Not every new release has to break the mould to be worthwhile. But every so often, a producer comes along that really makes you take note. They bend, break and reset the rules in ways that weren’t previously imaginable. They combine previously unrelated elements into fascinating new tracks, or they do the simple things so well that the rest might as well give up. To that end, we thought we would highlight five of the most interesting producers out there right now.
Outside of hardcore circles, Welshman Leif isn’t particularly well known, which is criminal. He is a resident at the cult Freerotation Festival, often serving up intricate sets of minimal house from all his own tracks. Those tracks are insanely detailed, but without ever feeling over-stuffed. They come on niche labels like UntilMyHeartStops, Galdoors and Idle Hands, and draw on psychedelia, with shimmering synths, light dustings of percussion and nimble rhythms that shape-shift before your very ears. Though he's set a high standard since emerging in 2004, Leif still manages to excite and innovate with every new tune.
RAMZi is the recording alias of Vancouver’s Phoebé Guillemot, who actually plays records as DJ Fati. Despite the separation between the two, there is actually plenty of common ground between what she does in the studio and what she does in the booth. Her grooves are brilliantly weird and unhinged, with tropical house, freaky dub, exotic experimental textures and a ramshackle looseness characterising them all. Her jumbled style sounds utterly out of this world but also strangely organic and natural, and has been best exemplified to date with her last album, Pèze-Piton, in late 2017.
3. Kamaal Williams
Formerly part of Yussef Kamaal, but now leading his own new band, Kamaal Williams has got everyone into jazz. The virtuoso keys player was behind 2016’s album of the year in Black Focus: it fused deep house and broken beat, soul and jazz with incredible drum work, sensuous keys and absorbing atmospheres to great acclaim. A follow up is due any time now, while Williams also makes red hot house and broken beats as Henry Wu on labels like MCDE, Rhythm International and Eglo. Much more than just a producer, he is a master musician with unreal playing chops that always define his sounds.
Miruna Boruzescu is a Romanian producer, based in Berlin. Rather than barely-there minimal techno like most of her countrypeople though, she makes an acid-laced, synthwave tinged and industrially inclined brand of dance music that is perfectly alien and occult. It sounds like it comes from a world without human life, and is sparse yet alluring and always sucks you in. After a slew of apoco-disco EPs on Correspondant and Cómeme dating back to 2016, next month she releases her debut album, A Body, which is the most complete realisation of her unique sound world yet.
5. Theo Parrish
Lists of cutting edge producers tend to focus on the newer names, and for good reason: a lot of early pioneers tend to lose steam, sell out, or go stale. Not Theo Parrish. Still as fiercely inventive as ever, the Chicago born, Detroit tased artist remains hard to categorise for the way he draws on jazz, beatdown, house, techno and so much more for his music. Often with shamanistic qualities, his drums are complex, his atmospheres voodooistic and his keys are rugged and beautifully mechanical. The latest gospel-licked EP on his own Sound Signature is another such magical offering that sounds like no one else.