MICHAEL CLAUS “LAVENDER PALACE” CS (SILK139) $9
Lavender Palace is a portrait of a process more than a place – the result of a creative headspace San Francisco producer (and Silva Electronics boss) Michael Claus describes as “dropping out of the world and entering a flow state.” That heightened sense of spatial focus, dilated and dialed in, colors the collection in subtle shades of dream house, dub techno, and liquid downtempo.
Recorded before and during the strangest days of peak lockdown, Claus found himself drawn to sci-fi notions of fantastical cities and mythic landscapes, hazy realms in the horizon of the mind’s eye. Further inspired by a new and improved studio arrangement in the city, the sessions unspooled in long, low-slung voyages of texture and pulse, restlessness and reverie, “yearning for a better tomorrow.” It’s music of empty streets and guarded hope, percolating at the precipice of futures too real to recognize.
STAGHORNS “EATING FEELINGS” CS (SILK138) $9
Lavender Palace is a portrait of a process more than a place – the result of a creative headspace The latest by Tel Aviv producer Shlomi Zvi aka Staghorns is an eight-track emotional response of moodswing techno and sidewinder house, equal parts anxiety trip and rhythm therapy: Eating Feelings. Recorded across last winter in his city studio, the songs began as bass lines then flowered outward into nuanced dimensions of tension and release, outsider acid and active listening – facing down demons on dance floors and beyond.
Prior collections for Teel and Infinity.Trax (a collaboration with L.A.’s Choopsie) hinted at his gift for low-slung, liberated kinetics but here he cruises through a deeper house of mirrors, from jittery jack and dusty disco to piano stab dubs and endorphin electronica. It’s club music as coping mechanism, alternately spiraling and centered, escapist and psychodynamic. Sound as sonar, leading us back to our truest selves.
MALASSO “GOOD, YOU’RE HERE, IT’S TIME” CS (SILK135) $9
Rogue romantic Maltese producer Salvatore Munzone describes his debut in terms both scenic and star-crossed: “Love songs and heartaches conceived under the year-round Mediterranean sun, to be heard in a beach parking lot, sitting in the car watching the movement of the sea while the music pumps from JBL speakers.”
Good, You’re Here, It’s Time collects 10 tracks of mood system house, proto-techno, and refracted poetics recorded and mixed in fits and starts across the past three years, accruing complexities and contradictions along the way. Lean rhythms trace sunset coasts of club bass, seagull synths, and twilit pads, laced with vocal samples of rapture, doubt, and the need to dance. Munzone cites UK revisionists from Actress to Swayzak to Burial as oblique touchstones but his own sound inhabits a woozy world all its own, attuned to asymmetries, subcurrents, and the sand in the hourglass slipping softly past: “All good things come to an end.”
PRECIPITATION “GLASS HORIZON” LP (SILK130) $17
The first full-length vinyl collection by Tokyo-based producer Zefan Sramek aka Precipitation crystallizes his evolving synthesis of new age ambience, tape hiss, and house music into a riveting suite of motion and mirage: Glass Horizon. Conceived and recorded between two formative trips to Sado Island in the spring and late summer of 2020, the album feels both insular and infinite, threading paths through wet grass, along isolated coasts. Field recordings of tidepools, birds, and cicadas crossfade into fluid mandalas of bass, keys, and drum machinery, while synths glide and glisten, rising like heat off sand.
Sramek speaks of themes of escape and estrangement, solace and desolation, visions of azure waters lapping empty shores. Weeks spent sleeping in a hammock attuned him to the extrasensory; melodies and memories materialized from the foliage, suffused with ocean air and placeless melancholy. All seven tracks swoop and swirl with patience and precision, grid-mapped golden dawns and gradient sunsets mixed live and captured on cassette. This is dance music as portal and pilgrimage, spiral environments for a refracted age.
JUPITER JAX “NO SUCH THING” LP (SILK127) $13
The music of Maltese producer Rudi Agius aka Jupiter Jax has always felt as much defined by mood as movement, guided by the “specific melancholy” of specific melodies. His latest long-player skews even more cinematic, conjuring twilit gardens and crooked city streets, windswept and warped by memory: No Such Thing. Inspired by notions of escape and the unknown, and threaded with dexterous live instrumentation, the album treads vibrant hybrids of moonrise electronica, downtempo dream house, and Balearic breakbeat, brooding but breezy, a Mediterranean midnight of the mind.
Agius speaks of his songs in terms of intuition and inevitability, how and where they transport the listener. These twelve tracks slip between senses and spheres, interplanetary but placeless, noir glimpses of ghostly coastlines and reflective reveries. Flutes, trumpets, voices, and percussion contour his club designs with a tactile fluidity, jazz accents reflecting off rain-slicked marble harbors, the wakening dawn still worlds away.
AFK & BLUDWORK “LOYALTY N SERVICE” 12″ (SILK113) $12
South Cali classmates AFK and Bludwork come from oceans apart – South Korea and Georgia, respectively – but their intertwined social / sonic chemistry are proof that true vibe unions transcend geography. The pair initially bonded over teacher pranks and 420 habits before rendezvousing off campus to link rigs and jam live electronics, eventually culminating in the six smog-smeared low-lidded bangers comprising their vinyl debut, Loyalty N Service.
Alternately coastal and concrete, the songs slide between dusky sunset house (“Akina Memory,” “That Pain”) and funked up warehouse smoke (“No Equal,” “Searchin”), tag-teaming melody, MIDI, and drum machinery into compelling composites of Pacific motion and emotion. Blud is blunt about their bond: “AFK is one of my most cherished friends; I’d do anything for this guy.” This is music from the heart and for the heads, pensive and propulsive, loose and liquid, raw and rising. “One of our biggest inspirations is the Rush Hour films. We’re the best Black and Asian duo since those guys.”
COYOTE CLEAN UP “2 HOT 2 WAIT” LP (SILK044) $12
Detroit’s secret weapon caps a string of deceptively excellent digital and tape collections with his vinyl (and CD) debut and it’s everything it should be. His bedroom blizzard production style shimmers here in a rare and mysterious way, like wandering graffiti’d city streets in a snowstorm: icy reverbed beats ride the rails, cascading synth freeze, sampled vocals fogging like breath. Includes dream-grime mixtape classics like “The Least U Could Feel” and “Awesome Luv.” 2 True 2 Believe. In pointillist posterior artwork designed by Bobby Houlihan.