Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Final Credits - Faves 2016

A long strange playlist for a long strange year, here are my personal favorite tracks of 2016, a year that felt more like an endless procession of Boschian nightmares than a standard measurement of the earth's rotation around the sun. 
  • Leonard Cohen - You Want It Darker 
  • Nicolas Jaar - Three Sides of Nazareth
  • Gonjasufi - Krishna Punk
  • Kiki Hitomi - Nightwalkers 
  • A Tribe Called Quest – Melatonin 
  • Mura Masa – Love$ick (ft. A$AP Rocky) (Four Tet Remix)
  • Mosca - Cedar Wood State (Volt mix)
  • Pearson Sound – XLB
  • J. Albert - See You At The Bank
  • Paul Woolford - No Requests (Special Request Fantasy FM Mix)
  • DJRum – Sometime I Share (Space Race Part 3)
  • Burial – Young Death
  • Willow - Untitled A2 (Workshop 23) 
  • Sofie Letitre - Perfect Mistake (The Thing With Five Eyes Remix)
  • Machine Woman - I Can Mend Your Broken Heart (Kassem Mosse Remix)
  • DJ QU - Lotus (feat. Charlotte Carter-Allen)
  • Midland - Final Credits
  • Hi & Saberhägen - WC122
  • Wbeeza – Ferguson
  • Neinzer - The Beacon
  • ZK Bucket - Your Body (drifter remix)
  • Isaac Tichauer - Higher Level (Bicep Mix)
  • Mano Le Tough - Energy Flow (DJ Koze's Splasher remix)
  • Bonus: Escape From New York - Fire In My Heart (Instrumental Dub)

Leonard Cohen - You Want It Darker 
“There's a lullaby for suffering, And a paradox to blame” 
In theme and tone this haunting track is the perfect investigation of the cold, dark fog that settled over this year and the struggle and desperation to glean any sense from it. That Cohen, like so many other great artists this year, delivered it and then walked off stage forever seems viciously appropriate.

Nicolas Jaar - Three Sides of Nazareth
“He said morality is dead on that side. It’s been thrown on the ground on this side.”
Nicolas Jaar sounding not a little bit like classic Never Never Land UNKLE? This is one of those moments when I feel like a solitary member of the target audience for a track.

Gonjasufi - Krishna Punk
Something about Callus left me a little flat, too many too short / too similar songs perhaps. But there are still a few transcendental moments and the inclusion of Pearl Thompson’s guitar (formerly of a little band called The Cure), turns out to be a brilliant counterpoint for all that hum and fuzz of the Sufi’s production and voice. Add some raga-punk urgency and I’m sold.

Kiki Hitomi - Nightwalkers 
Kiki Hitomi solo LP is as strange and wonderful as you would expect. This lurching late night fever dream of track is one of several highlights. 

A Tribe Called Quest – Melatonin 
“The world is crazy and I cannot sleep, but…”
One of the all too scarce comforts in this horror show death march of a year was that the Tribe LP was so good. Neither a nostalgic re-tread of past glory nor a pained break in new direction, We Got It From Here... is like an old friend turning up after years (18!) and immediately reminding you of why you used to hang so much. But even this was bitter-sweet with Phife passing just before it saw the light of day. 

Mura Masa – Love$ick (ft. A$AP Rocky) (Four Tet Remix)
The annual obligatory Four Tet entry. I don’t know a thing about Mura Masa but he and Rocky have a nice little pop song here, however when you add those Four Tet remix chops and that off-kilter yet driving percussion, it's insanely addicting, much like last year Chvrches rework and most likely next year’s yet unheard gem. 

Mosca - Cedar Wood State (Volt mix)
The electro b-boy bleeper meets Mosca’s next level production chops. In lesser hands this could have been a solid but forgettable DJ tool but instead it is as restless as it is relentless without feeling figety or overproduced. Someone needs to get this to the Showtime! kids on the train. 

Pearson Sound – XLB
In my mind this is a spiritual kin to Cedar Wood State albeit with more of its grime & UKF DNA at the surface. Again it is a pretty sparse affair but the production and sound design take it too another level. This is the sound of the stripped down experiments on last year’s LP being weaponized for the afterhours warehouse and was probably responsible for the most WTF dancefloor moments of the year. 

J. Albert - See You At The Bank
Ridgewood QNS representing. Not sure if the title is a shout out to the classic Houston St. club - pretty sure J. Albert is young enough that his mom could have been an og regular - but there is something just the right side of nostalgic in this one.

Paul Woolford - No Requests (Special Request Fantasy FM Mix) 
The best bit of the Special Request project is that it’s not just jungle tropes being repurposed, it’s the whole of English underground, so you get early hardcore and even a bit of speed garage in the mnix for good measure. I’m also a big fan of having your weirdo alias remix your tracks even if it may be psychologically questionable.

DJRum – Sometime I Share (Space Race Part 3)
A return to form for DJRum. Something in the vibe of this one, that R&B vocal juxtaposed with the rawness of the break and bassline, reminds me of classic Stuck on Earth, backroom at Vinyl, jump-up jungle. Those hand claps weaving in and out of the breaks though, that's something all together fresh.

Burial – Young Death
The return of the year end Burial release.  This one reaches back to classic Untrue, though the trance chords and sudden tempo changes of the newer materials are still here.  The result is an uneasy balance of the familiar and unknown, a dynamic that has been essential to Burial's work since South London Boroughs. 

Willow - Untitled A2 (Workshop 23) 
Talk about killing it on your first official release. This is the paradigm for a less is more approach, stripping everything back to the essentials and then just finessing the groove. Fathoms deep. Can't wait to hear more.

Sofie Letitre - Perfect Mistake (The Thing With Five Eyes Remix)
The return of Jason Kohnen, aka Bong-Ra, and essential member of my two fave dark jazz outfits The Killminjaro Darkjazz Ensemble and Mount Fuji Doomjazz Corp. Here in his new guise adding just enough doom to Ms. Letitre gorgeous vocal to make all the hair on your neck stand up. Also check Live at The Nocturnus for the full Thing experience.

Machine Woman - I Can Mend Your Broken Heart (Kassem Mosse Remix)
This team up was always going to killer, but this defied my expectations. Hypnotic and otherworldly, on a good set of headphones this track will lure you in and re-wire your neurons with each haunting refrain. 

DJ QU - Lotus (feat. Charlotte Carter-Allen)
DJ QU can do no wrong.  That deep soulful vocal in an uneasy marriage to a raw-af growler of a bassline, the percussion constantly threatening to run off the rails but still propelling you forward. No one but QU does it like this. 

Midland - Final Credits
If you found yourself raving on boat, rooftop or sweaty warehouse this summer you most likely witnessed the power of this one to whip a crowd into a sweat soaked frenzy.  From the teasing first cords building through to the massive climax worked every time. Add that huge melancholy, hell down right depressing vocal, for a year that had no time for songs about love and understanding and this one was a lock for underground anthem of the summer.

Hi & Saberhägen - WC122
After wearing out sections of Four Tet and Ben UFO sets to listen to this one it finally gets a release. It’s pretty straight forward but those chords and that strained vocal sample get me every time.

Wbeeza – Ferguson
A big, rolling slab of UK House, with just enough Detroit to give it serious resonance.  Pretty one just runs dark and deep for days,

Neinzer - The Beacon
Sometime around December of last year Ben UFO starting playing two wonderfully weird tracks that he conspicuously never named and never turned up on the tracklists of his Rinse shows.  These tacks would turn out the be The Fear and it's flip side The Beacon by Neinzer, a produce had never heard of.  By the time The Beacon finally hit wax in the fall, a certain strain of headz had worked themselves into a full on frenzy.  After wearing out sections of radio shows listening to in on heavy repeat, the obsession final hit its apex when I got to witness Ben and Joy-O drop The Beacon at Sublimate, in a sweaty warehouse while early morning light poured through a filthy skylight.    

ZK Bucket - Your Body (Drifter remix)
Isaac Tichauer - Higher Level (Bicep Mix)
In a year where my sunrise moments were more often found at the gym than the club/rave, teh combination of these two tracks in the hands of Ame & Dixon were my sunrise gym anthem. Absolutely cathartic and revelatory while staying just on the right side of cheese the way only the Innervisions crew can do it.

Mano Le Tough - Energy Flow (DJ Koze's Splasher remix)
No, subtle this one is not, but like everything Koze touches, it is a total fucking joy.

Bonus: Escape From New York - Fire In My Heart (Instrumental Dub)
Pressed in a run of 500 copies in 1984 and then lost to obscurity, until DJ Harvey played it on Boiler Room and broke the internet / Discogs.  A timely re-issue on new sub-label Isle o Jura followed and quickly resulting in that hug baseline rolling through my head when I woke every morning from May – August. Revenge from the two dollar bin. 

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Favorite Track of 2015

  • Auntie Flo – Mother Theresa
  • Call Super – Meltintu
  • Roman Flügel - Sliced Africa
  • CHVRCHES - Leave A Trace (Four Tet remix)
  • Jamie xx – Lou Places (John Talabot’s Loud Synths Reconstruction)
  • Matt Karmil – Moment
  • Niagara – Falcão
  • Lena Willikens - Howlin Lupus
  • Joey Anderson - Under Water
  • Future Poets – Infected
  • Skee Mask – Junt
  • Caiazzo – Refraction
  • Physical Therapy – Hit the Breaks
  • Lake Haze x IVVVO ‎– #1
  • Taro Tokugawa - Here My Dear
  • Damian Lazarus & The Ancient Moons ‎– Vermillion (&Me Remix)
  • Plastikman – Expand (Tale of Us remix)
  • Rrose – Vellum
  • Levon Vincent - Woman Is An Angel
  • BNS: C.A.R. - Idle Eyes (Roman Flügel Remix)

A single list this year.  Very few vocals, absolutely no Hip-Hop, pop or R&B, which probably has more to do with my personal listening habits than any larger musical trends. I just wasn't in to listening to people singing about sh*t this year.

[note: do not be fooled by the breezy melodic tone of the first third, things eventually take a dark, aggressive turn and stick to the left hand path from there]

Auntie Flo – Mother Theresa
Breezy keys, swung percussion, and those lush horn licks, this initial offering from Flo and Esa’s excellent Highlife World Series has it all. Serious sunny Sunday afternoon vibes.

Call Super – Meltintu
I found both sides of this 12" extremely addicting.  Perfectly balanced percussion and gorgeous melody that lingers like the smell of spring rain.

Roman Flügel - Sliced Africa
This track is so vibrant, so percussively busy, yet nothing is superfluous or out of place.  Guaranteed to put a smile on your face.  

CHVRCHES - Leave A Trace (Four Tet remix)
Another insanely good year for Kieran Hebden who I am becoming increasingly convinced is actually a small army of clones.  There were any number of tracks that could have taken the annual Hebden slot on this list: Digital Arpeggios, his Hot Chip remix, either side of the beautifully left field Morning/Evening LP, even the epic Eric Prydz remix, but this one has just enough pop bliss to bring me back to it again and again.

Jamie xx – Loud Places (John Talabot’s Loud Synths Reconstruction)
The Talabot/ xx combination is always a guaranteed stunner and it’s no different here, where Talabot takes the stand out track from In Colour and makes it simultaneously deeper and more soaring without losing sight of the vibe of the original.  Also check out it’s even deeper, dubbier sister mix
Matt Karmil – Moment
Hands down my summer jam of choice even if it didn’t really come out until fall.  Which left me having to rewind an eight minute section of Axel Bowman’s mix for BiS so many times that I'm surprised I didn't wear our the mp3 like an old Maxell UR 90. 

Niagara – Falcão
This is an absolutely filthy stomper.  A much more organic and groove conscious sound than his fellow Lisbon/Principe producers.

Lena Willikens - Howlin Lupus
Lena Willikens' first Cómeme release is a perfect reflection of her rightfully revered DJ style, dark, category defying and unapologetically weird while still having a cohesive drive that works on more open-minded dance floors.

Joey Anderson - Under Water
One of those tracks that on good headphones or a big club system not just sounds but actually feels like it’s disassembling grey wet bits inside of your skull.  All the swirling synths and off beat percussion convey an uneasy sense that the track will fly apart at any moment into chaotic sheets of noise but it never does, the groove buried deep in it's DNA keeps everything moving forward even though it feels like time is standing still.

Future Poets – Infected
My favorite track from the Audio Rehab / deep tech universe.  Though the dreamy vocals about being infected are a little off-putting. Also check out MyDon and ambitiously named Marcellus Wallace.

Skee Mask – Junt
Huge year for the Zenker Bors. / Ilian Tapes crew.  Their style of breaks/hardcore influenced German techno.  This was my favorite of the lot but pretty much everything they released was killer.

Caiazzo – Refraction
A gritty analog growler from the always on point Work Them camp.  Refraction twists and mutates into all manner of sinister shapes without ever taking it’s foot of the gas.

Physical Therapy – Hit the Breaks
Winner of this year’s “what it says on the tin” award.  I’m not advocating for a new school breaks revival, but sometimes all you really want is a chopped and stuttering breakbeat and monstrously ugly bassline.  If it comes with an added layer of analog hum and grit, all the better.

Lake Haze x IVVVO ‎– #1
The ambitiously named #1 sounds like someone found a classic late 90s trance 12” that had repeatedly been used to cut out rails of Ket with a rusted razorblade and just threw the mangled, gak grooved vinyl on the turntable and let it rip, albeit with the cheesy drops and drum rolls thankfully excised.  

Taro Tokugawa - Here My Dear
The rarest of treats in the internet age – a complete mystery. I can’t track down any information on or other productions by Taro Tokugawa.  All I know is this track came out on a series curated by Samo out of Sweden.  Furthermore, Here My Dear appears to exist out of time and place with only the rushing synths that rise up a third of the way through giving any indication that it is a contemporary recording.  In any event it’s totally enchanting and rewards repeated, obsessive listening. 

Damian Lazarus & The Ancient Moons ‎– Vermillion (&Me Remix)
&Me has become a can’t miss producer over the last few years.  This year saw the mighty Woods get played by just about everyone, but this mix, that matches that meditative &Me percussion and dramatic builds with the psychedelic vibe and quasi-occult lyrics of Damian Lazarus full band project The Ancient Moons hits the sweet spot for this aging raver-magus.

Plastikman – Expand (Tale of Us remix)
The first time I heard this out, not knowing what it was, I thought it sounded like the ghost of Spastic submerged within a 2015 melodic deep house track.  Turned out that was more or less what it was.

Rrose – Vellum
A lot of techno from the dark industrial side of the spectrum tries to sound like this but none of it has the uniquely personal and subtle touches that Rrose productions have.  A singular voice that stands out from the clanging, brooding, glut of post-Ancient Methods techno.
Levon Vincent - Woman Is An Angel
Levon Released his self-titled LP back in February and it still stands up as one of the best of the year.  Woman is Angel and and the epic Launch Ramp to the Sky were the stand outs but this is the track that stops hearts in the club as well as on headphones. 

Bonus: C.A.R. - Idle Eyes (Roman Flügel Remix)
This track was not released this year, and actually sounds like it could have been produced anytime in the last three decades.  But, thanks to Lena Willikens blowing minds when she dropped it at Good Room earlier in the year, it was the de facto theme song of 2016 for me and mine.  

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Favorite Tracks of 2014 - uptempo / aggy / dancefloor edition

  • Flowdan - Ambush (produced by Footsie) 
  • Addison Groove feat. DJ Rashad - U Been Gone 
  • Percussions – KHLHI 
  • Sade - Stronger Than Pride (Fo' Sho' Karizma Remix) 
  • Kowton – Glock and Roll 
  • MFO - Slow Run in Our Dreams 
  • Fluxion - You Don’t Know (Joey Anderson Remix) 
  • Deadbeat & Paul St Hilaire - Little Darling 
  • &ME - After Dark 
  • Talaboman – Sideral 
  • Pional - It's All Over (John Talabot Remix) 
  • Pangaea – Pob 
  • Randomer – Bring 
  • The Bug feat. Manga – Function 
  • DJ Rashad & DJ Spinn – On Site

Flowdan - Ambush (produced by Footsie)
A welcomed return to form for the mighty Flowdan this year with several devastating tracks with soul brother Kevin Martin and an EP for Hyperdub.  Each track was killer.  This Footsie production was my favorite.

Addison Groove feat. DJ Rashad - U Been Gone
One of several bitter-sweet posthumously released gems by Rashad. This time partnered with Addison Groove, the chopped soul vocals drip with extra resonance.  RIP Rashad. 

Percussions – KHLHI
That track Four Tet, Daphni and Jamie played that at first I thought was annoying, and then I became obsessed with and now it would probably be best if I didn't hear it again for six months or so.  

Sade - Stronger Than Pride (Fo' Sho' Karizma Remix)
That unmistakable Karizma percussion, all that low end rush and swing, and then a full three minutes in, after you have forgotten all about it, that Sade vocal drops and you're dancing like a fool,  whether you want to or not.

Kowton – Glock and Roll
A proper dark rolla, yet definitely a proper house track, hmm..

MFO - Slow Run in Our Dreams
Deep heady, eyes down material. House music to get lost in.

Fluxion - You Don’t Know (Joey Anderson Remix)
Is there a Bristol/Jersey axis of dark paranoid house music, or does it just sound like there is? Either way no one did skunked out,  introspective house music better in 2014 than Joey Anderson. The extra dread vibes on this remix make it my favorite of his many essential releases this year.

Deadbeat & Paul St Hilaire - Little Darling
A slightly different look from the legendary producer and vocalist.  The Tikiman's often languid lyrics here given bounce and urgency through a straight 4/4 treatment with brilliant results.

&ME - After Dark
Big room track of the summer,  even if I didn't know what it was until the fall.

Talaboman – Sideral
Serious earworm melody business.

Pional - It's All Over (John Talabot Remix)
Bitter-sweet baeleric vibes,  haunting a hypnotic,  I wake up humming this at least once a week. Talabot's Remix gives the track a little more drive (and those woodblock hits)

Pangaea – Pob
Proper metallic techno but with just enough hardcore/jungle vibe buried in its DNA to lend it serious physical presence. Unstoppable on the Output sound system.

Randomer – Bring
Technically released late in 2013, this was one of my most listened to tracks of 2014. None more dark and sinister, always riding the delicate line between proper menace and cartoon caricature, this one will instantly transport you to a sweaty basement or smoked filled warehouse, that is if you're not already there.

The Bug feat. Manga – Function
Angels & Devils was one of those LPs deep enough that every week you had different favorite track.  Of the Devils tracks this one makes the list for it's fresh perspective on the classic Bug formula.

DJ Rashad & DJ Spinn – On Site
This track cannot be beat for sheer WTF factor but the real surprise is how much it rewards repeat listening. Nothing so chaotic and aggressive should be this enjoyable. RIP Rashad. 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Favorite Tracks of 2014 - downtempo / headphone meditation / home listening edition

• The Bug – Black Wasp
• Fatima Al Qadiri – Shanghai Freeway 
• Rome Fortune – One Time For (Produced by Four Tet)
• Little Dragon - Klapp Klapp (Nosaj Thing remix,  feat. Future) 
• Thom Yorke – The is No Ice (For My Drink)
• FKA Twigs – Two Weeks
• Jamie xx - Sleep Sound
• letthemusicplay Feat. Kate Tempest - Our Town (Joe Goddard Dub)
• Morgan Zarate - Sticks & Stones (feat. Eska & Ghostface Killah)
• Bilal - SIRENS II  (Produced by Adrian Younge and Ali Shaheed Muhammad)
• Snow Ghosts - Secret Garden (Matthew Herbert's Wash It All Away Remix)
• Shabazz Palaces - Forerunner Foray
• Martyn & copeland - Love Of Pleasure
• Kode9 & The Spaceape - The Devil Is A Liar.
• Andy Stott - Violence

The Bug – Black Wasp
The slightly scruzzier kid sister to Angels opener Void. Kevin Martin and Liz Grouper are potent combo leading you down a late night alleyway where the shimmer of neon on wet brickwork puts the summer sun to shame.

Fatima Al Qadiri – Shanghai Freeway
Even though some of the aesthetics of that made Al Qadiri a revelation have been adopted and repurposed by some of the new breed grime producers, her tracks still sound like nothing else out there. This is world building through sound design. 

Rome Fortune – One Time For (Produced by Four Tet)
I’m not so sure about some of the lyrics (why is a b*tch or two cool even revelatory in a party banger, but slow things down to an introspective tone and I cringe).  But Four Tet’s beat coupled with Fortune’s mellow hypnotic delivery is just too enchanting to put down.

Little Dragon - Klapp Klapp (Nosaj Thing remix,  feat. Future)
Nothing against Little Dragon but I find them best consumed via remixes.  I’m not sure this is technically the best of the lot from their new LP, but it has just enough warmth and percussive drive to get the job done and rewards repeat listening.

Thom Yorke – There is No Ice (For My Drink)
Is it just me or can you perfectly picture a forlorn, pre-dawn Yorke staring down at a room temperature gin & tonic with all the disappointment and loss of an eight year old standing over his dead puppy? I feel you Thom, I do.

FKA Twigs – Two Weeks
In which our heroine levels-up to the big time pop star game and manages to keep most of what was originally intriguing about her work intact 

Jamie xx - Sleep Sound
A touch disappointing at first listen, but man is this one a grower, rapturous in a dark club but also perfect for a mediative bus ride on a rainy afternoon.

letthemusicplay Feat. Kate Tempest - Our Town (Joe Goddard Dub)
A favorite of Mr. xx’s DJ sets this year.  I loved it when I first heard it last winter, then forgot about it for a minute, then heard it again in a sunny field on the outskirts of Amsterdam and it was like bumping into an old friend while thousands of miles from home.
Morgan Zarate - Sticks & Stones (feat. Eska & Ghostface Killah)
For long time Benji B listeners this was one of the great lost dubs. Doing the rounds at least as far back as 2009, this stone cold slab of soul finally got a proper release this year on the Hyperdub 5.2 comp and still sounds unquestionably fresh.

Bilal - SIRENS II  (Produced by Adrian Younge and Ali Shaheed Muhammad)
If this is a sign of the LP to come, 2015 is going to be a big year for Bilal.  My only gripe is that it’s too short. I usually find myself looping it three and four times in a row until I get my fix.

Snow Ghosts - Secret Garden (Matthew Herbert's Wash It All Away Remix)
The vocals and keys here are so fucking inviting.  Set them against percussion wound up with just  the right amount of potential chaos and throw in a judicious amount of low end drive and sway and I am all in.

Shabazz Palaces - Forerunner Foray
Shabazz Palaces are absolutely on their own cosmic level.  Thank the stars they’ve manage to send transmissions back from there back to us earthbound mortals.

Martyn & copeland - Love Of Pleasure
Has Martyn ever sounded this filthy? Not that this is not a Martyn track, his production chops are all still here, but copeland’s sweet/cold vocals free him up to push all the levels into the red and revel in the distortion and feedback.  I do with an full LP of this.

Kode9 & The Spaceape - The Devil Is A Liar
A powerful swan song for one of my favorite vocalists/poets.  RIP Spaceape.

Andy Stott - Violence
If I had to choose just one track of the year it would be this one.  Simultaneously beautiful and terrifying, the track seductively lures you into its embrace and then, just as you’ve lost sight of the exits, it begins to tear itself apart, threatening to take your mind apart in the process.  If you listen to it three times in a row on your way to work, you may have an out of body experience, or so I’ve heard. 

Monday, December 30, 2013

Favorite Tracks of 2013 – the uptempo/dancefloor/experimental/aggy-as-f**k/ear-buds not recommended edition

  • Theo Parrish & Tony Allen – Day Like This (feat Eska & Andrew Ashong)
  • DJ Rashad – Let It Go
  • Kode9 – Uh
  • The Bug – Freakshow (feat Danny Brown & Kiki Hitomi) / Dirty (feat Flowdan)
  • Boddika & Joy Orbison – Mercy (Boddika VIP)
  • Demdike Stare – Collision
  • Tessela – Hackney Parrot (Special Request VIP)
  • Four Tet – Kool FM
  • Pedestrian & Jasperdrum – Kalkuta vs Zombie (PEDit)
  • Culoe De Song – No Contest
  • Jeremy Deller – Voodoo Ray (Optimo remix)
  • Doc Daneeka – Trife Pt. II
  • Deadboy – On My Mind
  • Mala – Como Como (Theo Parrish remix)

Theo Parrish & Tony Allen – Day Like This (feat Eska & Andrew Ashong)
Two absolute legends link-up to launch Parrish's new label and the results are as brilliant as one could imagined. A master class in subtlety and dynamic rhythm. This was the perfect soundtrack to both the sweaty sun-bleached afternoons and cool summer nights of 2013.

DJ Rashad – Let It Go
Rashad's Hyperdub output demonstrated that Juke/Footwork is as much a technique as it is a musical style. Like a Cubist painter applying a series of techniques to reinterpret the world around her, Rashad applies the footwork's methods to a seemingly endless pool of musical raw material to produce unique takes on the sound. In this case he recontextualizes classic 'ardcore euphoria into a fresh and dynamic experience.

Kode9 – Uh
2013 saw the first Kode9 releases in some time. This track, released alongside his excellent Rinse mix CD, is a bit more straight forward than the excellent Xing Fu on Hyperdub, and more effective for it. Where some of Rashad's tracks saw him re-coding London bass music history through the lens of Chicago footwork, Kode9's recent work sees him taking the dynamic rhythms and quantized samples of footwork and running them through the filter of UK bass culture, the results are a new mutation of the UK bass virus that can still trace its DNA back to Sign of the Dub.

The Bug – Freakshow (feat Danny Brown & Kiki Hitomi) / Dirty (feat Flowdan)
I refuse to choose between these brutal sonic weapons. Both are slightly tweaked versions of the same Bug riddim. Freakshow finds Danny Brown's frantic flow juxtapozed with Kiki Hitomi's haunting hook to brilliant effect. Dirty on the other hand is the most recent weaponized strain of the always on point collaboration between Kevin Martin and Flowdan, possibly their best since the mighty Skeng.

 Boddika & Joy Orbison – Mercy (Boddika VIP)
The mighty Mercy VIP finally sees release to the masses and it just seems to increase the longevity of what in better world would be a lock for Christmas No. 1. To hear this on the massive Output soundsystem is to witness the sound of steel girders that support reality itself being rend and twisted into unrecognizable new structures.

Demdike Stare – Collision
An estranged kin of the Modern Love's Hate series, Demdike Stare's Test Pressing releases see them mining the sounds of classic jungle and remodeling them for their own oblique purposes. This, the first of the series , sees Demdike Stare sounding much like classic Panacea built with strategies and technology the producer could only have dreamed of in '97.

Tessela – Hackney Parrot (Special Request VIP)
"Right listen - I've just been told anyone who's got a fiesta parked inside the Market, you best move it or you're walking home. Right? Come with the Music..."

Four Tet – Kool FM
The initial calling card, or warning shot ahead of Four Tet's masterful love letter to pirate radio. If this is not ruff e nuff for you check the huge Champion remix.

Pedestrian & Jasperdrum – Kalkuta vs Zombie (PEDit)
The original Kalkuta is a big tune in its own right, but this PEDit by the man himself, with it's afrobeat inspiration on full display, is even better. (also check for Auntie Flows redit for more Fela for the dancefloor love)

Culoe De Song – No Contest
In truth, my favorite track is De Song's mix of Bright Forest (remix) / No Contest / Birds of the Feather on his Red & Blue podcast, which I rewound so many times I'm surprised I haven't worn the bits away in the mp3. The brilliant rhythm of No Contest is the anchor and drive of that mix and certainly stands strong on its own.

Jeremy Deller – Voodoo Ray (Optimo remix)
What could be more quintessentially 2013 than a steel drum heavy cover of a rave classic created by an multi-media artist for the Venice Biennial and then returned to its dancefloor roots with a remix by Glaswegian House hedonists. All of that meta-narrative wouldn't mean jack if the track wasn't brilliant, but thankfully it is stone cold killer.

Doc Daneeka – Trife Pt. II
Walk On In has the dancefloor heft but something about this dark and deep, stripped-back slow burner hit's me in all the right places.  That massive rolling bassline makes it absolutely addicting.

Deadboy – On My Mind
Deadboy's ability to craft haunting sub-heavy house tracks for dark cavernous rooms continues to grow in strength with each release.

Mala – Como Como (Theo Parrish remix)
Theo Parrish bookends the list with this absolutely beautiful remix. The master flushes out those elements that made Mala's original so appealing and then elevates them to another level. Quite possibly perfect.

BONUS: Four Tet – The Track I've Been Playing That People Keep Asking About and That Joy Used in His RA Mix

Four Tet handily beats Joy O for most over the top, and literal, track title ever.  Despite being given away for free to the masses, and as far I know being nearly unmixable, this chaotic ruckus of  a tune ignited more dancefloor riots than any other in 2013.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Favorite Tracks of 2013 - the downtempo/hip-hop/r&b/folks-singing-about-sh*t edition

It was a weird year for music. Much like last year, there was a wealth of really good music but very little in terms of absolutely amazing music, but that could just be me not digging deep enough through all the noise of a post-internet mediascape. These are some of my favorite home listening tracks of the last year (dancefloor, etc. list to follow at some point)
  • Typesun – The PL
  • Tinashe – Boss (Ryan Hemsworth remix)
  • Tre Mission – Brunch
  • Paul White – Street Lights (feat. Danny Brown)
  • Kelela – Enemy (prod. by Nguzunguzu)
  • Future Brown – Wanna Party (feat. Tink)
  • Le1f – Pocahontas (feat. Kitty Pryde – Prod. By Drippin)
  • Djrum – Honey
  • James Blake – Retrograde
  • Just Friends – Avalanche (Shlohmo remix)
  • Emika – Sleep With My Enemies
  • Various Production – Opus
  • The Knife – Without You My Life Would Be Boring
  • King Midas Sound – Aroo
Typesun – The PL
I'm a sucker for a stripped back, backbeat driven R&B croon and this is as good as they come.

Tinashe – Boss (Ryan Hemsworth remix)
It was a big year for the One Man Boy Band with his well received EP and debut LP not to mention the killer Cat Power X Angel Haze remix. But, I just kept coming back to this one, the mix of sweet and tuff is just perfect. Even if it was leaked last year I listened to non-stop in 2013 so it sneaks in on a technicality.

Tre Mission – Brunch
If this kid ever decides to rhyme about something other than girls and his rep the Kendrick's and ASAPs of the game will be in serious trouble. Extra points to whoever managed to bite Clams Casino on the beat.

Paul White – Street Lights (feat. Danny Brown)
To my ears, the best (so far?) of the fruitful collaborations between Mr. White and Mr. Brown. Beats just weird and chaotic enough to match that wild flow but still with enough forward momentum to keep the tack upright.

Kelela – Enemy (prod. by Nguzunguzu)
In the spring Kelela appeared as if from nowhere. I first saw her singing live on a Kingdom set at Output, then w/ L-Vis 1990 at PS1, then came the jaw dropping grime mix by Bok Bok. By the time Cut 4 Me dropped the word was out and underground was buzzing. Kelela is at her best on dark, ruffed up grime beats that would chew up other vocalists, and this one, by the increasingly on point Nguzunguzu, is her best so far.

Future Brown – Wanna to Party (feat Tink)
The avant-bass & beats super group comprised of Nguzunguzu, Fatima-al-Qadiri and J Cush teamed up with the equally about-to-blow-up Tink and somehow managed to roll out a club banger from a post-geographic future that transcends the sum of its impressive parts. When the LP drops in 2014 the game may very well be irreparably changed.

Le1f – Pocahontas
Le1f showed some breadth and subtlety in 2013 releasing two killer mixtapes, Fly Zone and Tree House. While the slower, deeper and more nuanced tracks were absolutely stunning, I'm still a sucker for what the man himself calls “banjee,masculine, aggressive, club tracks" that filled his debut, Dark York, and of which Pocahontas still fits the bill. Hell the beat is so cunty that even the normally dreadful Kitty Pryde sounds tight.

Djrum – Honey
My favorite track from Djrum's somewhat lackluster debut LP. This one still has some of the tension between widescreen soundscapes and thick as molasses hum and crackle that made the initial EPs so consuming. Also check his excellent remix of singer songwriter Jono McCleery.

James Blake – Retrograde
I could have picked Life Round Here or the massive dub version of Voyeur but the fact is after a hundred+ listens this one still gives my shivers down my spine. That makes it the best of the lot.

Just Friends – Avalanche (Schlohmo remix)
The original is a thing of great beauty for sure, but there is something about this sliced and submerged remix that is stands all on its own. Like Hemsworth, Schlohmo manages to rend genuine emotion out of aquatic synths and off-kilter beats like some sort of Abelton conjuring wizard.

Emika – Sleep With My Enemies
Twisted sub-bass eneveloped torch song? Yes please!

Various – Opus
After a moment of relative quite from the Various lab, the mysterious production team reemerged this year. This eyes down, abyss-staring epic is their best work in a years.

The Knife – Without You My Life Would Be Boring
The most straight forward track from the wonderfully uneven and infuriating Shaking the Habitual.

King Midas Sound – Aroo
“My Bloody Valentine in dub” - shortly after Roger Robinson uttered those bass-weighted words came proof of concept in the form of Aroo. If this is, as it appears to be, the warning shoot ahead of the groups next LP, then we are in for a aural onslaught like no other.

BONUS: Mikey J - Rock & The UK Female Allstars – Roc The Mic ( feat. Amplify Dot, Baby Blue, Lioness, RoxXxan, Mz Bratt and Lady Leshurr)

Mikey J & The UK Female Allstars - Rock The Mic [Music Video] from Trail Pictures on Vimeo.

This came out last year, but Kelly found it this year on some deep youtube digging binge and I listened it pretty much non-stop ever since. Pure verbal fire over a deadly serious war beat. The best pose cut in the last two years on either side of the Atlantic (and 2Chains isn't even in it)

Monday, December 31, 2012

Thirteen of '12 - Instrumental / Dancefloor edition

2012 was an example of the old theory that tough socio-economic times breed great underground clubbing. Props go out to all the promoters who have been grinding for the last few years. Their persistence looks to have paid off in one of the best dance party years in recent memory. Specifically Bunker, Turrbotax, Discovery, Verboten and Percussion Lab as well as newcomer to NYC from Chi-town Lit City.

Here are some of my favorite Instrumental / Dancefloor tracks of the last year. They appear in no particular order and this list is nowhere near complete.

  1. Fatima Al Qadiri – Hydra
  2. Girl Unit – Ensemble (club mix)
  3. Falty DL – Straight & Arrow
  4. Andrés - New For U
  5. Four Tet – Lion (Jamie xx remix)
  6. Breach & Midland – Somwhere
  7. DJ Ali - Electra (Subb-an & Adam Shelton remix)
  8. Julio Bashmore – Au Seve
  9. Balistiq Beats – Concrete Jungle (Beneath 350 remix)
  10. Rashad & Spinn – We Trippy Mane
  11. Flosstradamus – Rollup (Baauer remix)
  12. KW Griff – Bring in the Katz
  13. TNGHT – Higher Ground
Fatima Al Qadiri – Hydra
Absolutely gorgeous mix of underground beats and middle eastern sound pallet. Ikonika's remix of last year's D-medley is amazing as well.

Girl Unit – Ensemble (club mix)
This track just got bigger and bigger as the year progressed, until it was played by pretty much everyone at BEMF.

Falty DL – Straight & Arrow
Falty DL coming on like a swung out Floating Points. I can't wait for the LP. Part 2 of afrobeat lacedMeans Streets on Swamp81 is big as well.

Andrés - New For U
Deep, soulful Detroit house from the man who dropped one of my favorite DJ sets of the summer.

Four Tet – Lion (Jamie xx remix)
How can you go wring with a Four Tet and Jamie xx team-up. Something about the stripped down soundsystem vibe of this remix reminds of classic Smith & Mighty / More Rockers and in my world that is very high praise. Also check out Four Tet's ratherreserved remix of Angels for the reverse perspective.  

Breach & Midland – Somewhere
Sprawling, widescreen tech house that also manages to very taut and subtle.

DJ Ali - Electra (Subb-an & Adam Shelton remix)
Sultry and so very saxy

Julio Bashmore – Au Seve
Not quite reaching the level of Battle of Middle You but still an absolute dancefloor filler and undisuted anthem of the summer

Balistiq Beats – Concrete Jungle (Beneath 350 remix)
Beneath let his junglist roots show on the remix

Rashad & Spinn – We Trippy Mane
Not that this track isn't brilliant but it appars here as a sort of place holder of all the amazing tracks I heard at Lit City over the last year that will probably never even get released.

Flosstradamus – Rollup (Baauer remix)
Run the Trap!!! 2013 looks to be the year young Baauer blows up. 

KW Griff – Bring in the Katz
“ already know” Absolutely nothing subtle here just absolutely battering B-more Club. On a proper soundsystem this is guaranteed to ignite a riot on the drop every time. 

TNGHT – Higher Ground
The undisputed dancefloor destroyer of 2012. Resistance is futile this track will steamroll over you.

Bonus: Joy O - Big Room Tech House DJ Tool Tip! (BRTHDTT!)
Another year, another secret, ridiculously titled, Joy Orbison anthem. This one is slow burner and much preferred to the staid adult contemporary house of Ellipsis. Of course it won't get a proper release until all the life has been sucked from its veins.