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DIS MAGAZINE


Seriously Unserious About Fashion


Danny Ghitis for The New York Times
DIS Magazine editors, from left: Lauren Boyle, David Toro, Solomon Chase and Marco Roso. And a friend. 


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NOT everyone in the fashion world understands DIS Magazine. But for a self-described online “post-Internet lifestyle magazine” that gets its name from an oppositional prefix, that is to be not only expected but perhaps even intended. 

The Collection: A Fashion Click through the site’s Distaste, Dystopia and Dysmorphia sections, and you’ll discover (ahem) a fiercely analytical take on the runway that is worlds away from the rose-colored glasses of Vogue.com or Style.com. In an industry in which editorial content and advertising sometimes seem to merge, DIS’s editorial mission is to interrogate and collapse hierarchies. 

To wit: the mainstream streetwear designer Christian Audigier is treated with the same reverence as Rei Kawakubo; Axe Body Spray is reviewed with the fervor most style blogs reserve for a Frédéric Malle perfume; and a “Best and Worst” section is a stream of no-holds-barred reviews that will go as far as to suggest alternatives to lackluster collections. 
“We are more interested in Burlington Coat Factory than Prada,” said Lauren Boyle, who started the site in 2010 with Nick Scholl, David Toro, Solomon Chase and her husband, Marco Roso. Mr. Toro, Mr. Chase and Ms. Boyle are also the editorial directors of the Web site Vfiles. Mr. Roso is a creative director at Grey New York, and Mr. Scholl is a freelance Web designer. 
“Alber Elbaz once said: ‘Where uptown and downtown meet, but not in Midtown. We hate Midtown,’ ” Ms. Boyle said. “I think that statement says a lot about fashion, and we pretty much feel the opposite. Midtown isn’t high or low, it’s medium. For us that’s where the fertile, untrodden ground is. Mass-market department stores are not where the trends go to die, it’s where they culminate.” 
It’s a serious mission statement, but executed with a sense of unseriousness. 
“We’re not that precious,” Ms. Boyle said. “We move along pretty fast.” 
For “Shoes in Shoes” under its “new style options” section, DIS recommends “shoe layering” as a “cross-seasonal option for style hybrids and as a simple method for shoe size reassignment.” 
This means wearing shoes by Vibram FiveFingers under beach sandals by Guess, or slipping Velcro Tevas over Marc Jacobs flats. Not your typical trend report. 
“We don’t subscribe to the same rules that fashion magazines do,” Mr. Toro said. There is no editor in chief or masthead (not even an office), no ads on the site or market-driven editorials and, Ms. Boyle said, no staff other than the five founders, ages 29 to 40. 
Much of the content DIS produces tweaks the concept of image-making. Who says a Christopher Kane jacket can’t be paired with Under Armour leggings, as the editors did for their “Fit in Society” editorial? When exaggerated shoulder shapes were all the rage seasons ago, they ran an article called “Shoulder Dysmorphia” that used retouching to mimic the trends using the musculature of the models. 
“Most of our images are not sexy,” Mr. Roso said. “We are raising options and questions, but not answers.” 
This lack of regard for conventional commercial context has helped make the DIS crew an emerging presence on the international art-world circuit. Its work was featured in an exhibition at the New Museum in 2010, and the editors staged a hit Kim Kardashian look-alike competition with MoMA P.S. 1 at Art Basel Miami Beach last year. 
They also recently announced “DIS Crit,” a global contest for art students; the winner gets a “residency” at the contestant’s local Starbucks, a $100 gift card to the coffee chain and art critiques over Skype with Lauren Cornell, a curator at the New Museum. A coming anthology of DIS’s work is to be published by Rizzoli in the spring. 
“They subvert the very language of fashion, art and advertising, right down to making ugly a compliment,” said Sarah McCrory, a curator for Frieze Projects 2012, who commissioned DIS to make site-specific work for the Frieze Art Fair in London last month. “Some of their work is so ugly, yet so brilliant and appealing.” 
This is hardly the compliment that strengthens bonds with fashion public relations folks. 
“We always joke that showrooms won’t lend us clothes,” Mr. Chase said. “We laugh that stylists who work with us end up ruining their careers. There are definitely agencies who have contacted us asking to take off a model’s name.” 
Humberto Leon and Carol Lim, the founders of Opening Ceremony and the creative directors of Kenzo, are one exception. For Kenzo’s fall men’s collection, DIS created a short film with male models acting out innocuous corporate stock-photography vignettes, complete with a faux watermark. 
“We loved the video because it was so unexpected,” Mr. Leon said. “So many fashion films are so commercial but disguised as art. So it was really interesting for them to turn that around and make an overtly commercial project that ended up feeling more artistic than most art projects.” 
Could DIS make it to the newsstand? “We’ve always been interested in the limitations of fashion and the limitations of the Internet,” Mr. Toro said. 

PC Music's Twisted Electronic Pop: A User's Manual


PC Music's Twisted Electronic Pop: A User's Manual
What is PC Music? A label, a scene, a subgenre, a red herring? It may be all of these things at once. The shadowy operation and its bewildering brand of hyper-pop have been everywhere in the past few months, from UK broadcasters like Rinse FM to the XL Records roster to Boiler Room broadcasts, and its influence seems to be growing on a daily basis.  
The label, and the aesthetic it promulgates, have been hiding in plain sight for nearly a year and a half, releasing a steady stream of music— all online and mostly free— that amounts to one of the freshest, funniest, and most confounding pop-music phenomena to appear in a long time.
One example of PC Music's recent overground activities is a remix of How To Dress Well's "Repeat Pleasure" by A. G. Cook, the collective's founder and apparent ringleader. Released last week, it writhes like a wad of cellophane, multi-tracked voices shifting pitch as though propelled by some weird, subatomic impulse. 
The remix tells us a lot about the marvelous strangeness of Cook's approach. Who else would take an evidently heartfelt song like "Repeat Pleasure"—a blue-eyed soul ditty that brings to mind Iron and Wine or maybe Duncan Sheik—and treat it like a Shrinky Dink? Cook, a sort of poster boy for digital artifice in the pop underground, is the last person we'd expect to involve himself with a project as heart-on-its-sleeve sincere as How To Dress Well.
This is the power of PC Music. The upstart British label is capable of absorbing virtually any influence and making it a part of its own warped pop totality.
 How to Dress Well: "Repeat Pleasure" (A.G. Cook Remix) (via SoundCloud)
Many details of the label— if it can be called a label— are unclear, including just how many people are involved. There's Daniel Harle, Cook's partner in the duo Dux Content, and Hannah Diamond, a singer and imagemaker behind LOGO Magazine, an online publication whose ultra-glossy, hyper-virtual aesthetic dovetails with PC Music's. The rest of the roster is a rogue's gallery of aliases, avatars, red herrings, and unknown quantities like GFOTY, easyFun, Princess Bambi, Lipgloss Twins, Kane West, and Thy Slaughter, each turning out variations on the same set of slick, chirpy, unhinged chart-pop themes.
And then there's SOPHIE, an artist not directly affiliated with PC Music, but who frequently appears alongside PC Music artists in nightclubs, on mixshows, and, most recently, at Boiler Room. SOPHIE is currently the highest-profile artist associated with the crew; his two singles on Glasgow's Numbers label, "Bipp"/"Elle" and "Lemonade"/"Hard", are thrillingly efficient, if slightly more abstract, summations of the PC Music aesthetic. That aesthetic can be summed up as a grab bag of metallic pings, rubbery zoings, helium-soaked Chipmunk vocals, trance stabs, airhorns, hardstyle kick drums, happy hardcore, Eskibeat, K-pop, J-Pop, vocaloid, 8-bit, black MIDI, 808s and Heartbreak, the Windows 95 startup chime, and a healthy dose of James Ferraro's Far Side Virtual for good measure.
So far, much of the discourse around SOPHIE and PC Music has concentrated on its self-consciously kawaii qualities, with good reason. As journalists Adam Harper and Clive Martin have pointed out, PC Music represents the polar opposite of the darkside tendencies that have characterized much of the underground electronic music of the past half-decade or more. In contrast to the attributes associated with dubstep, deep house, and techno—depth, seriousness, historicity—PC Music presents slick surfaces, a playful spirit, and a kaleidoscopic near-futurism. Along the way, PC Music proposes a set of critical questions about pop culture, accelerationism, hyperrealism, digital communities, gender, identity, and consumerism. The questions may not have definitive answers, but that's partly what's so fascinating about the collective. It's not didactic; to the contrary, it revels in ambiguities that even its artists may not fully understand.
That said, it's undeniable that PC Music is plenty divisive. Some critics, believing that there's a veneer of scorn glazing the label's appropriations, find its treatment of pop music dismissive or disingenuous. Plenty of others simply find the label's sped-up trance stabs saccharine, and its hiccup-ridden choruses annoying, artless, or worse. Clive Martin's excellent Vice articleacknowledged the rancorous reaction elicited by the label with a hard-trolling headline, "PC Music: Are They Really the Worst Thing Ever to Happen to Dance Music?"(#Savedyouaclick: He doesn't think so. And neither do I, for that matter.) 
In an interview from around the time he launched the label—one of very few he's given—Cook explained that the label's name was meant to allude "to how the computer is a really crucial tool, not just for making electronic music but for making amateur music that is also potentially very slick, where the difference between bedroom and professional studio production can be very ambiguous."
In that aspect, PC Music is a little like the latter-day equivalent of Trevor Horn's ZTT, in which new studio technologies were intended to democratize pop music. Only now, it's not video that killed the radio star and $20,000 Fairlight samplers that killed the songwriter and his backing band; it's P2P and YouTube and notebook computers running cracked copies of Ableton sweeping the old guard aside in one swift motion. In PC Music's version of the story, the world ends not with a bang, but with a "Bipp". Whatever happens next is steadily taking shape on PC Music's website, one exquisitely Photoshopped page at a time.
Read on for an introduction to PC Music's major players.

A. G. Cook

Beautiful by A.G. Cook
A. G. Cook is PC Music's founder and chief theorist. The 24-year-old has credits on a handful of the label's releases—Nu Jack Swung"Keri Baby" [ft. Hannah Diamond], "Beautiful", Dux Content's"Like You" and Lifestyle—and he's contributed graphics to releases by easyFun and Maxo; it's a safe bet that he's also had a hand in other projects on the label, like easyFun and the Lipgloss Twins.
Before founding the label, he ran Gamsonite, a "pseudo-label" he’s described as "a prototype for PC Music." But for the most part, it seems he arrived upon the scene with his vision fully formed.
For anyone who doubts Cook's genuine, non-ironic appreciation for pop music, that TANK Magazine interview is worth a read. He cites producers Max Martin and Jam & Lewis as inspirations and singles out Scritti Politti's Cupid and Psyche 85 as an example of "'extreme' pop music"—"a really beautiful balance of great hooks, rhythms and sounds." Praising Cassie, he says, "some of her tracks epitomize the minimal, synthetic, almost robotic potential of commercial music, something which can sound crap when it's done badly, but can also become a sort of perfect, untouchable product when done in the right way." To that end, I find it telling that he says he prefers to compose using "very plain sounds, basically the most boring string, flute and piano sounds my computer has": even at its most ecstatically garish, there's a deadpan quality to his sped-up trance anthems. (Perhaps for that reason he reserves special praise for Ukraine's Eurovision 2013 entry, Zlata Ognevich's "Gravity").
Special attention is due to A. G. Cook's DJ mixes, in which he stretches out and explores every possible angle of his aesthetic, from Carly Rae Jepsen homages to punchy preset disco to Teknian's "Sweded" version of Hudson Mohawke's "Cbat", sounding every bit as thin and weird as you might expect. (In fact, despite the wild swings in tempo and tone, PC Music generally works best mixed together. Granted, too much of the stuff can quickly become exhausting, but many of their mixes are unusually short: 31 minutes for Cook's "Personal Computer Music" mix, 14 minutes for his Creamcake mix, just nine minutes for GFOTY's "Secret Mix", and 10 minutes apiece for all the various players on the PC Music x DISown mix.)

SOPHIE

While PC Music constitutes a largely self-contained universe, SOPHIE has travelled a parallel path, appearing first on singles for Huntleys & Palmers and then Glasgow's Numbers label. Though not technically under the PC Music umbrella, his affiliation with the label recently solidified though a high-profile collaboration with A.G. Cook on a project called QT. It was briefly rumored that SOPHIE and Cook were, in fact, one and the same, but this photo of the pair on stage at SXSW suggested otherwise.
 Sophie: "Bipp" (via SoundCloud

Listening to SOPHIE's music, you're tempted to wonder, how could anything so breezy be so dense? Every cubic centimeter of his constructions is packed with detail—helium-huffing voices, tea kettle squeals, Skittle-hued synth leads, plasticized foley effects, beats that careen like weaponized Slinkies—but it's also shot through with an aching sense of emptiness, as though every sound were cushioned in the dread that it might be the last sound you ever hear. Then, after each heart-in-mouth moment of silence, there's that reassuring cartoon zing! and we're zapped back to life, back to (hyper-)reality. I can't help but think of SOPHIE's chain-reaction beats in relation to the spectacular explosions of Alfonso Cuaron's Gravity, and perhaps that's because collision plays such a key role in his music. The two opposed forces are, primarily, pop and anti-pop—the catchy and the cacophonous, the deft and the garish. Like the J-pop artist Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, whom SOPHIE interviewed for Dazed magazine, and with whom he's apparently collaborating, SOPHIE seems fascinated by the juxtaposition of the cute and the grotesque—or, more precisely, in the point where one becomes the other.

QT

If there's a complaint to be made about “Hey QT" it's that it's a bit too on-the-nose. QT, we're told, is "a sparkling future pop sensation"—not a person, but an energy drink, or an "Energy Elixir," to be precise, "where organic and synthetic meet to stimulate an uplifting club sensation." And yes, we get it—their music is fizzier than a bottle of Club Mate spiked with Pop Rocks. The dance music scene is already dominated by an actual energy-drink brand, so it's possible to read QT as a kind of subversive statement—cuteness as a form of critique. So far, though, that angle fails to deliver, and QT's deadpan Boiler Room performance didn't necessarily add to the concept. It began with QT's willowy singer/spokesmodel reclining on a chaise lounge, idly flipping through a fashion magazine while a piped-in voiceover attested to the virtues of the canned beverage, and it concluded with a deliberately unconvincing lip-sync of the studio track. Throughout both halves of the performance, at least on camera, the energy in the room looks as flat as a day-old soda.
The Boiler Room performance may be proof that translating PC Music's aesthetic from URL to IRL is harder than it seems, but the song itself is a masterful distillation of SOPHIE and Cook's pipsqueak aesthetic, with a call-and-response hook so simple ("Hey QT! Yeeeeeah?"), it's like the pop-music equivalent of one of Saul Bass' corporate logos. If they can just add a little more of their typical zaniness to the project, they may yet hit upon the secret formula for actual pop domination.

Danny L Harle

Broken Flowers by Danny L Harle
Danny L Harle's name doesn't figure prominently in PC Music's catalog; besides his work alongside Cook in Dux Content, he's recorded just one single for the label—the delightful, bittersweet "Broken Flowers", a limpid take on deep house that's not too far off from what Disclosure or Duke Dumont are doing, with the requisite nods to MK and Todd Edwards. It's one of the most outwardly sophisticated things to appear on the label, and not just because it sounds somehow more "grown-up," which it does; behind the lyrics' faux naiveté, there's a graceful little twist to the rhyme scheme that suggests some formidable pop craftsmanship at work.
 Danny L Harle: "Sonatina" (via SoundCloud)
Harle's influence on the label may be greater than his credits alone would suggest. Cook told TANKMagazine that the two musicians attended school together in their early teens and then reconnected when they discovered that they were working in parallel. "We shared so many ideas that I think we both felt more comfortable taking a slightly more conceptual approach," said Cook. "From then on music became much more of a craft—we weren't attached to any specific genre but we became very aware of music production as a potentially virtuosic activity. Tracks would often start as some kind of conversation or challenge and then we'd take turns programming everything, so making a super dense track with loads of layers became a slightly less exhausting exercise. Once I'd made a few tracks with Dan that I felt were satisfyingly high-level I had more energy to try that kind of stuff out on my own, or apply the same aesthetic to visual and web work."
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Harle has a serious musical background: he studied composition at Goldsmiths, University of London, and in 2012, his chamber opera As Above, So Below was performed at the Wellcome Institute as part of the Pain Project, "a global research project into the cultural history of pain." In 2010, his song "Zombie Food" (tagged "#serious party") already showed an interest in camp and musical codes, with its jaunty shuffle, dissonant organ blasts, and generally madcap air; "Rare Birds," from the same year, was tagged "#Rn'Skweee," confirming the link between the Swedish and Finnish chiptune spinoff and whatever we're going to call PC Music's homegrown style. More recently, his "Sonatina" for two bass viols, posted early last month, suggests an affinity for Paul Hindemith's sonatas for cello. And from his Twitter account, we know that he is "not usually into microtones" and that one of his favorite songs is Guillaume de Machaut's 14th-century composition "Complainte: Tels rit au main qui au soir pleure (Le Remède de Fortune)". (Or, as he puts it, ONE OF MY FAVE TUNES EVER. NO CHORD CHANGES. 14th CENTURY. MACHAUT!)
All that, and he's a formidable DJ, too. His Rinse FM set with Sophie (begins at 1:03) is like an Ableton grid laid out over an expanse of quicksand: it's a virtual minefield of tempo changes, cooing babies, electro-acoustic drones, FM radio idents, white noise, and Eurotrance affect so fizzy it'll make your fillings hurt. A masterpiece, in other words.

Hannah Diamond

As a recording artist, Hannah Diamond is credited with two PC Music singles, "Pink and Blue" and"Attachment", as well as guest vocals on A. G. Cook's "Keri Baby". She's an odd character, clad in pink puffer jackets and styled a little like Sporty Spice circa "Wannabe", but with a voice that comes closer to that of an understudy in a production of Annie, maybe. Her infantilized qualities are reinforced by exaggeratedly naïve lyrics, like these from the sing-songy "Pink and Blue": "We look good in pink and blue/ You love me, maybe it's true/ You say baby how are you/ I'm OK, how about you." But she's no one-note character; the icy pathos of "Attachment" brings to mind Mike Oldfield's Kanye-sampled "In High Places" (again, as sung by that Little Orphan Annie understudy), resulting in an uncomfortable balancing act between blankness and earnestness.
In addition to her activities in PC Music, Diamond is co-editor and director of photography forLOGO Magazine, an online publication whose slick, slightly creepy editorials celebrate the merger of high tech and tongue-in-cheek. She's also part of the creative team Diamond/Wright, which was responsible for the art direction of QT's "Hey QT" cover; the lookbook for London latex-clothing brand (and logo obsessives) Meat; and fragrance campaigns for Princess Bambi—the singer (or avatar) responsible for the PC Music single "Less Love More Sex", who is typically styled like the girlfriend of a shady Russian oligarch.

GFOTY

GFOTY stands for "Girlfriend of the Year"; who knows whether her persona is meant to be some kind of critique of gender stereotypes, whether it falls back on gender stereotypes, or none of the above? There's the same sort of vocal processing happening here as in SOPHIE’s "Bipp" and "Lemonade", and the same sort of brittle-yet-rubbery sonics predominate. Pitches shift promiscuously; drums splinter into fiber-optic shards; voices careen across the spectrum like helium balloons being unleashed, squealing, into the thick of a children's birthday party. I want to call this style pipsqueak, for the way it takes pop tropes and makes them blippy and small and, well, squeaky.
In any case, GFOTY is certainly responsible for some of the most maniacally catchy music in the PC Music catalog. Consider this chorus from the nine-minute "Secret Mix": "If your friend's your lover/ Let your friend be your lover/ 'Cause if your friend's your lover/ Then your looooove's/ Undercover". (Repeat ad nauseam, almost literally.)
Talk about high-low vertigo: how about that insistent, high-pitched chirping ("Wh-wh-what's your name? I l-l-l-like your smile") over a snatch of string quartet? And if you want punk, there's the relentless "Don't Wanna / Let's Do It", which is basically a sample of a single synth note and the phrase "I don't wanna do it" being marched up and down a sampling keyboard. It sounds like Eskibeat as performed by the world's most petulant teenager; it might be the most annoying thing you have heard all year, and, like a scab, it is almost impossible to stop returning to it.
Also worth a look: GFOTY's Instagram page, featuring inspirational quotes ("Behind every dolphin there's a girl with a shadow"; "FUCK WOT THEY FINK") and the most creative misuse of ellipses this side of TMZ ("Maybe you have to appreciate the darkness before you can appreciate the… light"; "Don't hate the girl, hate the girl behind… the girl").

Dux Content

Dux Content is the duo of PC Music head A.G. Cook and Danny L Harle, the artist credited with "Broken Flowers". It's difficult to glean too much more from the duo's Facebook page, given that all their press photos are digitally rendered, Sims-type images (and exceptionally creepy ones at that), and there's been no new activity on the page since November 2013, when PC Music re-released the duo's album Lifestyle with a new video by Daniel Swan. Lifestyle sounds like music for Second Life nightclubs: it opens with a plangent, pitch-bent synth lead that's straight out of ATB's trance chestnut "9PM (Till I Come)", and across its eight tracks it explores vaporized R&B, tracker-scene hardstyle, and a version of Steve Winwood's "Higher Love" that's like mainlining Stevia; "City Break", meanwhile, is a mindboggling fusion of Far Side Virtual-ism, "black MIDI"-inspired programming, and Jan Hammer gabber.
Dux Content's catalog also yields some intriguing clues to the pre-history of PC Music. Scroll back far enough, and you'll discover an album released under the alias Dux Consort called Disklavier Concert 1, featuring eight compositions for the Yamaha Disklavier—a kind of MIDI-programmable piano—by Spencer Noble, Daniel Harle, Alex (A.G.) Cook, and Tim Phillips. It's all gorgeous, forbidding stuff, pounding and dissonant, like Conlon Nancarrow tackling Alexander Scriabin with the occasional bit of Scott Joplin thrown in. The cover art is a beautiful approximation of the kind of sleeves that Factory and Les Disques du Crepuscule used to do. It suggests that despite PC Music's aggressively hyper-digital, post-virtualist aesthetics, Cook and Harle may harbor some latent High Modernist leanings as well.

Kane West

"Authenticity" is probably the last word that's ever going to turn up in the context of PC Music, and that's probably a good thing, because duh: authenticity is boring. But! It's worth noting that the PC Music artist with the most archly tongue-in-cheek name also happened to succeed on his own merits outside the label's own DIY ecosystem. Several months before he put out anything on PC Music, Kane West turned up on Tiga's Turbo label remixing Tiga and Audion's "Let's Go Dancing". And he managed that the old-fashioned way: by winning a remix contest. I asked Tiga about it, just to make sure it wasn't some kind of publicity stunt. But nope: "Kane West was [the] honest winner," he wrote back. "His shit was too mental to ignore."
Sounds about right. Kane West's debut release for PC Music, the seven-song Western Beats mini-album, doesn't abide by many of the PC Music hallmarks; there's little that's self-consciously cute about it, and while the vocals are appropriately trippy—like the delirious, out-of-key loop of "Goin' crazy, goin' crazy, goin' crazy" from the song of the same name—they don't tend to be aggressively pitched up, the way so many PC Music vocals are. Given the record's arch, druggy, stripped-down house vibes, it would be reasonable to assume it was the work of an artist on a label like Cómeme or Body High.
Where West really gets weird, though, is in his contribution to the PC Music x DISown Radio free-for-all, in which A.G. Cook, GFOTY, Danny L Harle, Lil Data, Nu New Edition, and West all throw down for 10 minutes apiece. West's portion is overlaid with all manner of audio flotsam: rave whistles, exaggeratedly baritone ID tags ("K-k-k-kane West"), advertising language ("Best price in the world!"), phrases ripped from movie previews ("Don't miss The Magic of the Lost World"). "Hi, my name's Sarah, and I'm going to sing on the next one" chirps a woman, early in the segment, who may or may not be a computer program; there's something about her diction that belongs to the Uncanny Valley of vocaloid singers, although her British accent also sounds too idiosyncratic to be a machine. "I'd like to extend my warmest gratitude to Kane West for letting me appear on this song. Don't forget me when you're famous, Kane!" What follows isn't singing, though, but peppy statements like "Free shipping!" The overall effect is that of a replicant who's so cheerful, you don't have the heart to tell her she's just a skin job.
That kind of unexpected poignance runs through a lot of PC Music's work, so it's not all that surprising that Burial's "Archangel" turns up in the mix—except it's not Burial; it's West's own cover version, seemingly made on a Casiotone with a loose pitch-bend lever and a drum machine with a serious case of arrhythmia. (You can hear it at around 53:45.) It only gets more fucked-up sounding as it goes, and it almost falls to pieces at one point, only to be saved by a Kenny G-like sax melody that's hilarious and tearjerking all at once.

Life Sim

The only real information we have about Life Sim is a geotag: "NYC/LDN," per the artist's SoundCloud page. In some ways, Life Sim's productions to date feel ever so slightly less gonzo than the majority of PC Music's output, and more like "normal" dance music; the 20-minute "All Life" mixtape cruises along at a fairly conventional 140 BPM and toggles between whipcracking electro rhythms and lurching grooves that wouldn't sound entirely out of place on a label like Hessle or Hemlock. But the pasted-in strips of a cappella vocals are just a hair faster than in typical bass music—to say nothing of all those cheesed out trance stabs, or the fact that "Caladhort" foregrounds a looped line from Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe".
Life Sim's "This Life" mixtape, released back in June, just seven months after its predecessor, is even better. It touches upon plangent Detroit techno, Burial-esque prettiness, shuddering electro, and echoing string-pad melodies that recall classic Autechre or Aphex Twin—but all refracted through PC Music's uniquely twisted worldview. (See: the vocal sample that gets deployed halfway through, looping "Like, ever" in a West Coast drawl into a nonsense sing-along.)

Lipgloss Twins

Overload is in full effect on the first single from Lipgloss Twins, right down to a short video segment featuring the two "Twins" that plays simultaneously with the embedded SoundCloud audio and concludes just as the song is wrapping up its own introduction. Sonically, this is the Cook/SOPHIE aesthetic pushed to its limits: beats careen like a ping-pong tournament in a hurricane, melodies resemble a pachinko parlor with a faulty surge protector, and the sped-up vocals are little more than a deranged litany of brands and consumer jibberish ("Maybelline! Maybellicious / Topman, Topshop / Fake Prada, fake Louis, fake Zara"). Questions abound: where did they find these "Twins"? If they're speaking in American accents, why are they employing British grammatical quirks like "different to"? Why would a pig eat stationery? And what the hell does "My genes are ripped" mean?

Tielsie

Palette by Tielse
The SoundCloud tags employed by the Lyon-based producer Tielsie are a pretty good indicator of where his or her head is at: "#ADHD", "#Joy Juke", and "#160"—beats per minute, that is. Tielsie's first demos, which surfaced a year ago, suggested a staggering rhythmic imagination. There was"Hueboy", which sounded like footworking on top of a rainbow, and a remix of TWRK's "Living Room", which might have been a bit of Malian desert blues spun through some kind of particle accelerator. Most notable was a remix of Sophie's "Bipp" that injected a whole new degree of liquid urgency into the song without quite abandoning its cartoon kicks. After a proper release of "Hueboy" and the requisite DISmagazine mixtape featuring a brain-melting array of cute-ified club music (including the Japanese producer Pandaboy's reworking of the iPhone's "Marimba" melody), Tielsie joined PC Music two months ago with "Palette", a helium-voiced adrenaline rush that harnesses virtually every cliché in the book (hardstyle kicks, trap hi-hats, quarter-note claps, supersaw stabs) and plays it all back at 78 instead of 45.

easyFun

easyFun EP by easyFun
Given that easyFun recorded PC Music's second release and hasn't been heard from since, it's reasonable to speculate that the project is an alias of one of the label insiders—possibly A. G. Cook and/or Daniel Harle. In any case, his/her/their sole release so far is brilliant—particularly in its online presentation, in which hyperkinetic slap-bass and DX-synth fugues combine with Easyjet-riffing graphics to turn into something like normcore on steroids: part Seinfeld, part Squarepusher, part Weather Channel b-roll music, and with Shutterstock watermarks amplified into aesthetic tropes in their own right. (The color scheme, meanwhile, is pure Air Huarache; make of that what you will.)

Felicita

There's no formal link between PC Music and Felicita, a new artist whose debut EP, Frenemies, will be released digitally on October 13 on the new Gum label. In fact, Frenemies will even get a 12-inch release, which at first seems completely antithetical to PC Music's digital-first approach—until you realize that it's being pressed on yellow vinyl. In press photos, it’s styled with a yellow rubber ducky. (Cute!) But Felicita's Flubber-falling-down-the-stairs sound is very much in keeping with SOPHIE's hyperkinetic antics. The multi-tracked vocals sound like they might have been recorded by EVE, one of the robots in WALL-E, and it's not too hard to imagine the record's entire aesthetic being inspired by fast-forwarding through that film's trash-collecting scenes.
And that doesn't even begin to touch upon the fucked-up iconography of the artist's website: charm bracelets, pita bread, makeup brushes, a crimping iron, a tennis ball, a seapunk-blue wig, a freaking slug on a young woman's face. That website turns out to have been created in collaboration withDaniel Swan and Mari Santos, and Swan, at least, has also collaborated with PC Music's Dux Content and Thy Slaughter. Whatever's going on here, there's definitely a connection of some sort. For my money, Felicita is the most formally inventive of any of these artists, so I'm especially curious to see where Felicita goes next.

DJ Warlord

DJ Warlord, whoever he/she may be, pushes the PC Music aesthetic to a whole new level of ridiculousness. His "SS14 Embassy Mix" for London latex emporium Meat Clothing consists mainly of "Warmix" edits of pop, R&B, and trance songs—by Janet Jackson, Bell Biv DeVoe, ATB—sped up dizzingly fast and laced with airhorn blasts, vinyl spinbacks, and "Damn, son" audio tags. A song called "Russian Soldiers from Kasatka" that's credited to Burial turns out to be a sped-up snippet from the soundtrack to the Metal Gear Solid 2 video game. (He's got a point; it really does sound something like Burial.) And on his JPEOPLE Magazine mix, "the King of New-new" offers a similarly hyperspeed collection of rave stabs and jungle breaks, complete with a gunshot- and tea kettle-laced edit of Oneohtrix Point Never's "Zebra".
Whoever Warlord is, his Twitter account offers few clues. But perhaps that's the wrong question. As he tweeted last October, "People are always like 'who' is Warlord? Never 'why'…" Indeed.

Bubblegum Bass


Bubblegum bass is an offshoot of UK Bass that originated in the early 2010s. It amplifies cuteness and deliriousness to extreme levels: quirky metallic Wonky synths bounce maniacally all over the place, and high-pitched Pop vocals dominate the music or otherwise accompany it with a feminine and childlike frenzy. Like UK bass, bubblegum bass also draws from a variety of different club sounds, including Electro HouseBalearic BeatTrance, and Bubblegum Dance.

Sophie and A. G. Cook are the two best known producers in this genre; the latter producer's label PC Music is the definitive bubblegum bass label. The disorienting post-internet aesthetic of DIS Magazine also shapes the style of bubblegum bass both sonically and visually, though DIS's output is not exclusively centered on bubblegum bass.
UK Bass
Bubblegum Bass

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ReleasedArtistTitleReviewsRatingsScore
2011Dux ContentSuper Super Dux Mix8
3.10
2012GFOTY♂♡♥V♥DAY♥♡MIX♥♡♀9
3.32
2012Dux KidzNightspeeder7
2.87
2012A. G. CookIllamasqua 彩る Mix112
3.17
2012Serious ThugsLink Ting (Other Girls)13
2.85
2013FelicitaClimb Up Eh / Bring It121
2.82
2013A. G. CookCon/Hal x Logo Mix5
2.25
2013DJ WarlordWarlord Loves You15
2.83
2013SophieBipp / Elle16399
3.61
2013easyFuneasyFun EP231
3.26
2013GFOTYBobby360
3.08
2013Princess BambiLess Love More Sex144
2.84
2013Dux ContentLike You383
3.43
2013A. G. CookNu Jack Swung136
3.01
2013SophieBipp (Tielsie Remix)9
2.33
2013A. G. CookRadio Tank Mix267
3.53
2013DJ WarlordMeat SS14 Embassy Mix23
3.48
2013DreamtrakOdyssey, Pt. 2 (A. G. Cook Remix)25
3.49
2013A. G. CookPersonal Computer Music23
3.10
2013Tokyo HandsDown 4 U (DJ Warlord Edit)4
3.50
2013DJ WarlordJpeople Magazine x DJ Warlord8
3.32
2013Hannah DiamondPink and Blue11188
3.48
2013Life SimAll Life8
2.57
2013DJ DJ BoothHeaven (A.G. Cook Remix)239
3.17
2013A. G. CookCC Mix22
3.17
Page 1 2 3 >>

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