From an Argentinian musician and producer putting surf rock into reggaeton to an Australian mutant punk funk group paying homage to a fallen bandmate, here are some new and under-discussed talents from the worlds of underground music
In recent weeks on Dazed, we’ve interviewed Saint Jude, Black Peppa, and Thaiboy Digital. We’ve also reflected on the genius of DJ Screw, met the artists pushing Nigeria’s burgeoning drill scene, and hosted a Dazed Mix from Waajeed.
As we draw towards the end of 2022, it's sadly safe to say these are still very challenging times. 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 the wake of the pandemic's lockdown years, the global music community faces ongoing economic challenges around touring, releasing and promoting music. Regardless of the difficulty 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 final 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 Q4 releases, all available on Bandcamp. You can read our Q1, Q2 and Q3 recaps here, here and here.
WHO: The Auckland-based musician and producer who used life’s lessons to write the album she dreamed of making when she was younger.
WHY YOU SHOULD BE LISTENING: Previously best known for her membership in the cult New Zealand synth-pop band Polyester, Amelia Berry started releasing electronic music as Amamelia in 2019. Born from grief, reflection and a return to the 90s Japanese electronic music that fascinated her while she was learning basic production skills in the mid-2010s, Bananamelia is a glossy exploration of ambient jungle/drum and bass, vaporwave, vintage video game soundtracks and lounge music. Under the warm glow of a virtual reality sun, Berry reimagines motifs drawn from her influences into a perfectly-paced journey through an ocean of crisp breaks and silky smooth synths.
FOR FANS OF: Octo Octa, Soichi Terada, Yellow Magic Orchestra.
ANJA LAUVDAL, FROM A STORY LOST
WHO: A celebrated Norwegian pianist teaming up with a modern American experimental music great.
WHY YOU SHOULD BE LISTENING: After close to a decade of collaborations and touring with members of the Oslo jazz, noise and improv music scenes, Anja Lauvdal steps out with her debut solo album, From A Story Lost. Produced by Laurel Halo, the album unfolds with the logic of a dream as Lauvdal’s piano and synthesiser sketches vanish from view inside a fog of subtle electronics, field recordings and white noise. Clocking in at just under half an hour, From A Story Lost also pays homage to Agathe Backer Grøndahl, a semi-forgotten 19th-century Norwegian composer who helped shape the golden age of classical music in Norway.
FOR FANS OF: Jenny Hval, Klein, Grouper.
ARIEL ZETINA, CYCLORAMA
WHO: The Chicago Smartbar resident DJ, theatre writer and producer reimagining house and techno through her own lens.
WHY YOU SHOULD BE LISTENING: A titular reference to the curtain placed on the back wall of a theatre stage, Cyclorama is the first album from Discwoman member Ariel Zetina. Having spent close to a decade DJing, producing and organising events within Chicago’s dance music and LGBTQ+ communities, Zetina draws from a rich array of musical influences - house, techno, punta, bruckdown, hyperpop, ballroom and beyond - crafting questioning and euphoric club records. Supported by collaborators including Cae Monāe, Bored Lord, Violet, DANNN and MAGIN, Zetina also uses Cyclorama to tell vivid and engaging stories from her personal journey. Simply put, it’s a remarkable debut. Learn more about Ariel in our interview with her here.
FOR FANS OF: Bored Lord, rRoxymore, Debit.
CAKES DA KILLA, SVENGALI
WHO: A skilled New Jersey-born rapper who navigates the throughlines between hip-hop and house with cinematic style.
WHY YOU SHOULD BE LISTENING: Svengali, the long-awaited second album from Cakes Da Killa, is the sound of several generations of Black American musical history coalescing together through an artist who has lived and loved them. Across fifteen evocative tracks and interludes inspired by the spirit and vitality of mid-20th century jazz, Killa and producer Sam Katz thread together strands of ballroom, 90s house, and jiggy early 2000s rap. Within this frame, Killa narrates the highs and lows of a love affair that wasn’t meant to last forever. Fittingly, Svengali arrives to us through TOKiMONSTA’s Young Art Records. The command of mood and tone on display here is outstanding.
FOR FANS OF: Lil Kim, Kush Jones, Jess B.
EDEN SAMARA, ROUGH NIGHT
WHO: The Canadian singer and producer reframing pop inside underground dance music in London.
WHY YOU SHOULD BE LISTENING: If you’ve got a longing for the feeling of a big vocal house track, Rough Night is an embarrassment of riches. Released through the immaculately curated Local Action label, the eight-track album sees Samara and her primary producer Ryan Pierre working with a cast of talents, including Call Super, Shanti Celeste, TSVI and Loraine James to craft a set of future anthems that balance euphoria with melancholy with perfect poise. Prior to relocating to London in 2019, Samara grew up in Nelson, British Columbia and spent some time living in Toronto. It’s been a long road to Rough Night, but the highs she reaches here make it all worthwhile.
FOR FANS OF: Jessy Lanza, Virginia, Kelela.
MORO LA FLOR, PESADILLAS Y CARAMELOS
WHO: An Argentinian musician and producer putting surf rock into reggaeton.
WHY YOU SHOULD BE LISTENING: Previously known by the mononym Moro, Pesadillas & Caramelos finds the Buenos Aires-based Moro La Flor blending the apocalyptic industrial reggaeton sound he mapped out on EPs for NON Worldwide and Janus with percussive guitar lines and airy psychedelic vocals straight out of the 1960s playbook. The results balance tender sentimentality and breezy atmospherics with an urgent shuffle. In many ways, Flor’s guitar gestures and dem bow fit like a glove. Released through Mexico City’s N.A.A.F.I, Pesadillas & Caramelos takes the open-eared club sounds the label/DJ collective is known for and pushes them into a whole new dimension.
FOR FANS OF: Helado Negro, Yves Tumor, Rita Indiana.
NO ZU, HEAT BEAT
WHO: The Australian mutant punk funk group paying homage to a fallen bandmate.
WHY YOU SHOULD BE LISTENING: Antipodean descendants of the late 70s/early 80s New York scene that gave the world Talking Heads, Liquid Liquid, ESG and their peers, Melbourne’s NO ZU have long pursued the path of the heat beat - a blend of post-punk, dub, disco, afrobeat and beyond. Released six years after their second album Afterlife, Heat Beat contains their final recordings with the cult Australian vocalist, musician and scene stalwart Daphne Camf, who sadly passed away in 2021. It’s a concise window into the energy that propelled NO ZU to Barcelona’s Primavera Festival, Festival NRMAL in Mexico and closer to home, Meredith’s Golden Plains.
FOR FANS OF: Tom Tom Club, Rat Vs Possum, Gang Gang Dance.
PIE EYE COLLECTIVE, TANGENTIAL CITY
WHO: A Bristol-born, London-based experimental musician paving his own pathway through techno, ambient, dub and jazz.
WHY YOU SHOULD BE LISTENING: In the past, Matthew Gordon, aka Pie Eye Collective, has been described as a sonic scientist, and when you look at how he draws from mathematics, graphs, geometry, and calculus as part of his compositional process, the analogy is apt. Following his debut album, Salvation, Tangential City is an exploration of the diversity of life experiences that can exist within a city’s population. Across thirteen open-eared instrumentals, Gordon crafts a shimmering soundworld rich in texture, rhythmic complexity and melodic movement. Listening to Tangential City is like strolling through bustling urban streets after dusk. Gordon’s tangential city is full of life.
FOR FANS OF: Aphex Twin, Space Afrika, Emma-Jean Thackray.
STEFFI, THE RED HUNTER
WHO: The longstanding Berlin DJ, producer and label owner processing loss through IDM, breaks and electro.
WHY YOU SHOULD BE LISTENING: Although she’s perhaps best known within the global electronic music consciousness for DJ residencies at Berghain/Panorama Bar, these days Steffi lives in rural Portugal, where she’s established the Candy Mountain label and studio with Virginia. The Red Hunter, named in homage to her late mother, is Steffi’s fourth album and her first for Candy Mountain. All lean muscle, The Red Hunter takes its cues from early IDM, breaks and modern electro, combining adventurous machine rhythms with spellbinding synths and serious bass pressure. The results sit somewhere between brain dance and body music, with a glossy, highly designed twist.
FOR FANS OF: Drexciya, Plaid, Martyn.
106 MIDO, BRIDGE PARANOIA / PYEONGCHANG
WHO: A mysterious South Korean producer working with a label run by a modern-day Seoul institution.
WHY YOU SHOULD BE LISTENING: If you've been clubbing in Seoul's underground scene, chances are you've spent some time at Cakeshop in the Itaewon district. Over the last two years, Cakeshop has also been running the Carousel label, home to releases from Mexico City's Orbe // Nacimiento and now 106 Mido. With Tower Bridge Paranoia / Pyeongchang, 106 Mido maps out a technonaturalistic soundworld where rolling jungle breaks and calm ambient textures collide with neon-lit trance synthesisers. Big city vibes with just the right amount of greenery. Adding to the vibe, DJ Taye, DJ Paypal and Woesum bookend the release with three suitably energised remixes.
FOR FANS OF: Air Max '97, Wrack, Dirty K & LJC.