- Club Chai says goodbye with a compilation that highlights their creative force and vision.
- Club Chai's first compilation was era-defining—one of the strongest documents of an experimental club scene that focused on local nodes of activity from a global perspective. Four years later, the second volume from the Oakland-based label is essential in a different way. Many of Club Chai's core artists have found wider success since 2017. The sounds and ideas Club Chai represents, like diversity, inclusion, mutual aid and community, have become the focus of many dance music crews. And, of course, clubs have been shut for a year, putting already precarious American dance scenes in jeopardy. After revealing that they they won't be returning when the dance floor does, Club Chai's second compilation becomes a swan song from a group of artists who truly helped make their scene a better place, and built a powerful platform for those who needed it most.
The compilation begins with a track by each founder. 8ULENTINA's "patch of sunlight" is a seductive number that shows off their increasingly complex grasp of drum & bass-inspired rhythms. Sarkissian's "A City Underwater" builds on the contemplative nature of her past few releases and emphasizes her Armenian heritage, featuring lovely tar playing from Miqayel Voskanyan. These openers strike a melancholy note that continues through most of the compilation, which feels like it's alternately mourning and celebrating the party series and label.
The display of rhythm on CLUB CHAI Vol. 2 is impressive and truly global, from DJ Plead's fidgety drum interplay to the broken dancehall swing of Siete Catorce to the acrid stomp of Maral's "another birth," which, at about 90 seconds long, is a dense nugget of creativity. The proggy "Eye Of The Spiral" is one of quest?onmarc's weirdest and most accomplished tracks. Debby Friday and Authentically Plastic go for broke with rolling, kinetic techno. Club Chai has always encouraged its artists to explore their personal histories and identities, a mission that comes to life across the 18-track album.
The LP wraps up with a piece from the artist Jessika Khazrik, whose work often focuses on what she sees as discarded texts and digital detritus. On "Kushajam's Recital استظهار كُشاجم," she pairs a reading of a tenth-century poem from Palestinian philosopher Kushajam, written about a water clock, over a disorienting and dubbed-out instrumental. It's an appropriately reverent way for the compilation to end, a beautiful farewell.
Much like the first volume, this compilation feels more intentional, more album-like, than your typical label roster showcase. It allows each artist to express their personal relationship with dance music, twisting house, techno and experimental club music into unfamiliar and captivating shapes. In this sense, CLUB CHAI Vol. 2 highlights the crew's core mission: inviting people in, allowing them to express themselves and truly become what they want to be.
01. 8ULENTINA - Patch Of Sunlight
02. Lara Sarkissian - A City Underwater feat. Miqayel Voskanyan
03. Siete Catorce - Juya
04. Piano Rain - Phone Home
05. Loris - Shatra
06. Russell E.L. Butler - Gunshot Fingers
07. Maral - Another Birth
08. DJ Corpmane - Glory An Ever
09. DJ Plead - Jif And Lemon
10. Debby Friday - A Dangerous Game
11. Bored Lord - Waiting For
12. Age Reform - Gust
13. Bonaventure - Trisolarian Body
14. Dave N.A. - Patypliz
15. Authentically Plastic - Dividual
16. Quest?onmarc - Eye Of The Spiral
17. Bastiengoat - A Place For Us
18. Jessika Khazrik - Kushajam's Recital استظهار كُشاجم