The Best DJ Mixes of 2023 So Far

All the techno, electro, house, drum’n’bass, ambient, and downbeat you can handle.
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Image by Marina Kozak

Our electronic music expert Philip Sherburne sifts through the internet’s bounty of DJ mixes to find only the best sets—because life’s too short to waste on stale beats. The following list is presented by release date, from newest to oldest, and will be updated throughout the year.

JD Twitch: Sketches For Summer Mix

JD Twitch’s concept of song of the summer differs considerably from the seasonal trope’s typical framing. In place of hard-charging party starters or boisterous club staples, the Glasgow DJ—one half of the hallowed duo Optimo—opts for horizontal fare in this 90-minute mixtape: the hazy sunset glow of Fennesz’ “Endless Summer,” Gershwin’s “Summertime” in multiple iterations, the steel-guitar-kissed Hawaiana of Paul Page’s “Castaway,” and a slice of canal-side jazz bliss courtesy of Alain Romans’ “Quel temps fait-il à Paris?.” The range is vast, touching on reggae, krautrock, MPB, and the blues, and the thread that ties it all together is the languor of a hot summer’s day. The whole thing is as lazily refreshing as a bead of condensation slowly making its way down a tall glass of iced tea. (Originally released on cassette in 2021, Sketches For Summer is newly available as a pay-what-you-want Bandcamp download, with the proceeds going to the Glasgow North West Foodbank.)

Braxe & Falcon: Sweet Memories Mix

Summer calls for simple pleasures, and few delights are more straightforward than the French touch, with its surfeit of hooks and glowing chords. Pioneers Alan Braxe and DJ Falcon are enjoying a boost to their profiles after last year’s Step by Step EP, and in this SiriusXM mix, they take a victory lap by trotting out an hour’s worth of classics. Their selections, from acts like Cassius, Etienne de Crecy, and Daft Punk, amount to a greatest-hits compendium of the genre, fleshed out with latter-day tracks like Mr. Oizo and Skrillex’s “End of the World” or their own “Step by Step” with Panda Bear, now delectably remixed by Axel Boman. Perhaps because of how familiar the songs are, Braxe and Falcon don’t belabor their blends; they tear through 33 tracks in 60 minutes, riding surging waves of disco samples and richly harmonic chords from peak to peak. They still leave room for some curveballs, like a sneaky Buggles sample that bubbles up in the middle of Daft Punk’s “Make Love.”

Saoirse: fabric presents Saoirse

The Irish-born, London-based musician Saoirse’s mix for fabric contains few dramatic peaks; instead, it bubbles along at a controlled boil. Her very intentional track selection and her style of mixing both favor immersion in the groove. That’s not to say there aren’t standout moments. Jacek Sienkiewicz’s 2003 track “The Evidence” is steely and monochromatic, a throwback to an era of colorblocked minimal techno; Junes’ “Pilot” is lush and dubby, drawing a line between Detroit and Berlin; and Casablanca producer Kosh’s “Square One” channels the brittle funk of vintage bleep techno, rounded out with a seductive hint of “French Kiss”-inspired chords. But even these highlights are quickly folded back into the shape-shifting flow, making Saoirse’s mixing feel almost like a conjuring trick.

Bitter Babe: Primavera Sound Madrid

There’s a great moment, just a few minutes into Bitter Babe’s Primavara Sound Madrid set, where she abruptly shifts the tempo of a track, transforming Aussie producer Surusinghe’s “Get Flutey” from creeping dembow to spring-loaded club music and then right into the icy square-wave bass of classic grim. The Colombian DJ’s set is full of this kind of energy: colliding traditions, unexpected complements, and endlessly inventive percussion. She cuts up Nina Sky’s classic “Move Ya Body” with a gnarly percussive club track, a dizzying balance of the tough with the sweet. She drops an accordion-led cumbia-house track mixed with the Halloween theme. It goes on like that for an hour, the tempo steadily ascending to a giddy trance mix of t.A.T.u., then plunging to a sidewinding cumbia finale: an endlessly entertaining succession of relentlessly percussive thrills.

Martyn: Dekmantel 438

Though Martyn made his name in the bass-music scene of the mid 2000s, on 2010’s Fabric 50 he mixed up dubstep with broken beat, UK funky, and techno, as though determined to remind listeners that his interests weren’t limited to any one genre. He’s just as open-minded on his recent Dekmantel mix. After spending the first half of the set moving between relatively austere techno and more colorful tracks (think Anthony Acid’s ravy “Doe Doe Doe,” or the Pump Girls’ acid-drenched hip-house), he pivots on the jazzy broken-beat soul of ROLROLROL’s appropriately titled “Surprise,” featuring Jamie Woon. He then dips into an extended stretch of classic (or at least classically inspired) jungle and drum’n’bass. Running through selections from Dillinja and Source Direct, and ending up with a Detroit-inspired beauty from 4Hero’s Marc Mac, it feels like he’s pulling back the curtain on his formative influences.

SPFDJ: The Lab Awakenings

A few years ago, SPFDJ told an interviewer that she has a built-in “bang filter” when she’s looking for music for her sets. That filter is clearly in good shape: Her recent set at the Netherlands’ Awakenings festival is a minefield of pummeling kicks, “Mentasm” stabs, acid squelch, and rubbery backbeats. Cruising upwards of 150 BPM, it’s a rollercoaster of hard techno, EBM, electro, and throwback rave sounds. But for all the set’s severity, it’s hardly stone-faced: She opens with Charli XCX, after all, and peppers the set with saucy tracks like EiyiE’s “Wanna Flirt With U.” (In one breakdown, there’s seemingly a sample of Paris Hilton saying, “That’s hot.”) The way she grins when a blend goes off is especially welcoming. What remains constant is the energy level: From the twisted synths of the intro to the final concussive crash, it simply bangs.

Livwutang: Hessle Audio 03 Jul 2023
Livwutang: Mixmag Impact

It’s not every week that a DJ puts out two of the best mixes of the month in the span of just two days. On July 3, New York DJ Livwutang contributed a breathtaking hour to Ben UFO’s Hessle Audio show on Rinse. Her portion of the broadcast starts about nine minutes in, with gamelan-inflected techno and the eerie draw of Call Super and Julia Holter’s “Illumination,” before making a somehow completely seamless transition to a 30-year-old Sabres of Paradise remix. She covers plenty of ground—bass music, Japanese house, electro breaks—but it’s held together by gradual blends and a contemplative energy, even when it bangs. Livwutang’s Impact set for Mixmag published the very next day, and while it leans toward heavier grooves, the selections and sequencing are just as inspired: When Suburban Knight’s vengeful 1998 track “Maroon” segues into an obscure Luke Solomon joint from 2013, you can practically feel the tension slipping from your shoulders, while Swayzak’s classic “Speedboat” is a straight-up day-brightener.

Rrose: On Cue

While Rrose’s music continues to drift toward the outer limits of electronic psychedelia, the artist’s roots lie in the Bay Area techno scene of the 1990s. They learned to DJ during a wee-hours radio slot at KALX Berkeley (“the only way I could get access to Technics 1200s,” they note), and now, to celebrate 30 years behind the decks, they present a selection of techno from the ’80s, ’90s, and early 2000s. Every element—Hallucinator’s cavernous drones, Mika Vainio’s crystalline pings, Richie Hawtin’s woozily plunging pitch—feels like zooming in on one granular element of Rrose’s surreal, microtonal undulations. Packed with artists like Jeff Mills, Farley “Jackmaster” Funk, and Drexciya, the set is also a timely reminder that virtually everything we call techno today walks in the footsteps of those ’90s master craftsmen.

Jana Rush: HÖR July 3, 2023

Berlin’s HÖR—a DJ platform broadcasting from a closet-sized studio that resembles a public restroom—is heavy on the high-energy sounds currently popular across Europe: techno, trance, drum’n’bass, post-everything club. Compared to the intensity of those styles, Jana Rush’ HÖR set is unusually understated. The Chicago DJ-producer’s selections run plenty fast, but her adventurous take on footwork is coiled and hermetic, looping short, syncopated snippets of drums, keys, and vocals into tight tangles that creep forward with extreme care. It’s gratifying to watch her mix: She works with the concentration of a scientist, setting cue points, sliding faders, and tweaking EQs with a supreme sense of control.

Autechre: Mix for Neuvoids

It’s not every day we get a DJ mix from Autechre, so it seems fitting that when they do turn up, it’s on a little-known streaming platform with just a few hundred Twitter followers. They start out with the B-boy fascinations of their youth and turn up some real gems, like Ishtar’s trippy French electro pop from 1982. As their zigzags get more extreme, they make some surprising juxtapositions: Swedish electronic weirdos Sluta Leta slide into Westside Gunn’s “Good Night”; a psychedelic Stranglers track from 1981 gives way to Spunk’s easy-listening funk from the same year. And just when Bob James’ “Nautilus” has you wondering if you’ve switched SoundCloud streams, they come back to increasingly twitchy electro jams and then close out with a half hour of noise and ambient. On paper, it might not make a lot of sense, but this mix’s twists and turns are refreshingly unpredictable.

Russell E.L. Butler: HÖR, June 13, 2023

The mark of a world-class set: You have no idea where it’s going, yet every unexpected transition takes you right where you wanted to be—even if you didn’t know it in advance. Russell E.L. Butler kicks off their all-vinyl HÖR set with the equivalent of a wide establishing shot, using spacious disco breaks to set the mood before plunging into more ebullient disco jams. Some 20 minutes in, a pair of wonderfully over-the-top Italo tracks up the drama quotient by about 1000 percent before Butler swerves back into lean house terrain. The mood just keeps getting deeper, finally climaxing with a synth-driven, broken-beat track built around Maya Angelou’s “Phenomenal Woman.” Even experienced alone via laptop, it feels like a moment of communal joy.

Helado Negro: Phonic Mirror Part 11

Helado Negro kicked off his Phonic Mirror mix series five years ago, promising “lots of weirdness and lots of joy.” Since then, it has turned into a collection of snapshots of the artist’s interests and inspirations. Some episodes follow a broad theme like autumnal music; others have gathered his vinyl purchases from around Brooklyn and Queens. The latest installment follows a narrower path than usual: It’s all reggae from the ’80s and ’90s, heavy on synth-soaked dancehall and springy digidub. He kicks off with an absolute day-brightener about rainy days, goes traipsing through the playful toasting of Duchess Shine’s “Sweet Talking,” and takes in delightful covers of “Just Gimme the Night,” “Nothing Compares 2 U,” and “Legalize It.” For fans of the “Sleng Teng” riddim or Honest Jon’s Watch How the People Dancing compilation, it’s a feast of General MIDI presets and sugary Casio tones, and as summery a mix as you could hope for.

Barker: 3024 Tapes 025

In recent years, Berlin producer Sam Barker has developed a unique style of drum-free techno, in which flickering synths largely replace the percussion. In this mix for Martyn’s 3024 label, he goes in the opposite direction. Mining a seam of tracks between 140 and 160 BPM—“this space between techno and jungle that doesn’t revolve around straight kicks,” as he puts it—he leans hard on percussive intensity. The first part of the set moves through bass-heavy tracks with a dubstep undercurrent, with glowing chords occasionally cutting through the gloom. Halfway through, things get intense, as heavy hand percussion slams into Middle Eastern drumming, fast techno, punishing electro, and even a latter-day remix of one of grime’s founding documents. The set’s exhilarating energy is matched by Barker’s unusually smooth mixing and unerring sense of pace; the lush finale makes for the perfect gentle comedown, and a return to Barker’s typically harmonic wheelhouse.

Fever Ray: RA.883

Fever Ray’s Karin Dreijer teams up with the production duo Aasthma on a sleek, exhilarating set of left-field bangers. Avant-garde African sounds play an outsized role, particularly the bazillion-BPM blur of singeli artists like Sisso, Jay Mitta, and DJ Travella; French-Congolese duo Tshegue drop punked-up percussive club sounds, while South Africa’s Sho Madjozi invokes WWE’s John Cena in a hypnotic song reminiscent of DJ Mujava’s “Township Funk.” Fever Ray fans will be most excited by a pair of unreleased remixes: Slovakian DJ Nifra’s take on “What They Call Us” is right in time for the trance revival, while Avalon Emerson comes down from her dream-pop cloud to deliver a tough, muscular “Carbon Dioxide” rework.

Huerco S.: @ Podlasie, Chicago 21.04.2023

In his own productions, and with the releases on his West Mineral Ltd. label, Huerco S. often gravitates toward the hazy extremes of ambient, where detail seems to dissolve in a sooty murk. But put him in a club context, and he can bang. This nearly two-hour recording from Chicago’s Podlasie starts out heavy—the introductory track sounds like attack planes on the horizon—and just gets heavier from there. Breakbeats, UK garage, techno, bass music, whatever you want to call the coiled syncopations of Peverelist’s “Pulse I”—they all get swirled together in a mass of jabbing drums and dank, sticky low end. Things get particularly fun in the second half: DJ Babatr’s raptor-house edit of LFO’s classic “LFO” injects a dose of déjà vu; Windowseeker’s “Aspire+” channels the trippiness of psytrance; and Chicago rapper Lil Jay’s “Round N Round” makes for a moment of unhinged levity before the set disappears down a passageway of Autechre-inspired fractals.

Otik: RA.882

Bristol’s Otik describes his Resident Adviser podcast as “music I’d want to hear at a warehouse party at 3 a.m.”—a deceptively light description for a decidedly heavyweight sound. Like his new Xoul Trap EP, his selections tend to blend rolling drums with ethereal pads or vocal loops, and the sense of uplift only increases as he gathers steam. While Otik is known as a standard-bearer for a particular strain of UK dance music, much of the set feels like a transatlantic conversation, with the archetypically UK sounds of jungle and garage balanced out by samples of iconic American tracks like Blaze’s “Lovelee Dae” or—in a particularly genius moment toward the end—Nina Sky’s slinky “Move Ya Body,” whose skipping refrain adds even more momentum to his powerhouse grooves.

GRRL: Crack Mix 497

North Carolina producer GRRL’s recent EP for Jubilee’s Magic City label is a hard-charging amalgam of electro, bleep techno, and straight-up rave, and their Crack Mix is no less intense. But whereas her EP is split between thrill-ride exhilaration and darker shades of paranoia, their selections explore a wider range of emotions. Throwback electro jams like Human Rebellion’s sashaying “Hold On” might inspire manic grins, and the breakbeats of Arkajo’s “Earth” (sped up to breakneck speed) call back to the darkling pleasures of classic tech step. But peer beneath the gnarled lines of GRRL’s intricately twisted percussion and you’ll find deeper, more contemplative moods in cuts like Skee Mask’s “Reviver.” The set goes plenty hard, but there’s a welcome sense of subtlety in even its most bracing passages. 

Kornél Kovács: PMx10

Kornél Kovács usually plays house (or at least house-adjacent) music, but in this sleek, 46-minute set for fellow Swede Peder Mannerfelt’s mix series, the Studio Barnhus co-founder digs into drum’n’bass. It’s not a total curveball; rolling breakbeat rhythms fueled “Get Goofy,” an upbeat highlight from his 2022 album Hotel Koko, and as a teen, Kovács got his start playing drum’n’bass on Swedish national radio. He runs the gamut of the breakbeat universe here: A few classic cuts get rinsed, like DJ Hype’s 1994 anthem “Roll the Beats,” but mostly he keeps his eye on what’s happening now, like DJ Swisha’s sneaky flip of Don Toliver’s “5X” and Minor Science’s almost cartoonishly kinetic “Workahol,” the bright colors and distinctive hooks giving the set its playful flair.

Gold Panda: XLR8R Podcast 976

That Gold Panda’s Derwin Schlecker is an unfailing purveyor of vibes has long been clear from his productions, which channel Dilla and Four Tet in sparkling, sun-kissed loops. But the most striking aspect of this set is how he makes unexpected connections between such disparate material. Tapping a throughline of pulse and burble, he spends the first part of the mix pursuing lush polyrhythms through jazz drummer Sarathy Korwar and the jazz-influenced Burnt Friedman; later, he traces a line between the snapping dembow of Equiknoxx’s “Fly Away” and the rippling tabla of Ravi Shankar’s “Tala-Tabla Tarang,” then extends the same line into the liquid droplets of Masakatsu Takagi, Tortoise, and Susumu Yokota. It’s as carefully thought through as it is intuitive, offering fresh perspective on old faves.

Jake Muir: Theory Therapy 51

Even after listening to Jake Muir’s latest mix multiple times, I’d be hard-pressed to tell you exactly what’s happening in it. The Berlin-based musician has a taste for quietly spellbinding sounds and textures, and the patient touch with which he weaves them together is equally subtle. This set is fluidly mixed that you rarely can tell where one track ends and another begins, or whether three or four different things might be happening at once. You get tendrils of soprano saxophone swirled into a pool of drone; foghorn pulses in a field of shimmer; and resonant chimes submerged in splashing water. Discussing the rise of wellness philosophies in ambient music, Muir notes that, given the current political climate, “maybe we should be making and highlighting music that has a bit more agency.” Accordingly, there are hints of disturbance beneath the surface here, fascinating complications that only deepen the set’s beauty.

Call Super: PURE Guest.034

It feels like Cocteau Twins are having a minor moment in electronic music: Every month it seems like I hear a Cocteaus track slipped into an ambient mix, and then there’s Avalon Emerson, who cited the Scottish group’s ethereal sound as an influence on her own shift from techno to dream pop. Now Call Super says that they endeavored to build an entire set around Seefeel cofounder Mark Clifford’s 1995 remix of the Cocteau Twins’ “Violaine.” This mix for Taipei’s Pure G isn’t an ambient set, though: As always, Call Super delivers floor-centric cuts with an immersive pull, covering snapping bass music (Arkajo’s “Tape 17”), slippery techno (Leigh Dickson’s 2002 cut “Praise,” divinely remixed by Baby Ford), and rugged breaks (Kasra V’s “Voice Note to Self”). As tough as the grooves get, they’re almost always overlaid with dreamy, shimmering layers of synths; this is music for moving to, but it also facilitates getting lost in your mind. Nowhere does that play out more unusually than when he finally drops that Cocteaus remix, about three-quarters of the way through, pairing Elizabeth Fraser’s dulcet voice with a juggernaut of a techno track.

Tristan Arp: 3024 TAPES 003

Tristan Arp’s last album, 2021’s Sculpturegardening, used ambient tones to express complex rhythms, and one of the most notable recent albums on his Human Pitch label, Salamanda’s Ashbalkum, was similarly gauzy. But there’s nothing restrained about the Mexico City producer’s guest mix for Martyn’s 3024 Tapes series, which folds together explosive, broken-beat club music with wiry techno, voluminous dub, ragga jungle, and 180-BPM drum’n’bass. He drops a few standouts along the way—South African rapper Sho Madjozi and French producer She’s Drunk’s “Amadoda” is a percussive party-starter—but the real treat is hearing how neatly he weaves together such tangled polyrhythms.

Doc Sleep: Sunday Mix

Doc Sleep has a finely tuned ear for low-key electronic sounds: You can hear it in her curation of Jacktone, the label she co-founded, as well as in her own productions, which call back to the leftfield techno of the ’90s. She takes several steps further left in her Sunday Mix for Crack. She begins with a base of ambient jazz—liquid harps from Nailah Hunter and Nala Sinephro, a stunningly atmospheric Rhodes fantasia by George Duke—and builds out from there with selections from Low, Junior Boys, and Devendra Banhart & Noah Georgeson that sit in the interstices between ambient and indie. In the second half she slips sideways into slow-motion funk from then and now, pitting Laurie Anderson against Afrikan Sciences. The spiritual-jazz finale drives home the relaxed and refreshing weekend mood.

Kassem Mosse: Truancy 301

Germany’s Kassem Mosse, a staple of vaunted lo-fi house label Workshop, has strayed into some pretty murky waters in recent years, and he drifts out to sea once more with this Truancy mix. It’s still a dance set, full of muscular machine grooves and peppered with cuts from like-minded souls like Omar-S, whose 2022 drums-and-voice cut “Can’t Explain” opens the proceedings on a ghostly note. But he tends to gravitate toward airy, eerie tracks filled with empty space: There’s a haunted-house vibe to one lurching cut suffused in evil muttering; another offers a dank, dubby spin on techno that’s nothing but hi-hats and bass. He gives free rein to his psychedelic instincts with a splash of dubbed-out horns in a fake-out about two-thirds of the way through, only to lock into a ruminative deep-house finale, squeezing every drop of tone color from a paltry piano loop. It’s classic Kassem Mosse, finding the expressive potential in the driest, most desiccated sounds. And if it’s KM’s atmospheric side you’re after, don’t miss the fluid, post-Balearic currents of his Stora Skuggan set, which sounds like it’s been concocted out of watercolor paints and Play-Doh.

Nyokabi Kariũki: Sunday Mix

Steve Reich’s iconic “Come Out”—which loops a snippet of a young victim of police violence saying, “I had to, like, open the bruise up and let some of the bruise blood come out to show them”—takes on a new significance as the opening track in Nyokabi Kariũki’s Sunday Mix for Crack. The Kenyan experimental musician’s new album Feeling Body charts her own experience of long COVID, a disease that some sufferers have struggled to convince medical professionals is a legitimate malady with tangible symptoms. Kariũki’s album is a healing journey that rejects hackneyed wellness clichés, and her mix follows suit; there is as much tension in these otherworldly ambient selections as there is tranquility. She favors acoustic instruments with a vividly physical presence, like Mabe Fratti’s cello and Bendik Giske’s baritone saxophone, which she balances with more ethereal elements, like the layered voices and birdsong of her own “Equator Song.” It’s a beautifully fluid set, so it’s only fitting that it wraps up with Feeling Body closing track “Nazama,” a song that equates healing with flowing rivers.

AceMo: AceMo @ Howard’s (Austin, TX)

When New York’s AceMo touched down in Austin, Texas, to play the January edition of a party called Thank You for Sweating, the management busted out a tape deck to preserve the occasion. The result: AceMo @ Howards -TYFS, a 90-minute set of deep, pumping house music neatly divided across two sides of a cassette. From the photos of the joint, Howard’s definitely looks like a sweatbox, and AceMo came prepared. The A-side stretch is a long, gently sloping on-ramp lined with moody, immersive cuts like Mike Huckaby’s “Baseline 88” and Ron Trent and Chez Damier’s eternal “Untiled A1,” from 1994, while the B-side subtly notches up the intensity, tipping from classic American strains of dance music—Kyle Hall’s Midwestern funk; a Boricua anthem from Strictly Rhythm’s Rare Arts—into slipperier, UKG-tinged grooves. They’re all big, chunky tunes, flush with midrange tone color, and AceMo blends them with exceptional finesse.

Queen Asher ft. Rehema Tajiri: Hör Berlin  

Tanzania’s Rehgema Tahiri had been making music in regional styles like zouk and taarab for two decades before she began singing over the lightning-fast beats of singeli, whose tempos can run as high as 300 BPM. Tahiri found her way into the singeli scene under the tutelage of pioneering producer Sisso; these days, she’s spreading the style’s gospel to a new generation: her own daughter, Queen Asher, who makes beats and performs alongside her mother, DJing while Tahiri MCs. Their recent set for Hör Berlin could double as the plot for a Freaky Friday-style family comedy: A runaway particle accelerator sparks a mother-daughter mind meld. 

Peering calmly into her laptop, Asher weaves a mesh of dizzyingly syncopated, sped-up loops of tinny drums and Casio-like keys; Tahiri freestyles nonstop, sing-speaking in short, percussive bursts that mimic the music’s frenetic cadence. “The singeli is a very intense body experience,” Tajiri recently told an interviewer. “Once you get the beat, you can dance for hours; it’s like a trance.” That enveloping vibe comes through in the duo’s performance, which doesn’t so much develop as glide like a magic carpet for nearly an hour. But it’s not entirely trance-like: Every now and then, Asher doffs her headphones to dance alongside Tajiri, the two women smiling and bobbing as casually as though they were at home together.

Salamanda: Sharp Type Co 004

When they compiled their submission for New York digital type foundry Sharp Type’s mixtape series (yes, it really does seem like everyone has a mix series these days), Seoul duo Salamanda decided to focus strictly on Korean music. Many of their selections are far from the pastoral climes of their 2022 album Ashbalkum. After a placid orchestral introduction, they veer left into a bracingly atonal aria for guitar, percussion, and voice from composer I Sang Yun, then survey a variety of strains of noise: haepaary’s ritualistic vocalizationsChoi Taehyun’s rock-tumbler dubJOYUL’s free-range oscillations. Berlin-based bela breaks the spell with a gorgeous piece of organ music, opening the way for a second-half stretch of blippy IDM and sunrise calm, along with three typically bucolic songs from Salamanda themselves. 

DJ Lilocox: Drums (Lata)

Lisbon’s DJ Lilocox has been affiliated with Príncipe Discos in various contexts for a decade now, most recently as a solo artist with 2018’s Paz & Amor EP, where he put a sleek, buoyant spin on the percussive sound of Afro-Portuguese batida. A new mixtape for the label turns the clock back to his early years, when he was still hammering out the contours of his loping, syncopated style. Stitching together 43 tracks from Lilocox’s own archive, Drums (Lata) is clearly cut from the same cloth as his later work, full of resonant log drums and clanging metallic accents. But it’s a smoother ride than he would eventually become known for, balancing the crisp polyrhythms of his ancestral Cape Verde with the laid-back pump of deep house. Closed-minded Lisbon club owners once used the disparaging term “lata”—Portuguese for “tin can”—to describe the music of Lilocox and his peers. With Drums (Lata), he proudly reclaims the word, putting his own stamp on this scene’s dynamic musical history.

Anu: Ryuichi Sakamoto Special for Soup to Nuts

In November, London DJ and radio presenter Anu began immersing herself in Ryuichi Sakamoto’s catalog, listening to every album, soundtrack, composition, and live recording that the 71-year-old composer and electronic musician has made. Her deep dive yielded a two-hour set for NTS Radio that covers the breadth of his career in chronological order; a companion entry on Anu’s blog offers essential context for her selections. She tackles obligatory highlights like “Riot in Lagos” and “Bibo no Aozora,” but also less canonical picks like 1991’s “Rap to the World,” a dancey collab with New York house fixtures Towa Tei and Satoshi Tomiie, or “Great Africa,” which folds sampled dog barks into meditative a new-age/synth-pop hybrid. Sakamoto is in ill health—in a recent livestream, he admitted that he may not be able to return to performing—which only makes this intimate portrait of him feel urgently timely. A month after her Sakamoto special, Anu turned her lens to Yukihiro Takahashi, a fellow member of Yellow Magic Orchestra who died in January

aya: Hör Berlin

Online streaming platform Hör is typically home to some of this decade’s bangingest techno, trance, and club music. So it figures that the UK DJ aya, ever fond of bucking expectations, would go to an opposite extreme: building patient, slow-motion beats and skulking dancehall into singeli-like whirlwinds and brain-scrambling syncopations. Even when she’s dropping queasy, atonal drones, aya maintains an unusually deadpan stage presence: In the opening minutes of her set at Hör’s Berlin restroom-cum-studio, as seasick glissandi rise and fall around her, she types out a message on her phone and holds it up for the studio camera, stone-faced: “theres no mic sorry lads.” Once the technicians get the mic working, she makes good use of it, lacing extremely challenging (yet impeccably mixed) selections with a seasoned radio DJ’s genial banter. “There are some techno bros watching on YouTube right now who are screaming at me to stop talking,” she notes at one point. “To those people I say—” and here she mutes the audio and makes kissing noises into the mic before slamming the beat back. 

The talking, as fun as it is, is just one teensy part of what makes aya’s Hör set so thrilling. Mostly, it’s the grooves, particularly in the latter half, as she weaves an increasingly dense lattice of overlapping polyrhythms. “I had a bit of a manic episode lately, and I made this,” she admits as she unleashes a strangely beautiful, impossible-to-parse fugue. “Two hundred BPM, 6/4, 19-tone equal temperament—clearly having a bad day.” Maybe so. Fortunately for us, aya’s bad days yield results that are at once spellbinding and laugh-out-loud funny. 

John Talabot: Mix No. 60

Barcelona’s John Talabot blends records so gradually that it’s easy to forget where you are in the mix. There’s no before, no after, just a blissfully perpetual now. His preference for patient repetitions and gently psychedelic textures only heighten this sense of temporal slippage. In this set for Parisian clothing brand Études’ ongoing mix series, he extends his unusually smooth touch across a wide stylistic span: from ambient to Detroit techno to an unexpected stretch of darkly supple UK garage. For the coup de grâce, he somehow manages to twist 2-step’s syncopations into a home stretch of corkscrewing psytrance. It’s not a development you’d ever see coming, but in Talabot’s hands, it feels completely natural.

Autechre: Artificial Intelligence – 1992 Contextual Mix

Released in 1992 on Sheffield’s then-fledgling Warp label, Artificial Intelligence was a game-changer. Compiling tracks from Autechre, the Orb’s Alex Paterson, and Aphex Twin, among others, it codified the idea of home-listening electronica for the rave generation. On December 30, 2022, to commemorate a 30th-anniversary reissue of the comp, Autechre live-streamed a five-and-a-half-hour set of music from the period. Kicking off with slow-motion soul from Baby Ford, who would eventually become known for spine-tingling minimal techno, the pair spend the early stretch of the mix ruminating on airy downtempo that seems to hover a few feet off the ground, tapping not just scene staples like LFO, GTO, and Nightmares on Wax but also industrial legends Coil and even Sade. Things heat up as they go deeper, fueled by the brittle sound of Sheffield bleep, hip-hop, and euphoric rave from both sides of the pond. (The crowd-sourced tracklisting is a crucial accompaniment.) As always, much of the joy of an Autechre set is in savoring the disconnect between the music they make and the music they DJ—there’s little obvious linkage between these acid-house staples and the heavily abstracted crunch of their 21st-century work. But sets like this also function as X-rays of the duo’s sensibility, tracing the hip-hop and techno pulses that slide beneath the surface of even their most chaotic work.  (Stream on Mixlr.)

Midland: Group Therapy

Last December, Copenhagen’s Group Therapy—promoters of “therapeutic safer-space oriented raves”—observed World AIDS Day with a fundraiser for a pair of Danish nonprofits. For the opening slot, UK DJ Midland picked out a selection of treasured records for what he calls “my love letter to everyone we lost to AIDS.” Over four hours, he progresses from scene-setting ambient and downtempo to the ebullient sounds of disco, house, and techno, using a storyteller’s careful sense of pacing to move between sorrow and celebration. He weaves poignant voiceover snippets into his blends, such as Harvey Fierstein explaining the essence of the “gay sensibility,” or a group of ballroom dancers rhapsodizing about the importance of their chosen family. Across a wildly varied landscape of adventurous club music dotted with tunes like Arthur Russell’s “Just a Blip,” Kylie’s “Slow,” and Madonna’s “Burning Up,” a mosaic of communal memory and shared meaning emerges—a picture of dancing as a means of survival.

Tim Reaper b2b Kode9: Unsound Podcast 85

When Hyperdub label boss Kode9 performed a live audio-visual set at Krakow’s Unsound festival last fall, his main-stage appearance paired abstracted digital sound design with game-like graphics and an anticolonial sci-fi narrative—heady stuff. Just a few hours later, though, he triggered a more purely visceral response in a back-to-back DJ set with rising UK junglist Tim Reaper, whipping up a 90-minute maelstrom at 160 BPM. They kick off with a brittle stepper peppered with grime bleeps, then waste no time getting to crowd pleasers like DJ Spinn and DJ Rashad’s “4 the Ghetto” and Omni Trio’s “Renegade Snares (Foul Play Remix).” From there on, it’s a relentless rush of jungle breaks and footwork triplets, peppered with spinbacks, curveballs, and pop earworms. Among the highlights: Sully’s “5ives,” whose percussive melody suggests sci-fi worldbuilding, and Reaper’s own “Give Me More,” a veritable deluge of Reese bass and Amen snares. Dance music doesn’t get much more exhilarating than this.