Matt’s Music Hall


The XX, Coexist. Winter makes me reach for electronic music: Nothing goes better with crisp, cold weather like beats, textures and circuitous but elegant song structures. The XX followed up their 2009 self-titled debut with a record sleepier than its predecessor, but more subtle and mature. Gone is the simple pop format of songs such as %26ldquo;VCR,%26rdquo; and in its place is the slow, steady crawl of Coexist%26rsquo;s first single, %26ldquo;Angels%26rdquo; %26mdash; which pauses long enough for singer Romy Croft to sigh, %26ldquo;If someone believed me, they would be as in love with you as I am.%26rdquo; Jamie XX%26rsquo;s production has evolved from Timbaland mimicry into slowed-down UK-dance-inspired beats from another planet. His pop instincts coexist organically alongside his progressive vision %26mdash; something collaborations with superstars such as Drake have proved.

Various Artists, After Dark. The tight-knit electro-pop label Italians Do It Better has been on a hot streak lately, with its flagship group Chromatics commissioned by Karl Lagerfeld to choreograph brand new music for a Chanel runway and culminating with 2012%26rsquo;s release of Kill For Love. Label maestro Johnny Jewel has rereleased the 2007 compilation After Dark on the label%26rsquo;s Soundcloud page. The gorgeous sampler draws on Italian disco as its primary influence but also lifts a Kraftwerk riff here and there for a late-%26rsquo;70s krautrock twist. At nearly 80 minutes, the compilation manages to never wear out its welcome, going down as smoothly as Italian liqueur. Free at soundcloud.com/johnnyjewel/after-dark-remastered.

DJ Sun, One Hundred. DJ Sun is a Houston institution, hosting a weekly all-vinyl show on 90.1 FM for almost two decades now; he can also often be seen behind the tables at many of this city%26rsquo;s trendiest, most fashionable social events. But DJ Sun is also a professional musician, crafting two solid EPs in recent years and now releasing his first full-length, One Hundred. The all-genres-in-a-blender approach works, skillfully throwing funk, drum and bass, instrumental hip-hop and a dash of bossanova into the kitchen sink for the adventurous listener.

Nicolas Jaar, BBC Radio 1 Essential Mix. A popular online phenomenon is artist-curated mixes, usually for outlets such as BBC Radio or Fact Magazine, which serve as a modern manifestation of the DJ set. Some take their turn to showcase and premiere their own music; others dig deep and unearth lost but inspired tracks. Bbut my favorite kind of mix is a little of both %26mdash; a skillfully assembled collage of sounds both recognizable and not. Jaar, a notable electronic musician in his own right, blends everyone from Jay-Z to Ricardo Villalobos into a surprisingly coherent two-hour set. This isn%26rsquo;t Girl Talk; it%26rsquo;s not a sloppy chop and paste, but a stripping down of this music to its core, then rebuilding it from the ground up. Jaar delivers a set as textured and intricate as his own music, parts of it suitable for the dance floor or the chill-out room, and all of it appropriate for winter. Free at soundcloud.com/selftitledmag/Nicolas-jaar-essential-mix.

Matthew Ramirez is PaperCity%26rsquo;s resident playlist savant.

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