Ethnofusion Best of 2016

December 30, 2016 - Blog



After listening to over 6000 releases, handpicking around 290 for reviews and squeezing the most essential juice into this editorial concoction, I (Baxtak) am proud to present Outtallectuals’ top Ethnofusion releases of 2016:

Over the course of 2016, I made it a mission to discover as much music as possible in this vaguely defined genre. The simple reason behind it is that I find the use of indigenous recordings and world instruments in conjunction with today’s advanced electronic music production skills to be captivating. When pulled off professionally, there is an undeniable timeless character to the music and through this blog, I have been on a personal quest to define this quality.

Before moving on to the ‘awards’, so to speak, I want to lead the criticism of this ‘Best Of’ article; first, there are definitely releases that I missed as the scope of my research has significantly increased in the second half of the year. Second, my pre-conceptions about the artists’ other works may have subconsciously affected my judgement about what I’ve heard. However, going as far as not including any Outtallectuals releases in this list, I have tried my best to keep a non-biased approach and if it wasn’t for the hundreds of hours I have put into this project this year, I would not have given myself the legitimacy to write this superlative review.

I can only hope that you’ll first and foremost enjoy this music, support the artists and be inspired. If the blog’s perception of quality proves to be anything worthwhile, we will expand on doing more next year. Without further ado, here commences the cyber ceremony:

The Format

In order to keep a balanced approach, the honours are categorized into six categories: producers, singles, remixes, EPs, albums and compilation of the year. Each category has a number of picks, depending on how many were heard in its type. For example, there were plenty of singles so the category has the most picks, while most others are concentrated into 4 picks. We have also included a interviews with most of the artists we’ve picked to highlight their input about this whole shenanigan, random musings or the ‘ethnofusion’ topic in general.

Grand Tapestry – Grand Tapestry

Despite being a recent project, Grand Tapestry’s roots can be traced as far back as the early 20th century when founding member, Alam Khan’s grandfather taught classical Indian music in the Maihar gharana (North Hindustani music school) to the likes of Ravi Shankar and Alam’s father, Ali Akbar Khan. This school and the Khan family have since been the most instrumental element in bringing Indian music to the ‘west’, and today Alam Khan carries this torch by co-running Ali Akbar College of music with his family in California, playing the Sarod at a guru level and now, realigning this ethnic music with the contemporary urban element.

In our conversation, Alam told me that growing up in California and living his dual pursuit of classical Indian music on one hand, playing in grunge bands as a teen and growing up with hip-hop on the other eventually brought him to this fusion of influences at this stage of his life. Already being an internationally accomplished artist, it comes as no surprise that he was joined with West Coast independent hip-hop legend, Eligh (of Living Legends), and Afghan-origin tabla virtuoso, Salar Nader to form the experiment, Grand Tapestry.

Alam insisted that Grand Tapestry is not ‘just about making world fusion music’ and Grand Tapestry’s aesthetic really boils down to soulful sound exploration in a way that converges their individual expression. This is felt in the album with brilliant call and response moments between the three members, brilliant lyrics from Eligh, and instrumental mastery. Tracks like Seven explore the seriously experimental corner of music with odd-time signatures and seemless rapping on top, while Dharma Punks echoes that hybrid distorted Seattle / India feel, and Champion brings the anthemic conscious goodness.

Major credit should be given to Eligh for the content of his poetry, covering a range of topics like the human condition, universal concepts and consciousness as a whole. This is truly devotional urban mysticism and it’s no wonder that when asked to choose one line from the album, Eligh’s response was: “music is the way to god”. Here is an excerpt from the lyrics to Atma:

“This art will attract light” like breath to a bag pipe,
battery to a Mag-light, buckle down hold tight,
ride of a lifetime, line after line, rhyme after rhyme, sign that the
time is now upon us,
not a pawn or a polyp,
we the kings and the callers,
we the queens and the ballers,
read the screen play then holler,
in my direction with solace,
meditative and hollow,
filled with universe prana..

When asked about future plans for the group, Alam breaks it down that the experiment will go on as long as it is feasible to do so. Grand Tapestry is a fully independent project and it intends to remain so, but if the unique atmosphere of videos from the band’s live performances is anything to go by, we only hope that the project continues to evolve and bring this master class of world fusion music to the world.

Globular – Holobiont

Holobiont, Globular’s heavyweight psydub / atmospheric release truly stood the test of time this year as I found myself continuously ‘using’ the music to enhance my mood in different situations throughout the year. Musically, the album’s intricately detailed melodies, organic soundscape, dub-driven force, and brilliant continuity make it an undisputed audible joy. Holobiont is an incremental and steady progression in Globular’s classic psydub sound and it is testament to how re-calibrating the OG sound for the current day can still have an impact, superior to tech-jerky futurespective counterparts.

Your music often has a highly atmospheric and almost cinematic feel. What do you count as the main inspirations in your creative process?

Hi! Thanks for the attention, I’m always flattered *blushes*

It’s hard to say to be honest. I’d love to give a deep and meaningful answer here, but I don’t have an esoteric or deep enlightened process for coming up with sounds or themes or whatever. It’s really as simple as striving to make something that gives me a reaction. Something that makes me want to dance around my bedroom, I mean studio… Or makes me trip out and feel like a teenager discovering ambient dub for the first time again. I have no idea where it comes from, and I don’t search out sources of inspiration either. I think it would be fair to say that I’m massively inspired by other awesome music (…), but I try not to use that as a direct inspiration, more as means to spur myself on. But you know, everything is awesome, everything is inspiring, depending on how you [chose to] see the world around you. So I just soak it up and let my subconscious do the filtering.

You have a knack for dank album and song titles. Is it an active search for titles or do they just come to you?

Haha thanks! Not active per se, but I do keep an extensive list on my phone of funny ideas, spoonerisms, random science-y things and just cool phrases that sound even cooler completely out of context. They definitely don’t just come to me, and most of the time a song name bears only minimal relevance to the actual music, though there’s a few notable exceptions, but I‘ll leave that to you guys to figure out…

Since this is chosen as an ‘album’ of the year and that generally entails a sense of continuity between the tracks, what do you consider to be the binding elements of the songs?

Honestly, in reality it’s the quality of the tracks. Usually an album for me is a collection of the best songs I’ve managed to write in a given period. Which then necessitates reworking interludes and intros/outtros to weave it into a complete piece, and to go over tracks trying to get the mixes to stick together. But by and large that’s how it happens. I write tonnes of crap, but you know when you’re on to something special, and generally I’ll keep the special ones back until I have 5 or 6, and then spend a bit of time working out what it would be missing if I were to make them into an album. Then I know the rough direction I need to take for the next few special tracks that materialise. I’m really not a natuarally consistent producer, so sitting down to write an album isn’t a useful endeavour for me. My approach seems to have worked so far though, so I’m not going to start messing with it if I can help it. But to be honestly the continuity aspect isn’t something I pride myself on, usually seems pretty messy to me. But I’m glad you don’t agree.

Finally, can we please have a line or two of your most globulistic inspirational thoughts?

Wow that’s a big one. I don’t really have any inspirational thoughts, but you’re welcome to some weird and groovy sounds?

Drumspyder – The Mother Rune

Drumspyder is one of those hyper-productive artists who has perfected the balance of output and quality. Year in, year out, the dude effortlessly creates signature percussion-ridden midtempo world delights, plays them out with various dance crews at copious amount of festivals, and incrementally upgrades his sound to fit the overall progression of the musical current. Mother Rune, his latest album fits our Best Of bill for its crispy and translucent mix and mastering, premium Oakland flavour, sheer instrumentality, effortless style and instantly recognizable Drumspyder sound.

Q. Assuming from your live videos, artist name and tracks, you play your percussions for your music. To what extent are the other instruments in the songs original recordings?

A. Most of the instrumental parts are either virtual instruments – parts I compose myself and play with Ableton’s Sampler, or recordings of my own acoustic instruments. The latter especially is the direction I’m moving in, and I’m working on the skills to bring more original acoustic instrument parts into the mix. “Weofod”, “Strands of the Web” and “Masked Dance” have no samples; they are made entirely of my own parts.

Q. Is there a signature Oakland sound and do you consider your music to be a part of it?

A. I don’t identify closely with any particular electronic sound or genre, but in a more general way, my music owes a lot to the vitality of global music fusion which has been going on for a long time in the Bay area. When I started playing hand percussion I the fortune to be introduced to it by local players who are on a very high level, and there are so many of these amazing musicians around here — people who play traditional musical styles and instruments with a high degree of skill and integrity.

Q. You have mentioned that your music is most importantly about the ancient relationship between the drums and the dancer. Can you elaborate on that?

A. Playing drums live , either for a dancer on stage or for the dance floor, has always been at the center of my music – thats what really inspires me. In their essence, drumming and dancing are not very different ; they are both forms of musical and rhythmic movement where the spirit takes on a manifestation in time and physical embodiment.

Q. You always have a degree of visual stimuli (generally, beautiful belly dancing women) in your shows. Are these elements present in your song writing process or just for live shows?

A. I don’t work with dancers in the studio when creating tracks, but often I have in mind a style of movement, and sometimes a particular dancer’s style, for a particular piece. Then there is the really magical part of the process, which is bringing it out to dancers and seeing what they do with it in a live situation. Recently I’ve been working with a dance group from the southwest US called Auric Medicine , who have done choreographies and improv solos to many of my pieces. It’s really inspiring to see how they pick up on the energy that I put into the music, but bring their own energies, personalities and dance backgrounds into it as well, often bringing out totally new and surprising aspects to a piece. We have captured some of this on video, and a complete rendition of “Weofod” was shot in southern California – to be released later on this year!

Q. Finally, what qualities do you think make a good album?

Qualities which I aspire to … but I can’t say I’ve attained yet! Great songs, great rhythms and drumming. Music which inspires listener for their next dance, or their next step in life.

Compilation of the Year

Aquatic Collective – Standing With The Waters

Aquatic Collective’s mega-compilation which was released as a fundraiser for the Standing Rock NoDAPL campaign proved to be an incredibly powerful show of support from the psychedelic bass scene to this vital current socio-environmental issue. Furthermore, the music matched the album’s social value with amazing contributions from veteran and newcomer producers, often involving natural, tribal and roots-based elements. Thus, the compilation won this blog’s heart for quality, quantity, and mission statement. We tried to set up an interview to ask about the details of how the fundraising went, but have not received any response yet. We will update this article as soon as the information is ready.

Liquid Bloom & Numatik (ft. Yona Frenchhawk & David Brown) – Stand With Us To Bless The Waters

It was impossible not to include this release in this year’s list as it basically brought a whole new level of meaning to the word ‘ethnofusion’ through its purpose; becoming a part of the global tribe to support indigenous movements of preserving the environment and ancient culture, and secure it for future generations. The kind of immediate direct action that this project embodies did not only manifest in the form of raised funds for the Water Protectors in North Dakota, but also a handful of genuinely emotional tribal prayers that are filled with genuine emotion. Long rant short, no other release this year got me as close as this did to shedding tears and I will honour that with its selection in this list.

Q. It is a cool project to have two original songs and then get all these great mash-up remixes done. What exactly inspired you folks to do this project?

“Stand With Us to Bless the Waters” is our prayer of solidarity for the Lakota Sioux Nation, & the many Water Protectors who have converged in North Dakota Standing Rock Reservation. Around the same time late last summer, both myself and Summit Jaffe (Numatik) were inspired to create a piece of music that was imbued with a special water prayer, to help raise awareness and money for the NODAPL movement. Summit and I are good friends, but neither one of us knew each other was working on these tracks separately. Coincidentally, the two tracks were both finished at the same time on fall equinox and they were both written in the same key, making it an ideal situation to interweave them into a one piece of music. It was actually while we were both sitting in the healing hot springs waters in New Mexico that we had the idea to curate a kind of “mash-up” remix album where we could not only unify the two tracks, but also bring on many other producer friends from around the world to support this cause. The right to clean water is so important to all humans, so we easily found many amazing producers who were also very inspired to dive in and be a part of the project.

Q. Did you manage to meet the elders who lent their voice for this track?

Oh yes of course, they are all good friends of ours. They wrote these prayers specifically for the tracks we were making because they trust us and our intentions behind the music. We were in the same room with them when we recorded the prayers, and before the recording sessions we did a ceremony to “open the space” and connect us to their ancestors, the four directions, the waters, and great spirit. It was pretty synchronistic that both Summit and I had similar experiences going into the recording session of the prayers without knowing we were both working on these pieces of music. So there was definitely some unseen guidance happening from the Great Mystery!!

Q. How much of a success was the outcome for you and will you do similar projects in the future?

For us it was a huge success, we raise thousands of dollars and were able to send that money to important funds like the Medic and Healing Council, the Legal Defense fund, and many others. Beyond that it also raised awareness in our electronic music community about how important this cause is, and we later saw a few other releases come down the pipe after we did ours. I think the ongoing mission of both myself as Liquid Bloom and Summit as Numatik is to raise awareness and support important causes through our artistry. Before this release early last year there was a three track ep called Enseñame on Merkaba records we used to raise money to protect an endangered cloud forest in Guatemala. Through the sales of my Liquid Bloom albums I am consistently sending a donation every year to the Paititi Institute in Peru. We also just did a Desert Dwellers remix of a track by Kai Altair called “Mama Ocean” where all the proceeds are donated to protecting the coral reefs. So yeah, I am sure there will be more in the future.

Q. Do you think artists have a moral responsibility to be mobilised as activists within the ethical realm?

I think artists have a responsibility to be themselves first and foremost, but if doing work like this inspires them then yeah they should do it. As Artists we are in a unique position to reach a lot of people through our networks and help bring awareness about important issues. The Earth and it’s indigenous cultures really need our support right now, and western culture needs to start making better choices and moving towards protecting what is left of the natural world. If we don’t do it now, it will soon be too late and there will be nothing left to protect. So yeah, for me personally this is a really important mission …. to be activists through our music for the Earth’s ecosystems and for Indigenous cultures.

Chamberlain – Deity Vo.1 & 2 [Adapted Records]


Having technically come out in 2015 (29th of December), Chamberlain’s 2 track Vol.1 EP stood out enough to override those few days and become a part of this write-up. The artist took the Adapted Records funky glitch-hop sound and pumped it with an Ayurvedic dose of mysticism. Both tracks on the EPs are highly meditational scores, and they consistently killed it in both downtempo and uptempo DJ sets. Basically, they stood the test of live performance with flying colours and it all comes down to the whopping groove, wholesome dynamics and diamond-cut production. The EP was also followed up with a Vol.2 recently and further solidified Chamberlain’s dominance on this style and the Deity series’ place as [an] EP[s] of the year.

Q. What sparked your fusion of thumping glitch-hop and devotional music?

I was completely unaware of the entire mid-tempo and glitch scene until my first voyage to Rainbow Serpent Festival in Australia, 2014. The festival inspired me to write music with a funky beat to sit into and a vibe that would make you want to stomp around. Glitch hop in particular was a genre that resonated with me and fit perfectly with that stomping vibe. Another new genre I was exposed to at Rainbow was psybient music, which is largely comprised of ethnic and world vibes. I am a massive fan of that worldly infusion in music, as it creates a journey for the listener. Not having heard much of the glitch sound with that worldly vibe that psybient music brings and my passion for both genres, meant I started creating beats with that fusion.

Q. What’s it about Australia that gives birth to premium glitch-hop?

It’s to my understanding that our festival/doof culture in Australia, has a huge psytrance and glitch hop focus, which has become a breeding ground for ideas that are outside of the box. The proximity of different music cultures beyond those genres, just gives huge surges of creativity and ideas for people to walk away with and write.

Q. What’s next in store for Chamberlain’s world fusion adventures?

At the moment I want to focus on writing Australian Indigenous focused pieces, that have a very Australian stamp to them.

Q. Tell us something rad about anything.

In my Deity EP’s, my track names Dharma mean s “the eternal law of the cosmos, inherent in the very nature of things”, Yaksha is a name given to a tier of spirits that protect the treasures in the earth and tree roots, and Prajna is “direct insight into the truth taught by the Buddha, as a faculty required to attain enlightenment”.

SIKADA – Eastern Myth

SIKADA came on our radar this year for his already signature fusion of techno, organic gypsy instrumentations, and neuro basslines. Since then, we’ve worked with him in a series of live shows and releases and he has consistently produced some of the liveliest ethnofusion work. On the Eastern Myth EP, Sikada solidified his fusion sound over 4 to the floor beats, subtle heaviness, stoic harmonies and a sense of unpredictability, most noticeably shown on the final minute of Dahaka’s Lullaby. To add another layer of awe, how the live shows include a combination of DJing, and anything from oud, percussions, accordians and harmonicas should also be noted.

Q. What’s the deal with making neurotic hyper-gypoid techno music?

I’ve always had a soft spot for techno and love how a simple 4 to the floor rhythm can be adapted in so many ways, but remain relatable to such a wide audience.

Q. You play instruments in your live shows and DJ. Why do you think it’s important to do this and doesn’t it get confusing?

I had been playing instruments for a long time before I started making electronic music, so it seemed like a natural progression for me to start incorporating this into my performances. I’m also lucky enough to know and work with a lot of talented musicians, one of which being Toczko who regularly plays accordion over my sets. It does get tricky at times trying to juggle the DJing and playing, but I think it is really important to make the performance something to remember and more engaging for the audience.

Q. You also play in a gypsy folk rock band called Manushka. How do you compare the realms of band and producer music?

Unfortunately Manushka decided to part ways in 2016 after a busy number of years, but new projects are in the works. I have always loved playing in bands and think that the energy and unpredictability that comes from performing with a group is hard to beat. Something I love about producer music however is the freedom you have as an individual to create anything you like without boundaries.

Q. What can we expect in 2017 from you?

There’s a lot in store for 2017. In terms of releases a number of EP’s and potentially a full album are in the works, as well as the first official music video which is something I have been excited about for some time. On the performance side of things, I am working on expanding the live show and you can expect to see us at number of festivals and events across the UK and Europe. Watch this space!

Synchromystica – Synchromystica

Mr.Moo & Art of Fact’s musical child came into existence this fall, showing signs of immediate maturity, diversity and ambition. The duo’s combined appreciation for melody and tech nerd-outs make for a result that’s most fitting of their group name. Definitely excited to see what comes of this camp in 2017. Here’s what they had to say about their inspiration, ethnofusion and… fruits!

Q. What is the inspiration for your sound?

Pure sonic exploration. Exploring the instruments and tools that we have, and paying attention to what triggers our brains endorphin response. We both have backgrounds in classical music training, and are comfortable to accept happy accidents and use those mistakes in a musical context. We could spiral down the genre-hole, but everything essentially boils down to what makes us happy.

Q. What does it mean for you to be included in this list?

It’s awesome to be acknowledged by a community that we’re happy to be a part of. Synchromystica first and foremost was an exploration of an idea, and it’s delightful to see that idea resonate with so many people. It’s humbling to have international recognition, and to be supported in such a defining way. Milo’s mom thinks it’s pretty neat too. Creating art can sometimes be a lonely endeavor, and it’s hard not to wonder if anyone out there is paying attention. Being included on this list is a tangible reminder that someone, somewhere, is listening. It’s inspiring. Thank you.

Q. Anything you wanna say that isn’t covered by the above questions?

Taylor wants to say something about fruit and how juicy it is. I want to say something deep and poetic… so I found this quote from Sara Parish: “Living with fear stops us taking risks, and if you don’t go out on the branch, you’re never going to get the best fruit.”


Quanta’s easily distinguishable sound stood out at the top of the psydub world this year, and an EP was enough to prove it. Not only does the music capture dear elements of both the psy and dub world, there is an immense level of technical sound design, compositional dynamics, melodic maturity, and crystal clear production. Today, there are very few artists doing wholesome psychedelic ethnic dub at this level and hearing these master-sculpted tracks affirms this.

What is the inspiration behind your music?

I’m very inspired by nature and love to create my own environments within the sound its a journey for me to discover new vibes and atmospheres to lose my self in.

Your music has a perfect balance of reggae dub, world music and psychedelia. What brings you to this fusion?

All the elements in the music i create are parts of all the music i love its always a challenge to find new combinations and im always exploring trying to discover new genres.

The groove and groove switchups on Changala are insanely good. How did you arrive at those?

The timing is time halfed and added to itself using some double time too, the good thing about time is that you can devide it as much as you like and it will always work together.

What would Quanta’s few words of wisdom be?

Try to find time to give to each other.

Bandish Projekt

Bandish Projekt’s crisp understanding of neuro / technical drum n bass and general sound design and dedication to Indian culture has earned him a lit spot in the realm of world fusion music. Every project from the artist has a specific concept within the vast scope of Hindustani culture; while last year his Common Tongue project had a humorously ethical execution, this year, Bandish Projekt came out with a handful of spectacular singles and remixes, one of which is chosen as a remix of the year. Later on, the Katal Kalaa project celebrated the Hindu festival of Navaratri, highlighting the urban aspect of Mumbai life with the combined help of Gujarati MCs, faithful neuro Hindi bass music, and Aishwarya Joshi’s beautiful voice. Through these releases, Bandish Projekt has taken the mould of bass music and evolved to the most authentic existing specimen of Hindi electronic music.

What are the inspirations for your sound?

I think there are lots of different things which inspires me, but mainly my surroundings and the way i perceive things and hear them. The best example for my inspiration is my beat root series https://youtu.be/bmthU8Fx4MQ

What does it mean to you to be included in this list?

This feels special and inspires me to do what i do 🙂

Anything you wanna say that isn’t covered by the above questions?

Thanks for appreciating my work , it really means a lot when you work for hours in the studio to create what you think is cool and then its loved by people too.


The trio of David Satori of Beats Antique, Evan Fraser of Stellamara and Mark Reveley of Jed and Lucia make up a dream team, one that encapsulates a very distinct aesthetic of pan-global music in a highly cohesive admixture. The group’s largely organic sound is comprised of crisp instrumentations, deep and elegant basslines, and an almost interminable thirst for melodic elements that conjure a simultaneous journey along the silk road and route 66. If their original songs this year are anything to go by, and Dirtwire make a full length next year, we are in for a classic vinyl-worthy release.

We contacted Dirtwire for an interview but they weren’t available so the music will have to do the talking.

Audeka – Mushrooms are Alien Probes

Audeka’s work on Mushrooms Are Alien Probes was easily one of the blog’s highlights of 2016, ethnofusion or not. While it is substantially different than the trio’s brilliant Methlab-released full length, it is indicative of their ability to make haunting, spectral and technical cross-genre electronic music. This isn’t anything new for anyone who’s heard their Ode To Oberyn, or Mythical Creatures EP, but let us assure you that the way the trio’s brains intertwine and create all these polyrhythmic nanolayered sounds has earned them a spot as heavy avant-garde electronic music’s most current flag-bearers. This year, this song best exemplified all that is dear in future ancient tribal ritual music and judging by these guys’ output, we’re sure it will be a similar case next year.

Q. An obvious question about this track, but were there any psychedelic or non-psychedelic mushrooms ingested in the making of this track?

No Comment d(x__x)b

Q. I consider you guys’ music to be at the forefront of experimental electronic music. Is there anything that you hear and think: ‘how the fuck did they make that?’

Absolutely – we are continually impressed by Rawtekk, Woulg, Rob Clouth, Trentemoller, Murcof, and Shpongle. We originally were very interested in production technique. At this point, we are more intrigued by what inspires their ideas, what is happening in their heads, or what sort of qualities do they enjoy that makes them arrange music in a certain way?

Q. What drives you to use world/tribal elements in your music?

Tribal instruments make us feel very present, as if we were actually at a sort of ceremony or ritual. It transports our brains to a very cool place.

Q. Tell us something that all Audekans out there should know.

Support music that you love, and also do things that you love

GAMA – Banzé

Gama’s approach to slow tribal rave music on this track caught attention with its polyrhythmic and technical execution. Often, music in this 4-to-the-floor style is over-simplified and lacks the genuinely progressive flavour it so deepily begets. Gama’s work on this track shattered this shortcoming with its ever-evolving yet consistent thump. Just listen to that switch-up at 3:10 and it will all fall into place.

Q. Was is a conscious decision to use that super-high pitch element in the track?

in this case I would say it is just frequency range and rhythm exploration but there always room for the unconscious and abstract.

Q. What is your inspiration for making this deep evokative forest rave music?

Any process has so many branches that’s is hard to say what is inspiration and what is not. However, I try to let the environment around me lead my process and, at least in what I experienced until now, I don’t get along so well with an urban energy, maybe that’s the reason why some people can relate the music with this definition.

Q. What’s next for Gama?

After a month without phone or electricity. composing, recording a lot making room for new ideas to come. now, I’m dedicating my time to let myself play with this material, the results until now are really different from the music I was making under the name of gama, vey soon, it will split into 2 or more projects. Also I’ve been much more interested in doing it with other people than taking care of my own music, career, performance, lifestyle etc with proper or tactile ends. About releases, soon Kimuso records is releasing a free folk improvised album I performed a while ago.

Ion Driver – At Dusk

The choice of this song in our yearly selection boils down to the fact that progressive productions come in two types; the show-offs and humble ones. What Ion Driver achieved on ‘At Dusk’ is of the latter where the overall sound-writing and atmosphere-building make room for an easily accessible organic sound, while mind-bending sonic entities twirl in the squelch-scape. The future ancient wild west, almost mad-max ambiance of this song sounds effortlessly stylish, a quality often attributed to skaters who’s grace on the board has a flavour beyond technical ability. Curiously enough, Ion Driver is a self-proclaimed skateboarder and we wanted pass him the imaginary microphone but weren’t able to reach him for an interview and music will have to do the talking.

Halfred – Granular Swimming

The respect for Halfred’s continued growing and experimental sound goes beyond his ability to make world inspired electronic music, to include his constant bending of the confines of psychedelic music. Also proven through his other tracks in 2016 like Deep Blue and You Top Yah, Halfred is just the type of daring producer the psy scene needs in order to move beyond its over-produced not-that-psychedelic-anymore sound.

Remix of the Year

Kaya Project – Awaken (Bwoy de Bhajan Remix)

It’s no secret that almost anything that Bwoy de Bhajan puts his musical brain into will turn out into an instant master piece. Bwoy’s crispy and extremely textural sound is an atmospheric spectacle and his ability to warp and manipulate sound makes him one of those guys who could make you a full album out of a single kick sound if needs be. Now, feed him stems from Kaya Project and you get the aural representation of the Gardens of Eden and that’s exactly what Awaken is.

How was it doing a remix for Kaya Project? I imagine that’s as fun as stems get?

Absolutely incredible. As an electronic producer with limited options to record real instruments, receiving these mystique infused eastern and western recordings to work with got me super excited! I’ve been a big supporter of Seb’s various projects for many years now, so it was an honor to do this one for sure.

Your gigs normally entail you on a couple of SP404s, recreating your tracks live. Do you use the live set up while producing as well?

I don’t actually put the SP-404’s to use when i produce, but it is possible as it has it’s own sequencer and tons of effects to play around with! I can’t imagine playing live without them, it makes it so much fun for me on the stage. No laptop needed!

You use a LOT of field recordings in your music. What’s the weirdest foley you recently recorded and used?

I do indeed, and as little as i get to record (especially outdoors) these days, i did recently record the sound of a bottle of wine being popped open, and it’s sounding nice with reverb on it. I think next i’ll buy a bunch of those cards with sound that sing “happy birthday” when you open it, and circuit bent them, always makes for fun results.

What’s next for the Bwoy like you?

I’m going to play support for Max Cooper, on the 2nd of February in Copenhagen. I absolutely adore this guys music! Weekend after i will play at a Sofa Beats label party, and then i’m off to Berlin and Panama. Summer is looking amazing, loads of European gigs coming through! But most importantly, i’m trying to get as much music done as i can at the moment. I’d really like to release more in 2017 than i have in previous years.

Streamer – The Last Sacrifice (Bandish Projekt Remix)

We’ve already talked a fair bit about why Bandish Projekt is one of the best doing it this year, and this remix is further testament to that statement. As far as ethnofusion music goes, this is hands down the best balance of groove and odd time-signature, robot technicality and human soul.

What drove you to write in 5/4 and what do you think about the industry standard of how artists always stick to 4?

Hey, UMB the guy who runs generation bass, introduced me to streamer. I quiet like his original which is in 5/4 and not in 4/4 and that’s what made me excited to work on the remix. I know most of the artists stick to the usual drill. But according to me if an artist doesn’t make or produce music that inspires others and just follow the industry standards then I don’t think they are artists. I make music for humans and not machines . If there is no soul in my art, It doesn’t make sense to me.

Kaur – Anmol Gagan Maan (SOOHAN Remix)

I picked this remix as it’s one of those bangers I heard this year that worked on every dancefloor, no matter which country or time of day it was played; whether it was Holi festival in Nepal, heat of summer in Hungarian country side, or on a boat in London. SOOHAN’s knack for finding world jams and pumping it with that bass boost and heady attitude has made him a prominent name on US festival line-ups and this track exactly demonstrates why that is the case

It seems that the choice of what song to remix is endless. How do you go about deciding what you choose?

Honestly its just hours and hours of scouring a combination of Itunes, Youtube, and the internet. I have so many songs I have never used. I am kind of a collector of songs from around the world.

You incorporate a lot of world sounds in your music, often mixed with a hip-hop flavour. What is your inspiration for this fusion sound?

Hmmm. Well I guess my idea of making a dope beat automatically puts me in the realm of hip hop. Im assuming its mostly a nostalgic feeling. I just remember the feeling I got from my Subwoofers in my car in highschool. Then later followed this feeling to Baltimore where i discovered Baltimore Club Music. Just always been a fan of 808s and that loud thump we associate with them.

How does one turn into a super heady spiritual gangster and what are its benefits / challenges?

Hahahaha. Believing in yourself is the number one requirement. Life can present lots of twists and turns. Super Heady Spiritual Gangster is just an ode to riding that wave of bliss that resides inside of all of us.

Give us some brain juice in the form of a one-liner to welcome 2017.

Laugh frequently.

What’s next for SOOHAN?

Well. I am just settling back in to the studio for real for the winter. Digging hard through world music looking for samples that inspire me. I will be releasing a bunch of music this spring as well as a few mixtapes. Going to just keep grinding and releasing stuff when I feel it is ready.

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