London-based producer and rapper Lex Amor’s latest single ‘Mood’ does just as the title suggests. Evocative, thought-provoking and pensive lyricism across downtempo hip-hop beats is what Alexis Adimora is fast becoming known for. Her Mellowdic radio show on Reprezent has built up a solid fanbase of listeners since its inception, displaying soulful rhythms and conscious rap both current and classic. A strong female voice on radio right now, she’s pushing fellow British artists and new talent as well as her own music. Lex is an integral member of SXWKS, a London collective comprising of musicians, film-makers and photographers who are doing great things right now, including live poetry jams at the South Bank Centre and regular spoken word shows. Her forthcoming music comes with a sense of maturity, sighting stories of London life and promoting glimmers of hope.
FOR FANS OF: Noname, LayFullStop, Scott Xylo
Ishmael Ensemble is producer and multi-instrumentalist Pete Cunningham together with five other synth players, percussionists, drummers and guitarists. Together, they are part of the contemporary jazz revival. Their 2017 debut on Banoffee Pies blended punchy drums and icy hi-hats with devastatingly emotional synths and aching vocals that impressed everyone from Gilles Peterson to Antal. In January, they will release the third and final ‘Severn Songs’ EP, part of a series inspired by their Bristol homeland. Both tracks on it feature trumpeter and flugelhorn player Yazz Ahmed, whose psychedelic Arabic jazz stylings make each track that bit more intoxicating and beguiling.
If jazz usually puts you off with long solos and messy structure, you’ll find Ishmael Ensemble much more conversational and alluring, with emotional ebbs and flows that cannot fail to draw you in. It’s enchanting music that seamlessly fuses the organic with the electronic, so frankly a debut album cannot come soon enough.
FOR FANS OF: Kamaal Williams, Moses Boyd, Alpha Mist
Books explores immersive sonic environments that hover around the 170bpm mark. It is a darkly futuristic world, with rhythm and movement merely suggested rather than mapped out with drums.
Enthralling, grainy empty space is the defining feature of his work, and particularly his November-released debut album, ‘Station’, which landed on Detuned Transmissions. Across 11 tracks, the brilliantly bleak affair explores cavernous and echoing warehouses and life-less wastelands. Groaning synths occasionally spray across the landscape, whirring machines splutter to life and sparse, gigantic thuds lurch you forwards. Meticulously designed and deeply inward music, it is a post-apocalyptic take on drum & bass that’s part autonomic, part grey area, part orchestral nightmare. He’s championed it with regular DJ sets at London’s One.Seventy and has also been collaborating with hip-hop instrumentalist Aver on a project still under construction, so keep them peeled.
FOR FANS OF: ASC, Sam KDC, DAAT
LOFT is an artist who constantly thinks outside the box. The Manchester-based musician is part of “queer dominated DJ collective” boygirl, and as a DJ, does something many wouldn’t even dare to think of, infusing sets with chat on the mic in order to “engage the audience and break the fourth wall”, which “seems to go a long way with a lot of people”. It all adds to the colour and character of the NTS host’s deconstructed music, which over the course of a few early EPs on Astral Plane and Wisdom Teeth has chewed up and spat out a blizzard of ideas, rhythms and tempos.
There have been kinetic and impossibly interwoven drum tracks, with hallucinogenic synths, industrial experiments, off-kilter percussive flurries and plenty of utterly new and unique collages of expert sound design. Loft’s musical language is one of a kind, and makes for thrilling, unpredictable listening that is all too rare these days.
FOR FANS OF: SOPHIE, E.M.M.A., Bok Bok
Showcasing a plethora of established and up-and-coming Irish talent deep in the caverns of Bossa Nova Civic Club in Brooklyn, Dublin-born DJ and promoter Creed-C, aka Craig Conlon, has built his Discreet NYC party series from the ground up. He’s developed the skills of a true selector along the way, with an aim to build a strong connection between New York’s electronic community and Irish dance music devotees residing in the city.
Discreet’s bookings range from groove-maker Krystal Klear to techno aficionado Cailín, making it hard to distinguish where exactly Creed-C’s sound fits within his platform. But that’s the point of Creed-C; to deliver all-encompassing sets that artfully create the tone of each event, never shying away from a challenge. Learning what it takes to stand out in a competitive pool of Brooklyn-based artists, Creed-C is one name you’ll remember this year.
FOR FANS OF: Honey Dijon, Peggy Gou, Denis Sulta
“Quiet moments” inspire QRTR, a Brooklyn-based artist who aims to “Shake things up” after lulling her listener into a pulsating groove. It seems ironic to think that peaceful snatches of time are the foundations of QRTR’s productions, which fuse low-slung, downtempo melodies with the infectious energy of house pumpers. In a previous life, QRTR’s studies in film opened her ears to a vast number of sound libraries, which are tastefully woven into each of her tracks.
Her latest tune ‘DRIVER’ is a bouncy mutation of vocal-led bass and tech-house, but it’s behind the decks where QRTR’s experimental approach shines. Sharing her billings with artists such as Lauren Flax and Jubilee, QRTR merges multiple electronic styles with an underlying beat of house-tinged energy, guiding her dancefloor through a myriad of previously unknown sounds. Think art house film composer meets basement rave.
FOR FANS OF: Tiga, Daphni, Floating Points
Multi-tasker doesn’t quite cut it to describe DESNA. A mainstay in New York’s techno scene, DESNA is an event curator, producer and DJ, who remained a consistent fixture at the now-defunct Output club. But the closure of the cherished dance spot in Brooklyn hasn’t phased DESNA’s relentless work ethic. Having spent most of 2018 crafting her distinct, groove-led sound, the New Yorker is set to release on Christian Smith’s Tronic imprint at the end of the month.
After founding her infamous ‘Risky Business’ parties, which at one point bore a ‘NO PANTS’ policy, DESNA is ready to take her infamous platform Risky Business – At Dusk further afield to EDC Mexico and beyond in February. Despite ruffling a few uptight individuals’ feathers with her event’s vision, nothing can stand in the way of DESNA’s discography, parties and unrivaled DJ sets gaining full momentum over the coming months.
FOR FANS OF: Len Faki, Radio Slave, Reset Robot
Ghazal Marvi, better known as Mesmé, was born in Iran but grew up in Singapore, where she got her introduction to house and techno at legendary venue Zouk. After moving to the US in 2013 to study philosophy, she quickly became one of the most interesting up-and-comers on the LA underground circuit. Influenced by an eclectic mix of artists ranging from Grace Jones to Miles Davis and Drexciya, the LA-based artist has been crafting a sound of her own.
Her vinyl-heavy blend of dubby minimal, atmospheric house and techno has earned her a residency at Paper Tiger Bar in LA, where she hosts her lounge event series, Misfit.
FOR FANS OF: Nick Holder, Larry Heard, Sven Weiseman
Georgia-Born, Brooklyn-based DJ, producer and multimedia artist Sophia Saze has been making waves with the spellbinding techno and murky electro she’s been championing in the booth. Her incredible selection and mixing skills have landed her gigs at venues such as Good Room, Smartbar and Output, along with a recent Asian tour, featuring stops at Circus Tokyo and Faust South Korea.
Drawing influences from krautrock, industrial and acid, her forward-thinking productions have found a home at labels like Get Physical, Ghostly International and Oktave Records. Having launched her own imprint Dusk & Haze in 2017, the Georgian artist is yet to show the world what she’s capable of.
FOR FANS OF: Mor Elian, SDX, Benjamin Damage
Urulu has been on our radar ever since he made his Boiler Room debut in 2016. Though the California native, whose given name is Taylor Freels, is not exactly a newcomer on the scene, lately he’s been gaining momentum with outstanding productions on labels such as Let’s Play House, Voyage Recordings, Dirt Crew Recordings, Tartelet and his label Amadeus Records. Urulu’s uplifting, groovy take on house, which fuses influences from Berlin, London and California, is central to both his DJ sets and his studio work, and we have a feeling we’re about to see a lot more of him.
FOR FANS OF: Andy Hart, Cinthie, Glenn Astro