Author and electronic music aficionado Matthew Collin has been immersed in international dance culture for years.
His two tomes, Altered State and Rave On, have delved deep into its nooks and crannies, unearthing the freaks, geeks and geniuses who call the genre home.
In the newest, Rave On: Global Adventures in Electronic Dance Music, Matthew experiences local electronic music strains first hand, reporting back on burgeoning scenes from Durban to Dubai.
Here, he shares some of his favourite outernational beats and bleeps…
Kraftwerk – Man Machine
I saw Kraftwerk’s 3D concert a few weeks ago in Belgrade, and was amazed yet again by how they not only foreshadowed so much of the electronic music we listen to today, but also the technology we use to listen to it.
MHP – Tonal of the Rainy Season
The sounds made in the eighties by the (Kraftwerk-influenced) Detroit techno originators – Juan Atkins, Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson – continue to have so much resonance three decades later all around the world, as I was reminded many times during my travels while researching Rave On. This is a delightfully atmospheric, Detroit-inflected track by Ma Haiping, a Chinese techno producer who is part of the VOID club crew in Shanghai.
Honey Dijon featuring Seven Davis Jr. – Houze
The house sound of Chicago also remains a key influence on contemporary dance culture. Houze is a classic eighties-style jack-track by Honey Dijon, a Chicago DJ who gave me some of the best quotes for the book, about what she believes are dance music’s essential values and its potential to create free spaces: ‘For me, it’s not just about music – it’s culture, it’s art, it’s sex, it’s love, it’s release, it’s freedom,’ she said at one point.
Tessela – Hackney Parrot (10 Ton Mix)
This is a big ugly rave monster and I adore it! It’s a 2017 remix of an older tune by Tessela and has echoes of the nineties UK hardcore rave era, but pulls off the trick of sounding contemporary while simultaneously channelling that irreverent old school energy.
Owiny Sigoma Band – Nyiduonge Drums
This is some kind of twisted hybrid of Kenyan dance music and European electronica with a wild shape-shifting bassline. Irrepressible party music with a delicious hint of weirdness.
Rude Boyz – Yebo feat. TDK Macassette
Gqom is the raw and hypnotic sound of Durban, created by young producers from the South African townships like the Rude Boyz. Gqom producers often started out using cracked software and cheap computers to make their tunes in their bedrooms, showing that the do-it-yourself acid house tradition lives on.
MikeQ – The Master Blaster
This is a new school ballroom take on a Wild Pitch classic by Joint Venture (DJ Pierre) from the glory days of the Sound Factory in New York. MikeQ is a producer from the kiki scene, part of New York’s vogueing subculture which continues to develop and thrive decades after Paris is Burning and Madonna’s Vogue. Watch Sara Jordenö’s documentary about the scene, also called Kiki, to find out how dance music can mean much more than hedonism.
Visual – The Music Got Me
Boyd Jarvis, who died in February this year, was one of the producers of this eternal classic whose transcendent beauty encapsulates all that is great about the New York dance music tradition – a tradition that informed so much of what is best about dance culture. It’s one of those songs that I never want to end, just keep playing on and on into blissed-out infinity.
Wolfgang Tillmans – Fast Lane (Whatever/Whatever Remix by Justin Strauss and Bryan Mette)
This motorik electronic track also has a New York connection – one of the remixers is Justin Strauss, who has an NY disco pedigree going back to the iconic clubs of the mid-eighties. It’s from the recently-released ‘Heute Will Ich Frei Sein’ EP by Wolfgang Tillmans, the brilliant German photographic artist who has always been interested in the liberating potential of nightlife, and has started making his own electronic music in recent years.
The Black Madonna – A Jealous Heart Never Rests
The Black Madonna (Marea Stamper) is one of the people who has been trying to uphold the progressive ideals of dance music and encourage it to show some social awareness – as well as being a great DJ and producer. I’ve loved pretty much everything she’s done so far, but this for me is the most emotionally powerful of her releases.
Chris Carter – Blissters
A charming short piece from the new solo album by Chris Carter of Chris & Cosey and Throbbing Gristle renown. Dance music’s roots in black and gay subcultures are well-known – or at least they should be – but this represents another thread in the story, the industrial electronics continuum. I first heard it on a mix by Vladimir Ivkovic of Salon des Amateurs in Dusseldorf, who’s one of the most imaginative DJs around at the moment.
Tapan – Europa
Tapan are a Serbian electro-acoustic ensemble whose impressive debut album (also called ‘Europa’) came out right at the end of 2017. ‘Europa’ was inspired by seeing the surge of refugees and migrants flow through their hometown over the past few years, seeking a better life in Europe. It’s a got this moody, ominous feeling that conjures up the perils of refugees’ long and arduous route to the west, as well as some wild horns and an infectious Middle Eastern groove.
Matthew Collin’s Rave On: Global Adventures in Electronic Dance Music is out now via Serpent’s Tail.