Guest Mix #001: psychic surgery


Banner art by Christina Liu.

I’m very happy to present you with the inaugural installment of the Chickens Don’t Clap! Guest Mix series. For this feature, I’ll be tapping some of my favorite artists, producers, and DJs to provide intermittent respite from my ramblings with some mixes of their own curation. I hope that each mix will help provide a fuller picture of the current musical landscape and that this series itself can bridge the gaps within my own eclectic appetites.

First up, we have one of my favorite composers who also happens to be a true homie, San Francisco’s psychic surgery. A bedroom producer who doesn’t share nearly enough of the music he makes, psychic surgery has gone by many names and composed tracks in a diverse range of styles and genres, but has consistently maintained his unique approach to songcraft and a deft command of melody across his various projects. As the both of us have become increasingly enamored with electronic music in recent years, it’s of no surprise to me that this mix explores those grimy club sounds that have helped to shape his current tastes.

The mix is packed with stellar, effortlessly-blended tracks from Instra:Mental, Lone, Martyn, Bambounou, Gesaffelstein, Helix, and others. Shed‘s “44A (Hard Wax forever!)” provides the perfect ride in, its initial celestial shimmers ultimately building into a hypnotic bounce of surging synth chords and shuffling percussion. The energy continues to crescendo until R-Zone‘s “Hardcore Track” settles the mix with a cool, classic rave groove. Unabashedly grounded in rich synth and pulsating rhythms, psychic surgery’s Guest Mix successfully unites a myriad of styles on through the closing brilliance of Das Ding‘s soaring “Hyperinformed Superconsumer”, a befitting bookend that carries this diverse blend to its satisfying conclusion.

In his own words, psychic surgery says of the mix:

A selection of artists from the last seven or so years who bring back dark and stripped down techno music. There are some true analog warriors in here though they aren’t particularly precious or fetishy about the sound. You shouldn’t find any sort of analog-as-a-standalone-statement thing here.

Includes some classical electro, dirty house and hints of rave— wherever rhythmic texture is the prime objective while melody and aesthetics are secondary.

Thank you to Derek and Chickens Don’t Clap! for giving me the place to put this together. Hope you enjoy it!

You can stream and download this excellent mix below. Be sure check out some of psychic surgery’s own productions over at his SoundCloud.

Download: CDC! Guest Mix #001: psychic surgery


  1. Shed – 44A (Hard Wax forever!)
  2. Instra:Mental – User
  3. Lone – Cobra
  4. Stigmata – Crawlspace
  5. R-Zone – Hardcore Track
  6. Martyn – Forgiveness Step 2
  7. Emptyset – Completely Gone
  8. Bambounou – Challenger
  9. Silicon Scally – Process (Morphology Remix)
  10. Legowelt – Fundamental Superstition
  11. Clemens Neufeld – Eternal Spheres
  12. Gesaffelstein – Video Exposition (Original Mix)
  13. Unspecified Enemies – Insurgency Soul
  14. Helix – Whoosh Ice Dispenser
  15. Das Ding – Hyperinformed Superconsumer

ON REPEAT: Main Attrakionz – “G.O. Style” (prod. by Friendzone)



ON REPEAT is a feature at Chickens Don’t Clap! that draws special attention to my favorite, faaaavorite tracks. It’s all love here, but these jams are the cream of the crop in my world right now.

It may only be mid-March, but it’s 90 degrees in San Diego right now. As our state plummets further into the throes of a mega-drought and continues to warm along with the rest of the planet, I suppose we’ll have to get used to summer coming a bit earlier and lasting a bit longer here in Southern California. Any good summer needs a soundtrack— before we all slip into the Pacific Ocean, at least. I, for one, plan on keeping this new shimmering, Friendzone-produced Main Attrakionz jawn on repeat until I’m six feet below sea level.

I’m not sure if Friendzone are on that same kinda west coast vibe up in the Bay, but the beat for “G.O. Style” burns like the sunset at the end of some imagined RPG epic. Interlocking arpeggios flitter across reverbed claps, steady trap cymbals and snare flicks, grounded by a chord progression that swells with the kind of triumphant nostalgia and emotional immediacy that feels like the culmination of something that you desperately don’t want to end. Thankfully, “G.O. Style”  is just a taste of a new chapter for Main Attrakionz and Friendzone, two Bay Area cloud rap pioneers who were made to make tracks together. Following their impressive collabs on the landmark 808s & Dark Grapes II mixtape, each duo received a much deserved nod of respect from A$AP Yams (RIP) and his protégé A$AP Rocky. The influence of Main Attrakionz’ and Friendzone’s Bay Area-defined sounds went on to stretch well beyond their respective guest appearances on Live.Love.A$AP and Long.Live.A$AP. Both camps have been relatively quiet over the past couple years, but have now delivered beautifully on “G.O. Style”, taken from the much-anticipated 808s & Dark Grapes III, which we have learned will be produced entirely by Friendzone.

Squadda B and Mondre M.A.N., joined here by their fellow Green Ova affiliates Dope G, Robby Rob, and Lo C4, supply an equally anthemic vocal performance for Friendzone’s soaring production. Emotions pour out of Main Attrakionz and crew on this gem, the hook and its repeating, plaintive cries of “We zone out / That’s a G.O. style” serving as confirmation of their unwavering passion and as a rallying cry for every talented, stoned overachiever to immerse themselves into their own productive haze. Through tales of struggle and determination on their path to inevitable flyness, the Green Ova team assures us that the wait is over. This is their year and they plan on getting it completely on their own terms. A commendable goal, certainly. And with this much blood, sweat, and tears on the track, it’s hard not get completely caught up it in that proclamation yourself. By the second listen, I was ready to join in on Squadda and Mondre’s raw and unadorned vocal work, my own near-caterwaul of “spectacular and debonaaaair~” colliding with their charmingly off-key harmony.

Stream “G.O. Style” below and look for 808s & Dark Grapes III to drop on Neil Young’s Vapor Records (wtf?) on May 12th.

Stream: Main Attrakionz – “G.O. Style” (Feat. Dope G, Robby Rob, Lo C4)

[via Noisey]

Things I Loved in 2014, Pt. 2

For me, 2015 is a year dedicated to completing the projects that I start. As such, here’s 7000 or so words about some of my favorite music from 2014— accompanied by a whole bunch of streams, links, and shouts out to a number of honorable mentions. All in all, a pretty excellent year. But, then again, it’s hard to look back on any year where D’Angelo comes out of hiding to put out his first full-length in over a decade and be upset.

In reading this list, I hope you discover something you hadn’t heard or maybe even hear something you had in a new way. Look for some new content on Chickens Don’t Clap! very soon… including the unveiling of a new feature! Until then, enjoy part two of my favorite things from 2014 (you can check out part one right here).



PC Music

If I were to choose each individual offering from the PC Music movement that I loved in 2014, this year-end list would be completely inundated. As such, I’ve decided to keep it simple and give a big-up to the entire crew. As it is, PC Music operates almost as a single organism, producing countless artists whose works each reflect a different take on their inimitable and improbable balance of self-aware, saccharine-sweet and at-times trashy pop aesthetics, and a bold, forward-thinking approach to production and songwriting. Skewed expectations abound, the collective continues to sharpen their focus and relevance somewhere between the increasingly intertwined electronic and pop music landscapes. Building on what can only be called a huge breakout year in 2014, label founder/mastermind A. G. Cook has already kicked off 2015 with a high profile remix of Charli XCX’s “Doing It”, cheeky future-pop princess GFOTY dropped the astounding “Cake Mix” last week, and PC Music queen Hannah Diamond is back in the studio as we speak.

Check the best PC Music jams from last year and the rest of the 2014 list after the jump.

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Things I Loved In 2014, Pt. 1

Well I’m a touch late, but I couldn’t let the previous year pass by without imparting some sort of reflection on what moved me in 2014. The forthcoming lists will be presented haphazardly and in no particular order, much the like the music therein was consumed. Processing so much information can be daunting and usually leaves me working to get organized at the end of the year– but it’s always, always fun. Whittled down from some 500+ albums, EPs, mixes, and singles, here are some of my thoughts on 2014.


My Favorite San Diego Releases of 2014



Nathan Hubbard – Encinitas and Everything After (Vol. 1-5)

Nathan Hubbard‘s monumental Encinitas and Everything After— a five volume collection of twenty-five compositions clocking in at a cool five hours— was unquestionably the most impressive release from a San Diego artist last year. The deserved winner of the San Diego Music Award for “Best Jazz Album”, this work certainly surpasses the concepts of both “jazz” and “album”, constrained by little other than the limits of how much the human mind is capable of processing in 2014 and Hubbard’s expansive creative vision. This warm tribute to Encinitas, the small beach community that sits a stone’s throw north of San Diego (and Nathan’s hometown), feels a bit more like everything and everything after. A work that begins like a languid, sunkissed Sunday afternoon between the eucalyptus and the shoreline, only to patiently dip into cool night and build back to day again, these five volumes dispatch the listener through a mix of chaotic dreams, hazy memories, heartfelt eulogies, snapshots of particular places and times, ruminations on the passage of time itself, and beyond. In other words, this is an examination that utilizes seemingly every reflective angle available to it. Hubbard’s often experimental and highly collaborative approach yields a personnel roster of some seventy-two performers who contributed to both new compositions and some that date as far back as 1992, performed in a myriad of arrangements— from tape and sample-based electronic experiments, to more traditional jazz quartets, to larger and more varied ensembles.

To be honest, I’m still processing this opus and probably will continue to process it for some time to come. But, what better reward for a listener is there than that? You can navigate those depths yourselves when you pick up all five volumes of Encinitas and Everything After over at Nathan Hubbard’s Bandcamp page.

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Diggin’ in the Carts: Episodes 5 and 6

Diggin’ in the Carts: Episode 5

It’s been a minute since Red Bull Music Academy closed out their Diggin’ in the Carts series, but I still wanted to post the two last episodes here in case you missed them. Episode 5, which you can stream above, is completely dedicated to the monumental works of Nobuo Uematsu. This legendary composer began his career with Square in 1985 and has garnered fame that has stretched well beyond the world of video games. His soundtracks for the Final Fantasy series are widely held to be among the greatest and most recognizable of any era or platform. These works— especially the masterpiece that is Final Fantasy VI— certainly helped define a crucial period of my musical education. Thanks, Nobuo.

Diggin’ in the Carts: Episode 6

The final installment of Diggin’ in the Carts examines our current epoch of video game soundtracks, which has moved from the innovative niche of chiptune music and FM synthesis into a mode that is much more aligned with mainstream music production and film scoring. It’s certainly interesting to hear the grandiose soundtracks of the present day and think about the fascinating evolution of the video game music industry and its soundtracks. While some folks are rushing to hammer you over the head with John Williams stock strings and overly epic orchestral compositions in today’s games, there are still plenty of more interesting works bubbling throughout the industry.

I don’t imagine the nostalgia for that early era of video game music will ever truly fade, but as the genre’s primary disciples rise to prominence in their creative fields, those familiar blips and bleeps continue to strongly influence electronic, hip-hop, and pop music of the here and now. As these sounds feed back into a new generation of listeners and gamers, I imagine some might be surprised at how much they recognize when Mom or Dad plugs in the ol’ NES now and then.

Aquarian: Aquarian EP + “Soma”


Earlier this week, Brooklyn’s stellar rave-agitator Aquarian released his latest EP: a self-titled plunge into his familiar niche of cold, cascading techno. These new tunes stand out as more polished than previous works without sacrificing the producer’s dark and gritty edge, propelled by unstoppable acid blips and a more prominent integration of classic breaks like Lyn Collins’ indelible jungle and Bmore club “Think (About It)” loop and the Godfather of all breakbeats, the Amen break. A welcome further exploration of the intersection of techno, jungle, acid, and bass music, the four originals on Aquarian occasionally recall the strengths of some of the finer Modern Love works— most notably on the massive “Event Horizon”, which swells and crashes under spastic Amen flips and heavy industrial drum stutters. Supported by a couple noteworthy remixes from Throwing Snow and Nautiluss, this is not an EP to sleep on.

Aquarian is out now on UNO NYC. Pick up a copy at Juno or on iTunes.

Check out the video for opening track “SOMA” below, which features sounds and visuals alike that build upon disquieting beauty before opening up into a frantic, blistering assault of pulsing, propulsive arcs and cuts.

Jimmy Edgar: “Who’s Watchin”

Jimmy Edgar

I, for one, welcome our new feline overlords.

Jimmy Edgar, prolific Warp Records affiliate and Ultramajic label boss, just dropped his latest record earlier this week. The final in a trilogy of EPs centered around an exploration of the primal elements, Saline represents Edgar’s reflection on the element of Earth. For me, this record is less immovable weight or slowly eroding soil, but instead roils and simmers fiercely like the core of our planet. From the bubbling acid of the opener “Burn”, on through the skittering house of “Decalcify”, the ghetto house-tinged “Walk Show” (featuring the late, great DJ Rashad), and the hypnotic club gem “Who’s Watchin”, Saline is a solid offering from one of contemporary electronic music’s most consistent producers.

The music video for “Who’s Watchin”, released by Ultramajic last week, is a kind of fever dream of cat Tumblr inception laced with フレッド (Freddy) YOLO vaporwave aesthetics. I can only assume the tie-in to Saline is that as salt is a necessary building block of life on the planet Earth, so are cats a necessary building block of life on the internet.

Check out the video below and stream all of the Saline EP right here. Or just cut to the chase and snag a copy from Beatport.

Andy Stott: “Violence” + New LP


With the March release of Millie & Andrea‘s Drop the Vowels — the debut collaborative LP of Modern Love labelmates Andy Stott and Miles Whittaker (of Demdike Stare) — I didn’t expect we’d get to hear too much else from Stott in 2014. I’m glad to know that I was completely wrong about that, as Andy recently dropped the first single from Faith in Strangers, his forthcoming follow-up to 2012’s masterful Luxury Problems.

“Violence”, which welcomely features the vocal work of Luxury Problems collaborator Alison Skidmore, takes the unsettling calm and crushing ominousness indicative of Stott’s recent works and pushes them into an even more extreme diametric balance. The track begins with an interplay of whispering synth drones and Skidmore’s breathy vocals, a nearly serene soundscape blackened by a permeating sense of dread and sporadic flourishes of piercing, harsh tones. The relative tranquillity eventually succumbs to a growing crescendo as Skidmore’s vocals rise from faint murmurs to more forceful ethereal intonations and Stott begins to layer drum tracks and menacing, rattling low-end. Ultimately, any semblance of serenity is utterly torn asunder by the cacophony. This track is heavy, even by Andy Stott’s standards.

Look for Faith in Strangers to drop on November 18th via Modern Love. If this jam is any indication, it should be one of the most notable records of the year. Stream “Violence” below and pre-order Faith in Strangers over at Bleep.

Diggin’ in the Carts: Episode Four

Last Thursday, the Red Bull Music Academy released another installment of Diggin’ in the Carts, their miniseries exploring the history of video game music. This episode examines the influence of Sega, first in the arcade world and then with the release of their Mega Drive (aka Genesis) console and its FM-synth sound processor. This clearly separated the soundtracks of the Mega Drive from those on the NES or the PC Engine systems and channeled the kind of sounds more reminiscent of contemporary pop music. As such, the creators of video game music began to play an even more central role in the industry and composers like Yuzo Koshiro (The Revenge of ShinobiStreets of Rage) even found themselves being credited on the title screens of games. The composers of this era brought more sophistication to their soundtracks and put more emphasis on songwriting. Pulling from fusion, rock, latin jazz, J-pop, house, Detroit techno, and other influences, pioneers like Yuzo Koshiro, Masato Nakamura, and Hiro helped to redefine what a video game score could be.

shh#ffb6c1, Secret Songs’ First Comp <3


Whether effortlessly blending trapped-out hip-hop with SNES classics, choppin’ up somethin’ next level for any number of MCs, or crafting his own beautiful original compositions, Ryan Hemsworth has long been reshaping the musical landscape as a DJ, producer, and songwriter. The man has many styles, moving from the charmingly twee, to the profoundly emotional, to the dark and moody. Yet, no matter how disparate they may appear, all of his works seem to have that Hemsworth touch, his oblique fingerprints hiding in the folds of the melodies, or the textures of the synths, or the rhythms of the drumwork.

As if all that wasn’t enough, Ryan recently revealed his latest endeavor as the curator of Secret Songs, a new bi-weekly series of Soundcloud-distributed tracks that features a slew of underappreciated up-and-coming producers. To celebrate the release of the first ten jams via Secret Songs, which have all been excellent, Hemsworth has organized the first compilation for the series: shh#ffb6c1. A collection of ten new songs all inspired by “light pink”, this cleverly-titled (#ffb6c1 is the HTML color code for light pink) inaugural comp was clearly put together by a masterful selector. Not only is shh#ffb6c1 packed with quality—from “PC Music Princess” GFOTY‘s blistering, brain-melting opener, to Kero Kero Bonito‘s intoxicatingly catchy “Flamingo”, to the fragile longing of Cuushe‘s “Do You Feel Me”— but the compilation also flows pitch perfectly, each track representing a fragment of Ryan Hemsworth’s excellent and eclectic taste.

You can stream shh#ffb6c1 in its entirety below and download the comp over at the Secret Songs website. Thanks Hemmy, can’t wait for more. <3