The Martinez Brothers, WARHOL*BASQUIAT*2 (mixtape)
The Martinez Brothers were just 13 and 18 when they put out their debut single, “My Rendition,” on Dennis Ferrer’s Objektivity label, in 2007. While their age contributed to their anointment as instant underground faves, the skills (and charm) they’ve displayed behind the decks since then have cemented their exalted status. (Which, in turn, has led to gigs like soundtracking Givenchy runway shows.) What they haven’t been, though, is prolific; they’ve released just seven records in seven years, two of them collaborations with the Greek producer Argy — just north of a dozen tracks in all, not counting remixes. So it seems ironic that their new mixtape — a free download, like its predecessor, the five-track WARHOL*BASQUIAT — effectively quadruples the size of their catalog in one fell swoop. It’s 40 tracks (and 90 minutes) long; like its predecessor, it mostly eschews house in favor of lush, jazz- and funk-fueled boom-bap with heavy Native Tongues (and Pal Joey) vibes. It’s definitely a mixtape; the majority of these probably came together in the time it took them to cut up drum breaks and Rhodes loops and bash them out on the MPC, but there’s nothing wrong with that. At their best, their beats have a quizzical, psychedelic feel, stretching loops of Donna Summer and George Duke into long strips of taffy and turning up the humidity until they dissolve on their own.
Africaine 808, “Lagos New York” (Golf Channel)
Africaine 808 is the duo of Dirk Leyers, formerly of Closer Musik, and a Berlin DJ and street artist named Nomad; the project grew out of Nomad’s Vulkandance parties, a melting pot of African, Latin, and Caribbean dance music. The series’ name, one suspects, is a nod to the rubberiness of the grooves played there; at least, that’s the impression from the duo’s new single for New York’s Golf Channel label, “Lagos New York.” While the chipper strings-and-synthesizer melody is only a notch away from Love Boat levels on the camp-o-meter, there’s nothing tongue-in-cheek about the shimmying, heavily syncopated rhythm, with its interlocking shakers and woodblocks and slap bass and vibraphones. As sunny as Todd Terje at his smilingest, it’s a masterpiece of mood-programming. The B side’s “Zombie Jamboree” is darker, with dusky voices and horn swells wrapped around rolling African percussion, and craftily layered synths that lend the impression of a Detroit-techno-versus-New-York-house soundclash. (The EP should be out in late February; hear more Africaine 808 tracks here.)
Whilst, Everything There Was Was There EP (Optimo Music)
While we’re talking about African dance music, here’s Glasgow’s Whilst, a group of “unnervingly young” musicians (per JD Twitch, whose Optimo label is behind their first release) who do a spot-on Ethio-jazz-in-dub thing on “Untitled from North Africa,” a 3:35 fever dream of ring-modded saxophone and rolling, 5/4 beats that sounds like Mulatu Askatke covering Maximum Joy. That one’s kind of an outlier, though; on “Goya’s Skull” and “Umgebung,” they dig into dubby post-punk-disco and dubby Krautrock, respectively, in both cases doling it out with enough offhanded weirdness that you forget how many times it’s been done. On the former, the handclaps alone are worth the price of entry, and the latter brims with nervous energy and sounds so vivid that you’re tempted to grab them out of the air, turn them over in your hand, and try to figure out what they’re doing there. (Is that a DX-chime sample from an old Depeche Mode record? How did that get in here?) “Wee Moth,” on the other hand, is a minute-and-a-half blast of free-jazz skronk and tearing drum work accompanied by oscillator squeal, and “Postcard from a Robot Master” is equal parts Penguin Café Orchestra and Daft Punk’s “Touch.”
Joy Orbison & Boddika, “More Maim” (Sunklo)
For the most part, Joy Orbison and Boddika’s productions for their Sunklo label have been about the balance of hard and soft — so plenty of swaggering rhythms and metallic clank and drums that land like medicine balls, but also plenty of hushed white noise and husky voice, like a punch to the gut and an exhalation of breath all at once. Their new single follows suit, but the blow is heavier, the breath raspier. There’s no reassuring hand-holding on “More Maim”; even during the relatively restrained bits, a quivering tri-tone drone has you flinching in anticipation of the impact to come. But man, what a masochistic pleasure when it hits, a low-tuned kick run through clammy spring reverb that gives it the outline of an inkblot, or a bruise. Instead of beating you over the head with force, the track spends most of the time drawing out the tension, leading up to a bellowing freight-train wail that lasts for just one second and is never heard from again. It’s enough to make you laugh out loud, dumbstruck, delighted.
Tiago, Emotional Poverty (Noisendo)
Nothing feels tied down on Emotional Poverty, a new CD-R release from Tiago, a Portuguese producer better known for squelchy disco and house on labels like DFA and Italians Do It Better. (He’s also a member of the group Sangue de Cristo, with Photonz.) Befitting its format, this is music for freaky dream states rather than dance-floor function — just take the third untitled track, which wraps a pitched-up loop from “What the World Needs Now” in dissonant syn-flutes and moves with an energy somewhere between a drift and a spurt. Even where the dance-music canon raises its head, as with the speedy Detroit techno of track four, it’s just one pulse among many. There’s a locked-groove-like fugue for floor toms and distorted guitar, and a sort of DFA-inspired house track that sounds like a piano being dropped on Glenn Branca’s guitar orchestra; the more abstracted track two flakes apart like a drill bit through mica, while the closing cut approximates Teebs’ most vaporous keyboard fantasies. My favorite of the bunch loops a spoken-word reggae sample (“Love rastaman”?) over see-sawing drones and nail-bitten trap hi-hats and a lurching, too-slow beat; it feels like drum’n’bass deboned and turned to jelly. (Get the CD-R here.)