It was a sad week in the dance world, with the scene mourning the loss of producer Pierce Fulton, who died at the age of 28 after what his family describes as “a tragic struggle with mental health.”
Also this week: Porter Robinson’s Nurture debuted at No. 1 on the Top Dance/Electronic Albums chart, and the producer also gifted us the lineup for his fall Second Sky festival. RAC went deep about why NFTs are the future, Palestinian DJ Sama Abdhuladhi spoke about her December arrest and the Middle Eastern electronic scene, Diplo sued an ex partner he’s accusing of stalking and the release of revenge porn, Winter Music Conference dropped the lineup for its forthcoming virtual event, and trance star Ilan Bluestone paid homage to his biggest fan — his mom — ahead of Mother’s Day this Sunday.
And yes, we’ve got new music, with the week’s best new dance tracks coming in hot below. Let’s dig in.
Flight Facilities feat. Channel Tres, “Lights Up”
Once again demonstrating his position as one of the most essential collaborators (and standalone voices) in current dance music, Channel Tres saunters onto “Lights Up” — his new collaborative single with Flight Facilities — and turns the track on a low simmer that heats up into a delicious all-out disco swirl. While the strings pay homage to legendary haunts like Paradise Garage, the venerable Aussie duo also layer up the synth and kick drum, adding, they say in a statement “some 90’s and 00’s elements to give the song its own character” and prevent it entry from the derivative zone. Meanwhile, Tres’ insistent refrain of “got the whole city blowin’ up” demonstrates, as Flight Facilities continue in their statement, that “his voice has a magical ability to make songs that are made for strutting.” Turn this one up and do your own sashay into the clubscape of your mind. – KATIE BAIN
Hard Feelings, “Holding On Too Long”
“Where do you go when a happy home becomes a haunted house?” Amy Douglas drawls at the start of the music video for “Holding On Too Long,” her first single with Hot Chip’s Joe Goddard as Hard Feelings. The song’s vibrant production — euphoric and upbeat with its swelling piano melodies — belies its lyrics about a relationship’s ugly demise. Douglas’ vocals are loud and powerful, yet vulnerable and raw; her singing is less of a performance and more an exorcism of rage and sorrow. “I’m tripping on a heart that’s made of stone,” she wails, nearly to the point of screaming, embodying drama in all its untamed glory.
“’Holding On Too Long’ is the common denominator of the entire musical union of Amy and Joe,” Douglas says in a press release. “In this ‘opera of sad bangers’ here is its key aria, its ‘Un Bel Di’ from Madame Butterfly or the ‘Mad Scene’ from Lucia Di Lammermoor, the unforgettable moment of the story wherein our heroine stands up defiantly and has her moment to wail, scream and cry her pain and fury centre stage to the world.” We can’t sell it any better than that. — KRYSTAL RODRIGUEZ
Anti Up, “Shake”
When Chris x 2 superproducers Chris Lake and Chris Lorenzo get together in the studio, the whole Anti gets Upped. On their latest, these dudes came to “Shake” the dance floor to its knees with a post-punk, acid-house, glitch-funk get-down designed to get your whole body in freak-out mode. (Yes, that’s a good thing.) This is one rough and rowdy ride, and it’s only a taste of things to come, with Anti Up dropping a full album in August. According to a recent #AMA on Twitter, the release will include at least a dozen tracks. We’re shaking in our boots with anticipation. — KAT BEIN
Elephante, “High Water”
Usually when an artist announces a change in direction, we smile politely and keep our fingers crossed. L.A. producer Elephante is an act who’s recently done such a gear shift, with the debut song from this new era out now. And guess what? It’s great. Embracing a more live/alt-electronic sound reminiscent of acts like Big Wild, “High Water” is lush with guitars and complex percussion that stays crisp despite its many layers, with everything floating in a sea of synth. Coming from Elephante’s forthcoming sophomore album, the song has warmth, weight and a very personal backstory.
“It’s about my experience in my younger years withdrawing from opioids,” the artist born Tim Wu says in a statement. “The darkest moment in addiction where your mind gets so twisted that all you can think about is getting back to that high. During the pandemic, I thought a lot about that time in my life and saw a lot of parallels with life in quarantine, where all I wanted was to get back to the way things were pre-covid, no matter the cost.” While we’re still not quite out of the pandemic, this new music signals bright days ahead for Elephante nonetheless. — K. Bain
Godlands feat. Brux, “My Weakness”
What, or who, is your vice? Rising Adelaide producer Godlands laments the inability to just say no and walk away for good on her new single “My Weakness,” featuring fellow Aussie — and Billboard Dance February 2020 Emerging Artist — Brux. The atmospheric bass tune, heavy yet coated in shades of pastel, is slow-building, conjuring images of venturing too far into the deep end, where the water’s dark and your feet no longer touch the floor. The way the production in the chorus retreats, curls and crashes into a melodic cacophony of sonic trills, vocal clips and synth stabs is like tumbling, caught in one looming ocean wave after another in a never-ending cycle. “My Weakness” is Godlands’ second single of 2021. Earlier this week, she also announced her upcoming Thank You 4 Raging tour, set to take place across Australia in June and July. She’ll perform at Hard Summer in Southern California later this summer. — K.R.
Boys Noize feat. Jake Shears, “All I Want”
Remember Scissor Sisters? That band is amazing, and its lead singer Jake Shears just teamed with Berlin-based techno boss Boys Noize on a bombastic bit of strange that’ll tickle and delight. Pounding drums and synth bops create an ’80s-esque new wave pop bounce. Meanwhile, the absurdist music video plays with our emotions, walking the line between heartbreak and hilarity. Directed by Dan Strei (who’s previously directed clips for acts including Charli XCX, Diplo & Sidepiece and RL Grime), it follows a lonely bodybuilder on his endless (if also empty) quest for friendship and perfection on the shores of Venice Beach.
“When I thought about a video for this song, the idea about reversing the lyrics ‘all I want is you’ was the first thought,” Boys Noize says in a press release. “People obsess so much about their body, their look, their social profiles, their ‘likes,’ and it becomes more important than everything else. I was a fan of Dan Streit’s previous work and focus on unique fringe characters, so I contacted him and presented him the idea for this video. He loved it and took it to the next level.” — K. Bein
“Told you I’m a boss, you’ve ignored that,” South African artist Muzi repeats a few times on his latest, “Interblaktic,” but there’s no more denying status once you’ve ingested the track a few times. At once thick and tightly contained, “Interblaktic” is deeply cool and kind of woozy, with the pair of nearly idiosyncratic piano chords that arrive throughout adding to the heady, house-music-in-space vibe. The song comes with a gorgeously shot music video in which Muzi strolls through the desert dressed in a self-described “Zulu Skywalker” ensemble that he designed in conjunction with Vans. “Interblaktic” is also the first single from an album of the same name that’s dropping this fall. — K. Bain