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Review: Beats In Space #956 on WNYU

Two DJs, two mixes, and one trip onto the interstellar dance floor.

Beats in Space is the ongoing radio show hosted and curated by Tim Sweeney on WNYU 89.1 FM in New York City. The show began in the fall of 1999 and every Tuesday night from 10:30 pm to 1:00 am, Sweeney hosts an ever-rotating cast of DJs from around the globe.

In episode #956 of the show — first aired September 18 —  Sweeney hosted London-based Josey Rebelle and Berlin-based PLO Man. The show is fairly popular in the underground dance music world: The Beats In Space playlist on Spotify has over 2,000 followers, a significant feat in an underground community.

The show is split up into two sections, with Sweeney conducting a brief interview with each of the DJs at the end of their respective mixes. Rebelle described her recent set at Sustain Release, an annual underground electronic music gathering held in upstate New York. She was fresh off the decks from a full weekend of techno and was already back in the booth to mix even more. It’s not to admire her true dedication to the craft.

Rebelle opened her mix with “The Emperor,” a stripped-down 1986 track by Richard H. Kirk of Cabaret Voltaire. The mix grew with each multilayered drum track, while bongos and wind chimes shimmered over snappy drum kicks. After about 16 minutes of fantastically weird drum tracks, the mix briefly took a turn towards deep house and by the 20-minute mark, Rebelle had established an even mix between analog-leaning experimental techno and acid house.

The last 25 minutes or so of her mix took a jazzier turn, while still maintaining the classic analog drums that are synonymous with acid house, best exemplified by “Algorithms With Emotions” by Abstract Eye. Muted horns blared in HANNA’s “Parallel,” as the mix closed with a return to deep house, albeit with a more garage twist.

After Rebelle’s amazing mix, PLO Man started his mix off with nine minutes of dreamy, atmospheric ambient music. Bongo drums entered into the mix, along with quarter-toned horns drifting over the minimal drum track. The mix continued to stay subdued and slowly eased into a harder, analog sound.

Suddenly — at around the 22-minute mark — PLO Man departed from the earth and launched listeners into deep space with a style of techno made from sounds reminiscent of space travel. It was like walking into an extraterrestrial nightclub with a Helix track , as well as other experimentations on the club sound.

The bongos made a return, adding a Latin flare to the interstellar dance floor. By the 40-minute mark, the mix had evolved into a deep space disco with Gerd’s 2010 track “For 12 Minutes She Danced With An Alien (Joris Voorn Mix)” melting into Robert Aaron’s 1996 house track “Sax In The Ozone.” Towards the end of his mix, PLO Man went off into a completely unexpected direction, veering into some very laid back dub — similar to the stylings of the artist Breakage.

Overall, both DJs created varied and diverse mixes. Both mixes exposed listeners to some older hidden gems as well as some fresh new tracks.

Rarely does Beats in Space disappoint, and this particular episode lived up to the ever-growing shadow of the show’s reputation.

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