- exael goes from donk to leftfield UK techno, with a bit of everything in between.
- Even as dance music becomes increasingly comfortable with revisiting its most maligned genres, there remain corners of electronic music that the hipster intelligentsia have shied away from. The Lancashire-born British genre donk feels like one of these final frontiers. But Cryptobitch, the newest alias from Berlin producer exael, has no problem repurposing the punch drunk cousin of hard house and bassline that operates at 150 BPM with signature wonky bass stabs, ravey chords, and party-ready lyrics (everyone should enjoy the pleasure of Blackout Crew's "Put a Donk On It" at least once). Cryptobitch's "DDoNK CrySyS" is a wordless ode to the genre that adds a few hits of acid alongside the chest-rattling sub—just one example of the bold colors that exael paints with on their new EP.
The A-side operates at the highest BPMs with short, rapid-fire bursts, though it's not purely about the sugar highs of donk or speedy dance music in general. "Double-Flux Honeytrap" is a reminder of how jungle is a delicate interplay of both sides of your brain: a velvety and smooth piano line drapes itself over kinetic breaks. And while the nails-on-chalkboard synth of "Emotet (d.Monica)" makes it a particularly malicious drum & bass track, there's also a bit of Autonomic-esque introspection in the driving chug after the bridge—but don't worry, things get hectic again with the breakbeat assault of the final minute.
The flipside is a little more family-friendly. There are dub techno chords and sharp UK-style percussion on "Zero Day Demon," while "Cafe Can" is a meaty bite of '90s breakbeat. But these tracks still bear the mark of Crytptobitch's raucous approach to production. As a whole, the genre revivalism on display here fits perfectly with Planet Euphorique's mandate. D. Tiffany's label is at the fore of a cohort of producers that seem to have found a sweet spot refashioning the fringes of '90s dance music into decidedly queer sunbeams of club bliss (for a primer, check out recent releases from labels like Radiant Love or Isla). Cryptobitch's addition to this canon is essential.
01. Double-Flux Honeytrap
02. Emotet (d.Monica)
03. I Heart Hacking
04. DDoNK CrySyS
05. Cryptobitch Theme
06. Zero-Day Demon
07. Cafe Can