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Recommended Dose: Our Favorite Dance Tracks Of January

Our first Rx Dose mix of 2016 is fashionably late, and all the better for it. Corralling our favorite dance tracks from January (and beyond) took a little longer than expected for a host of boring reasons, but hopefully, once you hear this month's roster, you'll agree it was worth the wait.

The mix includes new music from one of dance music's true trailblazers, two young men from the Motor City dedicated to preserving and prolonging the D's legacy, an anonymous producer tackling the hardcore continuum for a great new German label, a young Korean techno producer making her first steps into recording, and a Japanese techno vet releasing his debut for a venerable label.

We'll be back in a couple weeks with a new mix of what we loved from February. In the meantime, you can follow us on Twitter at @Sami_Yenigun (Sami) @raspberryjones (Piotr) and @spotieotis (Otis).

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Hear The Tracks

Peggy Gou, "Troop"

From 'Art Of War'

Here's a wide-ass kick drum that creates its own gravitational field. The young, Korean-born producer's debut is a bedrock of techno-fied, tender-on-the-ears 120bpm, adorned with, by turns, a loop reminiscent of "Rock the Bells," swooping melancholy synth chords straight from Detroit, and a five-note hook perfect for a good-time house dance-floor. It is the international sound of a Berlin party, maybe slightly more melodic, yet not overtly so. But that bass kick...good God! It's a mighty source of power that illuminates everything else hanging on it. (The Galcher Lustwerk remix of the track that appears later on Gou's Art of War EP gives that kick even more sonic space.)

Timecode: 00:00 - 05:09

Art Of War is available now on Rekids.

Mr. Fingers, "Qwazars"

From 'Mr. Fingers'

One of the original dons of deep house begins his fourth decade as an artist with one of the strongest EPs you're likely to hear in 2016. Chicago legend Larry Heard spent most of that third decade remixing other acts (from Recommended Dose favorites like Monty Luke and Ron Trent, to pop stars such as Disclosure and Lana Del Rey), so you'd be forgiven for thinking his best homegrown work was behind him. Of course, you'd also be wrong: the first Mr. Fingers EP in years ranks among Heard's career highlights. Chief among the four lush, late-night tracks is "Qwasars," a woozy anthem constructed around three simmering chords that revolve and repeat like a perfectly-edited GIF. Just months short of his 56th birthday, Heard is proof musicians don't have to choose between burning out and fading away; to quote the man behind his most memorable song, "keep on keeping on" is an equally viable option.

Timecode: 05:10 - 10:52

Mr. Fingers is available now on Alleviated Records.

MGUN, "Veyra"

From 'Gentium'

Though Manuel Gonzales is an integral part of Detroit's next generation of producers/DJs, most famously as a touring member of Underground Resistance's Timeline project, he's also making aesthetic connections between the D's traditions and the bedroom explosions made by lo-fi techno gear-heads all over. His debut full-length, Gentium, veers from corner to corner, taking it all in; and "Veyra," a nine-minute, slice of funky paranoia that gravitates between sequencer undulation and distorted echoes of industrial beats, showcases both hometown virtue and punky nous.

Timecode: 10:53 - 17:09

Gentium is available April 1 on Don't Be Afraid.

Skee Mask, "Melczop 2"

From 'Shred'

The anonymous Munich producer Skee Mask is at least the second artist on the increasingly crucial Ilian Tape label incorporating the rolling break-beats of drum'n'bass amidst a techno squal and waves of ambient melodies. (Think a less frenetic, more funk-tional Autechre.) This track, located deep on the artist's full-length debut, Shred, is an overt expression of these two worlds colliding, not quite desirous of engaging with a true ongoing jungle revival, but certainly – based on the variety of rhythms on the rest of the album – looking to diversify its rhythmic palette. The off-time bass drum is especially explosive, mixed in digital low-fidelity — corrosive, invasive and desperately unsafe.

Timecode: 17:10 - 22:45

Shred is available now on Ilian Tape.

Hiroshi Watanabe, "The Leonids"

From 'Multiverse'

A veteran of both high-brow music traditions (he's a Berklee College of Music graduate) and of the techno wars (under many aliases, most prominently as Kaito for Kompakt), the Tokyo DJ/producer's debut EP for Derrick May's legendary Detroit techno imprint is a Transmat record through and through. Each of the four tracks is a standout. None more so than "The Leonids," with its ambient tides pushing and pulling an army of rhythmic angels, a transcendent live house piano figure and a hi-hat that arrives in the song's latter half to turn the screws of life. For those who know, and who continue to revel in the unique knowledge.

Timecode: 22:46 - 29:15

Multiverse is available now on Transmat.

Kyle Hall, "Mysterious Lake"

From 'From Joy'

Kyle Hall has been deemed the "new sound of Detroit" for so long, it's hard to believe he's still just 25 years old. It was seven years ago this month that this video raised the underground's collective eyebrows and made the precocious West Detroiter an artist to watch. From Joy, Hall's second full-length album, was released in late December but recorded around the same time he shot that video, in 2009 (at least that's what we're told). If it's true that Hall has been sitting on "Mysterious Lake" for most of the Obama presidency, then he was even more talented than that early hype led us to believe. The kick here is signature KMFH, rambunctious and slightly asynchronous, constantly threatening to jump the rails. Hall counters the nervous energy with ultra-smooth keys and a meandering piano, adroitly tugging the song in two directions at once. Not bad for a teenager tinkering in his father's basement.

Timecode: 29:16 - 35:49

From Joy is available now on Wild Oats.

Piotr Orlov
Otis Hart
[Copyright 2024 NPR]