Music Updates

First Spin: The Week’s Best New Dance Tracks From Skrillex & Four Tet, Cookie Kawaii, Ghastly & More

When Four Tet announced on Twitter in March 2015 that his next gig would be a back-to-back DJ set with Skrillex, some fans thought it was an early April Fool’s joke. The pairing was surprising, to say the least: Four Tet, the revered producer unspooling intricate rhythms unto “serious” warehouse heads, and Skrillex, the EDM supernova who made “filthy drops” part of dance music vernacular as the American face of a new, head-banging breed of U.K. dubstep? How it even began is unclear, though in June of 2014 Four Tet Tweeted Skrillex while watching the latter performed at the UK.. festival Glastonbury: “watching you and eating donuts. massive,” he wrote, followed by, “saw you in your spaceship.”

Somewhere, Four Tet’s eclecticism and Skrillex’s alien bass tendencies found common ground and the show was a success, according to live reviews. Over the years, their careers have remained fairly separate. They next went B2B four years after their first IRL encounter at Manchester’s Warehouse Project in October 2019; that December, Four Tet remixed Skrillex’s collaboration with Boys Noize and Ty Dolla $ign, “Midnight Hour.”

The announcement earlier this week of an actual Skrilltet collaboration, “Butterflies” with singer Starrah, arrived to more supportive fanfare. The production sounds like a 50-50 effort — its doubly powered DNA resulting in a vocal-heavy house track that’s moody and made for the midnight hour (no pun intended). Its steady rhythm is anchored by subterranean bass, with blocky percussion and a sweet chime-like melody that could have only been made by one Four Tet. Meanwhile, Starrah’s vocals shine across various manipulated states, its glitching, alternating pitches creating a vibe all their own.

Is it weird that Skrillex and Four Tet have merged into a pop-leaning lane? Not really. Just as they found middleground in their DJ sets, both share an appreciation for pop music. After dubstep’s commercial reign, Skrillex’s career found a second wind producing major artists like Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga and Ed Sheeran. Four Tet, from his darkened corner of the dancefloor, can also work his way around a good pop vocal, having sampled Brandy, Nelly Furtado and Mariah Carey in his songs. Add a live vocalist who can work on the fly (and who has written for Rihanna, The Weeknd and Megan Thee Stallion, no big deal), and you get an unexpected new layer to each artist’s legacy. As with Skrilltet’s B2Bs, hopefully this doesn’t start and stop at just one. — KRYSTAL RODRIGUEZ

LSDXOXO, “Mutant Exotic”

Track by track, LSDXOXO’s new EP Dedicated 2 Disrespect (out today on XL Recordings) has shaped up to be one of the year’s most riveting and fun releases thus far. With his self-described “vulgar techno-pop,” the Philly-born producer took us to the club in the video for lead single “Freak B–ch,” then to hell for the Cajmere-like “The Devil,” where lyrics like “I’ll make the devil f-k- me good” assure us that the titular character stays busy post-“Montero.”

New song “Mutant Exotic” takes on a softer tone with a rolling deep house rhythm peppered with sunny horns and rave whoops. “I could be the devil, or maybe I’m a goddess,” LSDXOXO sing-speaks, “clap your hands for Miss Mutant Exotic.” It’s opulence and glamour with a glint of mischief — picture it playing in the background while a supermodel poses for a cover shoot, or while cruising down Rodeo Drive in a blood-red convertible with the top down. Get in, loser. We’re going bopping. — K.R.

Cookiee Kawaii, “Relax Your Mind”

You know that dream Jersey Club Tik Tok anthem from the start of quarantine that was like “If I back it up, is it fat enough?” That glorious lo-fi club monster Vibe (If I Back It Up)” — one of our Best Dance Songs of 2020 — came from the mind (and voice) of Cookiee Kawaii. Now, she’s got another little something to ease your addled brain. With plucky key chords that’ll bring you right back to Super Mario 64’s Dire Dire Docks level and a classic Jersey Club beat, it’s the low-lidded cuddle puddle soundtrack of our clubland dreams.

“’Relax Your Mind’ was made for listeners to do exactly what the songs says,” Kawaii says in a press release. “It’s a combination of smooth, sultry sounds and of course, my Jersey Club style that everyone is growing to love even more … It’s the perfect introduction to the new vibe I’m creating to set the tone for my debut album.” — KAT BEIN

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