Slam on the CDJ: The Best DJ Sets of August, 2023

Michael McKinney returns for the latest edition of Slam on the CDJ to highlight the best DJ sets from the past month, featuring boxofbox, Job Jobse, Tarotplane and more.
By    September 4, 2023

\Image via Michael McKinney

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In August, the best DJ sets went deep rather than wide. There’s value in both, of course, but there’s something particularly powerful about a DJ taking a crowd and dropping them down a highly particular abyss. In a brain-bending set at London’s Field Day festival, Aphex Twin turned in a whirlpool of breakbeats and white-hot hardcore. Over in Rotterdam, techno mavericks Black Girl / White Girl spun funked-up four-on-the-floor rollers all night; in Brooklyn, the hardgroove revival continued apace thanks to Regal86 & 1OO1O. Dance-music explorer Millia handed in an hour of dub for the dancefloor, and Yumi zoomed in on the kitchen-sink mania that makes New York so exciting. Ben Bondy & Pontiac Streator dug into screwed-up pop, left-field electronics, and muffled R&B in a slow-motion set at Dripping; at the same festival, RP Boo tangled up timelines in a celebration of footwork.

In his first NTS special, billdifferen offered up a wildly exciting survey of baile funk, while DJ K went deeper on the scene’s most maddening stuff. Job Jobse offered up a palate cleanser of sun-blasted rave tracks, and boxofbox turned in nearly twelve hours of golden-age breakbeats, R&B, and hardcore. Sweden’s Civilistjävel! crafted a characteristically garbled exploration of ambient, techno, and stomach-churning folk music for Fact; over in Baltimore, Tarotplane went deep on ambient techno and “American visionary music” in a pair of heart-stopping slow-burners. Multi-hyphenate artist Murlo explored the many shades of “cinematic” music in a special for NTS, while dance-music maverick Minor Science showed off spaced-out jazz and ambient in a set for Crack. Vladimir Ivković, mixing over in Japan, played zonked-out breakbeats and blissed-up rock records for a midnight crowd; and Time Is Away looked towards the stars, tangling up mythologies, traditions, and histories in the process.

Here are some of the best DJ sets August had to offer.

Aphex Twin – Field Day 2023

At this point in Aphex Twin’s career, you can’t count on much: his music is nominally “electronic,” but that descriptor is more formal than functional. Beyond that, what? It’s alien, occasionally sepia-toned, and often a bit confrontational, but the only steady throughline is the producer’s predilection for escape hatches and wormholes. Aphex Twin is a perennial prankster, and he has carried that mischievous spirit through all of his work. Field Day 2023 is no different: he opens the set with a series of feints, gesturing towards freaked-out IDM, electro-rock circa 2035, and vintage rave-ups. It’s not until the drums kick in that the set’s real modus operandi—unending acceleration—hits. Once they land, though, it’s not long before he’s lit the amps on fire, finding an increasingly manic space between white-knuckle techno, drill-and-bass madness, and acid-rain breakbeats. Eventually, he’s launched into full-on walls of noise, launching breakcore and gabber cuts deep into an unsuspecting crowd. It’s a tour-de-force of everything-at-once dance music, and it’s yet another magic trick from dance music’s reigning trickster.

Ben Bondy & Pontiac Streator – Dripping 2023

Spend enough time on Ben Bondy’s Bandcamp page and you’re liable to find a throughline: the Brooklyn producer-DJ is fond of a good bootleg. This is hardly unusual; entire genres have been built on reimagined rhythms. But his best ones feel like they eschew the dancefloor entirely, taking the sounds of pop radio and dunking them in a vat of mist. This approach is wildly successful: previously familiar melodies and cadences turned into soundtracks for seances. (If you’re interested in a full-on exploration of this idea, last year’s Live at False Peak 03/05 is perhaps Bondy’s most potent demonstration of this approach.)

In an opening set at Dripping, Bondy hooked up with fellow ambient-etc. troublemaker Pontiac Streator. The pair have worked together before, but each time it’s something new: two of their sets from last year are made up of pitch-black drum-and-bass and confetti-blasted UK garage, respectively. Here, they look towards a new aesthetic yet again, turning in a long-form session of curdled ambient electronics in the vein of Bondy’s work. Stutter-stepping drums are out; gauzy ambience and sludged-up pop tracks are in. The result is both brain-bending and wildly successful. Dripping 2023 opens with disconcertingly close spoken word, whispered vocals chopped and dragged atop bleary-eyed synthesizers. That alchemy—a kind of disorienting intimacy—is indicative. They spend the rest of the session deepening each part of that equation: Paulstretched walls of synthesizers and garbled-up drone-pop, muffled indie-rock and R&B cuts that sound like 2005’s idea of 2030. By the end, they’ve worked towards a kind of heartbroken euphoria, taking the yearning that underlines so much great pop music and stretching it into infinity.

billdifferen – 24th August 2023 / DJ K – Fact Mix 923

If you spend your time on Twitter and you’ve heard of Brazilian funk in the past two years, there’s decent odds it can be traced back to billdifferen. The writer (don’t call him a DJ) has been covering all sorts of critical hubs in regional club music for some time, and he’s been boosting funk for a few years now. It’s no wonder why: this is some of the most exciting music on the planet, club or otherwise. Nearly everything coming out of the scene is simultaneously raucous and decidedly minimal, with a few elements cranked to speaker-busting levels: gut-twisting bass, some kind of wild-eyed high-end, and manic MC performances that cut through the noise. At its best, it’s the kind of stuff that elicits laughter out of sheer disbelief—who knew they could make bass this loud?

For his turn behind the Ghost Notes Worldwide decks, billdifferen turned in two hours of the stuff, leaning into the everything-at-once mania that makes the scene so exciting while simultaneously showing off its sonic range. Given it’s a funk special, the whole thing has a clear aesthetic core, which allows him to stretch into all sorts of wild-eyed territories: there’s a handful of provocative sample flips (Silento! James Blake! 50 Cent!), a few cuts that are a DAW track away from full-on noise, plenty of synthesizers primed to crack an amplifier in half, and a bit of material that dares to venture into barely-there sound design, sounding dangerously close to ambient music. It’s a full-throttle survey of Brazilian funk, full of the manic energy that makes it such a critical hub for contemporary dance music. Turn your laptop speakers all the way up and burn your house down.

If billdifferen’s special is a widescreen and joyous look at the scene, then Fact Mix 923 is essentially its photographic negative. The mix, recorded at home by São Paulo upstart DJ K, presents a nightmarish vision of Brazilian funk music: screeching synthesizers designed to deepen drug-induced hallucinations, kick drums that threaten to crash a cracked FL Studio, and blood-boiling energy. (It should come as little surprise that “bruxaria,” the scene that the young producer calls home, roughly translates to “witchcraft.”) With Fact Mix 923, DJ K digs deep into his own folders, turning in nearly forty self-produced tracks in sixty minutes; it follows that the set’s aesthetic is both singular and tightly controlled. This is funk music for bad trips in back alleys: sinister, maddening, and riotous all at once.

Black Girl / White Girl – Open-to-Close Jackfest

The name gives away the game. Black Girl / White Girl, a.k.a. Karin Debi and Tahnee Vanity, have been lighting up Amsterdam’s dancefloors for a decade now, and their music, like the name of their project, is both strictly utilitarian and a bit playful. In Open-to-Close Jackfest, the pair cycle through over a hundred techno cuts in just over six hours, riding no-nonsense kick-drums into infinity. They’re canny enough to keep things dynamic even as they burrow ever deeper into grooves, making for an all-night session that feels like it goes by in a blink. They spend the session flicking through an encyclopedia of techno’s umpteen permutations, moving from jacking old-school bass workouts to blistering acid, rickety electro-minimalism to lighters-up belters, barely-there synth loops to full-on breakbeat-techno rollers. As the set runs on and the minutes turn to hours, the full scope of Open-to-Close Jackfest creeps into view: this is a masterclass in deep-and-wide techno of a very particular stripe, stuff that moves with the machine-funk that started it all while offering countless paths into the future.

boxofbox – Honcho Podcast Series 119 / A Euphoria for Rolling Green Hills

Deep into Honcho Podcast Series 119, boxofbox pulls off something remarkable. They spent much of the set taking a foundation of lovelorn balladry and slowly cranking up the heat, and by the end, they’re in full-on club-night mode. When they reach for The Prodigy’s “Speedway (Theme From Fastlane),” they make as much clear: this is retro breaks as a manic and psychedelic thing, a low-end chug of acid while drum kits and cars careen past. But then they blend it into, of all things, Hideki Naganuma’s “Sneakman,” a cut from the cult-classic video game Jet Set Radio. It’s as funky as The Prodigy’s cut was disorienting: umpteen horn stabs, whirlwinding drum kits, and an electric bassline launched into overdrive. boxofbox ups the mania by cranking the tempo, practically doubling it by the end. It’s a profoundly disorienting moment—bridging oceans, timelines, media, and approaches—but it’s also effective, in large part because it’s the kind of left-of-center, jubilee-first dancefloor fuel that boxofbox specializes in.

This is far from the only moment like this in Honcho Podcast Series 119, which sees the East-coast DJ weaving between umpteen styles and histories without so much as a scuffed blend. Here, it’s spaced-out breakbeats and chase-scene trance records; there, it’s full-on elation via a few well-placed kick drums and a boisterous techno emcee; elsewhere still, it’s breakbeat records that stretch towards the stars. The particulars are beside the point, though: with Honcho Podcast Series 119, boxofbox points towards unabashed dancefloor euphoria, grabbing a million sounds that have soundtracked just as many club nights and making them sound fresh again thanks to canny mixing and plenty of rug-pulls.

A Euphoria for Rolling Green Hills was released ten days after Honcho Podcast Series 119, but it might as well be a B-side to the set. There’s a few key differences—Euphoria nearly doubles the run-time of Honcho, for one—but, in all the important ways, it’s more of a good thing. The set, which was made to soundtrack boxofbox’s annual pilgrimage to critical queer dance-music festival Honcho Campout, hits plenty of familiar emotional notes: it’s joyous and playful and wild-eyed in equal measure, with plenty of sepia-toned moments of joy creeping in between the floor-fillers. (Or is it the other way around?)

But, in going long, boxofbox finds a kind of freedom not afforded in the relatively quick three-hour session for Honcho. Here, they’re able to play tracks out in full, or something close to that. Early on, that gives them plenty of space for long-form heartbreakers: Jetty’s “Ghosting,” Jim Legxacy’s “Candy Reign (!),” Mary J. Blige’s “Reminisce (Remix).” Play the tape forward, though, and you’ll find them working in wildly different territories, grabbing mind-bending breaks, pumped-up hi-NRG, joyous freestyle records, vintage rave-music rollers, and of-the-moment dubstep-techno. A Euphoria for Rolling Green Hills shows boxofbox working with an everything-goes kind of psychedelia, stringing together decades of rave-music euphoria in the process.

Civilistjävel! – Fact Mix 919

If you dig into Civilistjävel!’s Järnnätter—far from the artist’s first LP, despite what Bandcamp may have you believe—you’ll notice an interesting proposition. The Swedish artist, according to the liner notes, is “rumoured to be a figment of the pre-internet era.” What this precisely means, whether ideological, sonic, temporal, or technological, is left up to the reader. Spend enough time with Fact Mix 919, though, and you might start to get an idea. The session takes all sorts of nominally familiar ideas—dub techno, fourth-world ambience, folk music—and complicates them, rendering everything a bit alien, a bit ancient. Early on, in an indicative move, they grab a track from Topdown Dialectic, a modern wizard of fuzzed-up dub-techno. As the set runs on, they only up the disarray, reaching for vertiginous nu-musique concrète, bleary drone, and folk-music field recordings from the ‘60s. The mixing follows suit, informed more by feel than clear sonic throughlines. Fortunately, Civilistjävel!’s grip on atmosphere is more than enough to make it all work: Fact Mix 919 is unnerving and entrancing in equal measure; throughout, the Swedish artist crafts a hall of mirrors and fills it with a deep fog.

Job Jobse – Dagen Van Diamant

Sometimes, it’s nice when an artist just says it straight. The title of Dagen Van Diamant roughly translates to “diamond days,” and in the mix’s notes, Jobse says that the mix is “an ode to the perfect summer day.” This focus on sun-kissed optimism should come as little surprise, given it’s coming from Amsterdam’s chief trance-music evangelist: the style has earned its fair share of both love and derision for its explicit focus on euphoria. If you’re willing to let your guard down, though, its magic works quickly: a few space-bound synthesizers and a well-laid kick drum can be more than enough.

With Dagen Von Diamant, Jobse finds that head-in-the-clouds euphoria early and latches on, stringing together dancefloor belter after dancefloor belter until the whole thing’s several inches off the ground. The trick, here, lies in how varies textures without straying from a well-defined emotional core: there’s old-school piano-house rollers, chunky tech-trance cuts, a timeline-crunching “Macarena” flip, shoulder-rolling trance, and umpteen shades of techno, but everything’s held together by a focus on straight-up jubilee, each synthesizer stab and kick-drum slam straining towards a kind of elation. The result would fit as comfortably at an Ibiza afterparty as it would a long day at the beach; here, Jobse reaches into his crates and finds a million beams of sunlight.

Millia – Juanita’s Mix 091

As one-third of Purelink, Akeem Asani—a.k.a. Millia—is behind some of this decade’s finest dance music. (It’s tough to name a stronger debut single in recent memory than “Bliss / Swivel,” their techno-dub bliss-out from 2021.) Judging by the DJ’s work with Purelink and their recent solo productions and mixes, Asani’s been digging deep into dub and breaks: this year’s “LKX003” is a white-knuckle pile-up of percussion workouts, while his 2022 mix for Knekelhuis is a long-form exploration of downtempo, trip-hop, and ambient dub.

If you triangulate these ideas—Purelink’s sepia-toned sentimentalism, his club-night sensibilities, and Asani’s interest in gauzy dub records—you might get something close to Juanita’s Mix 091. Here, Asani takes ambient-dub sounds and slowly twists them into a dancefloor steamroller: it turns out that, given enough time, there really isn’t that much separating dubbed-up drum-machine minimalism and floor-filling techno. Over the course of the session, Millia digs into a thrilling range of oddball electronics: bracingly minimal electro-funk, reverb-drenched ambient-techno, spaceborne ambience, rollicking kind-of-two-step, mud-encrusted techno. Juanita’s Mix 091 is a neat summation of Millia’s sound over the past year: a tour de force of sludged-up electronics that moves from downtempo dubs to dancefloor bombs with ease.

Minor Science – Sunday Mix

Early into Minor Science’s mix for Crack Magazine, the electronic-music explorer pulls up The Necks’ Aether. It’s a bit of a novel pick, and it ought to make any headphone purist’s ears perk up. The jazz-et-cetera trio have been diving deep into a universe of their own creation for the past several decades, one where twentieth-century minimalism, jazz, ambient music, and rock enmesh until they are indistinguishable. Aether is built around swelling pianos and cymbal rolls, with gulfs of silence in between; it suggests infinities and requires dozens of minutes to fully reveal itself. It is, in short, not the kind of track that you’d expect to hear pulled up on a CDJ. But Minor Science, ambient-music provocateur, hard-dance enthusiast, and creator of this year’s song of the summer, has a predilection for left turns.

His Sunday Mix, then, is yet another blind alley in a career filled with them. Here, the producer looks towards the music that inspired his upcoming record, Absent Friends, Vol. III: hushed chamber-jazz and head-in-the-clouds ambient music, all lushly orchestrated harmonies and fourth-world vertigo, often without so much as a drum kit in sight. Jon Gibson’s “Melody IV” takes a string section and orchestrates a long-form drone-ballad; Jon Also Bennett finds a space between exploding-sun synthesizers and deep-space ambience; and Arild Andersen’s “If You Look” takes ECM’s airy jazz to a logical endpoint, all bone-chilling ambience and percussion rattling into the darkness. Taken individually, each of these tracks suggests a deliberation of movement, with each note placed just so. Minor Science melds them into something greater still, though, carefully layering tracks until he’s built a tower of infinities that stretches off in all directions: hair-raising, peaceful, disorienting. This is ambient music for gazing into space and wondering what might stare back.

Murlo – Cinematic Special

Early into his latest Cinematic Special, Manchester-based multi-hyphenate Murlo makes his intentions clear: this is stuff that influenced his latest record, Puckle, with a particular ear towards anime, film, and what he calls “beatless music.” It’s a neat summation of the special, which sees the producer stretching from left-field club sounds towards full-on ambient-music disorientation. (Given his interest in world-building and uncanny-valley sound design here, it should come as little surprise that Twin Peaks shows up early into the set.) As the session runs on, it becomes clear that it is bound by aesthetic first and blends second, but that isn’t much of an issue, given the depth of Murlo’s understanding of sonic architecture. These tracks all move with a glacial kind of grace, with pianos and flutes and MIDI orchestras and hushed voices all turning to a gauzy blur. One moment stands out, both for its sense of whiplash and its coherency: midway through the session, he pulls up Yawning Portal’s “Water Lvl,” a track that feels like an intersection of Philip Glass and 2814—only to mix it into, of all things, a Björk track sung by an elementary-school chorus group. This kind of blend out to make little sense, but they’re both a bit uncanny, and they each suggest entire worlds if you tilt your head just a bit. Murlo carries that left-field energy throughout Cinematic Special, and it’s all the stronger for it.

Regal86 & 1OO1O – Mystical Blends V.1

If you want an idea of what Regal86 does, there’s a few solid paths. First, you could pull up his Bandcamp page, which is filled with the rough-and-ready techno that he’s best known for: screw-face kick drums and industrial-strength snares that extend the tradition of hardgroove techno into its fourth decade. Secondly, though, you could look at his latest firestorm. Perhaps his most well-known is “El Campanazo,” which fuses a cheeky gabber track to the icy minimalism of Jeff Mills’s “The Bells.” It’s a riff on a controversial opening set from 2021 (he played a bit too fast for the venue’s liking ahead of a Jeff Mills headlining performance), but, just as critically, it’s a ton of fun: amp-melting techno with a bit of a skip in its step. That’s the Regal86 approach: utilitarian without being staid, uniformly hefty but rarely pitch-black.

With Mystical Blends V.1, Regal86—the gleaming face of new-school hardgroove—teamed up with Mexico club-night staple 1OO1O, and the results are predictably wild. That said, if you’re expecting steamrolling techno from the jump, you’re in for a surprise. Regal86 handles the decks at the start of the session, and he’s looking towards more blissed-out sounds: shuffle-and-skip breakbeats, old-school hip-house, and vertiginous pop bootlegging abound. 1OO1O follows suit with an hour of comparatively hefty techno and breaks, setting Regal86 up for some gritted-teeth 160-BPM CDJ-busters when he takes things over.

It’s worth saying at this point that the set runs for nearly six hours. That length works to its benefit: each DJ is in top form here, juggling drum patterns and synth stabs as they gradually turn the whole thing into a peak-time rager. It’s the kind of slow-burn mixing that simply wouldn’t work given a shorter timeframe. In the final half-hour, when they get four hands on the mixers, they move with a devil-may-care energy, sprinting between footwork bootlegs of early-’10s rap classics, lighter-than-air breakbeat floaters, and no-shit gabber cuts. The mania is well-earned: Mystical Blends V.1 is a masterclass in patient mixing and full-on percussive mayhem.

RP Boo – Dripping 2023

Spend enough time talking about modern footwork—three minutes, say—and RP Boo’s name is bound to come up. The Chicago DJ-producer has worked with the style for decades at this point, and you can hear his veteran’s touch with every new release he puts out. His latest release, Legacy Volume 2, was recorded from 2002-2007, came out in May 2023, and it still sounds ahead of the pack: roughshod samples cut just so, with carefully laid whirlwind of drum machines working itself into a frenzy. For his session at Dripping, RP Boo leaned into everything-at-once disorientation, stretching across decades of FM-radio airwaves and lacing everything with piledriving drums. Early on, he draws a straight line from Rick James to Bruno Mars, and that sort of timeline-crunching energy runs through the rest of the set, which is at turns bracingly minimal, quick enough to cause friction burns, and just a bit nostalgic. It’s footwork as a reimagining of what came before, a recontextualization of Black dance music that never stops turning up the heat.

Tarotplane – Zikzak Mix 9: Ambient Techno 1991-1996 / Zikzak Mix 10: New Horizons

There’s a certain beauty to a themed mix. Especially as its gets more particular, the style can elucidate entire histories, connecting nooks and crannies and drawing lines between all sorts of seemingly disparate threads. Tarotplane understands this. The Baltimore DJ recently started uploading a series of mixes to his Bandcamp, each exploring a specific sound, style, or scene: “dirty ambient”; 1968-1977 Scandinavian psychedelic music; krautrock; French “cosmic music.” The ninth and tenth entries in this series expand its scope further, going deep on a particularly vibrant moment in ambient techno and a kind of American new-age ambience, respectively.

On Zikzak Mix 9, Tarotplane excavates nearly five hours of ambient techno, tending towards the stuff with one foot in the cosmos. The names you might expect are present, of course—The Orb, Biosphere, The higher Intelligence Agency, Global Communication—but there’s plenty of deeper cuts, too: the brain-bending ambience of Subsurfing’s “The Number Readers (Ambient Mix),” deep-space synth explorations courtesy of Yoshihiro Sawasaki’s “Magic Dome,” and plenty of proper chill-out room fare, like Rising Sun’s slow-mo head-nodder “Ocean View.” Tarotplane mixes cannily here, moving with the patience that the best ambient-techno encourages; this is about sinking into grooves, not racing through them. It’s a love letter to a golden age of the stuff.

It’s impressive, then, that Zikzak Mix 10, by comparison, makes the ninth installation sound like a sprint. Here, Tarotplane turns his lens towards what he deems “American Visionary Music.” The sound therein is a bit tough to pin to particulars, but triangulate Ennio Morricone, Terry Riley, and Laurie Spiegel and you’re halfway there. This is folk music as composed for flute, synthesizer, and wind chimes; it is ambient music with half the tracks muted; it is minimalism as dredged up from the bottom of the Mississippi river. Here, pedal steels and pan-flutes and wind-brushed synthesizers are all tied to a hushed kind of psychedelia, stretching towards horizons that have yet to be drawn up. As the set runs on, Tarotplane finds a spaced-out sound that approaches towards the spiritual, or at least the cosmic. It’s not new age, exactly, nor jazz, nor ambient; this is, in its own way, a glacial sort of folk music.

Time Is Away – Canticle of the Sun

A few minutes into Canticle of the Sun, a woman gazes into infinity. If the universe were bounded, she says, then “something must surround it from without, so that the eye can follow only so far and no further. […] Whatever quarter you stand in makes no difference: whatever place you are, it stretches out in all directions infinitely far.” She continues, outlining the arguments for endlessness, the implications of the universe’s mass, and the bounds of Heaven. It is, at once, both deeply spiritual and intimate; it is a kind of prayer.

Time Is Away are no strangers to the spiritual. Their work on NTS, which bridges the spaces between radio play, historiography, and traditional DJ mixing, is filled with recitations and odes and idioms; in their mixes, they intertwine stardust and gravel and salt until they are indistinguishable from each other. Perhaps they always were. Canticle of the Sun, their latest entry in this canon, is an exploration of the infinite: the grandeur of the cosmos held up against an equally sprawling Earth, a world that can play host to Yemọja and Chang’e and Jupiter and Nikon KoolPix cameras. The session is built upon spoken-word pieces and recitations about no less than the nature of life itself, with sprawled-out folk music and ambient compositions stretched underneath, each roughly plucked string and slow-motion synthesizer only widening the scope. Canticle of the Sun suggests infinities and transposes them to a human scale.

Vladimir Ivković – Rural 2023

Spend enough time following DJs and you’re bound to find your fair share of peacockers, singular selectors, and one-of-one personalities behind the decks. That’s hardly a novel idea, but in an increasingly crowded field, it takes more and more to stand out. Even in that context, Vladimir Ivković is a bit of a maverick. The Düsseldorf-via-Belgrade DJ has built his career upon left-field head-scratchers, keeping dancefloors moving even as he throws curveball after curveball. The best Ivković club-night sets are, not coincidentally, often his most delirious: again and again, he questions what “dance music” ought to sound like, broadening horizons in the process.

Rural 2023, a two-hour opus recorded at midnight in midsummer Japan, embodies this spirit to a tee. Flipping through, it sounds a bit incongruous, a veritable cornucopia of oddities: static-encrusted New Order covers, old-school breakbeat belters, funked-up acid jazz straight out of 1998, vertiginous new wave, discordant MIDI-clash hardcore. But, in practice, Ivković finds a way to string all these ideas together into something that feels entirely new. Throughout the set, he rockets back and forth between peak-time steamrollers and tracks that you’d find in a particularly adventurous opening set; holding everything together is Ivković’s unrelenting focus on deep grooves and left-field rhythms. It’s a playful session filled with left turns and dollar-bin classics, linking countless Discogs deep-dives into something that feels entirely natural. It’s everything-goes disorientation delivered with a wink.

Yumi – Juanita’s Mix 090

Over the past few years, Yumi has sneakily become one of New York’s finest DJs. It’s an admittedly crowded marketplace, but she nevertheless differentiates herself thanks to her singular ear: there are plenty of names blurring the lines between breakbeats, alien electronics, and dubstep, but few do it with as much aplomb or unabashed glee as Yumi. For her turn behind the Juanita’s turntables, she shows off just how playful she can get, moving from slow-mo ambience to sweltering avant-dance music and back again. Things are weird from the jump thanks to a bit of spoken-word kind-of-techno and a shot of left-field dancehall; she spends the rest of the session turning up the humidity while cranking on the BPM. Much of the first twenty minutes are dedicated to mutant dembow à la Tom Boogizm, but it’s not long before she’s folding in speedy techno, chase-scene dubstep, and wiggly and polyrhythmic breakbeats. Juanita’s Mix 090 is filled with left turns and blind alleys; every time Yumi seems locked into a given mode, she finds a trap door that leads to even stranger territories. The approach makes for an exhilarating hour that stretches club music into ever headier territories.

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