Each month, we listen to hundreds of new electronic music tracks, test the standouts on loud speakers and highlight the best of the best in a mix called Recommended Dose.
March's selections include a new dubbed-out masterpiece by Actress, Rhythm & Sound's Mark Ernestus re-imagining Senegalese mbalax, a tweaked hodgepodge of styles from Portuguese producer DJ N---- Fox, an instant house classic from new British producer Willow, and mesmerizing electro from producers Helena Hauff and Entro Senestre.
You can stream this month's mix here or through NPR Music's SoundCloud account. If you'd rather just hear each song individually, check out the tracks below.
Actress, "Bird Matrix"
The latest from London's Darren J. Cunningham sounds like a slog across a psychedelic tundra. Appearing on his upcoming mix for the esteemed DJ-Kicks series, "Bird Matrix" was composed just after Actress finished his most recent album, Ghettoville. Like much of his work on that album, "Bird Matrix" revolves around cold, sluggish percussion, but as billowing synths rise from the void, color returns to the frozen plain.
Appears In The Mix: 00:00 - 05:35
Actress's DJ-Kicks compilation is out May 5 on !K7. Pre-order it here.
Mark Ernestus' Ndagga Rhythm Force, "Yermande (Kick & Bass Mix feat. Mbene Diatta Seck)"
Mark Ernestus, one half of the genre-defining dub techno duo Rhythm & Sound, loves the Senegalese dance music known as mbalax. In fact, he's devoted an entire record label, Ndagga, to his mbalax reinterpretations. His latest EP includes four mixes of the same single, "Yermande," featuring the vocals of Mbene Diatta Seck. The "Kick & Bass Mix" is a masterclass in juxtaposition — the African drums practically leap out of the mix in stark relief, while Ernestus' signature dub tests the resolve of your speakers.
Appears In The Mix: 05:36 - 11:21
"Yermande" is out now digitally on Ndagga.
DJ N---- Fox, "Um Ano"
It begins with a swell, then a crash, and a lingering cacophony of hand drums. The first 10 seconds of DJ N---- Fox's "Um Ano" is so disorienting, it takes a few more seconds to lock into its ominous bounce. The Portuguese producer pieces the rest of this four-minute jaunt together in much the same fashion. He floods the mix with confounding shards of noise, but after the dust settles, it's clear that what first appeared to be shrapnel had a precise trajectory.
Appears In The Mix: 11:22 - 15:30
Noite E Dia is out now on Príncipe.
Willow, "Feel Me"
Sophie Wilson's debut (and only) track as Willow, "Feel Me," caused a stir last year when ambient techno veteran Move D included it on his Fabric 74 mix. A year later, the song finally receives a proper release on Workshop's new compilation EP, Workshop 21. The opening pitch-shifted oooh's will catch your ear immediately, and Wilson piles on the hooks from there with an emotive blues sample, a bouncing bassline, and syncopated snares.
Appears In The Mix: 15:31 - 21:14
Workshop 21 is out now on Workshop.
Entro Senestre, "Hit The Road"
"Hit The Road," the second track on Brooklyn producer Jon Beall's Surface EP as Entro Senestre, is a vicious take on vintage electro. A scabrous synth lead rises from the first burst of bells, unchanging in its rhythm and melody but constantly shifting in timbre. As the line rips across a speedy boom-bap, the background stabs swell up in waves of delay. It all makes for one dreamy road trip, on a beat that sticks to the fast lane.
Appears In The Mix: 21:15 - 25:54
Surface is out April 27 on Dekmantel. Preview the entire EP here.
Helena Hauff, "The First Time He Thought, He Died"
Helena Hauff's second appearance on Recommended Dose (we featured her back in November) comes from her new EP, Lex Tertia. Hauff has carved out a reputation as one of today's premiere acid techno producers, but "The First Time He Thought, He Died" is an eerie electro track that's as soothing as it is sinister.
Appears In The Mix: 25:55 - 29:54
Lex Tertia is out now on Werkdiscs.