New Bloom member Peter Freestone picks some of his favorite club EPs from 2021, mainly focusing on music producers from East Asia. This is the second in a series of Best Album lists compiled by New Bloom.
1. Sunju Hargun (Bangkok)
JIN 04 (JIN 禁)
Jin (禁) has put out five EPs since the beginning of 2020, featuring Initials B.B. and Lujiachi, Mr. Ho of Klasse Wrecks, Ground of Chill Mountain, and most recently Romain FX of Fauve Records. JIN 04 features Sunju Hargun, co-founder of the Bangkok label Siamese Twins Records and one-half of Mogambo. The EP leads with “Chale”, built around a sample of the title track from Deep Forest’s eponymous 1992 album. Initials B.B.’s remix follows, swallowing that sample into a synth-heavy Taipei sound. Then Marc Pinol wrings it through a very spacey dub burner. The second track is “フーイズカサンドラ” (“Who Is Kassandra” written in katakana), and very accurately described as “a post peak-time 7-minute acid bomb”.
Gong Gong Gong (工工工), the Beijing-based duo of Tom Ng (guitar/vocals) and Joshua Frank (bass), presented a real treat this year having some musicians in their orbit remixtheir debut album. FromSimon Frank’s hot and humid version of “Moonshadows” (月後殘影) toHowie Lee’s distortion-pumped “Gong Gong Gong Blues” (工工工布魯斯), andWu Zhuoling’s flanger-danger funk reworking of “Wei Wei Wei” (喂喂喂),Phantom Rhythm Remixed is psyched-out fire.
Prettybwoy (fka cuxrixous) has an expansive style that’s hard to pin down but hits all kinds of sweet spots in the in-betweens of juke and deconstructed club. The Tokyo producer’s debut albumTayutau (referring to the Japanese word 揺蕩う) is fantastic, andTayutau Remixes sees four of the album’s tracks reworked into more dancefloor-ready cuts. The remixes are by Mr Mitch, Cooly G, Pinch, and DJ Q, who does a real number on “Destination feat. lIlI”, turning it into a slap-happy house track that’s just too good to resist.
It was hard to choose between B E N N’s numerous releases in 2021, but his three-track EP for the early reflex label really struck me. Collaborating with the Beat of Kaohsiung collective, who contributed didgeridoo, taiko, and vocals, B E N N’s affinity for percussion-heavy production works magic. OnEntheos, the music really breathes. In the past year, B E N N has also collaborated with deconstructed club purveyor personalbrand, and he recently played at FINAL, alongside Ao Wu and Sonia Calico, at one of the club’s first events since reopening in November.
Sometimes when fusing disparate genre-specific elements and motifs can set up a sound to fail, or fall flat, or come off cheap. But that’s not what’s happening with Fellsius. The young producer’sJourney EP, out on Trekki Trax, slaps like I couldn’t believe. And it’s dirty, like it should be when you’re playing with house, dubstep, and breakbeat. I’m really looking forward to more.
Kaishandao is a Chengdu-based producer who I first heard onthe 2020 Vinyan compilation from Siamese Twins Records. Her self-released debut EP, Homeland, is a meditative mix of house, techno, and atmospheric breakbeat, which she describes as “a therapy cassette sent through a drum machine”. The tape-dubbed quality of the samples gives the bedroom production a super satisfying sound, which really complements the tracks’ free-form structures. Originally from Wellington, she has spent the past couple years DJing around China.
Halal Sol’sDijamin EP starts with the fast-but-chill house track “Don’t Feel The Bass”, before turning up the heat on the beat in “Lives In Future”, setting a super spacey tone. “Rushin (Bongomann Re-rush)” slows down the tempo while keeping it wavy and moving into more garage territory, which continues on “Hearing Deficit”. There’s a healthy dose of classic house vibes throughout, leading to the bouncy acid house flavors of “Rotund”. Closing out the EP is a remix of “Hearing Deficit” by fellow Singapore producer Kaye, who’s also an original member of Darker Than Wax.
I’m not familiar with the scene in Bali or the Sun Down Circle parties where Dea (aka Dea Barandana) made his name as a DJ, but if it’s anything like hisGlazer Drum EP, that’s got to be a nice party. Out on Peggy Gou’s Gudu label, the EP includes three original tracks and a remix by Paris producer I:Cube.The title track sets the mood with raunchy acid-inflected synths and a whirlwind of drums — good vibes that continue on “Zaria Sto Chaos”, backed by a chipper acid house beat encasing the slow spoken word of Grigoris Nikolaou. “Mahfudzot” features Ican Harem of Gabber Modus Operandi, who delivers a vocal performance with just the right amount of reverb over a beat that shifts from afro house to disco funk, separated by an atmospheric techno bridge.
Akio Nagase is a DJ and producer who has been playing in Osaka for decades. On hisGlobal Acid EP, he brings his funky acid house sound on a spin around East Asia. The opener, “Jurassic Shanghai Acid”, sounds a lot like the title would lead you to imagine, with samples of distorted dialogue and screams over a trotting midtempo beat. “Mongol 303” takes it a notch slower, with hypnotic cuts of Khöömii throat singing looped through a wet acid groove. The third track is a happy acid reconstruction of “Asadoya Yunta” (安里屋ユンタ), one of the most famous Okinawa minyo songs from Taketomi Island. Then closing out the EP is a lively 808-soaked ode to Saigon, embellished by a spread of expressive instrumental samples from Vietnam.
10. Sumo Jungle / Mr. Ho / Mogwaa (Tokyo / Hong Kong / Seoul)
Junglish Massive 2 (Jungle Massive)
Jungle / breaks
Followingtheir first release with Luca Lozano and Rüf Dug, the second EP from the Klasse Wrecks sublabel Jungle Massive isJunglish Massive 2, featuring three producers from three cities in East Asia. The lead track, by Sumo Jungle from Tokyo, was originally released in 1996 on the label Far East Recording. Mr. Ho, who heads Klasse Wrecks, follows with his crooning “Championsound”, which almost feels vaporwave adjacent. The EP closes out with Mogwaa from Seoul, whose track “Been So Long” similarly feels a bit neon-lit, backed by frantic drums, occasionally flanged, and a very satisfying bass line.
Peter Freestone is an Osaka-based translator, designer and occasional DJ by the names 自由意志 and 瀕死のpipi. He is a member of New Bloom, managing editor of White Fungus magazine, and coordinator of Batonic Projects.