On September 4, Raund Haus cofounder Hubbble released “The Plot (Thickens),” a gorgeous new hypnotic house single. Inspired by the dreary cityscapes of Glengarry Glenn Ross, David Mamet’s expletive-laden satire of American capitalism, the song’s elegiac mood evokes desolate rain-soaked streets, abandoned storefronts, and empty subway cars.

The two main ingredients are a string sample from the film’s jazz noir soundtrack and a four-to-the-floor kick drum. Other than a brief half-tempo interlude, Hubbble wisely restrains the song from taking too many twists and turns. Instead, he allows the groove to patiently stretch out so we can luxuriate in its dark atmosphere. 

What really distinguishes “The Plot (Thickens)” are the gauzy textures Hubbble wraps around the entire track. The strings sound slightly degraded, as if the producer brushed reel-to-reel tape with a few strokes of sandpaper. The low end feels distorted—not enough to overpower the mesmerizing ambiance, but just enough to add a little extra unease and forward momentum. Extra dimensions of sonic decay are produced by soulful saxophone lines that dip in and out. 

If the Burial comparisons aren’t obvious by now, Hubbble still carves out a unique space in a crowded field of sonic sorcerers. The muscular rhythmic drive of “The Plot (Thickens)” gives the song dancefloor credibility; its somber pensiveness and unrelenting bass could readily find a home in a typical DJ set, perhaps in that indefinable phase after the peak-hour techno bangers have all been rinsed, but the melancholic comedown has yet to fully make its appearance. 

Of course, given the reality of our current locked-down existence, the track’s dance-floor readiness will remain confined to the listener’s imagination. But Hubbble has created a club-worthy track whose introspective melodies and distinctive textures can still be enjoyed in the (dis)comfort of our own homes. —Yair Rubinstein

Guess good things do come in threes: In mid-August, not long before local electro-poppers Body Games released an EP in retro-game form, and Sylvan Esso recreated its “Ferris Wheel” video in Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Durham beat-music label Raund Haus quietly dropped FootRocket’s Block Adventurer OST: Adrift, its own entry into the video-game game. 

It’s the soundtrack for a forthcoming Minecraft-style indie game where apparently you “build hot-air balloons to travel to distant islands,” and this sense of soaring motion couldn’t be a better fit for the local producer whose zeal for freerunning always translates into his zippy, nimble footwork and dreamy hip-hop productions.

Video game music has come a long way since the bleeps and honks produced by the Nintendo Entertainment System’s rudimentary five-channel sound chip, and instead of being straitened by the form, Foot seems freed by it, unleashing an emotive soft-synth odyssey packed with gooey melodies and punchy, propulsive rhythms. We get glassy ambient sunrises, dewy boom-bap, yearning wordless anthems, and blue-lit nighttime vibes, all imbued with the solitary wonder peculiar to video games.

Find it and Hubbble’s new single on Raund Haus’s Bandcamp page, along with another new release, On the Map. The beat tape by b0nds x fushou is a moody take on instrumental hip-hop, as studiously classic as FootRocket is musically unbound. —Brian Howe

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