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Marina Herlop, Pripyat
Marina Herlop, Pripyat

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

There’s Marina Herlop’s ancient dreamscapes, Perel’s cosmic disco, and an abstract debut courtesy of Batu

In recent weeks on Dazed, we’ve interviewed Whitearmor, Tohji, A$AP Rocky, and Dréya Mac. We’ve also paid tribute to the recently deceased dream-pop icon Julee Cruise, published a personal essay from Toronto DJ/producer BAMBII, celebrated Tom Lea’s Local Action label, and hosted a new Dazed Mix from Crystallmess. In some parts of the world, COVID has begun to fade into the background – but set against a backdrop of complex issues, these are still challenging times. Despite the 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.

The pandemic’s economic impact has hugely affected the arts, with those already struggling financially being hit the hardest. Regardless of the difficult setting of the moment, new and under-discussed talents from the worlds of underground music continue to use community and craft to find a way through it. For the second edition of our quarterly roundup for 2022, 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 Q2 releases, all available on Bandcamp.

MOGWAA, DEL MAR

WHO: A stylish but low-profile producer and DJ bringing Balearic beachside bliss to South Korea.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE LISTENING: Since 2017, Seoul’s Seungyoung Lee, aka Mogwaa, has turned out an array of slick and inspired modern funk, boogie, ambient dub, house and disco singles, EPs and albums through crucial underground labels like Star Creature, Klasse Wrecks, Spring Theory and MM Discos. With his latest, Del Mar, Mogwaa chases the Balearic beat across six sea-themed mid-tempo groovers. From the polished robo-reggae shuffle of “Kalimotxo” to the joyfully sunkissed synth-boogie bounce of “Crackle” and the ambient breakbeat grooves of “Tabarca”, Del Mar is the work of a well-listened, studied and skilful producer in the process of moving out of the shadows and into the light. 

FOR FANS OF: Mr Fingers, Soshi Takeda, Mark Barrott.

MARINA HERLOP, PRIPYAT

WHO: The Catalan experimental composer reaching into the infinite through voice, piano and electronics.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE LISTENING: Marina Herlop’s first two albums, 2016’s Nanook and 2018’s Babasha, were the works of a musician exploring voice and piano in traditional classical modes. For Pripyat, Herlop embraces the possibilities of computer music for the first time. Revelling in the opportunities presented by digital voice manipulation, machine beat rhythms and various other off-kilter production techniques, the Barcelona-based composer has crafted a collection of seven ostensible dreamscapes, calming but often punctuated by moments of glorious chaos. Between the linguistic and textural abstractions of “lyssof” and “miu”, listening to Pripyat feels like sliding between dimensions across the multiverse. 

FOR FANS OF: Debit, Ana Roxanne, Fatima Al Qadiri.

SPACE GHOST & TEDDY BRYANT, HEAVEN SENT

WHO: A dynamic American duo exploring the common ground between street soul, new jack swing and boogie.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE LISTENING: A perfect three-tracker, Heaven Sent might just be one of the most luxurious records of the year. The work of prolific Oakland producer/DJ Space Ghost and South Carolina soul man Teddy Bryant, “Heaven Sent”, “Little Bit of Love” and “Relax Your Mind” unfold like a series of glossy slow jam daydreams. Having churned out a series of remarkable RnB, ambient and boogie-tinged house projects, Space Ghost’s command of mood, tone and vibe is second to none. In Teddy Bryant, he finds an expressive counterpart with an understanding of the rich traditions of soul music from on sides of the Atlantic. The results are jaw-dropping. 

FOR FANS OF: RüF Dug, Sault, Bradley Zero.

DAT GARCIA, LAS FUERZAS ALMADAS

WHO: The Argentinian folk-futurist exploring the past and the present on her journey of self-discovery.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE LISTENING: Created between her home studio and hotel rooms on tour with charangos and ronrocos (formed of stringed lutes), synthesisers, voice and vocal FX, Las Fuerzas Almadas by Dat Garcia is about the tension between the comfortable and the unknown. Over 11 spare and affecting songs, Dat Garcia follows the introspective path she mapped out for herself across her first two albums, Ermitaño Interior (2013) and Maleducada (2017). Set against a backdrop of Andean folkloric music and cumbia colliding with moody atmospherics, elegant uptempo electronica and earworm melodies, Dat Garcia continues to look inward, investigating the distance between who we’ve been told we are, and who we might be.   

FOR FANS OF: M.I.A, Lido Pimienta, El Remolon.

DJ FINN, EVERYTHING IS ALRIGHT

WHO: A Manchester-based producer, DJ and NTS broadcaster who knows his 90s dance histories inside-out.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE LISTENING: Over the last eight years, Finn McCorry, better known simply as Finn, has earned a hard-won reputation for DJ sets and productions that juice the minimalism and simplicity of classic house, UK garage and 2-step for maximum outcomes. Following a series of singles and EPs in 2020 for RüF Dug’s Rüf Kutz label and Tom Lea’s Local Action (also home to Finn’s 2 B Real Records sub-label), Everything Is Alright lifts off like a sci-fi hovercraft. Expect nine uplifting club cuts build around “simple beats [and] sweet samples” straight out of your 4 am rave fantasies. With Finn at the controls, everything really is alright.

FOR FANS OF: OK Williams, Martyn Bootyspoon, ANZ.

PEREL, JESUS WAS AN ALIEN

WHO: The German producer, vocalist and DJ drawing from indie dance, cosmic disco and electro while she looks for something new.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE LISTENING: For the last decade, Annegret Fiedler, aka Perel, has been producing and DJing club-tempo records that pay homage to the rich dancefloor histories and off-kilter songwriting traditions of New York, the mega city she currently resides in. Across Jesus Was An Alien, her second full-length album, Perel works with luxurious synths, buoyant machine beats, and the squelch of acid house, weaving them into a series of neon-lit nocturnal grooves with a dose of cyberpunk grit. The title, Jesus Was An Alien, serves as a provocation, but the real joy here is in Perel’s high-gloss retrofuturist production values and her sultry, half-sung, half-spoken word refrains. 

FOR FANS OF: Simian Mobile Disco, Chromatics, Giorgio Moroder.

BATU, OPAL

WHO: An always innovative producer, DJ and record label boss exploring abstract club sounds from Bristol to the world.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE LISTENING: Omar McCutcheon, aka Batu, has taken his time working towards his debut album, Opal. Over the last decade, he’s built his cult Timedance label into a prestige platform and honed his skills as a DJ and broadcaster while cultivating a reputation for quality and innovation within UK dance music. Over 11 abstract techno cuts – underpinned by immersive bass and detailed by skittering percussion – Opal sees him exploring the idea of sound as geographic terrain. Although it’s predominantly a solo affair (with some audio source material provided by Memotone and Air Max 97, New York experimental musician serpentwithfeet contributes a time-stopping vocal to “Solace”. 

FOR FANS OF: Pearson Sound, Hodge, Loraine James.

COCO EM, KILUMI

WHO: The Kenyan producer and DJ lighting up dancefloors from Nairobi to London with amapiano, trap, grime, Luo rap, afro house, lingala and beyond. 

WHY YOU SHOULD BE LISTENING: With her debut EP Kilumi, Emma Nzioka, aka Coco Em, interpolates elements from a set of songs and dances traditionally performed by Kamba women in East Kenya. Part personal history lesson, part adaptation for the modern era, the seven tracks on Kilumi see her teaming up with several collaborators, including Luo emcee, vocalist, and activist MC Sharon Wuod Baba, West Kenyan vocalist and orutu player Labdi Omnes, and Nairobian percussionist Kasiva. Before pursuing DJing, Coco worked as a photojournalist and filmmaker, occupations she has continued to explore while developing her production vocabulary. Across Kilumi, she offers us a window into the past delivered with a healthy dose of forward-thinking dancefloor futurism.

FOR FANS OF: Cooly G, Nabalayo, Lila Tirando a Violeta.

VARIOUS ARTISTS, ASTRALTOPIA

WHO: A vivid, ear-opening compilation of abstract club music from the blog turned record label, Astral Plane Recordings.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE LISTENING: On April 27 this year, Gabe Meier announced the closure of his The Astral Plane blog and Astral Plane Recordings label, in the process formally concluding a decade of researching and supporting vernacular electronic sounds that have helped remake aspects of modern club music. Browse through the catalogue, and you’ll find crucial works from innovators such as aya (formerly LOFT), Maral and E.M.M.A. A bookend release, Astraltopia is the third volume in the Astral Plane Recordings Topia series and the final transmission from the label. Fittingly, it presents a rich array of possibilities for further ways forward within club contexts and beyond.

FOR FANS OF: aya, slikback, Jam City.

ALLYSHA JOY, TORN : TONIC

WHO: The Australian jazz, soul and RnB singer, poet, performer and producer exploring healing and inner change through song. 

WHY YOU SHOULD BE LISTENING: The lead vocalist for Melbourne’s 30/70 hip-hop/RnB collective and a celebrated jazz/neo-soul slanted solo artist in her own right, Allysha Joy, is crafting work that resonates well beyond the coastlines of Australia. After establishing her chops with Acadie : Raw (2018), Torn : Tonic sees Allysha looking inward as she lets go and remakes herself alongside a collection of female and non-binary guest artists, including Ego Ella May, BINA, Rara Zulu, Belle Bangard and Dancing Water. Against a bed of Detroit-inspired synths, shuffling beats and celestial sonic textures, Allysha sings for herself and shares space with the cast around her. Torn : Tonic is her vision, but she’s far from alone.

FOR FANS OF: Fatima, Steve Spacek, Hiatus Kaiyote.