There are Okzharp’s futurist adventures, Danny Scott Lane’s Japanese city-pop, and Surusinghe’s Sri Lanka-inspired club tracks
In recent weeks on Dazed, we’ve interviewed Burna Boy, Sudan Archives, Kelela, and Alex G. We’ve also looked at musicians turned painters, explored the rule-breaking world of Brazilian grime, and hosted a new Dazed Mix from Felix Lee. Although COVID continues to fade into the background in many places, these are still challenging times given the backdrop of complex issues we’re living within. 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.
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. For the third edition of our quarterly roundup for 2022, we’re continuing to 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.
ALEKSANDRA SŁYŻ, A VIBRANT TOUCH
WHO: An open-eared Polish composer, sound designer and engineer who divides her time between Stockholm and Poznań.
WHY YOU SHOULD BE LISTENING: In a recent interview with the innovative music and audiovisual art platform SHAPE+, Aleksandra Słyż described A Vibrant Touch as an exploration of microtonal music and the power of resonance. As she put it, “Through this album, I want to create situations in which listeners cannot precisely say if the music they just heard lasted 15 or 50 minutes.” Released through the Slovakian label Warm Winters Ltd, A Vibrant Touch is made up of three long-form composition pieces where the synthetic and the acoustic find an ecstatic harmony through the physicality of drone. For Aleksandra, it’s the latest step in an expressive and academic sound practice that has defined her adult life while taking her considered works through Europe and America.
FOR FANS OF: Lawrence English, Kali Malone, Time Wharp.
DANNY SCOTT LANE, HOLY GOODNIGHT
WHO: The prolific New York actor, photographer, and musician who works from Los Angeles.
WHY YOU SHOULD BE LISTENING: Bathed in neon light, misty inner city mystery and intrigue, Holy Goodnight takes its cues from jazz fusion, Japanese city-pop, and the plastic funk of library music. Crafted with synthesisers, instruments, field recordings and guest contributions from his friends AJ Pantaleo, Solomon Alber and Julie Roche, the album slots nicely into the Business Casual label catalogue. Following his recent Wave To Mikey album, Holy Goodnight continues to reveal Danny as a composer, player and producer with a profoundly visual musical sensibility. Given the moody and moving nature of the film and digital photography he documents on his Instagram page and editorials for fashion outlets such as Vogue Italia and Playboy, it makes a lot of sense.
FOR FANS OF: John Carroll Kirby, Alex Ho, Mariya Takeuchi.
ELLE SHIMADA, HOME ≠ LOCATION
WHO: A Tokyo-born violinist, producer, and DJ who honed her expressive, celestial sound in Melbourne, Australia.
WHY YOU SHOULD BE LISTENING: As she explicitly spells out with the title, Elle Shimada’s first solo album is a concept record about how home doesn’t have to be a location. Rendered through eight stylised tracks that take their cues from lower-tempo beats, house, modern jazz, neo-soul, and jungle, Home ≠ Location is tied together by Elle’s elegant melodic sensibilities and lofty, yearning vocals. Featuring a cast of collaborators that includes Nagan Server, Quartz Pistol, Waari and Rara Zulu, Home ≠ Location sees Elle finding a home in friends, community and sound. In a testament to her thoughtful and considered approach, Elle has shared stages with Lonnie Liston Smith, Giles Peterson and The Australian Art Orchestra. Consider this one a warm-up – she’s only just getting started.
FOR FANS OF: Mndsgn, Allysha Joy, Kaidi Tatham.
OKZHARP, OUTSIDE THE RIDE
WHO: The mercurial South East London producer and DJ with roots in South Africa.
WHY YOU SHOULD BE LISTENING: With Outside The Ride, Hyperdub regular Okzharp returns to Kode9’s always inquisitive record label for another set of adventures in sound. After experimenting with Durban’s gqom sound with DJ Lag in 2019, Outside The Ride sees Okzharp dialling the tempo up to 156 bpm. Reframing the rhythmic structures of gqom with elements of footwork, juke, trap, techstep and his signature textures and sound effects, he maps out a new pathway for himself while still signalling clearly to his influences. In a moment where futurism often feels closer to retrofuturism, Okzharp’s work still feels like a transmission from the day after tomorrow. The synthesis of styles on “Tom Tom Ride Out” and “Cut It Out” is a wonder to behold.
FOR FANS OF: DJ Lag, Scratch DVA, Jlin.
DANIELA LALITA, TRECECEROTRES
WHO: A Peruvian multihyphenate who explores music, costume design, film, performance and fine art in New York.
WHY YOU SHOULD BE LISTENING: This is one of those scenarios where you shouldn’t just be listening; you should also be watching the music videos. A talent who walks between realms, Daniela Lalita’s avant-garde club and digital folk songs simultaneously draw strength from historical tradition and the open landscapes of experimentation. As expressive with her costume design, visual language and physical movement as she is with her striking voice, Daniela doesn’t just record songs; she creates entire worlds. A direct reference to the number of the Lima apartment she grew up, her debut EP Trececerotres is an all-enveloping experience. Apocalyptic and life-affirming in equal measure, it suggests a multitude of possibilities and pathways forward for her unique and moving talent.
FOR FANS OF: Marina Herlop, Eartheater, Debit.
NEIL MACLEOD, WE HAVE KNOWN LOST DAYS
WHO: An emerging electronic songwriter, vocalist, and producer from Wellington, New Zealand.
WHY YOU SHOULD BE LISTENING: With his new EP, We Have Known Lost Days, Neil Macleod articulates a very specific strain of percussive electronic soul music. Set against stuttering backbeats that draw from the LA beats and post-dubstep traditions, he blends tastefully digitally manipulated vocals with electronic textures and melodies. The results are a richly cinematic set of songs that put the darker side of human nature under the microscope. Fittingly, Neil has also released We Have Known Lost Days as a visual EP on youtube, giving viewers a deeper window into his aesthetics. Outside of his solo music, Neil can also be often found working as a producer for other artists, including AACACIA and the Te Kahureremoa Taumata.
FOR FANS OF: James Blake, Jon Hopkins, Bon Iver.
SHY ONE, FROM THE FLOOR TO THE BOOTH
WHO: A London producer and DJ who draws from the rich histories of UK club music.
WHY YOU SHOULD BE LISTENING: From the opening notes for “Be As One” feat Simeon Jones, Shy One’s From The Floor To The Booth album reveals itself as a masterful exploration of three and a half decades of London club music and Soundsystem culture. Across five perfectly poised dance tracks, Shy One brings together shades of UK boogie and street soul, garage, West London broken beat, and grime, plotting a way forward that pays homage to those who came before her and her journey from the dancefloor to the DJ booth. One of the most spectacular abstractions on the EP is ‘Bird Bop’, a masterful integration of bruk and late 2000s Chicago footwork, with a dash of mid-90s artcore jungle.
FOR FANS OF: Soul II Soul, Ruff Sqwad, 4hero.
J. CAESAR, TAKE TO THE SKY
WHO: The soulful London vocalist and producer taking inspiration from 90s club culture.
WHY YOU SHOULD BE LISTENING: After stepping out early in the year on Scenic Route's The Road Less Travelled Vol.1 compilation, J. Caesar returns with the Take To The Sky EP. Leaning on the influence of classic street soul, new jack swing, jazzy broken beat and UK garage, it’s a set of songs for the club and the comedown party. Unified by his agile RnB/soul vocals and a sunny sensibility, J. and co-producer Z Lovecraft’s efforts here are a testament to the power of not just knowing your history, but having a clear idea where you're headed. If the title track, “Take To The Sky” is an instant vibe setter, “Give Me To The Night” has the perfect shuffle for peak time.
FOR FANS OF: Space Ghost, Ruf Dug, Special Touch.
SUZI ANALOGUE, INFINITE ZONEZ
WHO: A longstanding electronic music producer, songwriter, composer, and academic based in Miami.
WHY YOU SHOULD BE LISTENING: Between 2016 and 2019, Suzi Analogue recorded a series of vivid digital mixtapes titled ZONEZ 1-4. Styled as an audio/visual mood board, the ZONEZ tapes documented the journey of a star on the rise. Three years on, Infinite Zonez collects the best of her work from that run in a single digital/vinyl compilation. A mixture of solo tracks and collaborations, Infinite Zonez shows off her stylish hip-hop, jungle, techno, footwork and RnB-rooted production style while also casting her alongside the likes of RP Boo, Junglepussy, NAPPYNAPPA, DJ Taye, Michael Millions and Opal Hoyt. Made up of thrilling textures, rhythms and creative choices, Infinite Zonez is a crystal clear window into Suzi’s musical world and extended community.
FOR FANS OF: Knxwledge, RP Boo, Tygapaw.
SURUSINGHE, GOOD GIRLS // BAD GIRLS
WHO: The Melbourne-born producer and DJ bringing her Sri Lankan heritage to club music in London.
WHY YOU SHOULD BE LISTENING: Released through Steel City Dance Discs, GOOD GIRLS / BAD GIRLS is a solid statement from a producer with a talent for the percussive side of club music. Over five muscular tracks that navigate the slipstreams between jungle, breakbeat, techno and minimal two-step, Surusinghe blends her percussive frameworks with classic rave motifs and a melodic sensibility inspired by traditional Sri Lankan instrumentation. Dedicated to her late father, Surusinghe has styled GOOD GIRLS / BAD GIRLS as an acknowledgement of the realities of the music industry and, in her words, “the fake ass game we play, plus some of the hilarious memories I’ve made along the way.” Don’t get it twisted, though, there’s nothing fake about how her tracks hit when the bass drops.
FOR FANS OF: Nikki Nair, Kessler, Aquarian.