Piotr Orlov

File this one under: "when genre walls collapse, the fusions are wonderful." Among the sidenotes to dance-music archivists' interest in the minimalist sounds of New York's 1970s and '80s downtown cult figures such as Arthur Russell and Julius Eastman, is how it's brought the work of their colleagues, contemporaries and collaborators to light.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify or Apple Music playlist at the bottom of the page.


Well, who saw this coming?

Few careers in contemporary music had the arc and the diversity that South Africa-born trumpeter/singer/composer Hugh Masekela did, before he succumbed to prostate cancer on Tuesday at the age of 79.

Regardless of how much we acknowledge that group-movement to a centralized rhythm is medicine for the soul, some emotional climates simply aren't conducive to reaching a singular moment of exultation and release on the dance floor. Across much of the world, 2017 sure as heck didn't feel like the right year for the ecstatic. So then, the question is: what to do? One answer arrived at in our listening was to get planning.

There are times one can sense deep changes before you can see them. When, in a July interview, the synthesizer player and composer Gavin Russom revealed that she was transitioning from life as a man to one as a woman, Gavin Rayna, she says it did not come as a total shock to the people who knew Gavin Russom well.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify or Apple Music playlist at the bottom of the page.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify or Apple Music playlist at the bottom of the page.

Dego & Kaidi have one of those long-running, non-exclusive musical relationships the quality of which is impossible to deny and hard to explain if the context — London's multi-cultural club-life — is unfamiliar. Theirs is a classic example of how, given enough time, underground harmony solidifies into cultural bedrock.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify or Apple Music playlist at the bottom of the page.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Apple Music playlist at the bottom of the page.

The original version of "Bambro Koyo Ganda" — which rests halfway through Bonobo's most recent album, Migration — is exactly the kind of track that's made the British-born, Los Angeles-based producer (real name: Simon Green) a favorite of the heady, downbeat electronic scene. Though a nicely insistent, bass-heavy kick drum sporadically dominates the space, "Bambro" makes clear that nightclubbing is not its intention.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify or Apple Music playlist at the bottom of the page.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Apple Music playlist at the bottom of the page.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify or Apple Music playlist at the bottom of the page.

Of all the songs from The xx's excellent album I See You to remix for the dance-floor, "A Violent Noise" is, thematically, a funny choice. Sung mostly by Oliver Sim, it is about negatively losing yourself in the music, an escape where "every beat is a violent noise." The notion is mirrored by the music, while the band's low-end atmospheric production and glacial doomed echoes layer on the dread, it does so without truly following through on either of the chorus' warnings: There is no beat and there is no violence.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify or Apple Music playlist at the bottom of the page.

It goes without saying that we're living in strange times. The primary metaphor for our era — a theater of the absurd — is constantly invoked across the cultural and geographic spectrum. Well... dystopian times call for absurd pleasures. Just don't let it be boring.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify or Apple Music playlist at the bottom of the page.

There are infinite reasons as to why people go to dance clubs, but once they're there, it often boils down to variations — and the interplay between — two themes: escape and meditation. We here at Rx Dose are down with both, though when searching for tunes — falling harder for some, remaining choosy about others — it's safe to say that we gravitate towards the latter, in spite of our awareness that balance is the optimal terminus.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify or Apple Music playlist at the bottom of the page.

In 1993, Ron Trent and Chez Damier, two young men in their early 20s and already dance-music veterans, founded Chicago's Prescription Records, applying a new audio-sensory texture to the city's exploding house scene.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify or Apple Music playlist at the bottom of the page.

Though Byron Blaylock made his recorded debut as Byron The Aquarius only a year ago, by most standards his musical journey had already been long and fruitful. Born and raised in Birmingham, Ala., Blaylock had been a keyboard and hip-hop production prodigy during the golden Myspace days of the late-Aughts.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify or Apple Music playlist at the bottom of the page.

It may seem like a trivial thought, but one of the purposes of art is to make sense of the times that we live in — usually, though not always, by reflecting them back at the audience, as though through a prism. But great art — and music most definitely applies as a great art — can add a layer of meaning regardless of circumstance.

Long before Marea Stamper was The Black Madonna, feminist DJ heroine, she was a known and beloved figure on the Midwestern rave scene: the mixtape girl. Stamper, who grew up in a small eastern Kentucky town and found her dance-music calling early because of a record-collecting stepfather, spent a chunk of her late teens and the mid-1990s going from party to party all over Middle America, selling DJ mix cassettes and spreading the rave gospel, while simultaneously receiving an unparalleled music education.

Return To Daddy

Dec 22, 2016

If there was one moment in Houston on Saturday night that brought meaning and context to Aphex Twin's first U.S. performance in eight years, it was when the storm arrived, about 30 minutes in.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released.


For a DJ mix to be regarded as great, it can't just follow a single technically proficient narrative; it's got to communicate with dancers on multiple levels. Toward that end, Nina Kraviz's fabric 91 is built on layers of intrigue — a synchronicity of context and accident, human purpose and cosmic prank.

In a society increasingly filled with self-delusion, there are still times when the roles individuals see themselves playing can unlock astonishing insights about who they are.

Pages