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.
#60. Callgurls (Original Mix): Boysnoize Records
A collaboration of two giants, Boys Noize and Mr. Oizo are Handbraekes and “Callgurls” is the heaviest of hits on the duo’s EP debut. The banger-esque punch of kick and snare and the synth that jumps around like it was ripped from a carnie soundtrack, you can definitely hear what both of these heavyweights bring to the desk when they shake hands.
#59. Wideyed (Original Mix): Works The Long Nights
Following another duo we’ll climb down London’s sewers to find Karenn. The collective endeavor between Blawan and Pariah have fleshed out the year’s most creative sonics, and not to mention an incredible live Boiler Room performance. “Wideyed” was part of the fourth on their imprint aiming to break the bounds between bass and techno.
Ghosts on Tape
#58. Nature’s Law (Original Mix): Icee Hot
There’s something nostalgic yet highly refined in the Ghosts on Tape release that kick started San Francisco’s Icee Hot label. “Nature’s Law” is a racy house jam that many would constitute as techno, but that argument gets thrown out the window when hidden in the vocal sample is a much deeper and profound debate that borders on the existential meaning of life.
#57. Rave (Dirt Mix): Power House
Yes is what needs to be said the moment you hear the booming kick and 909 hats putting the bigroom through the works. This Head High B-side has horse power in the percussion, with a lively lead that balances the vibes without having them sink into anything way too serious. What’s not to love.
#56. Grave Stalking (Original Mix): Skudge
Without a doubt acid wave is here to stay. This dump by Jared Wilson sees him peeing 303, and there’s nothing to be grossed out about considering the man has a knack for retaining an old school authenticity in his works. “Grave Stalking” is definitely the track to thin out on at 4am.
#55. Funky Steppa (Original Mix): Saigon
No matter what point you looked from, the Belgian garage duo GoldFFinch tugged on all of our strings by being able to put out a cathartic vocal laden number like “Belle” and then switch it up with “Funky Steppa”, a deep well of percussive grooves you can’t resist nodding to. These two are particularly keen on finding the perfect sample to make a track burst into flames.
#54. Shockwave (Gessafelstein Remix): Different
R&S meets Dutch techno, Gessafelstein‘s remix is a 90’s rave homage with those wailing stabs from T99 91 classic “Anasthasia”. Dressed in the man’s usual drab, “Shockwave” is an irresistable floor stomper that saw plays from the biggest names across the globe.
#53. Naive Reception (Original Mix): Phantasy
Tailored exclusively for his FABRICLIVE 66 mix, hype pressed Daniel Avery into putting this one on a very limited 10″ vinyl because who wouldn’t want a modular symphony in their crate. Much like his other works this year “Naive Reception” is simply canny, the atmospheres delicate and the energy, anything but subtle.
#52. Cactus (Original Mix): Hessle Audio
“I opened for Skrillex in Milan in April..played this to 3200 of his fans and they booed me and I got a full waterbottle thrown at my head. true story.” Someday we’ll look back on “Cactus” and say it sealed its grave. The irony is that there was no intent, coming from an artist bent on making techno. Don’t expect Objekt to repeat himself in the near future.
#51. Transpiration (Original Mix): Versatile Records
You could say Parisian based I:Cube put out the most underrated record brushed aside this year. The “M” Megamix saw him sewing 24 original tracks into an hour long set, capturing every palette of sound from the classics of house, techno, and disco to the timbres of the future. “Transpiration” is one of the 24, it jacks like Armando with a touch of Oizo.