Two years ago on the Fourth of July I saw Maya Jane Coles play a set at one of Verboten’s all-day outdoor parties. It was scalding hot, and the party was held right on the Williamsburg waterfront. That might sound glamorous, but it’s basically just a huge slab of asphalt surrounded by old warehouses. Still, when Coles took over the boards, the heat went from ghastly to glimmering, the mood shifted from midday apathy to buzzy and focused. People crowded the front.
Since I witnessed a crowd of night owl electronic music fans reach that kind of excitement at 3 in the afternoon, I can personally attest that Coles’ new moniker Nocturnal Sunshine fits what she does like a glove. Working under her alter ego, Coles announced a new album of the same name will be out in May, and shared the first single “Take Me There.” Obviously, there aren’t a lot of female producers working in the electronic community, let alone earning the kind of accolades within its ranks that Cole has received. There are even fewer who can morph between the house music she composes and plays under her given name and the dark, satiny dubstep of Nocturnal Sunshine. But, it seems like electronic music has never been more akin to being considered pop itself — Nicki Minaj’s “Truffle Butter” samples Coles’ three-year-old song “What They Say” and has been getting considerable radio airplay. Sure, that’s due in large part to Drake, Nicki and Wayne’s star power, but the song has also thrust Coles’ gloomy, luxurious sound to the forefront.
It also makes sense for Coles to transition back to Nocturnal Sunshine since she released one of her best early songs, “Can’t Hide The Way I Feel,” under that name. And if Nocturnal Sunshine is going to be what finally tips off the rest of the world to the British producer’s brilliance, “Take Me There” is a great start. It fiddles with echoing, high-pitched vocal samples that insist on attention in the way a hook would on a pop song. Meanwhile, expansive beats and jeering synths flesh out the song, keeping it in eerie, early-morning-hours territory. Listen below and watch out for more from Nocturnal Sunshine, this is her year. (For a full-fledged introduction to Coles’ music this is a pretty comprehensive and representative set.)
Here’s the full Nocturnal Sunshine tracklist:
01 “Intro” (Holding On)
02 “Believe” (Feat. Chelou)
03 “It’s Alright”
04 “Take Me There”
07 “Down By The River” (Feat. Catnapp)
08 “Bass Bin”
09 “Can’t Hide The Way I Feel”
Nocturnal Sunshine is out 5/26 via Coles’ own label I/AM/ME. Pre-order it here.