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Album: Tomu DJ - Feminista | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Tomu DJ - Feminista

Album: Tomu DJ - Feminista

Pastoral beauty from somewhere out of time on Californian DJ's debut

The endless circles and spirals that dance music moves in can take you to some strange places.

It is, after all, a little peculiar that a producer from California, who was first turned on to DJing by the edgy, claustrophobic, ultra-modernist sound of Chicago’s footworking DJs, should on her debut album sound like a blissed-out, hazy sunrise at a hippie rave somewhere in the English countryside 30 years ago. But Tomu DJ has captured a very specific mood and moment that feels slightly outside of time so well that this doesn’t even feel like a nostalgia piece. 

Back between 1991 and 1994, the acid house explosion had been and gone and rave was going hardcore, but all round its fractal edges odd LSD-drenched variants were spawning that were still part of the main body but varied all over the place in tempo and rhythm pattern. Very early Aphex Twin, Ultramarine, Birmingham’s Beyond Records and many more created a melodic aesthetic that was both advanced and naïve, futuristic and archaic, perfect for lost moments when people have slipped off the normal clock and calendar. 

And that off-kilter mood has lately been resurgent among a motley crew of mainly female electronic artists around the world. France’s rRoxymore, Canada’s Ciel and now Tomu DJ have found freedom, and a sense of inclusion, in the open spaces that allow odd rhythms and melodies to unfold and texture to be a vital part of the composition. So here on this condensed – eight tracks in 45 minutes – but perfectly formed record. 

It’s not all retro or fluffy: “Exposed Nerve” has the judder of footworking, “Intro” and “Confundida” have the lope of dancehall, and the final “What’s Next” rises into a climax of fizzing noise. But it does all feel like it’s made for liminal zones, out in nature, every chord wreathed in mist, every bass tone feeling like it has damp moss growing over it, every melody reeling around you like folk music from a previously undiscovered situation. There’s often melancholy, but it’s the gorgeous sadness of capturing a magic moment and accepting its transience. This is an interzone worth visiting, and one which will subtly change you each time you do.

@joemuggs

Hear "Confundida":

That off-kilter mood has lately been resurgent among a motley crew of mainly female electronic artists around the world

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