Welcome to ‘Mengzy Selects’, a monthly column which features eight recently released tracks by producers and labels in Asia and across the Asian diaspora. Your host is Mengzy: a Hong Kong-based DJ and producer, academic, music journalist, and co-founder of Wonton Bass.
1 Steady Weather ‘Innocent You’ (feat. Rita Satch)
As usual, you can count on Darker Than Wax to deliver the funk. The Singaporean imprint recently dropped an eponymous EP by Melbourne-based duo Steady Weather, comprised of Tamil Rogeon and Ben Grayson.
‘Innocent You’ brings to mind another epic duo as it channels Disclosure, circa 2013. The track features Rita Satch’s breezy vocals over a velvety neo-soul house fusion at 120 BPM that boasts some ridiculous keyboard fills.
Listen to ‘‘Innocent You’ (feat. Rita Satch) here.
2 DJ 老闆 ‘Spears’
Christmas came early this month with ‘Spears’, a free-to-download guilty pleasure courtesy of Taipei’s JIN Records.
Stripped back and effortlessly slick, this cheeky Britney bootleg cruises along a three-note bassline and understated drums while subtle melodic elements peek in and out over the groove.
Produced by Xiamen-based Lee Wei, AKA DJ 老闆 (which translates to DJ Boss), the rework’s minimal approach highlights just how intoxicating (forgive the pun), Britney’s acapella really is – a nuance that is perhaps lost in the song’s original arrangement.
Listen to ‘Spears’ here.
3 Cassius Select ‘FREAK ON!’
One of Hong Kong’s finest dance music exports in recent years, Cassius Select has been absolutely killing it in the leftfield bass game. ‘FREAK ON!’ on ‘Club Paint V.2’ marks the producer’s second outing on the ever-rising Banoffee Pies Records.
The track showcases his eclectic influences, including acid techno, broken beat, ghetto tech, and UK funky, so good luck trying to pin a single genre on Cassius - and I mean that in the best way…
Listen to ‘FREAK ON!’ here.
4 Kiss Nuka ‘Serpentine’
Continuing on the esoteric bass tip from ‘FREAK ON!’, November 25 brought us ‘Serpentine’, the title track to a new EP from Kiss Nuka which was inspired by “tuning into nature”.
‘Serpentine’ is an unusual track in that it flips a third of the way through from a syncopated shuffle to a 4/4 kick - throughout, a rolling bassline ties it all together. Whether you’re partial to either rhythmic style, the track slaps and we look forward to what the Goa-based female producer has in store for us next.
Listen to ‘Serpentine’ here.
5 CDR ‘Junglist Pe’
If there was a religion dedicated to the Amen break, Hikaru Tsunematsu, alias CDR, would be one of its preachers. Just look at the profile pics on all of his socials: a photo of The Winstons’ ‘Amen, Brother’ with a smiley face in the middle.
The prolific Japanese producer (and I mean prolific — he shells out multiple releases and dozens of tracks a month) mainly focuses on maniacal breakcore but everyone once in a while, he takes it easy with… jungle.
Cue ‘Junglist Pe’, dropped on November 25. With a stuttering vocal chop above a fiery Amen marathon, this track was made for the Asia massive. In the middle, CDR indulges in some old-school tone painting with pitched snares that will light up any rave.
Listen to ‘Junglist Pe’ here.
6 Paleblu & Kray ‘Want Me’
London-based Hong Kong producer Kray, whose 2020 bootleg of ‘Ghost in the Shell’ has been a staple in his hometown’s raves for the last couple of years, recently teamed up Paleblu to form a drum & bass production partnership.
The duo’s new track ‘Want Me’ was recently featured on a Soulvent Records VA and features ethereal liquid aesthetics. Of the track, Kray says that it “came together when Paleblu and I were on the way back from a festival in Wales”. Yep, there’s nothing like a post-rave vibe…
Listen to ‘Want Me’ here.
7 Takaryu ‘For U’
Launched in November 2021, Japanese bass music purveyor Spraybox has been treating its listeners to high-octane UK garage and bass-face inducing bassline for just over a year now.
In ‘For U’, the A-side from ‘SPLITBOX Vol.2’, producer Takaryu showcases his mastery of UK speed garage with an infectious melodic offering that features feel-good harmonies and pitched-up vocals. Thanks to big build-ups ahead of the drops, ‘For U’ is a good tool for any UKG DJ out there.
Listen to ‘For U’ here.
8 Skyline Digital +「ƒƒ∆」‘No Boyfriend’
Calling all the ‘Single Ladies’ – no seriously, where you at? Recently released on Hong Kong’s Neoncity Records, ‘No Boyfriend’, by Skyline Digital +「ƒƒ∆」has got some serious anthem potential with this sample, which loops throughout the track: “I ain’t got no man. Boy, you in luck – but I don’t want no boyfriend. I just want to fuck.”
Catchy to the max, ‘No Boyfriend’ is rooted more firmly in the house tradition than a lot of Neoncity’s catalogue, which usually focuses on genres like future funk, city pop, and vaporwave. We’re loving this direction, though, which hits hard thanks to slapping drums and rich synth chords.
Listen to ‘No Boyfriend’ here.