From Animistic Beliefs’ DIY electro workouts to Sui Zhen’s reflective pop music
There are only three months left in 2019, and the third quarter of the year has seen Drake re-enter the charts by repackaging his loosies as a Care Package, Missy Elliot rightfully affirming her icon status, and Lana Del Rey delivering the wavy, psych-folk opus we deserved. Elsewhere, Charli XCX staged a Dazed takeover as a guest editor, Jenny Hval reached new levels, and FKA twigs announced her long-awaited return.
As always, though, in the world of underground music, new and under-discussed talents are finding a way. Following our last quarterly roundup, in July, we’re continuing to acknowledge the lower-profile musicians, artists, and producers with strong communities, real visions and important statements to make. Here are ten essential Q3 releases, all available on Bandcamp.
WHO: An extravagant Uruguayan internet-pop duo putting emotion back in throwback Y2K raves aesthetics.
WHY YOU SHOULD BE LISTENING: As A.M.I.G.A., prolific electronic music producer Lila Tirando a Violeta and performance artist Hiela Piérrez harken back to the messageboard melodrama of MySpace-era electro-pop, while adding the bump of reggaeton, and a cybernetic Auto-Tune sheen to the party. Over two albums, 2018’s a.m.i.g.a uy, and Enemiga, they’ve established themselves within Latin America’s LGBTQ+ community, performing at festivals and pride parades along the way. Lush, emotional, and very online, Enemiga sees them collaborating with artists from across South America including producers Eros White and Matt Montero, Argentinian MC Sara Hebe, and Kira.
FOR FANS OF: DJ Python, Paradisio, 100 gecs
WHO: Two contemporary electro evangelists who love bringing the studio to the stage.
WHY YOU SHOULD BE LISTENING: Animistic Beliefs, the duo project of Rotterdam’s Linh Luu and Marvin Lalihatu, use vintage studio gear and DIY modular synths to craft a retro-futuristic take on the rich histories of Detroit electro, techno, and IDM, with nods to classic Memphis rap and The Neptunes adding colour. Dressed like cyberpunk characters out of a William Gibson novel, their spellbinding improvisational live show has seen them turn out basements and festivals across Europe with twisted sonics, melancholic melodies, and thumping 808 grooves. Mindset:Reset, their hypnotic debut album, clarifies Animistic Beliefs’s techno-occult vision, sound, and aesthetic while confirming their talents.
FOR FANS OF: Drexciya, Legowelt, Helena Hauff
WHO: A fast-rising composer, producer and DJ with 90s IDM and Detroit electro roots.
WHY YOU SHOULD BE LISTENING: On her RR1 EP – the first release on Scottish DJ Eclair Fifi’s River Rapid Records – Manchester’s Afrodeutsche (real name Henrietta Smith-Rolla) crafts four songs that marry punchy drum computer futurism with a sweeping melodic homage to the beauty of vast outdoor landscapes. Afrodeutsche has a sensitive touch as a producer, effortlessly integrating elements in songs in the same way she brings together electronic music genres in her evocative DJ sets and live performances. Having shared showbills with DJ Stingray, Aphex Twin, Marie Davidson, and Dopplereffekt, Afrodeutsche also hosts monthly NTS show Black Forest, where she displays her musical influences and interests with subtle flair.
FOR FANS OF: Boards of Canada, DMX Krew, Underground Resistance
WHO: Compton’s finest hip-house revivialist, and one hell of a dancer.
WHY YOU SHOULD BE LISTENING: After the release of his self-titled EP through Godmode Music in 2018, Channel Tres told us, “I just want to be a good channel bro, a good vessel, for great shit to come through.” Since we talked to him, the Los Angeles-based songwriter, beatmaker, and vocalist has continued to refine his funky, street smart blend of classic soul, West coast rap, G-funk, 90s Chicago house, and Detroit techno, culminating in his excellent second EP Black Moses, a homage to Stax Records soul man Isaac Hayes. Over the last year, he’s rocked audiences across Europe, Australia, and America, while sharing stages with Robyn, Vince Staples, and Childish Gambino.
FOR FANS OF: DJ Quik, Moodymann, N.E.R.D.
WHO: The Discwoman-affiliated DJ and producer programming Middle Eastern rhythms with a Jersey club palette.
WHY YOU SHOULD BE LISTENING: Zubeyda Muzeyyen, the Philadelphia-based, New Jersey-raised DJ and producer better known as DJ Haram makes music that closes the gaps between her Middle Eastern roots, the experimentation of Philadelphia’s DIY noise scene, and the trunk-thumping 808s of Jersey Club music and Hot 97 radio rap. The Grace EP, her first release with Kode 9’s Hyperdub label, uses this distinctive palette to realise a mythological world that holds a fantasy mirror to her own. Across Grace, each song represents a character based on types of jinn and angels present within Islamic folklore, all skipping and bouncing with deep feeling and vital energy.
FOR FANS OF: Equiknoxx, Jersey Club, Mutamassik
WHO: The open-eared singer-songwriter and producer who crafts R&B and pop with a global feel.
WHY YOU SHOULD BE LISTENING: Since releasing their last album in 2014, Kindness (Adam Bainbridge) has shared their delicate songwriting and exquisite production touch with adventurous pop/R&B elite members such as Solange, Blood Orange, and Robyn, while navigating a personal voyage of discovery. Mostly recorded in New York, Something Like a War sees Kindness working with a cast of collaborators including low-profile R&B icon Jazmine Sullivan, South African jazz vocalist Vuyo Sotashe, Philadelphian rap legend Bahamadia, and Arthur Russell collaborator Mustafa Ahmed. Intimate and warm-hearted, it’s a sophisticated pop record that celebrates radical self-love and acceptance in the face of adversity.
FOR FANS OF: Four Tet, Robyn, Janet Jackson
WHO: The North London-based producer using jazz, grime, drill, and electronica to explore identity and queerness.
WHY YOU SHOULD BE LISTENING: With For You and I, Loraine James explores the intricacies, challenges and joys of being in a queer relationship in London, while prioritising feeling over technicality, as she reimagines IDM and breakbeat-driven electronica forms for a broader world. Loraine grew up in the borough of Enfield, raised by a mother who introduced her to steel pans, Metallica, and Calypso, and credits the multiculturalism of London for broadening her mind and ears. You can feel the lessons she’s learned from the English capital throughout For You and I, where they’re paired up with sharing her own experiences and observations.
FOR FANS OF: Klein, Object Blue, Squarepusher
WHO: The New Zealand sisters recasting traditional folk songs as dreamy synth-pop.
WHY YOU SHOULD BE LISTENING: As Purple Pilgrims, Clementine and Valentine Nixon – the great-granddaughters of Scottish troubadour Davie Stewart – tap into the traveller music tradition. Using synthesisers, studio techniques, electric instrumentation, and soaring intertwined voices, they reconsider what folk songs might be in the 21st century. In the process, by treating classical and medieval imagery with a modern lens, they’ve rewired noise, drone, and dream-pop as a ritualistic form of ancient futurism. Full of lush, transportive moments, their second album, Perfumed Earth (released through seminal indie-pop label Flying Nun), is a delightful introduction to their strange and enchanting universe. It even features a rare appearance from experimental guitar hero Roy Montgomery.
FOR FANS OF: Grouper, Kate Bush, This Mortal Coil
WHO: A leftfield pop musician, DJ, and multimedia artist investigating our digital identities.
WHY YOU SHOULD BE LISTENING: Losing, Linda, the third album from Melbourne’s Sui Zhen (Becky Sui Zhen Freeman) is a delightful and reflective suite of soft-focus bossa nova and dubby lounge music, with shades of Japanese city-pop and post-punk adding colour and flavour to the proceedings. Sui Zhen is a dreamy singer-songwriter with a studio full of vintage drum machines and synths and a killer record collection. Losing, Linda was informed by her reflections on loss and grief in the social media era after her mother’s death in 2018. She’s paired it with high-concept music videos and photos, plus an accompanying website, making for a compelling total package.
FOR FANS OF: Antena, Laurie Anderson, Sade
WHO: The experimental club music producer and DJ helping to bring Tokyo and Mexico together.
WHY YOU SHOULD BE LISTENING: Despertar 醒 is the project of Wrack, the first Asian artist to be released on Mexico City-based label N.A.A.F.I. Presented with immaculate sound design, it sees him fusing his take on contemporary Afro-Latin rhythms with glistening synthesisers and eerie fx, coming up with a series of cybernetic dembow variants. Also a skilled club DJ and the organiser of Tokyo’s Chemical Monsters party, Wrack has DJed throughout Asia and performed for N.A.A.F.I in Mexico City. The ease with which his work integrates with their world suggests exciting new possibilities for the Japanese and Mexican underground.
FOR FANS OF: Absurd TRAX, Florentino, Lao