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Audio Asia: we revisit the subterranean sounds of summer 2021

Press play on 10 tracks of unadulterated Asian fire we had on repeat for the sunshine season

  • Patrizio Cavaliere
  • 13 September 2021

For many of us music-obsessed club-dwellers, the summer of 2021 was (once again) stifled by enforced closures, curfews and alcohol bans. Though most of the dancing that occurred throughout Asia over the last few months took place in the living room rather than its more familiar main room setting, the region's labels and creators have been as busy as ever pumping out floor-focused sonics.

Our regular Audio Asia segment pays close attention to all corners of the Asian underground – from the obscurest of back rooms to the sounds approaching the crossover end of the spectrum – all the while searching for music crafted with love to present to our readers. Our team are on an endless quest to unearth pearls from the continent's evolving musical landscape, and – despite the obvious difficulties we've faced since the pandemic reared its ugly head – the stream of stunning music we've been channelling is showing no signs of running dry. Far from it, in fact. New stars are blossoming, dedicated studio scientists are emerging from the depths, and the talent pool from which we're extracting goodness is forever expanding – taking in all forms and genres and occasionally morphing them into something new altogether.

The change of seasons marks an ideal opportunity for us to take stock of our recent musical inventory to present a digest for anyone that missed out the first time around, as well as to shed light on some of the tasty morsels that may have slipped through the net. Our Audio Asia subterranean sound of summer top 10 includes music from industry heroes, little-known talents, avant-garde purveyors, and darlings of the international scene. As the Autumn draws in (or the dry season, or the rainy season, depending on where in the vast continent we call home that you happen to live), connect your Bluetooth speakers, turn the volume up high, and press play on this exquisite set of sounds from some of Asia's brightest producers and collectives.

Didi Han 'What You Love'

Title: What You Love
Artist: Didi Han
Label: Roche Musique
Release Date: out now, you can buy it here

Korean DJ, producer and fashionista Didi Han didn't let life under lockdown get in her way any more than was absolutely necessary. Pre-pandemic, it looked like things were on the verge of popping for the rising star, and her latest EP on trendsetting French label Roche Musique serves as proof that Han is a woman on a mission to make beautiful noise. One of the standouts from the 'Wake Up' EP that dropped in July was this hypnotic number. Scoring points with artists as deeply entrenched in the underground as NYC-based Fred P, the track also found its way into plenty of radio playlists. It's not difficult to hear what gives it such broad appeal.

Kuniyuki 'Earth Beats' (Fingers Acid Edit)

Title: Earth Beats (Fingers Acid Edit)
Artist: Kuniyuki
Label: Mule Musiq
Release Date: out now, you can buy it here

This classic resurrected from the Mule Musiq archives is thoroughly deserving of being repackaged for new audiences. Kuniyuki's original versions of 'Earth Beats' are sensational, but Chicago house pioneer Larry Heard weaves his distinct blend of dancefloor magic into his unmissable revisions. Originally released in 2012, the Fingers remix EP still sounds impeccable today, shining brighter than the vast majority of music being released under the deep house banner. This is the real deal, plain and simple.

Batavia ft Kamga 'Affirmation'

Title: Affirmation ft Kamga
Artist: Batavia
Label: R&S Records
Release Date: out now, you can buy it here

Longstanding purveyors of the underground R&S Records signing an Indonesian act is certainly something worthy of attention, and the music in question is every bit as accomplished as the landmark release deserves. Batavia players Doni Joesran, Elfa Zulham and Kenny Gabriel have been on our radar for quite some time, thanks to their futurist blend of jazz-inspired and party-starting energy. 'Affirmation' features the silky vocal talents of Kamga, his polished performance helping to make the track instantly memorable. With a steadily growing list of refined creators based within its glroriously tropical territory, Indonesia is well and truly on the dance music map.

박혜진 Park Hye Jin​ 'Let's Sing Let's Dance'

Title: Let's Sing Let's Dance
Artist: 박혜진 Park Hye Jin
Label: Ninja Tune
Release Date: out now, you can buy it here

Anyone who knows or has met 박혜진 Park Hye Jin will likely tell you that she's someone prepared to work tirelessly on her quest to rise to the upper echelons of the global dance community. Since signing to Ninja Tune, her stock has risen dramatically, and 2020-released earworm 'Like This' arrived like a sonic boom when it appeared via her debut five-track EP for the label. Her new genre-spanning album has just landed, and single release 'Let's Sing Let's Dance' is undoubtedly one of the most floor-focused on an often introspective collection. The LA-based artist hasn't wasted any time since she made the move to the States, and no doubt there will be plenty more to come from her in the months and years to come.

Akio Nagase 'Jurassic Shanghai Acid'

Title: Jurassic Shanghai Acid
Artist: Akio Nagase
Label: [Emotional] Especial
Release Date: out now, you can buy it here

Wonderfully below-the-radar Osaka-based artist Akio Nagase had previously been better known in the most refined of subaquatic circles as a purveyor of dub-infused reggae rhythms. His recent releases for Darker Than Wax and UK-based [Emotional] Especial have revealed a propensity to serve hyper-infectious acid house grooves to the world. Released as part of international rhythm-sampling the 'Global Acid EP', this heads-down chug groove overflows with 303 flavours and dusty, indigenous appeal, making it a firm favourite with discerning selectors and backroom party people alike.

Hamza Rahimtula & Bassekou Kouyate 'Ben Kadi' (Afro Mix)

Title: Ben Kadi (Afro Mix)
Artist: Hamza Rahimtula & Bassekou Kouyate
Label: Wind Horse Records
Release Date: out now, you can buy it here

If there was an award for hardest-working producer of the year, New Delhi-based artist Hamza Rahimtula would surely be worthy of contention. The prolific creator has been firing out high-grade, house-rooted grooves via his Wind Horse label at a furious rate, with his 'Banjara' series providing the bulk of his recent output. This summer's 'Mali Edition' explored the African nation's ultra-rich musical cauldron and this magnificent collaboration with ngoni master Bassekou Kouyate was a clear standout. Meditative, atmospheric, and guaranteed to move bodies, this is some exceptionally fine work from Rahimtula.

Doildoshi 'Forest Illumination'

Title: Forest Illumination
Artist: Doildoshi
Label: More Rice
Release Date: out now, you can buy it here

Bangkok's loveable More Rice crew have been as industrious as ever over the last year or so. Not only have they opened a beautiful new vinyl record shop, but they've also been pivotal in launching the Thai capital's new Bangkok Community Radio project, and have still found time to curate and peddle their own brand of saucer-eyed musical honey via their always enjoyable label. Here they present South Korean artist Doildoshi with a wonky take on a distinctly '80s theme. 'Forest Illumination' is a standout from the 12", fusing future-retro synths with an alternatively-minded production aesthetic, this is pure gold for lovers of the more abstract dance forms.

ADSR 'Haunted'

Title: Haunted
Artist: ADSR
Label: Elegal Records
Release Date: out now, you can buy it here

Hong Kong's Klasse Wrecks team have been flying the flag proudly for off-kilter techno and electronica since they launched in 2014. Mr Ho and Luca Lozano's fine imprint recently birthed the Elegal Records offshoot, the third instalment of which welcomed to the fold Canadian production duo ADSR for a '90s rave revival. Rich with bygone atmospherics while somehow maintaining an utterly relevant style and sound palette, 'Haunted' is a seriously impressive slice of warehouse nostalgia, lovingly resurrected and presented on wax for the very first time. Klasse Wrecks show no signs of letting up and we're beyond thankful for their sterling efforts in the region and beyond.

Halal Sol 'Don't Feel The Bass'

Title: Don't Feel The Bass
Artist: Halal Sol
Label: Darker Than Wax
Release Date: out no, you can buy it here

Singaporean deep house professors Darker Than Wax know a thing or two about presenting music that bumps, and new signing Halal Sol does a masterful job interpreting a US-inspired house flow on his contagious club cut, 'Don't Feel The Bass'. The track was released as part of the six-track 'Dijamin EP', a collection rooted in the foundations of golden age dance music. The powerful arpeggios, sweeping pads and crunching beats make this a late-night classic in the making. As soon as the SG clubs finally throw open their doors, this one is sure to get the dancers on their collective feet.

Risa Taniguchi 'When I See You'

Title: When I See You
Artist: Risa Taniguchi
Label: Second State
Release Date: out now, you can buy it here

Tokyo-based producer and DJ Risa Taniguchi has been crafting no-nonsense techno jams since her first releases began arriving in 2018. Dropping hard-hitting sounds on the likes of Kneeded Pains, Polymath and Elementra, she returns to Second State with her second full EP for the label, and true to form, the pounding music takes no prisoners as it soars from the speakers. Honing her craft in some of her home city's most revered clubs and venues, she dispenses with her classical musical training to carve out rhythm-heavy sonics designed to take the roof off the big room. Risa Taniguchi serves it up tough.

Stay tuned with our regular Audio Asia, Premiere and New Release news to hear on-point sounds from all corners of Asia

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