A pseudo-countdown of top picks and underrated favourites, this year's crate of tracks have never been so contradictory. With dance music shedding its latest claim to fame, the base has gone to the drawing board to define, create, and take the road less traveled by. Things got a little weird, but regardless of the differences in tempo and groove, it all sort of made sense as it represented a common approach of making it for the work and not the pay check. There's no set formula, no sample pack, no plugin with a preset to land you a spot and that makes the milk all the more satisfying. Loose experimentation at the bottom with careful considerations for the top, this list is about the sound not the hype. Making sure that you go into the new year without missing a well curated beat.
#100. Help Myself (Anthony Shakir Remix)
San Francisco club night turned label Icee Hot has pulled no punches in its infancy. Their second release is on Lando Kal, who's solo career has earned him heavyweight status by a pool of influences that have done more than just loop the past. Detroit veteran Anthony Shakir shakes up the original with DX alarms and a deep low end making "Help Myself" a 4AM floor raiser.
#99. Jagged Edge (Original Mix): Pets Recordings
Bristol's grip on bass centered house continues with Eats Everything's sequel to his notable Pets debut. His work this year have taken on a drab and jacked aesthetic, with punchier basslines that only hit where it hurts. "Jagged Edge" scores a point by being the perfect tune to settle midnight's basketball game or keep the dance floor throbbing.
#98. Eah (Original Mix): ManMakeMusic
George Fitzgerald's ManMakeMusic started their catalogue off right, by throwing out your tastemaking credentials with a track that sounds unlike anything you've heard before. A gorgeous release with a stellar video, U's "Eah" might be the most original piece of art recorded in these past few months. That's if you can bear the clicks, pops, and crunch of vinyl hissing at your ear.
#97. Well Hello (Original Mix): Idol Hanse
The brains and licks behind Toronto's Azari & III, The Incline of Western Civilization Pt III is an analog mess three years in the making by Alixander III. Gloomy pads and dismal overtones make the bulk of the opening track "Well Hello" which seems to never stop morphing into jams of its own creation. A track with a mind that feeds back into a self modulating singularity.
#96. Ask Yourself (Audiojack's Chemical Rewind)
No surprise to see Homework remixed somewhere on this list. Conversation Piece picks up where Hudson Square left off on Exploited Records, with a remix package that dresses itself in only the most classic house fashion. Leeds DJs and label honchos Audiojack take the cake this time with an M1 piano anthem that leans towards the pulsating sides of techno.
#95. Turbosteppa (feat. Claude Vonstroke): Dirtybird
Frankenstein funk, as rightly described by the loony Dirtybird imprint. Claude Vonstroke and Kry Wolf's collaboration on "Turbosteppa" fused a spooky crossover between an eerie dub bassline and a jaunty house groove. It makes for the right balance of grim atmospheres and playful club antics, just what we want from a label like Dirtybird.
#94. Video Drone (Original Mix): Nightslugs
Where else to point to when you're looking for a label that fleshes out functional floor crossovers. Nightslugs has effectively spread itself across the entire scene of forward thinking dance music, pioneering nearly every type of groove. Label head L-Vis 1990 zeroes in on straight techno percussion in Club Constructions Vol. 1 and the results are hammering.
#93. Zero (Original Mix): 3024
A man that has punched in quite a bit of studio time this year, 2012 saw Jon Convex releasing his first LP Idoru along with a slew of EPs one of them landing on Martyn's 3024 imprint. And although his collaborations with dBridge on the A-side stood out the most, it was the vogue vibes in his solo runway effort "Zero" that deserve a flaunt.
#92. Rhythm Sticks (Original Mix): Boysnoize
Breaks, rolls, and 909 "Rhythm Sticks" is all about letting the percussion loose on top of a booming low end. SCNTST's Premelodic Structures was one of BNR's strongest, and with 7 tracks it was a lot to chew on. Sampling the intro to Joy Division's "Warsaw", this track might have been the freshman's most outstanding effort yet.
#91. Red Dancers (Original Mix): Monkeytown
Modeselektion Vol. 2 can be placed up top when it comes to the year's best compilations. Martyn's contribution is no doubt one of its strongest numbers as this studio wizard's crisp effort on "Red Dancers" sees him fashioning his own madness with snappy breaks, acid dumps, and a riveting sub bassline. One to leave both the bass and techno heads pleased.