Because I can no longer focus on pieces of music longer than 6 minutes or deal with rappers who didn’t come up in the 90’s. Also because I hate straight edge people, anything with a narrative arc and guitars but love beats and try to leave my computer as much as humanly possible. Youtube links instead of tracks because that’s the sort of world we live in, mixes brought to you as always by Son Raw.
20 – Cheshire – Good Time (Rottun)
In their worst moments, underground oriented producers get delusions of grandeur proclaiming their music “intelligent” when really, they’re just biting Burial instead of biting Rusko. Proving that chopping vocal samples isn’t such a big deal, Rottun artist Cheshire chops up a track’s worth on Good Time for hype instead of emotional resonance. Then he drops the LFO riffs and the pill popping crowd goes wild.
19 – Ital Tek – Moment in Blue (Original & Ikonika remix) (Planet Mu)
I’m sort of cheating by including a remix here. Ital Tek’s original version of Moments in Blue sounds like an outtake to Sophia Coppola’s “Lost in Translation” soundtrack: vaguely Asian, vaguely reflective…just vague before the bass kicks in and gives the track a sense of drive. As utilitarian as any club single, the track (nay, the album) feels designed for long walks exploring foreign cities. Ikonika’s flip speeds things up to dance tempos and adds her now prerequisite funky drums: it’s not a huge stretch but as far as mercenary reimagining’s go, this one’s got fantastic source material.
18 – Nero – Innocence (MTA)
Nero are the kings of the slow build. Rather than give their tunes a standard 8 bar intro, they squeeze out every last bit of drama from their synthesized preludes. Just when you think Innocence is going to start, it pulls back, brings in the vocal and then finally explodes into the duo’s trademark tear-out. Though perhaps not as a catchy as last year’s Streets remix, the duo’s Innocence proved that the duo was plenty capable of killing raves on their own. Oh and check out that oldschool anime music video, probably the single best (if extremely cheezy) visual I’ve seen for a track all year. If you’re going to bring the 80’s back, that’s not a bad way to do it.
17 – SRC – Brakedance (Numbers)Brakedance – SRC (Numbers) by thisisbreaks.comI’m including this one because it’s actual 80’s style electro rather than the garbage that’s stolen the name in recent years. Sounding like a futuristic take on B-Boy music made by a man equally influenced by Africa Baambata, Mannie Fresh and whoever invented the Gameboy, SRC’s Brakedance is your best, scratch that, your ONLY choice for all poppin, lockin and boogaloo related affairs this year. Music to do windmills to.16 – DJ Mujava – Mugwanti (Out There)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=89QcbMGGI0wReleased as a part of Out There Records’ “Ayobaness EP” highlighting the sound of African House, DJ Majava’s Mugwanti is an explosively heavy tribal beat that’s thankfully devoid of vuvuzelas. Syncopated percussion ping pongs in every direction while a soulful vocal ties it all together and gives the track some added grit. Landing on Kode 9’s DJ Kicks mixtape, the track is the highest profile look yet for Kwaito House and it’s a great one, sure to set off any party where the haircuts aren’t ironic and people know better than to listen to Vampire Weekend.15 – LV ft Josh Ieden – Lost (Keysound)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s9HrarEe4MoThe first of a 5-part suite, LV and Josh Idehen’s Lost is an odd pick for this series landing closer to Aesop Rock or Saul Williams’ territory than Skream or Dizzee’s. Part of a concept EP about London’s 38 Bus route, the track is the rare spoken word piece that feels like a natural extension of the music rather than a hackneyed attempt to fit word to a meter. Exploring urban alienation with a cynical if reflective demeanor, vocalist Josh Idehen is the drunk guy in the back seat dispensing wisdom of the Gods one second and foolish asides the next. Some of my favorite iPod material of the year.
I could have chosen practically anything from Ikonika’s fantastic full-length for this spot but seeing as I’ve already hyped it to death, why not shine a light on a lesser-known track? The original “Read the Books” is a dubby, glitchy number that lives and dies on its vocal but Sara Abdel Hamid dresses it up in synthesizers and funky drumming, transforming it into one of those affirmatively positive tracks that lands on just the right side of inspirational and encouraging rather than cloying. Thankfully, there’s no Common, Kanye, CuDi or B.O.B verses to be found here.
13 – Joe – Claptrap (Hessle Audio)
No, not the early 00’s R&B crooner of the same name. (One has to assume.) Hessle Audio’s Joe delivers an odd one, stitching pieces of found sound together into an intricate web of early morning rush hour percussion. Usually this kind of clever theatric sounds better on paper than on wax but it’s hard to argue with results this funky. Throw it into a mix for a little extra kick, play it at your local diner’s nightshift for faster service or play it at Pharell’s house to remind him of the craziness he used to be capable of.
12 – Mensah – Acid Dub (HENCH)
Drawing inspiration from Acid House, breaks and early 90’s hardcore music, Acid Dub’s shifting drum patterns and woozy synthesizers straddle the line between critic-approved experimentalism and lose-your-shit mass-appeal. To me, it’s all about those hollow snares, the haunting vocal and the euphoric breakdowns that hold it all together, perfect for that last 4AM rush when your body wants to keep going but your brain says different (or the other way around).
11 – Scuba – Before (Hot Flush)
A 2010 update of the Trip-Hop torch songs favored by early Portishead, Massive Attack and UNKLE, Before is the kind of haunting, atmospheric music critics seem to have forgotten about in their race to embrace Gaga’s performance pop. Equally warm and chilly with bombed out drums and half-whispered vocals, the song (not track) lives and dies off mood alone, inspiring thoughts of shadows, spies, love and betrayal. Taken alone, it’s a striking bit of artful songwriting; in the context of Scuba’s album, it’s a centerpiece.