Boiler Room: an hour with Ben UFO (DJ Mix)
Despite his low-key presence on stage and social media, and despite having nary a production credit to his name, Ben UFO is one of the most celebrated DJs in underground dance music. The reason for his respect is simple: impeccable taste and a killer sense of sequencing—plus the fact that he tends to get his hands on key releases long before the rest of us. To wit: A sizable chunk of the tracks on his 2021 Boiler Room set are IDs, which is to say their identity is unknown to all but a small handful of insiders. In this sense, a Ben UFO set is always a glimpse of the future. This an hour with mix actually begins on a classic note: Nation of Noiz’s “Xes Noiz,” which blends house and dub reggae, is a lost cut from the ‘90s, sounds like it could have been made at any point in the late ’80s, while downstairs J’s “Solid Air City” flashes back to the dreamiest strains of ’90s old-school trip-hop. But he wastes little time moving into more otherworldly fare, like the zoned-out techno of Amandra and Karim’s “Sqala 4.2” or the next-generation jungle of PLOY’s “Molotov.” While Ben UFO has some of the most experimental crates in dance music, he keeps his Boiler Room session focused on moving bodies—hence a cheeky hip-hop-sampling speed-garage edit about halfway through, or the bare-knuckled breakbeat techno of Pearson Sound’s “Alien Mode.” Wrapping up with gauzy, atmospheric cuts from Monolake and Ase Manual, the whole thing makes for a spellbinding mix of heady textures and visceral thrills.