Monday, January 4, 2010

ELECTRONIC music. (Part II) The most essential tracks of 2009.

Now that I've powered through the overall top acts of the year, I present to you some of the most staggeringly beautiful and boldly original tracks of 2009. It was a year to be remembered (for music at least), so this is my way of putting it in the history books.

I'll keep the descriptions short and sweet and let the music speak for itself.

****If you'd like a copy of any of these tracks or the albums they come from just let me know and i'll send them your way.

First up:

Instra:Mental - Watching You

The imagery it invokes is intense, the lyrics are simple yet powerful in a way that I can't quite put my finger on. Nonetheless, it might be my favorite track of the year.

Watching You uploaded by elpretentio

read the rest!

Burial and Four Tet - Moth

This is a truly sublime piece. It moves along at a simple 4/4 pace but the textures and samples they use are incredibly easy on the ears. I was so easily immersed in it that it's 9-minute length was completely unnoticeable.

Moth uploaded by elpretentio

Nite Jewel - What Did He Say

Here's a curveball. Still electronic by my standards with it's rolling beat and squelchy bassline (but probably technically something else), Nite Jewel sounds about as sweet as she looks. And she's from LA. bonus!

What Did He Say uploaded by elpretentio

Hudson Mohawke - Spotted

A proprietor of 'Glitch-Hop', Hudson spits out crunchy beats so effortlessly you'd think he was doing so while sleep-walking (or dreaming, that is). This type of sound is second nature to people like him and fellow glitch-hopper and label mate Flying Lotus. They make it look easy. This is off the incredible Mary Anne Hobbs compilation Wild Angels.

Spotted uploaded by elpretentio

Hyetal - We Should Light A Fire

Also from the Wild Angels compilation, this is a sprawling piece with a wide open sound.

King Midas Sound - Meltdown

Really in a class all it's own, this project is the brainchild of musician Roger Robinson and bass scientist Kevin Martin (otherwise known as The Bug). It's the haunting vocals and top-notch production that give this such a distinctive sound. It's out of this world. And by god does it have bass.

Meltdown uploaded by elpretentio

Demdike Stare - Regressor

Dark, real dark. Was lucky to discover this on Kevin Martin (The Bug)'s year-end list of all places. I can see why he likes it. Deep, rolling bass and a warm, oceanic, echoing synth toward the end. Meditative.

Demdike Stare - Regressor uploaded by elpretentio

Dorian Concept - Trilingual Dance Sexperience

Best track title of the year easily goes to Dorian Concept. The song lives up to it's name. It's a frenetic, bouncy track, and was featured on many a set from super-DJ and ambassador of Hyperdub: Kode9.

Dorian Concept - Trilingual Dance Sexperience uploaded by elpretentio

Instra:Mental - No Future

The year is 2010...

Instra:Mental - No Future uploaded by elpretentio

Mount Kimbie - William

Couldn't resist adding one more track from their Maybes EP. The entire thing is just so brilliant that each track demands a listen.

Mount Kimbie - William uploaded by elpretentio

Silkie - Cat's Eyes

Seemingly a wobbler at first site with it's um, wobbly bass, the real key to this track is the angelic, sparse, echoed synth line throughout. What an incredibly inspired sound.
Cat's Eyes uploaded by elpretentio

Four Tet - Love Cry (Joy Orbison Remix)

Another Four Tet re-working, this time by the oh-so-prolific Joy Orbison.

Four Tet - Love Cry (Joy Orbison Remix) uploaded by elpretentio

Stay tuned for part 3, which will be cuts of the best mixes from some all-star live and radio acts of the year. Plus a list of the most epic, club-destroying dubstep bangers/anthems. Thanks for listening.

To be continued...

Sunday, January 3, 2010

ELECTRONIC music. (Part I) From the distant past that is 2009...

I'm basically at a loss for words for what an amazing year 2009 was for virtually all types of electronic music. I don't think I've ever witnessed such an intense creative burst within any other scene of music. It was a truly epic year. Live, on tape, and on record.

It was led by an amorphous seven-headed monster known as dubstep, a genre that is essentially defined by nothing other than a requirement for a snare drum hit on the third beat and some syncopated rhythms. And bass. Lots and lots of bass. But the great thing is that that broad definition left a ton of room for experimentation.

There were so many inventive offshoots and reworkings of whatever original dubstep sound might have existed, that it was basically impossible to keep up with them all. It almost seemed as if the best artists out there were creating their own sub-genres, not just their own sounds.

This is a list carefully put together by someone with a fiery romance-novel-like passion for this type of music, so I really hope you enjoy it. Within it there are some obligatory dubstep bangers, a whole gang of variations on the sound, and a whole other set of sounds that I can hardly define. But either way, Happy new year everyone. Here's some excellent music to welcome you into the future.

****First up is an initial set of artists that I think had the most original and captivating sounds of the year. There'll be more artists of the same calibre in the next entry, along with a list (and samples) of tracks that were totally essential from some less important but still pretty amazing people. Oh and of course this music must be listened to at extremely loud volumes. it must!

I decided to start the list off by reppin' the best town on the best coast: San Francisco.

This guy Eskmo has one of the crunchiest, craziest sounds I've heard in quite a while, and certainly one of the most original. You can hear an extended version of his sound on his Colorbrain Mix on Flying Lotus's Brainfeeder site. Or you can download either his Hypercolor EP or the Let Them Sing 12". But for now, here's 'San Francisco'.

Eskmo San Francisco (The Rhythm) uploaded by elpretentio


Joker is brilliant, that's about it. I could post any track he's released this year and it would be impressive. Like a lot of artists in his field his releases were mostly singles or 12"s, but if you want to understand his sound for 2009 just look to his and Ginz's DataTransmission Mix.

Zero 7 - Everything Up (Joker Remix) uploaded by elpretentio

Mount Kimbie

Mount Kimbie I discovered while making this list and I'm extremely thankful that I did. The two EPs they released were Sketch On Glass and Maybes, both nearly perfect. After track after track of intense bass up the wazoo all year, it was incredibly pleasant to sit back and relax over something more subtle. I don't know how many more synonyms I can keep coming up with for original and brilliant, but they are certainly both those things. I'm just going to be quiet now and let you listen.

Mount Kimbie - Taps uploaded by elpretentio

Mount Kimbie - Maybes uploaded by elpretentio


Egyptrixx is pretty new to the scene as far as I know. At least he's just getting started. And what an awesome start it is. He's got a perfect handle on the heavy wobble sound (his has it's own Toronto twist), but also knows how to open it up like a psychedelic window. 'Godzilla' is a perfect example of a 'dubstep banger' done right. And 'Hexagon Ya', which for the life of me I could not find an actual copy of online (which is why it's ripped from a mix), is the dubstep equivalent of taking DMT. The space-time continuum gets torn apart and a gang of 5th-dimensional elves manifest spontaneously to teach you the nature of language. That's basically what it sounds like.

Egyptrixx - Godzilla uploaded by elpretentio

Hexagon Ya (Ripped from a Starkey Podcast) uploaded by elpretentio


Zomby and Joker have one major thing in common: they can do no wrong. Zomby relentlessly put out single after single, EP after EP, and they were all great. One big reason for that (which is true for Joker also) is that they did a brilliant job, from the outset of their career, of developing an iconic sound. Zomby's is playful, sinister, lush, and spritely. The One Foot Ahead of the Other EP is his major release for 2009.

Aquafresh uploaded by elpretentio

Zomby - Digital Fauna uploaded by elpretentio

Nosaj Thing

Nosaj Thing has carved out a definite space for himself in the musical landscape. His LP: Drift was solid without a doubt, but his true talent lies in his ability to put on a show. His Visual Show at the Downtown Independent in LA was truly a breathtaking spectacle. The visuals were minimal but perfectly suited to what was playing through the speakers. The effect of that combined stimulation gave me chills on the back of my neck. It was awe-inspiring. For an extra dose of NT's stylings, check out his XLR8R Mix.

To be continued...