If you’re looking for the best up-and-coming artists, you’ve come to the right place. Focus Five Volume 66 offers another distinct selection of creators in the various realms of electronic music. We’ve got a Dutch duo dropping fresh DnB, a producer who reminds us of SoundCloud’s golden days, a Japanese “Tribal music Lover”, a Finnish artist whose compositions know no boundaries within the sonic spectrum, and a Canadian blending minimal OG trap with some experimental vibes. If that doesn’t excite you, I’m not sure what does. Get familiar with all five below.
I have a love-hate relationship with Spotify. Sometimes, I question why I’m still getting big room house on my Release Radar despite not listening to it for the last ten years. Sometimes, I’m eternally grateful for the auto-shuffle feature, which often puts me onto new talent, with the most recent being Dutch duo Alora. When ‘So Alone’ came on, I was immediately entranced by the silky nature of the drum and bass track, liking it immediately and subsequently playing it on repeat for the rest of the day. Further exploration into their discography revealed a knack for making powerful tracks that resonate beyond the superficiality of other types of drum and bass. While their socials aren’t very active, Alora are genuine artists that are worth checking out.
For as much shit as the SoundCloud feed gets, I still believe the gems always push their way through. When I saw a flip of Danny Brown’s ‘Grown Up’ reposted on my feed by an all-lowercase artist with no spaces and period stylizing their name I had to press play. And I’m glad I did. Taking on one of Danny Brown’s best tracks, hundredacre. maintains shades of the hip-hop backing while injecting a heavier bass sound. It matches the grittiness of Brown’s style without overdoing it. A balance that can be hard to find. The unfinished ‘two sticks in my hand like im playin the wii’ is rough but undeniably fire. The keys are colder than an arctic dip and the minimal bass-heavy approach slaps. When 21 Savage finds his way in, it can’t get any harder. While some may hate on the unpolished nature of the tune, I revel in it. hundredacre. reminds me of a time when artists didn’t take themselves too seriously on SoundCloud and just dropped heat. I’m here for it.
When you see a name supported by both Trekkie Trax and SPRAYBOX, two flagships of the Japanese bass music scene, you know you have to do some digging. That’s why this month I fly you to Japan to get familiar with NirBorna. Producer, DJ, and self-proclaimed “Tribal music Lover” NirBorna has instantly wiped out the competition in my listening schedule with his latest Plexus EP. The nine-track project (six originals plus three remixes) displays one of the freshest and most unpredictable takes on bass music I’ve heard recently. It’s enigmatic and cryptic, it felt almost alienesque at some points. This vibe doesn’t come as a surprise when you find out the EP was born out of NirBorna’s desire to play and experiment with percussion and tempo changes without relying on pre-existing matrices. With the help of a translator, here you can discover some fascinating easter eggs about Plexus (like the track ‘SWSCM’ was inspired by a fortress-like building he saw in Switzerland). If you’re looking for less conceptual and more dancefloor-friendly beats, be sure to check his previous releases on SPRAYBOX.
Captivating environments, masterful melodic structures, and mind-blowing sound design, RUSTHOL is an artist you absolutely need to know and keep an eye on. Hailing from Helsinki, Finland, this artist’s compositions know no boundaries within the sonic spectrum. The way he whisks his colorful paintbrush of tones really shines on a whole new level. The sinister, dark and ear-pleasing spaces within his works will instantly take over your mind and soul. Everything he touches turns to absolute gold. It’s artists like him that make you feel grateful to be alive during his artistic journey. From Frum n Bass, UK Garage, Wave and more, he’s taking on every part of the electronic spectrum, and gifting it with his unique and wonderful presence.
One of his pieces, ‘ALTERNATES’, will awaken an inner spirit you never realized was there. His take on the Future Garage genre is simply breathtaking. Chilling you to the core. The captivating ambiance flowing through this adventure will make your essence shiver with glee as each element is carefully placed in this ominous space he’s conjured up. Impactful drums, dreamy tones and those hypnotic vocals are only a few elements which make this track out of this world. You’ll also come across some nasty and mean bass movement to fill your cravings.
His most recent EP, THE LAST HOUSEBENDER, encapsulates what makes RUSTHOL nothing but special and outgoing. The storytelling within each piece will knock you out of your seats with heart-shattering textures, intoxicating rhythms, and crisp attention to detail. Each track will stun the listener with honor and praise. Making your minds expand from his imagination. It’s a journey you just have to experience for yourself to understand. It’s as if you were transported into an Oscar-winning movie, surrounded by a dark and angelic nightmare. One you won’t ever want to wake up from.
Sometimes you find artists after hours of digging, going down musical rabbit holes riddled with wild twists and turns. And sometimes you just need to ask your Twitter followers for recommendations. After posting a status looking for new trap artists I was promptly pointed to Victoria, B.C.-based artist Sundog (shoutout kiana for the tip) and was instantly impressed. Blurring the boundaries between minimal trap beats and more experimental organic grooves, Sundog occupies a sonic space that’s born out of OG trap but has evolved with an otherworldly aesthetic. The two-track EP Whirlwind/Thunder serves as the perfect starting point. ‘Whirlwind’ is built around ghostly melodies that create a haunting but stunning soundscape that’s expanded upon with precision percussion and booming low end. The ample room to breathe gives each element an opportunity to shine through perfectly. ‘Thunder’ takes a darker turn while still embodying the same palette. The bouncy plucks are mystifyingly hypnotic and it doesn’t lack any bang. In a world of overproduced tracks with chaotic layering, Sundog provides a refreshing reminder that less is more.
Word by Alessio, Colin, John & Steph.