First Floor #134 – Hello Again (Part 1)
a.k.a. After a week off, there's a lot to catch up on in the world of electronic music.
As you may remember, I took a little break at the beginning of July, which is why today’s newsletter doesn’t have a link to the usual essay or interview. Don’t worry, the long-form pieces will resume next week, but in the meantime, so many things have happened during the past two weeks!
Simply put, there’s just too much stuff for me to fit it all into a single newsletter, which is why today’s First Floor is a special double edition. This first part is solely focused on electronic music news and new release announcements, while part two contains an extra-large dose of new track recommendations.
There’s a lot to catch up on, so let’s dive in.
A round-up of of the last week’s most interesting electronic music news, plus links to interviews, mixes, articles and other things I think are worth sharing.
Fresh off their release of their new Icons EP, prankster outfit Two Shell granted their first-ever interview to The Face, though the conversation with journalist Chal Ravens—which apparently took place via a chat module on the UK duo’s website—ultimately didn’t reveal much. The anonymous pair did offer some vague platitudes about wanting “to help peeps feel something in the now,” and also feigned ignorance about terms like hyperpop and dubplates, but perhaps the most interesting thing about the final published piece is that it was only available online for 12 hours total, presumably at Two Shell’s behest. (That said, the internet being the internet, the complete text of the original article has been archived here.)
Although the “Beyoncé and Drake are bringing back house music” narrative is both annoying and wildly innacurate, it did prompt NPR’s Here & Now to interview house originator Jesse Saunders, who also shared a selection of the genre’s early defining anthems. The full audio segment can be heard just after the 11-minute mark in the episode posted here.
Speaking of Chicago house legends, Marshall Jefferson is suing Kanye West, accusing the hip-hop superstar of sampling of his 1986 classic “Move Your Body” (without permission) no less than 22 times on the Donda 2 song “Flowers.”
Mike Pelczynski, SoundCloud’s Head of Strategy and Commercial Business (who I interviewed last year about the company’s foray into user-centric streaming), has started his own newsletter, Forms + Shapes. So far, it’s primarily focused on SoundCloud and the economics of streaming—the most recent post highlights a new white paper examining the benefits of the company’s fan-powered royalties system—but he says the publication is ultimately intended to document “all things at the intersection of music.”
Caterina Barbieri just released a brilliant new album called Spirit Exit (more on that in part two of today’s newsletter), and the Italian artist—who doesn’t often talk to the press—has granted an interview to NPR’s Lewis Gordon, detailing both the new LP and her own musical history.
Philip Sherburne has been on a tear for Pitchfork during the past few weeks, publishing the following stories:
A profile of fast-rising Barcelona avant-pop artist Marina Herlop.
A conversation with Panda Bear and Spacemen 3 alum Sonic Boom about their forthcoming collaborative LP.
A feature highlighting efforts to combat economic inequality within DJ culture, which includes conversations with DVS1 (about his Aslice initiative) and Maelstrom (about his recent blockchain-powered DJ mix). (Side note: I too interviewed Maelstrom about this back in March.)
Gushing festival reviews are some of the most reliably terrible / boring content offered up by publications these days, but Marc Burrows’ grumpy reflection on this year’s Glastonbury for The Quietus is a brilliant piece of writing, not to mention something that will likely resonate with any aging music fan who’s found themselves at a festival lately.
Otik is the subject of Mixmag’s latest Impact feature, in which writer Megan Townsend speaks to the prolific UK bass producer about his musical evolution, his new label and more.
With his new Escapology LP due to arrive tomorrow, Hyperdub founder Kode9 was interviewed by Dazed, and talked to Günseli Yalcinkaya about the new album and its roots in both sci-fi and colonial history.
Publishing house White Rabbit has released a new edition of Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton’s seminal book Last Night a DJ Saved My Life, and its new foreword—penned by DFA founder and LCD Soundsystem frontman James Murphy—has been shared by The Quietus.
Detroit has produced a lot of electronic music heroes over the years, but one who often goes overlooked is Brendan Gillen (a.k.a. BMG), which makes this Bandcamp Daily profile by Erin Margaret Day a real pleasure to read. The piece traces Gillen’s history, discusses the Interdimensional Transmissions label he founded alongside Erika and also explains how their No Way Back events have become some of the Motor City’s most celebrated parties.
Keeping things in Detroit, a recent edition of the BBC’s Radiophonic Travel Agency—a pandemic-inspired initiative from the BBC’s Radiophonic Workshop—was assembled by artist Rebecca Goldberg, who collected and shared a series of field recordings from all around the city. She was also interviewed about her contribution to the project by Konstantina Buhalis of the Detroit Metro Times.
Soichi Terada fans are likely familiar with Ape Escape, a series of PlayStation games from the late ’90s and 2000s whose scores were famously composed by the colorful Japanese producer. Now, a Brazilian artist named dedeco has put together a very fun (and rather campy) YouTube DJ mix using nothing but music and visuals from Ape Escape. (It’s actually part of an entire series of video game music DJ sets on his YouTube channel.) He’s also interviewed Terada, and has published the conversation as a subtitle commentary in the video of the mix.
A round-up of noteworthy new and upcoming releases that were announced during the past week.
Caribou has announced a forthcoming new album from his Daphni alias. Entitled Cherry, it’s due to arrive on October via his Jiaolong label. Both the LP’s title track (which he first shared in May) and a new track, “Cloudy,” can be heard here, and he’s also shared a “Cloudy” video, which was made by Damien Roach (a.k.a. patten a.k.a. 555x5555).
Pantha du Prince has a new LP on the way. Billed as “an artistic exploration of nature,” it’s called Garden Gaia and will be released on August 26 by Modern Recordings / BMG. In the meantime, he’s shared a visualizer video for the album’s first single, “Golden Galactic.”
Detroit veteran John Beltran will soon be returning to his Placid Angles moniker, as he’s completed a new EP called 056 (The Lotus) for the AD 93 label. Before it surfaces on July 22, he’s shared a single track from the record, “Stormy Angel.”
The Soft Pink Truth (a.k.a. Drew Daniel of Matmos) has finished a new EP, Was It Ever Real?, a record that’s said to crossfade “from hedonism to reverie as it remembers past pleasures and imagines a future yet to come.” He’s already shared opening track “Is It Gonna Get Any Deeper Than This? (Dark Room Mix)”—which is a full-on deep house tune—and the full EP will be released on August 19 via Thrill Jockey.
Hinako Omori’s lovely a journey… album flew somewhat beneath the radar when it dropped earlier this year, but now the London-based Japanese artist has assembled a collection of remixes, a journey with friends…, which includes reworks of her material by Patricia Wolf, Foodman, Coby Sey, Matt Robinson, Foodman and Akiko Haruna. The latter’s remix of “The Richest Garden in Your Memory” is already available, and the full release will arrive on July 29 through the Houndstooth label.
Few artists are prolific as Sarah Davachi, and the Canadian avant-garde composer has lined up a new full-length, Two Sisters, which she plans to release on September 9 via her own Late Music imprint. Ahead of that, she’s already shared the song “En Bas Tu Vois,” along with its accompanying video.
Leon Vynehall says he’s moving away from “out ’n out club music” for a while, but he’ll be closing out his recent run of dancefloor-focused tunes with one last EP, Endless (I&II), which is scheduled to drop on July 28 through his own newly minted Studio Ooze imprint. One of its tracks, “Endless (I),” is already available.
Although most of his higher-profile releases have surfaced via the Wisdom Teeth label he runs alongside Facta, UK producer K-LONE also has an imprint of his own, Wych, on which he’ll soon be releasing a new EP. He describes Squelch / With Luv as “another 2-track EP of bleepy melodic 140,” and though it isn’t due to arrive until August 5, the song “Squelch” has already been shared.
Mosca has issued another new single via his Rent label. “Shut Everything Down” revisits the brief 4 x 4 grime era of the early 2000s, and is something he describes as “pure club music.”
Al Wootton has completed another batch of dub-centric, not-quite-techno tunes, Wyre, and will be releasing the EP through his own TRULE imprint on July 22. The record’s title track is already available.
That’s it for part one of today’s newsletter. Thank you so much for reading First Floor, and make sure to check out part two—there are a ton of great new tracks in there.
Have a good week,
Shawn Reynaldo is a freelance writer, editor, presenter and project manager. Find him on LinkedIn and Twitter, or you can just drop him an email to get in touch about projects, collaborations or potential work opportunities.