Various Artists: Lo-Fi by Default
Label Sampler Vol. 2

Collecting many of the great, glanced-over electronic musicians from around the world, this sampler by the L0-Fi by Default imprint really spans some serious distance. Coming from the middle of the US, Kansas, it’s the kind of release that keeps the coasts’ egos in check.

The $PL▲$H ¢LUB 7 track from the compilation, “MEGA_MALL_64” comes from that post-vaporwave (was it ever even there to begin with?) haze, dropping those 90’s drum sounds over a wall of muzak synth swirls. You can check it out below. It’s a perfect center point for the entire sampler, as each track either heads further out toward the airy, shoegaze side of things or drops heavier drums over the more trance-driven end of the spectrum.

Check out the entire Lo-Fi by Default sampler at the label’s Bandcamp page, and buy the entire thing for a terribly affordable price.

• Lo-Fi by Default:

Merzbow / Pandi / Gustafsson

“like me, like you” [excerpt]

In the green room: Balasz Pandi can’t see the label of the candle on the coffee table, but he thinks he recognizes the scent. He guesses it’s sage, maybe with something else, but he’s not about to lift his body out of the chair and move over there just to figure out what kind of candle it is. Mats Gustafsson wipes down his sax with a rag that a booking guy gave him. He imagines a world where musical instruments could get sick from bacteria and get diseases and develop little pustules like the baby in Eraserhead or something, and next thing you know you’re operating on your clarinet and it’s spraying foam and blood everywhere and totally wrecking your apartment. Merzbow scans the craft services table and finds nothing he can really trust. He opens Twitter on his phone and scans the Kafka Bot’s feed: 大きな城のありかをしめすかすかな灯りさえなかった. He tweets nothing.

On stage: You know what happens.

On March 6, RareNoise Records ships Cuts, a document of what audiences witnessed on the Merzbow/Gustafsson/Pandi ensemble’s tour in 2012 (on 2xLP & CD — MP3s available now). I imagine that listening at home with the volume cranked yields a similarly incredible experience: Merzbow & Gustafsson’s live electronics swirl beneath the din of their dueling sax and feedback leads, as Pandi shifts from cymbal abuse to jazzy snare work to blastbeats and back. Three maximized presences breaking eardrums and dropping jaws, not unlike another trio of multinational experimental all-stars.

Backstage after the show: Balasz picks up the candle before they head to the diner. It’s “Sage and Citrus.”

• Rare Noise:
• Merzbow:
• Mats Gustafsson:
• Balasz Pandi:

DJ Rashad

Rollin [EP preview]

As we reported last month, DJ Rashad is dropping a new EP called Rollin on Hyperdub. The EP, which follows last year’s monstrous TEKLIFE Vol. 1 on Lit City Trax, sees Rashad shifting further away aesthetically from his landmark albums on Ghettophiles (Just A Taste and Grace), making music that sounds more reflective of his international adventures, with bass influences clearly heard and felt throughout. It’s been awhile too since Rashad’s lightened the mood (listen to this and this; so fucking good). However, Rashad does go next-level again with “Drums Please,” a breathtaking cut with DJ Manny that you’ll hear in full come March 18, when the EP is released by Hyperdub.

For now, listen to this preview:

• DJ Rashad:
• Hyperdub:
• Lit City Trax:


“All-Star Weekend”

Ghostwridah is set to release his Flu Game LP this March. “All-Star Weekend” is the first official cut off that album, a classic club track served courtside. Over a rich, choir-infused beat, the Miami native uses a lot of basketball metaphors to describe the lengths groupies will go to be his basketball wife: wearing too-tight dresses, double-teaming him, and even tampering with certain methods of birth control. I’m pretty sure that last stratagem is in direct violation of NBA rules and regulations. To play up the hoops motif, Ghostwridah uses whistle sounds for effect and name-drops Florida State football coach Bobby Bowden, an odd choice for a March Madness theme like this one, but whatever — still a sport. Game on.

• Ghostwridah:

Travel Kyoto

“Pan Am Holiday”

I don’t know what it is exactly, but I have a real thing for the bossa nova. In middle school jazz band, all the drummers would gravitate towards the charts labeled “Latin” at the top, because it was so easy to play for something that actually sounds kinda complicated, the light samba rhythm in the bass drum and the clave pattern syncopated against it with the left hand. When it’s done on a little Casio drum sampler, that groove is even easier to nail, but it’s no less intoxicating and transportive, especially when it’s the middle of February and you’ve got those warbling organ chords and quaint melodies lighting up a tune like “Pan Am Holiday.” And all is nice and well and good, and I can feel the warm breeze in my hair, almost as if one of the VHS babes in this video is about to ask me to reach into the screen to put some lotion on her back, and I notice all of this because of how much I love that bossa nova so incredibly much… but Travel Kyoto is ultimately sold on the voice of Portlander Jake Aesthete, shy and understated as it is, like it’s sitting in with a karaoke machine, doing that tune we all know but can’t seem to remember the words for. Sum total has me thinking that, with a live band, this track might of fit nicely on Sam Prekop’s first solo record. But it’s not there; it’s on this cassette called Empire of Signs from Russian label Singapore Sling.

• Travel Kyoto:
• Singapore Sling:

Amun Dragoon & Mensa Group International

Fjords, Vol. II

After featuring two tracks off Amun Dragoon and Mensa Group International’s Fjords, Vol. II split on my most recent mix, Love Divine, I figured I better give the record some undivided Choco love.

One of my favorite related “vaporwave” (wait, that’s what we’re still calling it, right?) releases of this year so far, these artists draw from a deeper, darker well of sample material than their contemporaries. The memories of sitting through that super outdated training video I had to watch when I used to work at Avis are beginning to fade; the flashbacks of playing Mavis Beacon are gone. This digital nostalgia is diluted with cinematic sequences and spiritual scenes that remain with the listener far beyond the brief 13 minutes of music.

Released by the generous Ailanthus Recordings, Fjords, Vol. II can be downloaded here for whatever price you want.

• Mensa Group International:
• Amun Dragoon:
• Ailanthus Recordings:


CHOCOLATE GRINDER is our audio/visual section, with an emphasis on the lesser heard and lesser known. We aim to dig deep, but we'll post any song or video we find interesting, big or small.