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Recommended Dose: Our Favorite Dance Tracks Of February

From left, Pangaea, Inga Mauer and Russell E.L. Butler.
Courtesy of the artists
From left, Pangaea, Inga Mauer and Russell E.L. Butler.

There are infinite reasons as to why people go to dance clubs, but once they're there, it often boils down to variations — and the interplay between — two themes: escape and meditation. We here at Rx Dose are down with both, though when searching for tunes — falling harder for some, remaining choosy about others — it's safe to say that we gravitate towards the latter, in spite of our awareness that balance is the optimal terminus.

Balance is what we went searching for in February — to counter the planetary axis, you might say, but that is only partially true. There's music here that speaks to what's going on outside the club, inspired by and addressing the many and varied events that supply our feeds' calories. But there's also music that flees the feed, along with music reimagines the feed's atrocities without addressing them; this is music that's hardly unaware, but choosing a different tack — and a dope rhythm.

To continue receiving all of the thrilling benefits that music and rhythm provide, it is important that your relationship to the club and its energies not get stale. There, the best kind of balance is found — not by remaining comfortably centered, but by veering far and wide. At times, the cost is failure; at others, it's the happiest place on Earth. So please follow us on Twitter at @Sami_Yenigun (Sami Yenigun), @raspberryjones (Piotr Orlov) and @spotieotis (Otis Hart) to watch us try not to get lost in either some far off place (or our own navels).

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February's Top Tracks

t q d, "New Day [feat. Swindle & Skilliam]" (Butterz)

From 'UKG'

That this track resides on an album entitled UKG -- an acronym for UK garage, a music that is one of the primary, two decades-long through-lines of British club culture — gives you all the context you need for this new collaboration between Royal-T, DJ Q and Flava D. Three excellent producers, finding common energy between garage, grime, house beats, they bring in two more A-list connectors (Swindle and Skilliam) for the jazzy and (Stevie) wondrous "New Day," and nothing but good vibes ensue. One can only hope that there's a longer mix of this.

Timecode: 00:00 - 02:11

UKG is out March 17 on Butterz

Tiff Massey, 'Detroit is Black' (Rainy City Music)

From '20 Years Rainy City Music 1996-2016'

"Detroit Is Black" provides proof that American house music retains a forceful political perspective. Originally released in 2016, it is a collaboration between fine artist, metalsmith and occasional vocalist, Massey and Waajeed (aka Jeedo aka Robert O'Bryant), one of Detroit music's great under-appreciated treasures. (It is now the centerpiece of deep vibes and willpower on Forward: 20 Years of Rainy City Music, a compilation celebrating Rainy City, Manchester's fine purveyors of proper soulful sounds, who connected that city to the global house massive.) Massey delivers an incredible monologue — "Change is happening regardless if we are ready or not, whether we're privy to the secret meetings that are manifesting in order to help, enhance, change, clean, revitalize...you mean gentrify?" — about the Motor City's evolving demographics and the social change (or lack thereof) that accompanies them, while Waajeed bedrocks her voice with the toughest house music you've likely heard in some time.

Timecode: 02:12 - 06:30

Forward: 20 Years of Rainy City Music is out March 24 on Rainy City

Inga Mauer, 'Dystopia' (Shtum)

From 'shtum 012'

Inga Mauer is probably best known for offering up the occasional show on beat-culture wanderer Matias Aguayo's web radio concern Radio Comeme, but the young Russian producer's four-track EP for Dresden's shtum is made up of nothing but grey, synthetic techno. "Dystopia" is the record's rolling-drums closer, five-and-a-half-minutes of a single-minded, direct, driving beats, amended by bass synthesizers and dub echoes of disassociated voices and barks. It has no discernable opening or closing, just a slice of pure EBM rhythm to do with what you will.

Timecode: 06:31 - 10:09

shtum 012 is out now on shtum

Phran, 'Malba Tahan' (Klasse Recordings)

From 'Grit EP'

Since 2014, Phran, a mysterious Venezuelan expat living in Barcelona, has released a handful of raw, hardware-heavy tracks whose modus operandi is stripping down all production elements, bringing us back to the early days of electro and acid – but this no pure throwback. Phran amplifies those classic ideas with a contemporary wallop; in other words, the best of Phran's tracks succeed mostly by sounding enormous and, with its booming 808s and a relentless, three-note acid line this song, which opens his new EP, Grit, is a mighty addition to the discography. As compositions go, it is all minimalist logic and maximalist output, with little deviation besides that achieved through the mixing board. And it works.

Timecode: 10:00 - 15:12

Grit is out now on Klasse Wrecks

Russell E.L. Butler, 'I'm Dropping Out Of Life' (CGI Records)

From 'I'm Dropping Out Of Life'

This one's a United-States-of-techno affair in a few ways. Logistically, it is one of the Bay Area's young producer talents making his debut EP for CGI, one of a handful of great Atlanta labels cultivating 4/4 vibes in the home of the Trap. Contextually, this is Butler's first music after nearly losing his life in the fire at Oakland's GhostShip art space and living through the grief of numerous friends and colleagues having theirs taken away. No surprise then that this, the title track, is emotional and searching. It races forward on stuttering synths, compressed by tension that — in classic Detroit fashion — rarely hints at release.

Timecode: 15:13 - 20:26

I'm Dropping Out Of Life is out now on CGI

Joy Orbison, 'Rite Ov' (Toss Portal)

From 'Toss Portal EP'

Rx Dose's favorite of the new tracks Joy O dropped in late January and early February is a great addition to Berlin's dub-techno canon, bringing the famed British producer into the realm of Basic Channel and Ricardo Villalobos. A relaxed 118-bpm groove guides this gorgeous saunter through cracking atmospheres and layers of echo, swimming in murky and funky waters. All the while, a voice resonant with Rhythm & Sound productions — a soulful Jamaican melody-maker whose found himself in a strange context — is splashing on the color, intoning "I know you like it like that." Oh yes, and how...

Timecode: 20:27 - 25:54

Toss Portal is available now on Bandcamp

Patrick Conway, 'Orbit [Pangaea Remix]' (Rekids)

From 'Sandy Lane EP'

Little is traceable about Conway, a new artist with a fine, bass-minded techno EP on Matt Edwards' Rekids label. Yet with Pangaea's remix of "Orbit," he has one of the young year's best tunes, leaping off a build-up of pastoral ambiance and martial drumming into a lurch of a cross-cultural beat. It's the kind of digital Caribbeana (as interpreted in post-dubstep London) that originally informed the sound of Hessle Audio, the label Pangaea (aka Kevin McAuley) co-founded with Ben "Ben UFO" Thompson and David "Pearson Sound" Kennedy. The track is already a masterful bit of techno-dancehall before it gets to a big fat hook — with synths playing the parts of steel drums.

Timecode: 25:55 - 31:48

Sandy Lane is out March 10 on Rekids

Piotr Orlov
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