Compass Rose points you in the right direction to find new and inspiring music for your listening and dancing pleasure.
This is the first of a series of articles where I share the music that I’m inspired by and excited about. I’ll be sharing the sounds that make me tick and the mixes that inspire my work.
This time, I’ll be sharing some highlights of Symbiosis Gathering, a current musical pick for autumn time listening, a DJ mix that’s been flowing through my headphones, and dipping back in time to remind you of some old school favourites.
Dodd and I had the pleasure of attending our first Symbiosis Gathering in September. While the art instillations and swimming were divine, it was the lineup at Symbiosis that was truly beyond amazing. Featuring well-known pioneers like Shpongle, quality festival staples like El Papachango, funk bands such as Jazz Mafia, shanti world vibes from Dub Kirtan Allstars, and quirky electronic fusion like Cocorosie, this festival had something to please every electronic music fan.
Acts that Dodd and I felt put on particularly stellar performances included the group Sylvan Esso, and the German progressive/techno producer Christian Wedekind, AKA D-Nox.
Sylvan Esso formed almost by accident in 2013, after singer Amelia Meath asked a producer she met in passing to do a remix of her track, ‘Play It Right’. The producer, Nick Sanborn, connected so strongly with Meath’s work, that the two decided to move to the same city to work together and release an album – Sylvan Esso was born. With only one album out, Sylvan Esso has captured enough attention to play the main stage at Symbiosis Gathering, as well as hit up much bigger festivals like Bonnaroo. They easily held it down next to acts such as Cocorosie and Nicolas Jaar. Not only did Meath and Sanborn, two people with minimal gear, fill the largest stage on the festival with a magnetically passionate performance, they also generously shared their energy with a stadium sized crowd.
The audience was lucky enough to hear some of Sylvan Esso’s newest work, including a track unofficially named “Dance” which included a more upbeat and bass-y feel. During their performance, they made a concerted effort to up-the-ante on the dance-ability and banging energy of their previously released tracks. If this set was any indication of what Sylvan Esso’s next album has in store for us – we’re in for a treat.
Dodd and I had little experience with this group prior to Symbiosis, but are now true fans. Sylvan Esso showed true enthusiasm and excitement for their music, and left me as audience member feeling like I was let in on their creative joy. The authenticity with which they perform gives them a humble charm that is anything but egocentric.
If you get the chance to see this group up live and personal – do it! Their energy is infectious and full of pure joy.
Dodd and I are long time fans of D-Nox, a Germany based producer that started making serious waves with his deeply beautiful and edgy progressive in the early 90s. D-Nox, one half of duo D-Nox & Beckers, is known for his charismatic performance style and ability to find and create tracks that are big-room club worthy, while being endlessly cutting edge and classy.
After including D-Nox’s tracks in his sets for the last 8 years, Dodd was thrilled to catch his epic 5 hour closing set at the Grotto stage on Sunday. I was also giddy, as D-Nox’s music has released me into some of the most full on dance experiences of my life.
We were not disappointed. D-Nox’s performance had an intimate, and collective feel. As a performer, D-Nox managed to create a sense of camaraderie with his dancers. He made eye contact with his entire audience, and beamed ear-to-ear sharing his enthusiasm. The dance floor was a place of mutual appreciation; The dancers demonstrated love for D-Nox by giving him all they had despite the 38 degree heat, and D-Nox returned the love with laughter, prayer gestures of appreciation, and by dancing along with his audience. Dancers exchanged knowing looks of bliss and appreciation. D-Nox’s joy is infectious.
When I dance to D-Nox’s music, I feel so compelled to move that all thought of what I’m doing with my physical form seems to dissipate into the music. This man is a master of creating and selecting beats that carry the dancer along into higher and higher states of bliss.
Other music highlights included a grooving deep techy house set by the always on point Blond:ish at the Spring Stage, a super-packed and super-funky showing from the Polish Ambassador, and a driving live PA set by techno pioneers Extrawelt.
CAN’T STOP LISTENING TO: “Couch Potato” – Bobby Raps and Corbin
I’ve been on a real non-dance music kick as of late. That is not to say that you cannot dance to my current favorites, but more that they are often too downtempo, acoustic, or minimal to include in the majority of my sets. They are, however, excellent for daily activities, kitchen dancing, and the autumn season.
My current favourite is “Couch Potato” an album by Minnesota-based artists Bobby Raps and Corbin. They fuse indie-electronic beats, trip hop, and hip-hop so smoothly that it makes me want to melt. The drawn out instrumental beats and echoes create a sound that is deep, rich, and soulful, while the hip-hop gives the tracks an edge. It is ideal for an autumn commute or walk in the sunshine. Watching the light hit the leaves while listening to this album gives me shivers. Equally good for a late night of creative work, or cooking in the kitchen, this album is my current go-to.
MIX OF THE MOMENT – Hoj – Robot Heart – Burning Man 2014
Ok, so it’s not recent – but it’s rhythmically brilliant and awesome. Like a good cup of green tea, this mix raises my energy levels slowly and smoothly. It’s quirky, deep, minimal, and takes you on a real journey. Awesome early 90s synth feels too. Check it when you need a deeply engaging, tastefully building, energy boost.
REDISCOVERY – Carbon Based Lifeforms
While we were at Symbiosis Gathering I was reminded of the magic of psychedelic downtempo. On Saturday night of the festival, I was blessed to witness one of the most beautiful music experiences of my life. Dodd and I arrived at the Spring Stage just before the sun began to drop. We climbed a rope ladder up into a tower that overlooked the dance floor, and witnessed the sky grow deep orange and vibrant pink while Carbon Based Lifeforms played to a crowd of flowing dancers. I looked down from the tower to see my one of my dearest friends dance with a silk scarf covered in beautiful vibrant colours, the lights on the stage turned to a gem-tone rainbow pattern, and the track “Photosynthesis” echoed through me.
I was immediately transported back to my first days of discovering the electronic scene, dancing at Rainbow Cathedral events, and meeting the group of friends who I now call my chosen family. I remembered why I do this- Why I DJ, why I put events on.
I cried in that tower… it was just so beautiful.
Now, you may not be as sentimental or emotional me, but if you want some beautiful music to lose yourself in, I highly recommend the old school timelessness of Carbon Based Lifeforms. Best listened to while lying in bed, eyes closed, headphones on. This music is medicine.
For newer and equally delicious stuff check out their Bandcamp here.