High 5 - Aera

by Jelena Drenjakovic

German producer, DJ, live act and Aleph label founder Ralf Schmidt aka Aera, set foot in the electronic music world in the mid 90s, where house and techno music saw some of its finest hours.  With his gloriously colourful repertoire of influences - including house, acid and trance - it's not hard to understand why he commands the support of some of the top record labels such as Innervisions, Hivern Discs and Maeve – just to name a few. His productions are light-footed, teeming with vibrant soundscapes and irresistible drum beats.  Much like his powerful productions, Aera’s intense live and versatile DJ sets promise to transmit fine-tuned vibrations to the dancefloor. This is why we are especially delighted to shine the spotlight on 5 handpicked tracks by Aera. 


Since 2012, Luxembourg-born artist Andrea Mancini delivers sublime slices of synth house under the name of Cleveland. For his fifth release, he returns to the Catalan imprint Hivern Discs with the mesmeric four-track EP ‘Crytsal Quest’. The title track is built around warm tones of playful chords that rise and fall naturally, congealing into an immensely beautiful and pleasingly emotion-rich lead. Warm pad sounds dipped in melancholy explore lushly dreamscapes, offering a tinge of melancholy to an otherwise upbeat percussive rhythm that gently lifts dance floors of the ground. ‘Crystal Quest’ takes your mind in a lugubrious and exhilarating direction and leaves you with a bitter-sweet aftertaste in your ears.



‘One More Fluorescent Rush’ is yet another head turner from DJ and producer Avalon Emerson. Her profile as an artist started to glow with ‘The Frontier’, her first release on Young Turks-Sublabel ‘Whities’, which eventually lead to her being recognised as one of 2016's most exciting breakthrough artists by Resident Advisor. With ‘One More Fluorescent Rush’, the A-side of her second release for the label, Emerson continues to deliver an idiosyncratic and contagious oevre par excellence. The glue of the track is a sharp-edged, unwavering arpeggiated synth line that burrows into your brain like a cosmic ray shower.  Like a perpetually shapeshifting cascade of energetic particles, the synthesizer arpeggio moves towards it’s shower maximum, rising and falling over a shuddering kick while close-knit hi-hats that fill in the galactic details.



Originally released in 1988 and reissued earlier this year through the newly minted label ‘Selva Discos’ in collaboration with ‘Optimo Music’, Maria Rita Stumpf’s cult album ‘Brasileira’ continues to strike high waves across the globe. The follow-up to the labels first release is a beautiful remix package that comes with an exquisite remix of ‘Lamento Africano/Rictus’ by French producer Joakim. Utilizing the Kalimba-like instrument from the original in the opening section of the track, Joakim sneaks in some additional color with a micro kaleidoscopic melody that almost obsessively carves the same groove over and over until Maria Rita’s sensitive chant sets in for the breakdown. Gated snares infuse the track with a rickety rhythm, akin of a tropical night with congas, but it’s the ear wormy bass line melody that kicks the track into high gear at around the midway point. A delicious standout track from the club you’d just come home from.



One of Australia’s finest dance music exports Lewie Day aka Tornado Wallace returns to Animals Dancing, the label he co-runs alongside Otologic and Andee Frost, with a bewitching four-tracker. Coming out of the gate like a horse on fire, the A-side ‘Zorn Gottes’ serves up a relentless clattering of multiple stacked drum patterns. Quirky warped bird and cicada sounds trickle throughout an exquisitely crafted assemblage of percussive power. Every tom hit, snare roll and calf drum is perfectly placed; the tribal madness is delivered in measured doses picking up steam and then letting it off in all the right places for a maximum hip-swaying effect. The speech sample at the very end of the track is borrowed from exceptional German actor Klaus Kinski, who gave a stunning performance in the cult film ‘Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes’ (eng. ‘Aguirre, the Wrath of God’).  The famous quote sampled by Tornado Wallace perfectly fits the track’s shivering rhythm: “I am the wrath of God. The earth I pass will see me and tremble.”



British DJ and producer Kieran Hebden better known as his moniker ‘Four Tet’ released his long-awaited ninth album ‘New Energy’ in September this year. Scattered throughout the record are moments of solitude and tranquilness, drifting through spacious and blooming bits of peacefulness. Listen closely to ‘Scientists’ and you will discover a finely-textured slab of elegiac ambiences and upbeat moments of bliss in equal measure. The track slowly picks up with a low-slung staccato bass synth that twinkles around faint percussive flair while deep ambient pads shimmer in the background. Disconcerted vocal samples are fold in near the hallway mark and continue to swell right until the synth melody abruptly halts as if drawing a deep breath before it re-centers again. Ever so carefully, Four Tet adds a saxophone that intermingles in harmony with the vocal, creating a dreamy and evocative mood that leaves the listener completely hooked.