Son Raw listens to too many records.
Son Raw, not Sach O: which is to say that this is a list of my favorite singles to play out rather than an ostensibly objective journalistic account of the 20 biggest tunes of the year. Not that I chose a lot of of obscurities here but rather than worry about covering all bases (basses?) I just went with 20 tunes I like a lot and that have been getting a lot of home and club play from yours truly. So yeah: it’s all bass music, no filth, no D&B and I probably skipped your favorite tune. Write-ups are minimal because it’s nice outside and I’d run out of ways to describe beats about half-way through anyways.
20. Ill Blu – Meltdown (Numbers)
Funky House that’s heavy on the Funky and light on the House. Perfect for hot and sweaty 2:30AM jams and any occasion that requires Kramer-approved jungle music that isn’t actually jungle.
19. Jay Weed – The Naos (502)
Jay Weed is a Frenchman with the word “weed” in his name, which makes him A-OK in my book. The Naos is another Funky jam that grabs the classic 808 bump before twisting it into distinctly contemporary shapes. Released on Oneman’s 502 label, this tune feels like the perfect way forward, merging classic House’s dance-appeal to Dubstep’s stoned, dark, weirdness.
18. Doshy – Suspiria (Rwina)
Let me get this straight: this is a Grime tune from Berlin built around Atlanta drum patterns and the theme to a Dario Argento movie? Someone get Young Jeezy on line 1, I think we found a way to get Thug Motivation 103 out.
17. Mz Bratt – Selecta Remixes (Harddrive)
Alright, so the original dropped last year but I’ve been playing it out like crazy in 2011 and Terror Danjah is about to release a remix package with two of the biggest names in UK Bass so I figure it’s worth a second look. BOK BOK goes Eski with his take, shifting the rhythm into a stuttering start-stop affair while Royal-T gets all dramatic with his, minor-key piano and all. And don’t forget Redlight’s original: the junglist percussion and buzzing bass still knocks.
16. Redlight – Source 16 (Digital Soundboy)
Is it Dubstep? Electro with more Bass? House? Fuck if I know, but it gets girls’ asses shaking. That sweet-n-sour synth line will have you pulling faces for days.
15. Spooky – Spartan (No Hats No Hoods)
Another Grime tune that has been floating around for minute but that just saw official release this year, Spooky’s Spartan is testosterone music at it’s finest with a beat hard enough to make the most sensitive of thugs throw bows on the dance floor. It’s been remixes about 800 times (Terror Danjah, D.O.K, Teddy Music and Alias at last count) and Kozzie dropped a killer vocal but for my money, nothing beats the original instrumental and that so-dumb-its-brilliant sample.
14. Jacques Greene – (Baby I don’t know) What You Want (Night Slugs)
Before he was remixing Radiohead (WTF?) Montreal’s Jacques Greene was twisting Ashanti samples into lovelorn dance anthems for Londoners and Montrealers alike. I have no idea how this kid blew up so quick, but with tunes like this, there’s no denying he deserves it. Get that Thom Yorke money, son!
13. BOK BOK – Silo Pass (Night Slugs)
This whole BOK BOK EP is gold but Silo Pass’ Eskified London Crunk is the surefire pick of the litter, sounding like a lightsaber fight in a schoolyard set to a particularly gnarly Castlevania riddim. In case you can’t figure out what that means: it’s dark and shiny all at the same time with lots of weird “whomp-whomp” sounds.
12. XXXY – Ordinary Things (Ten Thousand Yen)
XXXY’s upcoming release on Orca sounds like an absolute monster but his first smash of the year takes a different approach: slowly building dayglo synthesizers over an uptempo Garage beat while that chipmunked vocal sample ping-pongs off the proceedings. Sure it’s all a little “Hyph Mngo” but who cares? That tune was great, we need more like it.
11. Swindle ft. Roses Gabor – Spend is Dough (Swindle Productions)
A self-released gem by Grime producer Swindle, Spend is Dough splits 16 bit synths and uptempo R&B and somehow makes the hyped-up proceedings sound like an alternate future where George Clinton’s P-Funk mothership was powered by MDMA instead of LSD. Bonus points for Roska’s red-hot funky remix and Royal T’s UK Garage version.
10. Vibezin – Hot 4 You (Keysound)
Another tune at the intersection of God-knows-how-many genres, Hot 4 U combines (deep breath): soca’s steel drums, Jungle’s percussion, Dubstep’s tempo, Jazz’s chords and Hip-Hop’s vocal samples. Oh and it somehow manages to sound like classic Rave.
09. Peverelist – Dance Till The Police Come (Hessle Audio)
Bristol’s techy-Dubstep don takes a trip to London and delivers a slow-building burner to his compatriots at Hessle. You gotta have patience for this one since it takes a few minutes before things build to full strength, but trust me it’s worth it. Also, best track title of the year so far.
08. P-Money & Blacks – Boo You (Butterz)
Originally produced by TRC, then remixed by Royal-T and finally vocaled by P-Money and crew, this is the little tune that could. Simultaneously paying homage to the past (check the So Solid lyrics) and pointing the way towards Grime’s future, this is London music at its finest. Plus, any tune calling out a skeezer for fucking 9 of your crew is definitely top-10 worthy.
07. Skream – Hats Off (Disfigured Dubz)
Ok, so Skream basically just remixed “Burning.” Don’t care: this thing makes the club EXPLODE and those pianos and acid lines will have even the stodgiest techno purist reaching for the glowsticks.
06. Teeth – Shawty (502)
Clocking in a full 20 BPM faster than your average tune in 2011, Finnish producer Teeth’s Beyonce-sampling slice of darkness doesn’t play well with others but I’ll be damned if it isn’t one of the most haunting and affecting tracks of the year. Plus I like fast tunes.
05. Burial – Street Halo (Hyperdub)
Producers wanna be the King but the Ace is back. This tune shut down the internet for a full 72 hours and once the hype died down, it was still a rock-solid slice of mysterious, crackling urbanity that grabbed you by the ears and never let go.
04. Pinch & Loefah – Broken (Tectonic)
Pinch & Loefah. Japanese vocal sample. The heaviest bass you’ll hear all year. Half-Step drums. This is what got me into this shit.
03. Addison Groove – This is It (Tectonic)
The producer of last year’s smash hit Footcrab does it again, mining Chicago Footwork for inspiration but combining that rawness to London-heavy production and Detroit-slick chords. I can’t get through a gig without playing this. Also, I just realized that Tectonic managed two records in my top 5: well done sirs.
02. Instra:Mental – When I Dip (Nonplus)
Like a Blade Runner villain in music form, this non-album track culled from the Resolution 653 sessions is a dark, mechanical and straight up evil. As primordial and physical as the best of classic Dubstep or Neurofunk but rebuilt for today’s dangerous times.
01. Hackman – Close (Greco-Roman)
This one just pulls at my heartstrings: I’ve been playing it on loop since a radio-rip leaked to Youtube and my love for it has only grown since the official release. Point blank, if you think dance music is nothing but bleeps and bloops without emotion, give this a listen.