- The Japanese artist delivers an off-kilter house mix for Beats In Space's new series.
- Beats In Space's new mix series is a fitting addition to Tim Sweeney's long-running operation. Originally a weekly radio show on New York University's station, WNYU, Beats In Space has also been a record label since 2011. The label helped establish Beats In Space's taste for house, disco and indie-leaning electronics, while the broadcast became a career benchmark for international DJs, no matter what style of music they played. The mix series is a natural way of underlining Beats In Space's bread and butter. In this context, the Japanese DJ and producer Powder, AKA Moko Shibata, is an apt choice for the first instalment, a charming trip through house's far-out cosmos.
Shibata is driven more by melody and mood than kicks or snares on Powder In Space, which comes as a mixed CD, an unmixed digital release and a vinyl compilation. On Don't DJ's "Southern Shore," a medley of panned vibraphone keys and dewdrop sounds coalesce around a quiet kickdrum. Later, the set reaches peak intensity with Karamika's "Ton 10," a brooding nod at techno that drowns its percussive elements—a kick drum and tambourine—in a sustained, white-hot synth note. Its tension allows the next tracks, The Sun God's bittersweet anthem "Ancient Echoes (Tribute To Larry Heard)" and Shibata's dreamy "Gift," to provide relief and resolution.
Shibata's other contribution to the mix, "New Tribe," marks a dramatic turning point in her play between dark and light. Tracks like "Gift," "Southern Shore," Vertigo Inc's "The Water Margin" and Jules Etienne's "Cuban Omelette" are organic ecosystems teeming with sonic life. They have notes that pop like little bubbles or trickle like brooks, and synths that hoot like birds. "New Tribe," however, is a cut of smoldering ferocity. Its position between the bright-eyed house organ on "Saxopetu" and the lilting harp arpeggios on Kettenkarrussell's "Just For A Second" makes "New Tribe" feel particularly eerie.
Even in its most severe moments, Powder In Space would be hard to describe as "banging." Shibata's taste for soft kicks, sparse drums and cute melodies comes off like the work of someone a bit shy or bookish, as do her liner notes. They focus on themes like work-life balance (depicted on the video for "New Tribe") and her synaesthesiac experience with sound. Shibata says she is inspired by music that conjures a visual or a pattern in her mind's eye, which is reflected in Powder in Space's cinematic quality and introspective emotions.
"Patterns are interesting," writes Shibata. "They are always ancillary and never playing the leading part of things, and the patterns themselves recognise this fact and act low-key." Likewise, Powder In Space is characterised by an understated epicness. Shibata doesn't carpet bomb dance floors with diva vocals, jacking drums or white-noise risers. She subtly moves bodies with grooves that feel more implied than material. It's a thoughtful approach to dance music. But it's still just as effective when it comes to evoking physicality, and even more so when it comes to engrossing the listener in a consummate sonic vision.
01. Samo DJ & Hidden Operator - Захват Сзади Rox
02. Tornado Wallace - Open Door (Born Inna Tent Mix)
03. Acid Pauli - Release
04. Don't DJ - Southern Shore
05. Daphne - When You Love Someone (Groove Instrumental)
06. Vedagor - Untitled II
07. Second Language - The Party (Bluntman Deejay's Mould Meditation)
08. Tiago - Roy Brooks
09. Karamika - Ton 10
10. The Sun God - Ancient Echoes (Tribute To Larry Heard)
11. Powder - Gift
12. Vertigo Inc - The Water Margin
13. K-LINE - Saxopetu
14. Powder - New Tribe
15. Kettenkarussell - Just For A Second
16. Jules Etienne - Cuban Omelette
17. Lord Of The Isles - Your Smile
18. Cos/Mes - Forever