If you think about it, dance music production and Alaskan crab fishing are surprisingly similar. To get anything done in either, you've got to isolate yourself from society and pull long hours doing tedious and backbreaking work (well, sort of). In dance music, most producers seem to hole themselves up for the majority of winter to return in the summer with the results of their labor. In other words, the following months are going to be heavy. Last time we helped you ease into things with five summer jams, but now, we're just going to go ahead and jump in with five of our recent favorites.
1. "Berghain," by Locussolus
The inimitable DJ Harvey is back with his group Locussolus, bearing a follow-up single to last year's self-titled debut LP. Titled "Berghain," it's possibly one of the weirdest records the man's done to date (and that's saying a lot). It's named after a Berlin techno superclub, and, as you might expect, it sees the group drifting in a more Teutonic direction. The end result takes the physical structure of German techno and does to it what Public Image Ltd.'s "Death Disco" did to disco.
2. "Y.O.U.R.O.C.K.," by I:Cube"
With a discography going back to the late '90s, I:Cube has been a leading figure in French dance music for a long time. His sound combines aspects of France's disco infatuation with the orchestral flair of European techno. "Y.O.U.R.O.C.K." is a perfect example of this -- it builds a straightforward four-to-the-floor dancefloor cut that wiggles with nervous synthesized energy as it drives with sticky percussion.
3. "Katoucha?," by Pépé Bradock
We're cheating a little in putting this on here, since it's not that new. Dropping back in April, "Katoucha?" was one of the better tracks on Imbroglios Part 1, the first EP Pepe Bradock has released in three years. That might not seem like such a big deal, but Bradock is a deep house producer of the finest order ("Deep Burnt" is about as classy as it gets). As usual, it's a textural work that navigates old New York house style through a collage of found audio, jazz samples, and noisy synth effects.
Released just a little while ago, this one's a B-side collaboration between two of dance music's most thoughtful producers. DJ Sprinkles (a.k.a. Terre Thaemlitz) has been active since the early '90s, with a large and hard-to-define catalog that dips as much into Merzbow-esque noise torture as it does into Kerry Chandler-influenced house restructuring. This latest track falls into the latter camp (though for it he's teamed up with similarly noise-minded artist Mark Fell) by providing an instrumental deep house cut that follows in the footsteps of 2009's hypercritical Midtown 120 Blues.
5. "Rave (Dirt Mix)," by Head High
No one seems to be entirely sure as to who Head High is (though the best guess seems to be that it's Shed). Then again, who really cares? "Rave (Dirt Mix)" is an excellent track. It starts off ludicrously tough, with motorized techno percussion propelling things forward at high speed. But, just as things are about to get to be too much, it evaporates into an ethereal melody played by pads. Fused together, it plays out like a stylistic plundering of '90s hard house and industrial techno as done by a producer that's over and done with minimal.