since its release, Moor Mother has been performing throughout Europe and recording new material with fellow Philadelphia-based producer Mental Jewelry.

FOR FANS OF: Shabazz Palaces, Death Grips, Matana Roberts


WHO: A Portland-based DJ duo who drew from the rich musical histories of Europe and Japan, who came through with one of the best ambient albums of the year.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE LISTENING: Visible Cloaks’ Spencer Doran first really turned our ears out with a remarkably researched series of mixtapes of Japanese music. This year, Doran and his Visible Cloaks partner Ryan Carlile did it again with their RVNG INTL-released album Reassemblage. Collapsing organic sounds into electronic, Reassemblage sees the duo working with an array of virtual recreations of traditional instruments from across the globe, in the process fashioning a fascinatingly immersive ambient record that features rooted in the now, while still acutely aware of the musical histories that lead us to this point. Miyako Koda from 80s Japanese dream-pop duo Dip In the Pool features, as does post-vaporwave synth abstractionist Joe Williams, better known as Motion Graphics

FOR FANS OF: Midori Takada, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Fennesz


WHO: A New York/Seoul-based vocalist and producer who is bringing haunted earworms back to house, and makes music for a world as complex as the one we live in.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE LISTENING: Do you ever have those blurred memories that are probably memories of childhood dreams, but you aren’t quite sure? Earlier this year, Godmode artist Yaeji (Kathy Lee), tapped directly into this zone with the release of her debut self-titled EP. Anchored in a half-awake, half-asleep vocal house aesthetic where everything, even her spoken languages of English and Korean blur in and out of each other with a grayscale fade, it’s a concise and timely confirmation of the talent implied by the singles, music videos and bootleg remixes she’s released over the last couple of years.

FOR FANS OF: Marie Davidson, Galcher Lustwerk, DJ Richard


WHO: One of Atlanta’s most crucial new R&B singers, a Soundcloud prince, and perhaps, the heir to the throne.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE LISTENING: As 6LACK (pronounced black), Ricardo Valdez Valentine built on the after-midnight balcony music of Drake, Trey Songz, and their numerous musical descendants, folding the trap rap of Atlanta into narcotic R&B that set Soundcloud on fire. After a few stops and starts, he cliqued up with LoveRenaissance and Interscope Records, breaking out with his FREE 6LACK album and some killer performances on The Weeknd’s Legend of The Fall tour in 2016. This year, he’s continued his insular explorations of commitment, hedonism, the blurred lines between, and risky late night DMs, with new singles “That Far” and “First Fuck” featuring Jhené Aiko.  

FOR FANS OF: PartyNextDoor, Bryson Tiller, The Weeknd