Matt's Music Hall

What We're Listening To

Matthew Ramirez
Posted:
January 30, 2013

The XX, Coexist. Winter makes me reach for electronic music: Nothing goes better with crisp, cold weather like beats, textures and circuitous but elegant song structures. The XX followed up their 2009 self-titled debut with a record sleepier than its predecessor, but more subtle and mature. Gone is the simple pop format of songs such as “VCR,” and in its place is the slow, steady crawl of Coexist’s first single, “Angels” — which pauses long enough for singer Romy Croft to sigh, “If someone believed me, they would be as in love with you as I am.” Jamie XX’s production has evolved from Timbaland mimicry into slowed-down UK-dance-inspired beats from another planet. His pop instincts coexist organically alongside his progressive vision — something collaborations with superstars such as Drake have proved.

Various Artists, After Dark. The tight-knit electro-pop label Italians Do It Better has been on a hot streak lately, with its flagship group Chromatics commissioned by Karl Lagerfeld to choreograph brand new music for a Chanel runway and culminating with 2012’s release of Kill For Love. Label maestro Johnny Jewel has rereleased the 2007 compilation After Dark on the label’s Soundcloud page. The gorgeous sampler draws on Italian disco as its primary influence but also lifts a Kraftwerk riff here and there for a late-’70s krautrock twist. At nearly 80 minutes, the compilation manages to never wear out its welcome, going down as smoothly as Italian liqueur. Free at soundcloud.com/johnnyjewel/after-dark-remastered.

DJ Sun, One Hundred. DJ Sun is a Houston institution, hosting a weekly all-vinyl show on 90.1 FM for almost two decades now; he can also often be seen behind the tables at many of this city’s trendiest, most fashionable social events. But DJ Sun is also a professional musician, crafting two solid EPs in recent years and now releasing his first full-length, One Hundred. The all-genres-in-a-blender approach works, skillfully throwing funk, drum and bass, instrumental hip-hop and a dash of bossanova into the kitchen sink for the adventurous listener.

Nicolas Jaar, BBC Radio 1 Essential Mix. A popular online phenomenon is artist-curated mixes, usually for outlets such as BBC Radio or Fact Magazine, which serve as a modern manifestation of the DJ set. Some take their turn to showcase and premiere their own music; others dig deep and unearth lost but inspired tracks. Bbut my favorite kind of mix is a little of both — a skillfully assembled collage of sounds both recognizable and not. Jaar, a notable electronic musician in his own right, blends everyone from Jay-Z to Ricardo Villalobos into a surprisingly coherent two-hour set. This isn’t Girl Talk; it’s not a sloppy chop and paste, but a stripping down of this music to its core, then rebuilding it from the ground up. Jaar delivers a set as textured and intricate as his own music, parts of it suitable for the dance floor or the chill-out room, and all of it appropriate for winter. Free at soundcloud.com/selftitledmag/Nicolas-jaar-essential-mix.

Matthew Ramirez is PaperCity’s resident playlist savant.

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