In retrospect of a year that challenged the underground music scene to grow and seek creative solutions, Peace Portal celebrates 10 of the most compelling releases dug up throughout 2020 (in no particular order).
With a shift in format, the launch of this blog, not to mention the new website, this project has taken new forms and continues to explore the depths of electronic music through the lenses of forward thinking selectors. It has been an honor to play alongside each of the guests featured this year, and to play out some of the releases listed below. You’ll likely recognize some of them from previous features. From techno and electro to footwork and left-field ambience, this list was created with a little something for everyone in mind, while aiming to expand our collective understanding of underground electronic music.
If you enjoy these releases, consider supporting each artist and labels via the links provided.
Real J - Memory Screen
Like looking at one’s own reflection through steam on a mirror, Memory Screen is a decompressing shower of analog haze for the ears. With each track, Real J flips a page in an auditory photo album, revealing tender and formative moments through his nostalgic techno and electro lens. Featuring Glenn Astro on Transmission 7 and Kerstone on title track Memory Screen, Real J captures space and time on wax that is unforgettable.
Ferdinand Domes - Horror Childs Orient
For his release on Berlin’s Get Together Collective, Ferdinand Domes aims an audible telescope at twinkling constellations of analog stars for a seemingly eternal gaze before dawn. Beamed from the moons of Kepler, Horror Childs Orient takes the form of audible vibrations carefully mixed into organic atmospheres for the mind to orbit around. These tracks compress time around the ears into a smaller space than it seems they should fit, bending them into transportive wormholes.
Sepehr - Shaytoon
Bringing elements of Iranian Underground dance music to the forefront of his productions through his debut album Shaytoon, as well as his label of the same name, NY-based Sepehr creates monolithic soundscapes with an otherworldly touch. Transiting vast auditory deserts and massive organic beat formations baked in blistering synthetic sunshine, Shaytoon is an exploration of the mysterious spaces in our own corner of the universe.
Felix Leifur - Brot 5
A “brot” is a tiny sample of sound. It also means bread. Either way you bake it, each grain of sound pressed to Felix Leifur’s vinyl exclusive Brot 05 is compressed into a frenzy of halftime broken beat scapes. While many of the jungle rhythms and drum and bass sensibilities influencing Felix Leifur’s Brot series are recognizable, Leifur’s approach to sampling and harmonics through abstract analog samples is haunting. Featuring Dutchman Frits Wentink on Bloodsport and Listerine Munnskol, Felix Leifur has left us hanging on a cliff with the meticulous production and collaboration on his Brot series.
Angel D’Lite - Dolphins Have Sex for Pleasure
Euphoric synth waves crash as deep sea currents pulsate and subaqueous creatures undulate to thrown back rave breaks on Angel D’Lite’s debut EP from Banoffee Pies. While Angel’s Original Mixes dive into the brilliant waters of 90’s trance and jungle, Diamantè and Jay remind us with their respective remixes how deep the oceans are, and how diverse undersea life can be. Most importantly, Dolphins Have Sex For Pleasure is a reminder to wash your experiences in your senses. After all, if dolphins can enjoy themselves, why can’t you?
Eva808 - Sultry Venom
Demented liquid dubs flood around terminal halftime beats as Eva808 steps between drum and bass and trap elements, melted down into her own amalgamation of bass music theory. Seductive basslines wiggle their way across smooth yet unpredictable percussion for a sensual experience from beginning to end. The further Sultry Venom sinks in, the less you’ll want to suck the poison out.
I don’t think anyone saw new music coming from Chaz Bundick’s Les Sins moniker, not to mention accompanied by the likes of AceMo. Equally embodying Chaz’s psychedelic pop and Ace’s precision dancefloor rhythms, C’mon Les’ Go is wonky and rubbery yet percussive and driving. From start to finish this super-duo of studio production stand at the peak of blissed out techno-house experimentation.
Floral Resources - TS00000?
Human Resources and My Flower, together Floral Resources, drop two highly versatile tracks, exploring the bounds of natural and synthetic influences on Tech Startup’s fourth release. Oil Panic is a melting industrious bubble of thermal energy, rhythmically trudging into the depths of the dancefloor. On the B Side, Botanic Panic expresses a more free flowing structure, consisting of humming electronics over organically broken beats. With this in line behind a growing list of genre-bending releases, Tech Startup continues to push the bounds of the underground around them in the PNW and beyond.
Meowsn’ - Stages EP
Blissfully romantic and botanically bubbly in it’s production, the Stages EP for Flat White Records is a light hearted breath of fresh air in the realm of lofi house music. Despite remaining in a relatively overlooked corner of the house music world, Meowsn’ has only increased his output of excellent records including his release on Outplay, and an upcoming release with Running Out of Steam. That being said, Stages stands out amongst these productions, with a particular sunshiny flare to the synths meant to uplift you with each groove.
Wetman & Sword of Thorns - Apt E Vol. 2
For the second release on Seattle’s Apt E, Wetman & Sword of Thorns teamed up for a dastardly flex on rhythmic old school footwork, jungle and drum and bass. While Apt E has spent the last several years carving out a niche community of forward-thinking dance music listeners in the PNW, their releases have been flung into the global dance music scene on wax. On Vol. 2 long term Seattle resident Sword of Thorns lays down a whirlwind of breakbeats chopped to perfection, while Wetman’s tracks drip with thick halftime humidity, packaged neatly into an instant underground dance music classic.