Tag Archives: night slugs

The underground kings of Fade to Mind

If Night Slugs was the finest label of 2010, a case could be made that sister label Fade to Mind wore the crown last year. While not matching the output of the prolific London imprint in quantity, Fade to Mind has made a mark by documenting the most exciting developments in American club music.

The brainchild of LA’s Kingdom and Texas producer Prince William, Fade to Mind is more than a label: it’s a collective of like-minded artists who produce club music that maintains the rough edges of its underground origins. Fade to Mind doesn’t seem interested in “mainsteaming” these cultures as much as uniting underground scenes from LA to New York and all points in between.

After releasing a limited-edition, bootleg mix CD, Fade to Mind’s first official release was the superb Timesup EP by standard bearers Nguzunguzu. The EP is an exploration of mutated bass music that oscillates between sensual and creepy. The video for standout “Water Bass Power” features the off-kilter, aquatic weirdness that defines seapunk.

New Jersey’s MikeQ has become synonymous with the the recent re-emergence and popularity of ballroom music. Fittingly, his first major release, Let It All Out, was Fade to Mind’s second. The EP is an introduction to vogue staples like the Ha beat and speakers like Kevin JZ Prodigy; it even includes a remix by genre originator Vjuan Allure. Continuing to delve into ballroom, the label just dropped a free EP from Massachusetts producer Rizzla, who, along with spinning the Ha (“Badmind Ha”), takes on tropical rave (“Psychoton”). In true ballroom style, “Dick” is a sexed up club track based on a Lil’ Kim sample that you can figure out from the title.

[wpaudio url=”/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/03 DICK.mp3″ text=”Rizzla – Dick” dl=1]

Fade to Mind hasn’t stopped there, also releasing an EP by the label’s lone European (for now): Gremino. The Finnish producer’s Let’s Jack is a percussive, aggressive take on techno and grime. The breakbeats on “Lush” shake foundations and the midrange pulses on the title track are haunting. Rounding out the collective’s lineup are artists Total Freedom, Cedaa, Clicks & Whistles, and Fatima Al Qadiri, collaborators who will hopefully be releasing music through the label soon.

Want to hear what Fade to Mind is all about without going to their LA-based monthlies? These twin mixes from the label heads do the trick. Just rest assured you’ll be hearing more from Fade to Mind sooner than later.

[wpaudio url=”http://fadetomind.net/audio/ftm_mix_001.mp3″ text=”Prince William – Fade to Mind Mix 001″ dl=1]

EP Roundup: Munchi / Bok Bok / Skream

Three major names in underground electronic music released EPs, and each deserves a close listen. Don’t sleep on any of these future grooves.

MunchiRotterdam Juke

Ever since his remix of Nguzunguzu’s “Unfold,” bassheads have eagerly awaited more juke from Munchi. With the release of the Rotterdam Juke EP, Munchi delivers: over six tracks, Munchi presents a unique view of Chicago from a Dominican living in Rotterdam.

After a few months of hardship, Munchi announces his triumphant return with “Mi Ta Bek,” which features the iconic “guess I got my swagga back” sample (Jay Z by way of Datsik and Excision). The track, along with “Mamajuana,” have the same type of colliding beats of “Murda Sound,” off the EP of the same name.

As always, Munchi’s melting pot style is on full display. The sweet sorrow of Dominican bachata compliments the rapid-fire toms of juke on “Andando,” and only Munchi has the audacity to sample Rage Against the Machine’s “Bull On Parade” – and the ability to pull it off – like he does on “Paperchase.” “Straat Taaki” (“Street Talk”) has less overt juke influence, but the raw, uneven traphouse beat is straight gangsta. The stand out track is “Yazzer Tin Air Max,” which is pure, uncut footwork.


Bok BokSouthside EP

Night Slugs co-founder Bok Bok takes a break from running the world’s hottest electronic label to release his first ever solo EP. With an 808 in one hand and a 303 in the other, Bok Bok is at his finest, crafting dark, sexy soundscapes that push the boundaries of post-dubstep/post-UK funky dance music.

On “Charisma Theme,” airy synths permeate a sensual beat that has that Night Slugs je ne sais quoi. “Hyperpass” is unrelenting tech house, and “Reminder” has exotic synth lines that give it an Eastern feel. Southside closes with the sinister grime of “Silo Pass” and “Look Dub;” the former is a more dense composition, but the latter imbues the empty space with eeriness.


SkreamSkream EP

While Bok Bok takes a break from his, Skream disengages from Magnetic Man for a major release on his own label. The self-titled EP on Disfigured Dubz brings together four tracks that Skream has been annihilating audiences with. “Heavy Hitter” and “Rigging” have the midrange wobble of “classic” dubstep; while done to death by other producers, the technique still feels vital in Skream’s hands. “Sea Sick” does the same, with descending synths that perfectly capture the feeling of the song’s title. The best track is “Hats Off,” where he returns to the well, combining a Loleatta Holloway vocal and the “amen” break into something more ravey than his breakthough hit “Burning Up.”


Future Grooves: Kingdom

Kingdom is a producer that epitomizes my recent obsession, a trend I’ve coined rhythm and bass. The Brooklyn-based producer draws on all types of electronic music – dubstep, UK funky, juke, and kuduro, to name a few – along with the sultry vocals and melodic bent of R&B. With releases on leading labels Night Slugs and Fools Gold, along with a pick on the Trouble & Bass-curated Sounds of NYC EP, Kingdom finds himself at the forefront of a music revolution.

His debut single, the wobbly raver “Mind Reader,” received remixes from Night Slugs label heads Bok Bok and L-Vis 1990, who both altered the song’s tempo to reveal different aspects of its character. Bok Bok’s take is slower, putting Shyvonne’s vocals in the forefront; the remix by L-Vis amps up the song’s already high energy.

Kingdom returned the favor by releasing That Mystic on their label; the EP is one of the highlights of their young catalog. Under the scattershot percussion and foreboding synths are deep grooves that dare the listener not to dance. There are even surprising moments that lift the veil, like the breakdown of the otherwise unrelenting “Bust Broke” that pretty clearly samples Faith Evans’ “Soon As I Get Home.”

[wpaudio url=”https://postcultural.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/bustbroke.mp3″ text=”Kingdom – Bust Broke” dl=0]

As alluded to earlier, Kingdom’s love affair with R&B doesn’t stop at a lone Faith Evans sample. He dabbles with baby making music on his remix of Usher’s “Appetite,” and his mix for XLR8R ends with a brilliant mash-up of Girl Unit’s “Every Time” and Ciara’s “Ride.” The latter was just released as a Night Slugs white label, “Ride It Every Time.”

While he can get smooth with rhythm and bass, Kingdom also has a sharper edge. Songs like “Uptown Buck” (on the aforementioned Sounds of NYC compilation) and “Hottest in America” revel in programmed drums, electronic chirps, and vocal slices. With the company he keeps, it’s no surprise that Kingdom makes dance music for all occasions.

Download: Kingdom – Hottest in America
Download: Kingdom – XLR8R Podcast

Night Slugs: the label that owns the night – and the future

2010 belonged to Night Slugs. In just one year, the London-based record label and club night, run by L-Vis 1990 and Bok Bok, released nine EPs, a handful of singles, and a compilation album (the ironically premature greatest hits collection Night Slugs All Stars Volume 1). While the quantity is impressive, the quality is even more so.

The (still developing) Night Slugs sound is zeitgeist-defining, forward-thinking dance music. Tracks from the labelheads, along with those from similar heavyweights, put Night Slugs at the forefront of London’s dance scene with a vibrant hybrid of house, funky, and bass. 2011 finds the label moving to bigger and better things, but let’s take a look at where it’s been.

Things started, appropriately enough, at Mosca’s Square One EP. The title track is the prototypical Night Slugs offering: a juxtaposition of dance music sounds and styles, assembled in new and exciting ways. For “Square One,” it’s the descending tones of dubstep, the surging power of UK funky, and forays into dancehall toasting and soulful R&B vocals. Remixed by A-listers Bok Bok, L-Vis, Julio Bashmore and Roska, the remix by Greena builds slowly but packs a punch, like a prizefighter shaking off a haymaker.

[wpaudio url=”/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/mosca__square_one__GREENA_remix.mp3″ text=”Mosca – Square One (Greena remix)” dl=1]

Egyptrixx’s The Only Way Up picks up where Square One left off, and was followed by the first offering from the steadily-rising Girl Unit, IRL. On Night Skanker, Lil Silva gets even more grimey and aggro than Girl Unit, blending soca rhythms with metallic synth lines, these synthetic horns that push into the red.

[wpaudio url=”/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/lil_silva-golds_to_get.mp3″ text=”Lil Silva – Golds to Get” dl=0]

Leave it to one of the original Night Slugs to capture the label’s essence. On his Forever You EP, L-vis 1990 re-visits the spoken word house music tribute of Jason Jinx’s “Your First Time” with pure 303 acid. Fast forward a decade, as L-vis does on the title track, to diva-driven house with hints of wobbly bass.

Night Slugs is quickly becoming the home to a dance music revolution. The juke bass of Kingdom, the synth funk of Velour, and the future grime of Jam City have all been released by the label, and none feels out of place. Same for the Baltimore club remixes by Pearson Sound (the new alias of dubstep wunderkind Ramadanman), released earlier this month. And on Night Slug’s first LP, Bible Eyes, the aforementioned Egyptrixx pushes the label’s sound into new territory – namely, darkwave. With releases like these last two, 2011 just might belong to Night Slugs, too.

[wpaudio url=”/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/let_me_see.mp3″ text=”Rod Lee – Let Me See What U Workin’ With (Pearson Sound edit)” dl=0]

Download: Egyptrixx – Chrysalis Records (feat. Trust) via XLR8R

Future Grooves: Girl Unit

Once in a blue moon, a track will come along and capture the zeitgeist perfectly. For electronic music, the most recent example is “Wut” by London’s Girl Unit, which dropped last October on Night Slugs. The futuristic laser beam synths, tweaked out siren song sample, and massive 808 club rhythm of “Wut” are fast becoming the high watermark for dubstep-garage-funky hybrids.

The man behind “Wut,” Girl Unit, is 25-year old Phil Gamble. Like many of his peers, he started making beats as a teenager armed with Fruity Loops. He went by the name Girl U No It’s True, a tongue-in-cheek Milli Vanilli reference that he eventually shortened to his current moniker.

Starting with last April’s IRL EP, Girl Unit’s star has been steadily rising. “IRL” is a nasty little banger, combining the no-frills dubstep of Benga with the UK funky sound of his Night Slugs contemporaries. “Shade On” and “Temple Keys” were further dalliances with this hybrid sound; the jazzy keys on the latter a unique touch.

Following up IRL with the Wut EP, Girl Unit amped up the hip-hop and R&B influences considerably. “Every Time,” like “Wut,” relies on an unrecognizable diva loop, while “Showstoppa” has the big bass sweeps of a Rick Ross tune. The mid-tempo songs rock with a sexy swagger that is unrelenting and unforgiving. Throughout the EP, rat-a-tat drums evoke gangsterish drive-bys more than dancing in clubs.

In addition to his EPs, Girl Unit has remixed a few tunes with the same twisted approach he uses on his own material. His vinyl-only remix of Katy B’s “Lights On” is the best take on the track yet. His remix of C.R.S.T.’s “The Bells” strips away the funky house beat and feeds it syrup until it no longer resembles the original.

The usual suspects are onto Girl Unit, and you can’t blame them. His mixes for XLR8R, Fader, and Numbers show just how tight his control over his sound is.