Music Submissions Roundup: December
A selection of our favorite music submitted by XLR8R+ members last month.
Music Submissions Roundup: December
A selection of our favorite music submitted by XLR8R+ members last month.
As we kick start the new year, we’re rolling out our picks from the December submissions through our XLR8R portal. With much of the world still under lockdown and live venues shuttered, this is a ripe period for musical discovery even if you can’t see it in the flesh.
As you’d expect, there’s plenty to dig through in this month’s list, and we strongly recommend Melina Blanco, whose delicious ambient explorations have been on constant play this week. Meanwhile, those looking for something more energetic will probably enjoy the work of Tagir, a minimally-inclined Russian artist, and Dystopian Tofu, a curiously named musician who has submitted a playful trip-hop jam from a new mixtape. In terms of mixes, dig into the hypnotic techno of Adam Rahman, a key figure in Middle Eastern electronic music for decades. As per, we’ve added Bandcamp links where possible and, particularly with live music on hold, encourage you to buy.
Editor’s note: we’ve made a point of linking each artist’s name to their social media page, or a place where you can buy their music, and we encourage our readers to support these independent artists by buying their music. Let’s keep independent culture alive.
For those unfamiliar, XLR8R+ is a member-supported music community and curated music experience. Every month, you will get three exclusive tracks—sometimes more—by a wealth of amazing artists that XLR8R has supported over the years, as well as access to the member’s area where you can submit tracks and DJ mixes to be showcased in this feature series and to the XLR8R+ community, as well as exclusive editorial content, mixes, FREE passes to music festivals and events, playlists, and more. You can find out more here.
Melina Blanco “Sora”
Melina Blanco is a DJ-producer from San José, Costa Rica who produces a wide-reaching collection, from ambient through to IDM, techno, and noise. She is also passionate about film and visual art, and they are big influences when creating music. “Sora,” a stunning breaks track, is the opener of Éter, her latest EP on Chile’s Life Bypass label. Across four tracks, the music weaves between breakbeat, techno, and ambient, combining calm and meditative atmospheres with solid drum programming.
RDG “Cut Em Out
In December, Bay Sine presented its inaugural vinyl record, coming from Danish artist RDG, a good friend of the San Francisco label. Jungle Technology is a punishing EP spanning the depths of deep, aggressively charged bass music. It comprises four cuts from RDG collected over the past two years. The third track, “Cut Em Out,” may be the hardest-hitting tune on the record, with rolling bass, visceral lead synths, and a groove that will have you jumping out of your seat.
Bastian Benjamin “Concrete”
Born and based in Deventer, the Netherlands, Bastian Benjamin finds inspiration from walking through the local woods. Since releasing his debut single, “Come Close,” at 18, his sound has matured, inspired by experimental artists like Clark, Lusine, Skee Mask, and Djrum. He released his debut album, Two Truths, in December, aiming to take listeners on a journey of internal self-discovery. “Concrete” stands out on the LP with its deep bassline that aims to “drive listeners into the recesses of their own souls,” Benjamin says. It’s a genre-bending cut that plays out like a score to the depths of your mind.
Dystopian Tofu “Tofu and Chill”
While keeping a constant downtempo vibe, Dystopian Tofu opts for sonic exploration over sticking to proven recipes. His music broadly oscillates between lo-fi hip-hop and trap, and is heavily influenced by his obsession with dystopian narratives of all kinds, plus “his love for Tofu.” Dystopia and Chill 01, his newest mixtape, came out in December and it includes “Tofu and Chill,” a playful trip-hop jam to open the release, signaling its mission statement with feel-good beats.
Tagir, who produces across a range of experimental styles, was born in Krasnodar, Russia. His parents, both jazz musicians, passed onto him a taste for complex and non-standard forms of musical art, and he spent much of his childhood studying his father’s musical instruments from guitars and drum machines to synthesizers. He currently bases himself in Berlin, Germany, where he’s plunged his way into the world of minimalistic sound of techno and house, which became the basis of his characteristic sound. “Amu” is a collaboration with Indigo Minds, released digitally in March.
Alllone “Inside Out” feat. Forrest Lloyd
Shifting Frames is the first release from Zenarchy, a new imprint from the founders of dubstep label Subaltern Records. It’s produced by Alllone, a collaboration between two producers based in Graz, Austria. We’re told that they’ve made quite a name for themselves in the bass music scene, and that they’re now combining their musical influences in this “genre-defying union.” The album travels across a vast array of electronic flavors, from the energetic half-time bass weapons “Night Shift” and “Cooked” to the glitchy head-nodding grooves of “Acryl Color Smoothie,” and the broken-beat mastery of “Blueberry.” “Inside Out,” featuring Forrest Lloyd, is our pick of the bunch. It’s hard to pin down stylistically but manages to be at once heavy and nimble, pushing serene chords and confident vocal hooks over a swinging, bass-heavy groove.
Marco Bruno “Maverick”
Marco Bruno’s focus is to forge a whole from elements that are both corporeal and transcendental, he says, and to conjure up a sonic and emotional scene that is diverse, pure, and free. He began his musical journey as a resident DJ for clubs in his native region of Apulia, southern Italy, and has since moved into production. His releases are defined more by feeling than by genre, but they contain glints of ambient, broken beats, and techno. He’s recently launched his own label, Evighet, etymologically coming from Swedish and meaning “Eternity,” with Bookmarks Of Consciousness, a new EP featuring an Answer Code Request remix. “Maverick,” a frenetic sci-fi-indebted cut with an insatiable groove at its core, is the second track and our pick from the EP.
Theiz “Moving Forward Into The Past”
Theiz, real name Mathijs Schippers, may be a new name to many but the Dutch born, Belgium-based producer is 29 years deep in the scene. Having released on labels such as Eevolute (with East Island), Techno-Tourist, and Ear-Land Recordings in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s, Schippers began producing again in 2015. His activity as a music journalist brought him back into contact with the music industry and, freshly motivated, he’s now returning after a 15-year hiatus.
His new EP, Moving Forward Into The Past, refers to the period of time the tracks were written in: moving back to the house his wife grew up in was a step forward into a new future, but they were also surrounded by childhood memories. The title-track, with its melancholic melodies and an ungainly beat, captures these emotions perfectly. It’s inspired by Tangerine Dream, Plastikman, and even Phillip Glass.
Frédérique Bruyas “La Création” (Beyond the Clones remix)
Beyond the Clones, a producer living in Frankfurt, is a believer in old recording formats and using them to promote the soul of the ’80s hardware sound. Included on his latest EP, Science Fictionalised, was a rework of Frédérique Bruyas’ “La Création,” on which he morphs the original into a slow-moving piece of experimental ambient, complete with engrossing textures and affecting melancholic keys.
Vayron “Love’s Variation (Tilda’s Theme)”
Vayron is a newcomer to the electronic music scene and a co-founder of the newly formed label U.baba Records, from Paris, France. In December, they released 2 Years, an IDM- and electronica-infused work that they describe as a “contemplative journey” through the process of finding purpose in life. Vayron hopes it can help others going through similar journeys. It’s inspired by the works of Aphex Twin and Four Tet, but also classical composers like Debussy and Ravel. “Love’s Variation (Tilda’s Theme)” perfectly summarizes their work: it’s beautiful, touching, and full of textures that feel alive.
Kitsissut, a producer currently based in London, works in a range of electronic styles through the lens of jazz, minimal, and acid house. Their name refers to a tiny island at the southern-most tip of Greenland, which they glimpse when they’re flying home to Toronto, Canada, where they spent a decade in sound design for independent film and television. The Kitsissut project is an opportunity to interpret “an unruly collection of influences,” and “Scranshums” is a new single, released in December. It’s a playful broken-beat house cut that brings to mind minimal luminaries Akufen and Metamatics, and one that we recommend playing loud.
TENTAI 天体 “Days”
TENTAI 天体 is the alias of Billy Nigel, an experimental composer from New York who creates immersive sound worlds. “Days,” one of his latest tracks, released in March last year, is a five-minute sonic exercise in a singular style that utilizes chopped vocal samples and a stuttering groove to lock you into an ethereal zone.
Pink B “8”
Album 1 is a collection of songs from Pink B, an anonymous Italian composer. The artist uses painting to enhance the compositions and also to give them shape. They call this concept “materialized music.” With this in mind, the artist recommends that you listen to the tracks while contemplating the artworks here. Begin with “8,” a beautiful composition that balances barely-there beats with frayed melancholic synth lines and instrumentation that brings to mind the score for Twin Peaks.
Everything about LCAO is influenced by the world of atoms. That includes his name, which is short for “linear combination of atomic orbitals,” but also the artwork. After studying chemistry, the Italian-born Berliner began his musical education as a guitarist in some post-rock bands before starting his first solo project. He released his first album, Forbidden Transitions, in 2015 on Portuguese label Con+ainer Music. “Lithium,” a self-release, served as a pre-cursor for Aufbau, a later EP that came out in October. It’s a wonderfully crafted track with sound design at its core, flowing through shimmering synths and stoned beats before hitting its stride with an upbeat groove and touching vocal chops.
Jerod Rivera “Three Flowers“
Jerod S. Rivera is a musician based in Oakland, California. His obsession with synthesizers, Eurorack, sci-fi, and contemporary art forms the basis for his work, and he leans on a background in playing drums. His preferred sonic palette draws from hip-hop and techno. He released his debut album, Virgo, earlier this month’s and it includes “Three Flowers,” an intriguing IDM track of warped but tender electronics and has us yearning for more.
ich, Merlin “Friction“
ich, Merlin is a student living near Frankfurt, Germany who has recently undertaken score work for independent experimental art films. “Friction,” one of their latest productions, reflects an enthusiasm for the ’80s, and the aim was “to recreate the specific sound from that era,” they say. In that, we say they succeeded; “Friction” is a raw and swinging new-wave cut with enough sleazy swagger to live fervently in the ’80s.
one carrerea two “RATIO“
one carrera two is the new project of Los Angeles-based music producer Cato, who is driven by relentless beats and soaring soundscapes with a dirty edge. With a Norwegian background heavy on classic synthesizers, early digital samplers, and sound manglers, Cato spent years connecting wires, sounds and ideas in new and subversive ways. Early inspirations include artists such as Cabaret Voltaire and Throbbing Gristle. “Ratio,” a slow-motion dub techno track of the highest order, is the first taste of the new project, and it’s available for free download!
Distortion Disorder “Skeleton“
Distortion Disorder has always loved synthesizers. As a youngster growing up in Lithuania, he couldn’t afford a real one so he began making music on ReBirth RB-338 free software. His first real synthesizer was a Roland JX-3P, which he bought from a wedding musician, but he’s since acquired a whole load of authentic, vintage gear from a dedicated engineer called Zygimantas Laurutis, who is the backbone of many artists’ setups in the local scene, from hardcore to jazz, we’re told. With these new tools, Distortion Disorder expresses himself with brutal modular synthesizer sounds influenced by a mixture of punk, new wave, EBM, and electro. “Skeleton” is one of their latest jams, a rolling acid cut of immense power and fierce rhythms.
Teresa, real name Teresa Ferreiro, is a multi-disciplinary artist living in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. She’s featured on XLR8R+ before, and she completed the art for XLR8R+24, which featured AIDA, Slumber, and Eluize. She currently works in cultural research and DJs and makes music on the side. Her latest mix features tracks from Eomac, Tom Demac, Squarepusher, and even Daft Punk! As you can probably infer from that grouping of artists, it’s eclectic, with lots and bass and fun—a wild journey of club sounds to say the least.
Tima Fei “Ms. Halas’ Project”
Tima Fei recorded this mix for an eighth-grade art teacher named Ms. Halas, to educate students on the art of sound. The students were asked to interpret the sound in their art, with the winning artwork featured as the mix’s cover (seen above). Even beyond the classroom, it’s a captivating listen, with contemplative beats and subtle selections. It’s different from what you’d expect from the Chicago DJ, but the quality and embedded beauty remain.
Adam Rahman “Chronicles 38”
A DJ, promoter, label co-owner, and festival coordinator, Adam Rahman has been a driving force for dance music across the Middle East for decades. And while techno might be the go-to sound for dance music right now, he’s been pushing forward-thinking techno and electronica since he started in the late ’90s. He was recently invited to do a guest show on Proton Radio, and so he unveiled a deep, hypnotic techno set that really locks you in across 60 minutes of refined, world-class techno, with transfixing mixing to boot.