BC048 - Five Mixes: Spring cleaning, 2023
Playing catch-up with some of the year’s best sets
Erika, via The Wire
Recently I started a best-of-year mixes list, shared with a handful of friends—a version will appear here at the appropriate time—and realized that I haven’t even mentioned (what do you know?) five of its items, all from spring, in this newsletter yet. Here they are.
You can hear four of the five sets on this SoundCloud playlist.
BYZARRA, Daisychain 272 (March 30)
This and Astrolex, below, took so long to get to in this precinct because I was (am) delinquent on another assignment including them. (My apologies to all concerned; it was assigned right before my mother died, and it’s been hard to get back on the horse for reasons that have nothing to do with the assignment, per se.) Nevertheless, I am way past due to cover them here, at least. I’ve written before about Cristian Ybarra, aka both BYZARRA and DIE/Aspora, though as a promoter more than as a DJ, per se. They’re one of my favorites in the Twin Cities—always different, always adventurous, always dialed in, never predictable. Their Noods Radio session from May is also recommended, but this is the ones I return to most. It’s an acid cavalcade—not everything on it is dredged in 303, but all of it matches up spiritually and aurally. It’s playful and freewheeling, a two-hour hike where the landscape never stops shifting or blooming.
Surgeon, Essential Mix (BBC Radio 1, April 15)
My preview in The New Yorker says more about the DJ at hand (as it should have) than the highlighted set itself, though the ending still gets at a lot of it. The first part of the Essential Mix is so stern and growly that a revisit made me wonder just why I liked it so much. Then things got really frisky and stayed that way. This isn’t presented as a 180, either—he’s turning the diamond to show off its other facets, but a diamond it remains. It occurred to me when I wrote the blurb and it occurs to me now that this works well as an introduction to techno, full stop.
Astrolex, House Proud Minneapolis (Beast BBQ, May 5)
My favorite in-person sets of recent months is a robust category; it includes both the Detroit legend Stacey “Hotwaxx” Hale and local opener Bobby Khan at the Red Sea, in Minneapolis’s Cedar-Riverside neighborhood, on October 7, and an amazing indoor late set by another Minneapolitan, Elysium Alps, the Sunday before Labor Day at Communion, just for starters. But this one has so far taken the cake. House Proud is one of the Twin Cities’ stalwart club nights, starting with the now-legendary Honey, whose pandemic closing I covered here. Lately, at Beast BBQ in Northeast Minneapolis, about a mile from the old Honey location, House Proud has been resting on its laurels less than it had been for a while, and it’s been showcasing some of the brightest new DJs in town. Astrolex is one, and this night out was charged for reasons both musical and personal. The latter has been resolved, but angsty as things felt at times, I knew the second I heard it how good this set was, and time has only strengthened that claim. It leans heavily toward R&B and soul—the whole thing is basically encapsulated during the set’s killer moment, the descending organ line that lands @ 1:29:20. There are a dozen more moments nearly that great, and the whole is pure buoyancy.
Erika, Wire Mix (May 15)
This one didn’t get a look-see till now for the lamest of reasons—I don’t stream from Mixcloud nearly enough, for the simple reason that its sets won’t embed on Substack. (That also points to a reason I was out of action for a while as fall began: Substack wasn’t embedding SoundCloud, either, for a couple weeks; then, suddenly again, they were.) Recorded live in Detroit in October 2022 (the same time month as her electro-heavy Dekmantel Podcast 407, also recommended), this is the model of an opening set, Detroit art-dance style. The selections glide by, less like water than like rubber meeting the road. It’s sculpted, intensely so—the Interdimensional Transmission-led parties that Erika has been part of for decades now puts a clear premium on it—and that holds true even if every track was decided upon strictly in and during the moment.
Jubilee, Daisychain 280 (May 22)
The door person caught in the act (or performing as if being caught) on “Xander” establishes the mood straightaway: “I’ve been doing door here for two and a half years, and I’m a nasty cunt.” So does the burbling, skittering synth line it rides. Juicy cross-rhythms and letting-the-week-off vulgarity—“Blow It Up (Wanna Smash Dub)” is a jam –are the rule here; however hard and dark Jubilee might play, which can be plenty, there’s always some light coming in, be it from humor, attitude, percussion, whatever.