Justin Kwok

Justin Kwok is a Media Studies major at UC Berkeley, but daydreams of being an instrumentalist in some electronic duo. He enjoys deep bass music and psychedelia.
Aphex Twin plugs you in and makes your brain dance.
As if there isn’t enough noise surrounding his upcoming YOU’RE DEAD! LP, LA-beats hero Flying Lotus has dropped another online-traffic diverting teaser, “Coronus, The Terminator”. With gospel chorus vocals rising out from a subdued, amorphous atmosphere, the single seems to imagine heavenly voices reaching into the white limbo that surrounds your now-deceased soul: “There’s nowhere left to go, so I pray to save you.” Flylo’s familiar jazz basslines and shakers do find their way into the track, but “Coronus, The Terminator” exposes a more spiritual side (for lack of a better word) of the Brainfeeder boss that we’ve not really seen before.
Machinedrum, alias of Travis Stewart, has gifted Vapor City citizens with a farewell present as he concludes the oneiric city’s yearlong construction. Welcoming fans to the last location, the Vapor City Archives, in an email this morning, the experimental footwork producer also provided a link to a private track, “Only 1 Way 2 Know”, that will appear on the ten-track Vapor City Archives coming out on Ninja Tune in November. The email urges citizens to “spread the word if you feel it,” so this publication feels no guilt in doing just that.“Only 1 Way 2 Know” sits right in between the heavy and dreamier ends of Machinedrum’s metropolis—not as deliberate as “Gunshotta” or the Fenris District EP, nor as spaced-out or mellow as many of the other tracks. Using the now-familiar palette of lush synth textures, bubbling footwork percussion, and elastic auto-tuned vocals, the track is a neat addition to the themes and sounds that the Vapor City project has explored, and portends another brilliant release from the prolific producer as he reaches into the city vaults to fully flesh out his visions. The album will be accompanied by more mysterious artwork from Dominic Flannigan and Eclair Fifi, who have helped to realize Stewart’s visualization of his dream metropolis in grainy, often negative-image style sceneries.
Two eclectic bass artists turn violent for epic grime EP.
On the heels of his Believe EP on 1-800 Dinosaur, Airhead is back in the works again with two calamitous tracks, “October” / “Macondo”. The release reveals a more brutal, dancefloor-hardened disposition than we’ve previously seen from the UK producer, but is a logical step upstairs from Believe’s spacious basement-club explorations. As introduced by the press release, “Yep! Airhead’s writing big ones now.”
UK producer and guitarist re-envisions the club through post-dubstep lenses.
Edit: SBTRKT has confirmed that Wonder Where We Land will be his second album by sharing the album cover on Twitter.UK producer SBTRKT seems to avoid media spotlights whenever possible, as evidenced by one of his EP titles, Step in Shadows. Yet, earlier today, the masked musician decided to post a video on social media, setting his corner of the worldwide web abuzz with speculation.The forty-five second clip is certainly cryptic: a hand reaches into viscous crimson liquid and pulls out, glistening; liquid drips down (or up?) off of a statuette in reverse. However, no explanation is offered but the phrase, “Wonder Where We Land” that is printed across the screen at the end.
At dusk this past Sunday, devotees of the LA beat scene lined up outside the cosy indie-cinema Downtown Independent (whose staff seemed to be used to a smaller crowd) in Los Angeles to see the worldwide premiere of Looking for the Perfect Beat. A highlight in the Downtown Film Festival schedule, the hour-long documentary centers around the Wednesday night anti-club/incubator for experimental beats and underground culture, Low End Theory. Yet, the film steers away from the night itself, only visiting the Airliner (the event venue) briefly at the movie’s end; instead, Looking for the Perfect Beat is about snatching a private moment with the oft-mythologized artists behind Low End in their bedroom studios.
Normally pushing the boundaries of sonic art, Hyperdub founder Steve Goodman (better known in UK bass circles as Kode9) has teamed up with audio-visual artist Toby Heys to release Martial Hauntology, a “custom triple gatefold boxset containing 112-page book, 180g clear vinyl, and six 12" x 12" Dead Record Archive cards” on the psychological effects of sonic frequencies, specifically relating to “state-sponsored subliminal manipulation and psycho-acoustic warfare.”
Last night, Jamie xx filled in for Benji B on his BBC Radio 1 show. The Young Turks luminary shared a handful of exclusives, including untitled tracks from post-dubstep gent James Blake (who nonchalantly stopped by to hand the other James his new tune) and Barcelona-based balearic house producer John Talabot.
Machinedrum, the most popular moniker of veteran North Carolina producer Travis Stewart, is never too far from these pages. However, his latest efforts have been subsumed under the conceptual project that Stewart has in Vapor City, the metropolis that he visited in dreams when caught in between New York and Berlin. Whilst his recent performance for Resident Advisor’s RA Sessions also draws from the same concept (in that all of the tracks are off of the Vapor City LP), the set allows fans to observe Stewart materialized from reveries, outside of the faded alleys and streets of his footwork-infused cityscape.
Martyn runs out of disguises in his third full length release.
London’s been calling lately for Young Turks producer and The xx beatmaker, Jamie xx. Moments after dropping unexpected single, “All Under One Roof Raving,” that samples from historical UK rave footage in Mark Leckey’s 1999 documentary, Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore, Jamie xx found himself on—rather than under—a roof airing a live DJ set for Boiler Room tv. Though not exactly a rave in the modern sense, the hour-long set saw the producer mix a variety of British dance classics at his measured 125BPM tempo, described by the YouTube page as “an honorary whip through the nostalgic touchstones of UK club music”.
UK-based electronic musician Four Tet has teamed up with UNICEF to make a music video for the global effort to “#ENDviolence against children”. Set in Tanzania, the three-minute clip tells the harrowing story of a young girl’s rape at the hands of a seemingly benign adult. The man even gifts the girl a necklace in front of her mother, referencing the statistic that most victims of rape knew their aggressor beforehand. The video is soundtracked by one of the more melancholic songs on Four Tet’s most recent Beautiful Rewind album, “Our Navigation”. This fits particularly well with the negative-colored shots of a masked tribal dancer that are interspersed throughout the video—her neon outline tracing through the frame in slow shutter-movement to haunting effect.Hip-hop artist Ambwene Yessayah (also known as A.Y.) and Miss Tanzania Faraja Kotta Nyalandu also feature as the girl’s parents, who portray the outrage but powerlessness that must plague families and friends of rape victims. The two local celebrities are actually the “newly appointed National Ambassadors” for UNICEF in Tanzania according to the description of the video on YouTube, and their presence is hoped to increase awareness of the country’s child abuse problems, particularly amongst youth. Though their acting never entirely convinces, the content remains disturbing: at the climactic point, viewers experience the young girl’s point-of-view as she looks up at her rapist, with the camera shaking turbulently. The rapist winds up behind bars in this version of events, as the last notes of “Our Navigation” disperse, but the clip is a powerful reminder that there are many more such stories that do not have the same neat endings.
Pitchfork.tv presents a March weekend in Mexico with Rashad Harden alongside childhood friend and collaborator, Morris Harper (AKA DJ Spinn). The short documentary, DJ Rashad + DJ Spinn: Teklife in Monterrey, is an intimate black-and-white affair that follows the two Chicago juke/footwork producers “catching the real life,” as Rashad puts it, in the lead-up to their set for Monterrey’s Festival NRMAL.
Early this weekend, UK dubstep royalty—including Kode9, Mala and Kahn—posted a link to a cryptic site. The webpage features an animated clock, with serpentine hands and a bullet-shell frame. Beneath this graphic, a bold caption juts out “at war with the body, at war with time,” beside an unexplained date: June 12th, 2014 (note: the site uses the non-American little-endian date format).
Baths dwells on imperfectness in muted tones.
One of Chicago’s brightest lights has extinguished. Over the last weekend, DJ Rashad passed away in the city’s Lower West Side.
iTAL tEK dreams up distracted club-rhythms.
Late nights in the back alley clubs of Vapor City.
SBTRKT creates patterned meshes in leaked instrumental series.
Eclectic dance-work from South London duo Piri Piri.