Today’s Sounds: AraabMuzik

A microcosm of all that’s hot and trendy in electronic, dance and hip hop music, in mixtape form, PLUS a grand old dream-pop tune by Small Black and triple-threat Thom Yorke dancing his little heart out in the new Atoms for Peace video.


AraabMuzik, For Professional Use Only (Duke Productions)

AraabMuzik’s sorta-albums/sorta-mixtapes can be viewed as a microcosm of all that is hot and trendy in electronic, dance and hip hop music, so if you want to know what the cool kids are up to, without doing something ill-advised like turning on a radio, the producer’s work might fill the role of acceptable Coles Notes equivalent. In reality though, AraabMuzik likes to smudge the source material, transforming clean sample rips into something a little more murky.

Of course, the Dipset beat man and undisputed king of the MPC is more than just a culture vulture. His unique stamps — the aforementioned lightning-quick drum machine tapping and the overall sense of wooziness — are indelibly marked on some downright cheesy Euro club and trap tunes that he basically steals whole. Those angelic female singers Eurotrashers love uncomfortably hover over AraabMuzik’s dark abyss, while hard, thugged-out beats are softened with glittering, nimble drum notes. The album will be incomprehensible to purists, as it’s all viewed through AraabMuzik’s inimitable lens anyway. Amazingly, it can’t be mixed with anyone else’s work either (somewhat frustrating if you like to bunch your bangers onto one playlist).

For Professional Use Only isn’t meant to be a series of utilitarian beats to rap over as its name might suggest. As with the thoroughly excellent Electronic Dream, AraabMuzik’s albums — presumed to be constructed as single bodies of work and not as a collection of instrumentals — are as pervasive as they are malleable. They’re good for a run at the gym, or as a morning wake-up call, or a nice distraction during your morning commute. They’re ideal in a pre-party setting, or whenever you have a few minutes to unwind. They’re also dark and pulsating enough for an afterhours set. It’s the way pop music should be consumed in the (shudder) post-Internet era: as one talented editor’s unifying vision. Even though the samples can be recognizable, there’s never any doubt that, as his call sign frequently informs, you’re now listening to AraabMuzik.


Small Black, “Free at Dawn”

we’re in for a dream-pop doozy from NYC’s Small Black, who follow up their 2010 LP New Chain with Limits of Desire, out May 14 on Jagjaguwar. Here’s a slice to whet you.



Atoms for Peace, “Ingenue”

YES! From the makers of Radiohead’s “Lotus Flower” (namely director Garth Jennings and choreographer Wayne McGregor) comes another opportunity to marvel at Thom Yorke’s spaz-tastic dance moves, this time in tandem with contemporary dancer Fukiko Takase, repping a tune from Yorke’s new band Atoms for Peace. Shades of “Fame 90,” Bowie’s collab with Montreal’s own La La La Human Steps.

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