Have you ever got into a smoking area conversation with someone who arguably reads too much into dance music, or at least too much for a casual conversation with someone who is off their nut? That person is our new features editor, Will Soer, someone whose analysis of dance music's meaning has manifested itself in a 50 page masters thesis, a 32 page one-off magazine, and many a smoking area-ramble. Having come back from the bar with a can of Coconut Water, he picks 10 of his favourite 'Liminal State' dance records; records that double up as transition catalysts, warm up and cool down tracks perfect for dancefloors and sofas alike.
Tevo Howard - The Age of Compassion (original)
The more popular version of this track is a 'house mix' that underlines those bouncy synths with a thudding beat, but this one is great for reflecting on the human tones of dance music, particularly if you're in such a fragile state that drums don't feel good right now… Avalon Emerson's 'Synthapella' (what a gorgeous word) version of her track The Frontier is another great example of this.
Portico Quartet - Ruins
This comes from the band's awesome self-titled album, something I absolutely smashed during alevels revision. I'd recommend listening to the track without watching the video and once with, as it's pretty astonishing to see how they create such a full, coherent warm sound as a set of individual musicians.
SND - 1,193
The first time I heard this I thought it was a great, intelligent response to Burial's best work, easing up on the raw emotion and exploring that world of ghosts and glitches further. Turns out it was released by a duo from Sheffield in 1999. Madness! Its parent record is brilliant, really worth a listen.
Dante - Champagne Problems (HNNY Remix)
You wanna get deep? DO YA? SLAP THIS RECORD ON AND LET YA TEARS ROLL MATE. First played to me at an afters, following a brutal 5 hour Daniel Avery set, the aux-controller proceeded to play Dua Lipa's Be The One. The fact that it made for a natural transition track between Daniel and Dua is testament to how special this track is. I've listened since on an all-night bus with a broken wrist and on a midnight hilltop with my then-girlfriend, any time you feel a situation deserves some emotional icing.
Robag Wruhme - Tulpa Ovi
This comes from one of my favourite albums, a fragile gem of a record that feels like it was arranged by hand over years in a dusty sunlit workshop. Listening to it on headphones loosens up your surroundings, giving them more air and slipping sound effects under your feet.
Passmore - The Passive State
This one is more for raising you back to a state of rave intensity than cooling things down, ideal for listening on the walk to work on a Thursday, when you could do with a little slice of euphoria. Released on Lionoil, the uk's most underrated dance label…
Belief - Authr
Found this at the start of a DJ EZ set, it's got a faster tempo and more of a big room sound than anything else here, but I couldn't possible leave it out. I love the tenderness of the chords and the pressure-drop of the hook, they dovetail into something halfway between a hug and a teardrop.
Unknown Artist - Voodoo Way
Bannoffee Pies is one of my absolute favourite labels, they're self-descriptively genre-free, but everything they sign has this sheen of mysterious perfection. I bought this in Bristol on a visit, but it reminds me of walking around the city when I lived there, in a slight daze. That intimate, slick vocal is like making eye-contact with someone on a bus as they glide away from you, leaving a trace on your imagination.
Maya Jane Coles - Senseless
Annie Mac used to do this Sunday night radio show, that linked ornate dance and bedroom pop under in the bracket of medicinal music, music as a tonic, music as a healer. A lot of Maya's solo stuff has that quality, the sense of walking home in the half-light after a mind-imprinting rave, but this track has a particular place in my heart.
Bruce - The Trouble With Wilderness
This is the first track on an ep that chronologically describes Bruce's mental process after a breakup. It shows how great producers' work is imbued with their feelings; he said (in a must-read interview) that its creative process was the same as all his other work; 'Fucking with sound on my laptop in my bedroom. The only difference being that there were more tears this time round.'