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 Feed the Dragon.
1 Janet Jackson ‘Any Time Any Place’ (Zean RnG Edit)
Gully Riddim’s Zean has come through just in time for summer’s approach with an irresistible edit of Janet Jackson’s 1993 slow jam, ‘Any Time Any Place’.
Exquisitely chopped up into an R&G (rhythm & grime) bop, the Shanghainese producer’s rework pitches up, speeds up (to 140 BPM, of course), and sweetens up the early-nineties classic with Janet’s vocal lifted to up an ethereal whisper above it all.
Featured on the label’s third volume of its ‘Gully Edit Pack’ EP series, this track is, as the old radio cliché goes, one “for all the lovers out there…”
Listen to ‘Any Time Any Place’ (Zean RnG Edit) here.
2 Oblongar ‘Edgerunner’
Nearing their 20th release, Tokyo’s SPRAYBOX has established itself as a trusted hub for UKG and bassline in Japan in the last two and a half years. ‘SPEEDER’ keeps the hype beats flowing with a party-ready speed garage EP from label co-founder Oblongar aka Masaya Kudo.
Across the three track EP, you can hear nods to video game soundtracks and effects, including on track 2, ‘Edgerunner’, which is playfully punctuated with tire screeches during the main drops.
The EP’s title track is also a blast with the lead synth sounding like it’s been lifted straight out of an arcade. Oblongar, who is also SPRAYBOX’s Art Director, obviously had fun with this one, all the way to the Sonic the Hedgehog-inspired artwork.
Listen to ‘Edgerunner’ here.
3 Hizuo ‘TOKYO’
Pitched snare runs, time stretched vocal shots, and breaks upon breaks…
Having first featured Hizuo in our December selects, we’re excited to see the young talent continue his exploration of the bass spectrum with a new and nuanced jungle offering.
Underpinned by a melancholy pad and rolling bassline, ‘TOKYO’ alternates between dreamlike and more threatening phrases where the Japanese producer unleashes his breakbeat experimentation. Divine listening…
Listen to ‘TOKYO’ here.
4 Joy Orbison ‘Hyph Mngo’ (MMEE Bootleg)
Hong Kong-based producer MMEE kicked off 2023 with a bootleg of Sir Spyro’s ‘Topper Top’ back in January and is keeping the momentum going with a new bootleg reworking one of Joy Orbison’s signature beats, all the way from 2009.
MMEE’s ‘Hyph Mngo’ bootleg, along with several of his other original breaks tracks, were among those that got the biggest crowd reactions at the producer’s debut Clockenflap Festival appearance earlier this month.
His Joy Orbison tribute was also featured on YouTube tastemaker SWL 2TON’s channel, joining an esteemed collection of underground UK sounds there.
Listen to ‘Hyph Mngo’ (MMEE Bootleg) here.
5 Joe Koshin ‘Astro Wax’
With just two EPs under its belt prior to this, Pakistani-founded label Jugaar has made an extremely exciting statement of purpose with its first VA. Spanning electro, breaks, techno, IDM, leftfield bass, and even ambient, the VA also features a truly international cast of talent from Europe, Asia, Australia and the Middle East.
The VA opens with Joe Koshin’s ‘Astro Wax’, a prime-time electro groove that will appeal to both techno and bass enthusiasts. Balancing smooth and raw timbres, the energy of this track is undeniable and really takes off after the breakdown.
Two other favourites from the release include Yak’s ‘Disk Full’, and Hassan Abou Alam’s ‘Gloom’, but if we’re being honest this release is truly top tier from start to finish.
Listen to ‘Astro Wax’ here.
6 Dazzle Drums ‘Angular Motion’
As the very first selection on the inaugural Mengzy Selects showcased, Japanese duo Dazzle Drums frequently turn their skills towards edits and remixes of vintage house, soul, and R&B. ‘Argo’, however, sees the pair craft two more originals in arguably their most prolific genre: Afro House.
B-side ‘Angular Motion’ delivers everything you’d look for in an Afro House crate staple: earthy percussion, a driving bassline, and sonic accents subtly shading each subsequent phrase for that slow and steady dancefloor build.
Listen to ‘Angular Motion’ here.
7 Gulou Home Studio ‘Satellite’ (Mickey Zhang Remix)
Gulou Home Studio, a joint project hatched between mnbv (Aida Minibaeva) and Vltra_U during their time in Beijing, recently dropped ‘Satellite’ on REWLER Records. The three-track EP features two originals and a remix by Mickey Zhang, a legend of the China dance scene.
On his remix, Zhang takes ‘Satellite’ in a more effervescent and ethereal direction, elevating the drama through suspenseful breakdowns and drops awash with cascading synths and bleeps.
Listen to ‘Satellite’ (Mickey Zhang Remix) here.
8 Midnight Runners ‘B1’
One of Indonesia’s preeminent crate diggers, Midnight Runners has blessed us with yet another tasty drop of South East Asian rare groove in the form of ‘Melayu Disko’. ‘B1’ is the only instrumental on the EP and is a cinematic journey at 133 BPM showcasing lush strings alongside a rogue electric guitar solo that brings Ram Jam’s ‘Black Betty’ (1977) to mind.
We reached out to Munir, one half of Midnight Runners, to learn more about this enigmatic release – of which there is zero information online. As we expected, this media blackout on the origins of ‘Melayu Disko’ is completely deliberate and Munir was only willing to share what we had already guessed: that the four-track EP is a collection of edits of Malaysian 70s and 80s cuts. As Munir playfully conceded, “[We] wanna keep mysterious haha”. Fair enough!
Listen to ‘B1’ here.