On this Autumn Equinox in 2022, with Summer just barely in the review mirror and fall quietly creeping in, it’s time to reflect. Here in our secret headquarters, West of the Westside in Los Angeles, Fall means less of a weather change than is does fewer tourists clogging-up PCH. With more space to breathe, we’ve been reflecting on the season, and talking about the sounds that are keeping us company.
Two years ago we published the first, and only, DAA column, which was a round-up of albums, mixtapes, and audio treats that we’re listening to at our camp. Obviously the consistency of our publishing leaves something to be desired, but please be patient. We’ve been busy doing the video series, as well as connecting live and direct with the debut of the LAxD series. As they say, “we out here.” But, I digress. Let’s get on with the music, shall we?
Santiago Salazar – “Dedicated EP” – Yaxteq
The venerable LA-based label Yaxteq drops it’s 8th EP as a label, and what a scorcher it is! The Dedicated EP, by Santiago Salazar, aka DJ S, goes deep into the sonic roots of the culture and excavates a treasure trove of sonic alchemy.
The Queen – A smooth, uplifting instrumental track that glides and shimmers, and at times feels like a 90’s ambient techno track, but with a nice boogie-funk anchor that never lets you forget that this Queen is for the dance floor!
Más Violencia – A driving track with a filtered bass line, that to my ears is reminiscent of “French Kiss” by Lil Louis. It pulsates, drifts, pops it’s head-up in a sneak-attack, then retreats back into the ether like a stealthy criminal. A perfect companion for warehouse intrigue.
Rise Up – This tune kicks-off with a stomping 909, then opens up with an almost gospel-like organ and piano combo, that immediately let you know you’re in church. Just when you start speaking in tongues, a slithering acid line comes in taking things to whole new level. This is a hands in air joint, that will make even the most cynical heathens in the club believe!
Europa – Starts with an off-kilter, airy synth line peppered with dry toms that keep it from floating-off planet, then like a space-jazz band playing the off world colonies, a stabbing bass line weaves in and out of the track, making this feel a lot like Carl Craig’s “Innerzone Orchestra.”
Europa (DJ Dex Remix) – Yaxteq label head DJ Dex flips this jazzy space odyssey into a certified barn-burner. Dropping a 909 kick right up front, then layering the lush space synth, and adding elements that pay homage to the Underground Resistance classic “Jupiter Jazz.”
Dave Aju – “Spacio Tempo” – Elbow Grease
This second release on Elbow Grease finds label-head Dave Aju under the radar and into the sounds, with a focus on the music over personality. The musicianship here can’t be overstated. Witnessing a producer at the top of his game is something rare, and here we get an ear-full.
Spacio Tempo (Full Version) – With the tempo of this EP’s tracks at the lower-end of the dance floor BMP scale (as the the name implies), this hypnotic track is a slow burn to the heart of space-funk. With an unrelenting synth-line that opens, resolves, and somehow drives deeper into uncharted territory, without every losing it’s “in the pocket” quality that keeps this soul train on the tracks. There is a wide tapestry of subtle, sonic easter eggs that make this 9:00 minute track never feel like it’s too long. It unfolds, pivots, and takes unexpected turns, all without ever losing its direction.
Spacio Tempo (Acid Tempo Mix) – With a driving kick and nasty 303 in the cut, this mix keeps the core elements of the original mix that give it that soulful funk sheen, but then drives it out to the desert, gives it a healthy dose of ayahuasca, and drops it off at a full moon party.
Spacio Tempo (Domingo Dub) – In this ambient dub version of the track, you get to hear all of those sonic easter eggs up front in the mix, which really gives you a sense of how deep and dense the production is on this record. Even in this “ambient” version of the track, there’s never a lull in the forward momentum. The elements fade in and out with a beautiful sense of urgency, without ever feeling overpowering.
VA – “Spirits of The Black Lodge Vol. 4” – The Black Lodge
On this fourth volume of the “Spirits of The Black Lodge,” a highly curated series of artists who lean toward the dark, experimental, and low-fi side of acid house take you deeper into your shadow self.
The Poetic Painter M – Elusive Clarity of 1 Mind – The opener of SOTBL V4. is an acid stomper from The Poetic Painter M aka Traxx aka Melvin Oliphant III, Nation Records founder and Chicago Jakbeat pioneer. In true form, this 120 bpm kicks hard, keeps the acid bubbling right beneath the surface, and immediately feels like a classic track (Traxx?) from the genre.
Pablo R. Ruiz – El Rey Del Amor – This is a dark, low-fi affair that sounds like is could have been pulled from an archive of early Cabaret Voltaire demos. An ominous voice is chanting, while a dissident pad sound creeps in, folding over the 4/4 driving kick that guides this track into unknown places. Chilean born, Detroit resident Pablo R. Ruiz (no relation), brings his signature low-fi noir sound here.
You can hear more of his work on Portage Garage Sounds, or on his Bandcamp page. – https://pablorruiz.bandcamp.com/
Grey People – Agoraphobia – Another deep acid cut here, this time from Grey People. This is an underwater affair. A track that takes you to the depths of what you do with a 303, layering deep AF reverb, tape hiss, and sonic onslaught that doesn’t let up for air.
Fashion Flesh – Kisses – A decidedly left-of-center, experimental cut here, that again feels like it could have been pulled from the Cold Wave Tapes archive. A whirling, bleeping, sonic tornado, that’s only passively anchored by a quietly distorted rhythm track that’s so low in the mix that it barely there. This track is like the best kind of rollercoaster, but in pitch black. You know you’re in for a thrill, but you just don’t know when.
Fauna53 – Jam1 (Asymmetrical weirdo orchestra edit) – Volume 4 closes with a track by Italian electronic collective Fauna53, headed by Asymmetrical who runs Raw Culture Records. A slow moving, acid sludge experience, again with a strong low-fi and beautifully distorted energy. Ghost-like voices almost sound like dub toasting from beyond our plane of existence. A gorgeously chaotic track that pulsates, dithers, then retreats into the smoke.