Friday Dance Music Guide: The Week’s Best New Tracks From NERO, DJ Shadow, Red Axes & More

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This week in dance music: we ran down ten takeaway points from ADE 2023, St. Martin’s SXM Festival released its phase one lineup, as did Miami’s Ultra Music Festival, Troye Sivan’s Something to Give Each Other debuted at No. 1 on Dance/Electronic Albums, Daft Punk squashed rumors that they’re playing the 2024 Paris Olympics, and we chatted with Marshmello about his new Latin project and checked out the first show of Fred again..’s eight-night residency in Los Angeles.

And yes, there’s more. These are the best new dance tracks of the week.

NERO, “Truth”

The Label: 2808 Recordings/Create Music Group

The Spiel: One of the sonically hardest acts in electronic music returns from a five-year hiatus with a track as pummeling the output that made them major stars of the EDM era. “Truth” is pure NERO, with the song’s lyrics — musings on nature and the universe from the Neil Gaiman poem “The Mushroom Hunters” — laid over a walloping, industrial production that sounds at once futuristic and classically NERO. The track is the first single from the trio’s forthcoming album, Into The Unknown, which will function as the final piece of a NERO album trilogy that began with 2011’s Welcome Reality. That LP included a now-classic remix of album track “Promises” by the group and Skrillex that won the 2013 grammy for Best Remixed Recording (Non Classical).

Duck Sauce, “LALALA”

The Label: D4 D4NCE

The Spiel: Duck Sauce, the longstanding project from A-Trak and Armand Van Helden, has always balanced a playfully goofy brand identity with music you simply can’t argue with. So it goes on their latest, “LALALA,” a thick slice of shimmering Eurodance that marks the Duck Sauce debut on Defected Records’ D4 D4NCE imprint.

The Label Head Says: “It is with great excitement that we welcome Duck Sauce to D4 D4NCE,” says Defected head Wez Saunders. “For as long as I can remember, Alain and Armand have been pushing boundaries with their music both solo and together, and here they are, still on top of their game. Now delivering eight exciting, quirky, and quite different cuts, we are very much looking forward to unleashing these onto the world.”

Red Axes, One More City

The Label: fabric Records

The Spiel: Israeli indie electronic duo Red Axes have long been a favorite in the underground dance scene for productions that balance funk, blistering guitars, and a sort of spooky, swaggering sex appeal that could be at home at a desert rave or a sweaty underground club in 1983. Standouts on their third album include the deeply cool “High Speed” and the gloriously cacophonous (and very NSFW) “Beast.”

The Artist Says: “We hope you will enjoy the music and it will give you some peace of mind in these extreme times,” the pair wrote on Instagram. “We wish health and good for all innocent people around the world.” 

Sofia Kourtesis, Madres

The Label: Ninja Tune

The Spiel: The depth and meaning embedded in the Peru-born, Berlin-based producer’s gorgeous debut LP is best translated through the two people Kourtesis dedicated it to, her mother and renowned neurosurgeon Peter Vajkoczy. As Kourtesis toured the world, her mom had been diagnosed with cancer and saw her health rapidly declining. A press release recounts that “Kourtesis had spoken to every doctor she could get hold of and all of them told her chances were low, operation was too risky. Having read about Vajkoczy but knowing he was in incredibly high demand, in desperation she posted a music snippet on social media, promising to dedicate the track to Vajkoczy for just a few minutes of his time. Unbelievably he responded and agreed to meet. Vajkoczy agreed to operate. The operation was a success and Kourtesis’s mother’s life is extended further than anyone could have possibly hoped.”

The Artist Says: “Life goes by quickly. Life is fragile,” Kourtesis wrote on Instagram. “I have very hard years behind me. I lost my father. My mother got very sick. But I learned not to give up. Every minute I spent with my mother is a holy present.” 

DJ Shadow, Action Adventure

The Label: Mass Appeal/Liquid Records

The Spiel: The master producer and turntablist returns with his 8th studio album, Action Adventure, a largely instrumental 14-track body of work that evokes the same cerebral, deeply cool sensibilities and precise craftsmanship that defines the artist’s entire catalog.

The Artist Says: “The album has no guests, no collaborations, and no features,” Shadow wrote on Instagram. “As such, it represents a wholly personal artistic statement, albeit one indebted to countless sources of inspiration: the samples I use, the artists I respect, the genres I admire, and those close to me, past and present, who have encouraged me and supported my journey. If there are to be more albums in the future, I’ll be grateful. But if this is to be the last…because indeed, one never knows…it would be a fitting end to a charmed life in music.”

Machinedrum, 4#TRAX’

The Label: Ninja Tune

The Spiel: A lot of the magic of electronic lies in the fact that artists can use machines to make sounds that evoke such human feelings. Machinedrum again demonstrates his mastery of that ability again with his latest, the four-track (and thus aptly titled) EP 4#TRAX. An homage to the artist’s formative years passing productions back and forth on web 1.0 channels, these songs hit your ears like a warm bath, with stuttering drum ‘n’ bass, waves of synth, long builds and right-turn releases and very delicate vocals (from KUČKA, on “Violet”) keeping your attention throughout.

The Artist Says: “4#TRAX is a tribute to #trax, a channel on IRC [Internet Relay Chat – a text-based chat system for instant messaging] that I spent much of my teens in,” the artist says. “#trax was a community of tracker musicians that would share their tracks, throw competitions, start labels, trade samples and give feedback and I figured there was no better way to pay respect to #trax than to make new songs using a tracker. On this EP, I decided to make songs that were created using a hybrid of Impulse Tracker and Ableton Live. This gave the songs a nostalgic feel while at the same time keeping it firmly in the present by utilizing my current strengths in production, composition, sound design, editing and mixing in Ableton Live as well as using newer plugins to modernize the sound a bit.”

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