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Mother, Cleo Sol
Cleo Sol

10 under-the-radar releases you may have missed in the last three months

Featuring Arushi Jain’s avant-garde sonic explorations, DijahSB’s lo-fi beats, and Cleo Sol’s soulful introspections

In recent weeks on Dazed, we’ve covered or noted musical releases from significant and emerging figures such as UNIIQU3, Tirzah, PinkPantheress, Prettyboy D-O, Lil Nas X, Abra, Tems, Tommy Genesis, as well as spotlighting the next generation of South Asian talent in the UK and the rise of Amapiano: South Africa’s sound of freedom. Depending on where you are in the world right now, vaccination programs may be in full swing, and your local coronavirus restrictions may be continuing to loosen, or maybe not. Despite the sometimes spoken, sometimes unspoken uncertainties that colour the day-to-day realities of many, music continues to function as a shared communal space and a source of collective solace.

In a similar vein, regardless of the difficulty setting of the moment – the pandemic’s economic impact has hugely affected the arts, with those already struggling financially being hit the hardest – as always, new and under-discussed talents from the worlds of underground music continue to use community and craft to find a way. For the third edition of our quarterly roundup for 2021, we’re continuing to reflect and acknowledge musicians, artists, producers and DJs from across the globe, all with strong communities, real visions, and important statements to make. Here are ten essential Q3 releases, all available on Bandcamp.


WHO: The Brooklyn-based composer and vocalist navigating the slipstreams between modular synthesis and traditional Indian classical music.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE LISTENING: Arushi Jain has described her debut album as a sonic exploration of the magenta hues of the sky during the sunset hours, bookended by the statement, “The deeper you listen, the more shades you’ll see”. Here are a few of the shades: Growing up in New Deli. Training as a vocalist at the Prayag Hindustani Music School and the Ravi Shankar Institute. Discovering computer-generated sound and synthesis while studying Computer Science at California’s Stanford University. The influence of 20th-century avant-garde figureheads Suzanne Ciani and Terry Riley. Under the Lilac Sky sees Jain bringing all of this together, and more, while offering us a balm in these uncertain times.

FOR FANS OF: Charanjit Singh, Mary Lattimore, Arooj Aftab.


WHO: An agile Toronto rapper who tears up hip-hop and lo-fi house instrumentals with style and panache.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE LISTENING: The first time I heard DijahSB (a nod to Nike SBs) was through a viral Twitter video. In the clip, they rap with effortless confidence over a spaced-out lo-fi boogie beat, decrying the ways of the world with an unbeatable level of confidence. Although DijahSB got started a decade ago – in the duo Class of 93 – in recent years, they’ve levelled up as a solo artist through a run of independent releases loaded with pop culture references and sharp observations about the challenges of daily life. Tasty Raps Vol.1, which features Chicago’s Mick Jenkins and fellow Toronto artist RAY HMND, delivers all of this and more as DijahSB continues to turn the volume up.

FOR FANS OF: Kid Cudi, Lil Simz, Kaytranada.


WHO: The Edinburgh-based instrumental grime producer retooling Gaelic, Irish, and English folk music as 21st-century art-pop.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE LISTENING: Growing up in Edinburgh, Joe Powers, aka Proc Fiskal, often heard stories of his grandfathers and great aunt's roles within the Scottish folk music scene. However, when he came of age, his generation moved to a different beat. Throughout Siren Spine Sysex, Powers filters his folkloric family traditions, and a love of high-concept dream pop, through the syncopated shuffle and frosted glass melodies of grime and UK garage. In many senses, it’s a logical continuation of his 2018 album Insula, which explored Scottish culture from an electronic perspective. Cerebral and physical, Siren Spine Sysex is braindance body music with emotional depth and futuristic gloss.

FOR FANS OF: Lee Gamble, Todd Edwards, Cocteau Twins.


WHO: An experimental Chinese conceptual artist and composer exploring tradition and modernity in equal measure.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE LISTENING: Li Yilei’s latest album, 之 / OF is a set of twelve fragmentary ambient compositions. Spare and inviting, they feel loaded with possibility and longing. Crafted with synthesisers, field recordings, vocal samples and traditional Chinese instruments, each song on 之 / OF is a sonic portrait of a short poem tied to an hour on an analog clock face. Fittingly Yilei’s central theme here is translating the distance between measured time and the felt passage of time, as inspired by two weeks in a quarantine hotel in Shanghai after living in London. The sort of record that subtly shifts the atmosphere in a room with quiet grace, 之 / OF captures the distance between our past, present and future. 

FOR FANS OF: Pauline Oliveros, Foodman, Fatima Al Qadiri.


WHO: The veteran Chicago DJ and producer effortlessly abstracting jazz into juke and footwork.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE LISTENING: When you talk about Jana Rush, you’re talking about a former paramedic and firefighter turned oil refinery chemical engineer who moonlights as a Cat Scan Technologist; and still has time for music. You’re also talking about a woman who started DJing when she was ten, picking up production three years later before releasing her first single through the legendary Chicago house label Dance Mania in 1996. Following on from 2018’s Pariah, Painful Enlightenment is Rush’s second album. Across thirteen fearlessly exploratory tracks, Rush, with her collaborators DJ Paypal and Nancy Fortune, unlock rhythmic, textural, and atmospheric depths only accessible by those who have spent a lifetime chasing elevation through sound.

FOR FANS OF: DJ Manny, Surly, Jlin.


WHO: The Melbourne-based duo who transmute post-punk and minimalist pop into haunted folk and country.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE LISTENING:  Easy to sit with and even easier to return to, Rhinestones represents a high watermark moment within the eighteen-year career of HTRK, the Australian music project of Jonnine Standish and Nigel Yang. Informed by a recent love affair with “eerie and gothic country music” and the feelings around friendship, Rhinestones sees the duo crafting a cycle of hypnotic and beguiling minimalist singer-songwriter pieces led by Standish’s affecting vocals and Yang’s pictorial guitar figures. Ostensibly folkloric, in a range-roving Americana sense, across it’s nine songs, subtle 808s and soft synth pads ripple beneath a set of storybook folk/country gestures. Simultaneously hanging in the forefront and background, Rhinestones is lyrical, atmospheric, and, most of all, masterfully executed. 

FOR FANS OF: Dean Blunt, Sibylle Baier, Tirzah.


WHO: A London-based singer-songwriter with an ear for the soulful, the infinite, and the sublime.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE LISTENING:   After contributing to pseudo-anonymous UK soul collective Sault and having a breakout moment with her 2020 debut album Rose In The Dark, West London’s Cleo Sol returns with a new album, Mother. In part an exploration of Sol’s experience of becoming a mother, the album is an embarrassment of blissful and introspective riches. Over twelve 1970s progressive soul indebted songs, Sol summons a gloriously orchestral cycle of emotionally intimate yet sonically expansive RnB, neo-soul, and soul-jazz. Between her searching vocals and the elegant piano, warmhearted choirs, synthesisers and highly coiled drum breaks that surround them, Mother is one of those records that stretches out into infinity.

FOR FANS OF: Kadhja Bonet, Stevie Wonder, Solange.


WHO: Three of Jamaica’s most confident, eloquent and undeniable hip-hop MCs.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE LISTENING: Strident and uplifting, Trilogy is a riotous and reflective statement of intent from Kingston rappers Five Steez, Nomad Carlos, and The Sickest Drama, known collectively as The Council of The Gods. Over eight dusty jazz, dub and soul informed instrumentals produced by Time Cow, Sawandi and Son Raw, the three MCs map out an expressive mode equally inspired by their Jamaican roots, the formalism of East Coast boom bap, and their overseas experiences throughout the UK, Canada and the US. Lyrical, stylish and charismatic, Five Steez, Nomad Carlos, and The Sickest Drama ride the groove with superhero levels of confidence, bravado, and a willingness to get introspective and reflective when the moment calls for it.

FOR FANS OF: Roc Marciano, Oddisee, Griselda Records.


WHO: The mind-melting multimedia solo project from the Riga-based interdisciplinary artist, DJ and classically trained multi-instrumentalist Sarah Badr.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE LISTENING:  With her grandiose 2020 album, Excision After Love Collapses, British-Egyptian renaissance woman Sarah Badr aka FRKTL, presented herself as a sound alchemist with the ability to transmogrify ambient music, free noise, and contemporary classical into an unnatural catharsis. Too strange to live, too weird to die. In this sense, the ever-evolving alien soundworlds of السَّمْت AZIMUTH seem like an inevitably. The soundtrack to an equally extraterrestrial self 3D animated short film of the same name, السَّمْت AZIMUTH feels like an exploration of connection through a shared sense of displacement, all rendered through the visual and sonic grammar of a whole new world of possibilities.

FOR FANS OF: KMRU, Fis, Object Blue.


WHO: Two French garage rock and dance music legends coming together to soundtrack a perfectly sun-kissed summer road trip.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE LISTENING:  Unfolding with the logic of an arthouse fever dream, De Película is the product of a friendship that began in 2017, when French house/techno mainstay Laurent Garnier invited The Limiñanas to perform at his Yeah! Festival. The two parties found common ground over the motorik rhythms of krautrock, psychedelics and soft lapping dance music that hovers on the edge of sleep. From there, they began collaborating, leading to De Película, a free-flowing, forward-moving album, where the finest of The Limiñanas chanson pop, garage rock, and OST music impulses bleed in and out of Garnier's retrofuturist body music. In all the very best ways possible, it’s a psychedelic joyride through the heat, sweat and hedonism of the golden season.    

FOR FANS OF: Serge Gainsbourg, Can, Andrew Weatherall.