So here we are with the last part of the contractually obliged trilogy. I’m limiting myself to a top five because we could be here for weeks otherwise and I have to go to the cinema to see the Hobbit in a bit. Is this list representative of the great world of electronic music? Nope, it is representative of my tastes and little else. These are just five records I’ve particularly liked and have come back to over and over again.
Special mentions have to go to a few records before we get to these top five though: Moodcut’s ‘Tame Cats’ on Nous, ‘The Space EP’ by RVDS on It’s Germany and Dario Zenker’s ‘Morshin’ on Trilogy Tapes were all on heavy rotation this year. As was Jared Wilson’s ‘Ghost Miners’ on 7777, a huge slab of grizzly, stamping acid house. ‘Dhool’ by Unnayanna on Something In The Water was a great record that could have done with a far, far less limited release. The same can be said for LIES Xmas 002, by M Rav AKA Patricia. Hopefully both will be back at some point. There are others, many others: The shambling psychedelic journeys of The Maghreban, and a raft of frayed, dusty house from Napoli courtesy of the Early Sound Recordings crew all figured large. It was a good year. Let’s press on.
Unspecified Enemies – Everything You Did Has Already Been Done (Numbers)
Pounding, insane ghetto-acid-techno-rave culled from an ancient live recording which was found washed up in a bottle of cheap, blended whisky on Jackmaster’s private island, Unspecified Enemies provided their second release for Numbers in the shape of one of the hardest and funkiest records of the year. Pitched somewhere between DJ Funk at his rawest, white-hot tribal house shenanigans and the seething energies of early nineties British rave, Unspecified Enemies showed that it is still possible to combine funk, grooves and aggression to great effect without falling into the miserable, monotonous ‘industrial’ heaviness that plagues so much current techno.
Rawaat – Day Laborer (Lobster Theremin)
Weirdly patronised by many reviewers on release for apparently sounding like Legowelt (no, I don’t know either), ‘Day Laborer’ was the point at which Lobster Theremin moved from being just another modern house label and started putting out records which refracted the genre’s tropes through a prism of expermentalism. Detroit native Rawaat delivered a collection of tunes that kept the beats to the speed of a frozen river and coupled the sort of expansive, reality stretching sample-delic wander of Austin Ceasar with some slow burning, down pitched grooves. Best of show, Motion Sensor is an homage to the ghosts of ambient techno; sharp edges in the mist, it’s haunting and disconcerting.
Denis Sulta – Sulta Selects Vol 1 (Dixon Avenue Basement Jams)
A quieter year than 2013 was crowned by DABJ’s best record of the last twelve months and possibly their best ever release. Newcomer Denis Sulta’s paen to Proper House Music lights up with the glimmer of the deepest subterranean clubs as it weaves and twists with the spirits of disco, italo and the most loose hipped, most jacking of classic Chicago house. A.A.S (Nite and Day Mix) is the standout; Drawing on memories of Ralphie Rosario’s classic U Used To Hold Me, it kept the prowling, seductive tone but replaced the stroppy sas of the original with an aching vulnerability. Easily one of the best house tunes of the year and once again proving to the hordes it’s the attitude of classic house that matters, not the sound.
Jay Daniel – Karmatic Equations (Wild Oats)
Daniel’s début release, 2013s ‘Scorpio Rising’ got far better praise than it perhaps deserved, which was ironic because ‘Karmatic Equations’, depite being fairly well received, never got enough. A record so earthy sounding you suspect it spends its Sundays on an allotment growing funk tomatoes, Daniel pushes a selection of slow burners through what must be some of the most knackered analogue instruments ever recorded. But aside from the grittiness it is the technicolour warmth of the tracks that charm. Modern Detroit house and techno with a touch of Chicago swagger. Many went for Royal Insanity or 4 Red, but it was the slinky Euro-pop turned dirty-faced gutter hymm ‘Change 4 Me’ that won it for me. A big record that bodes well for next year.
DJ Fett Burger & Luca Lozano – Hands Of Doom (Sex Tags UFO)
I was late in coming to this, which is a shame because when I did get round to buying the record, it quickly became one of those 12″s which is rarely out of reach. Breakbeat, rave, junglist leanings and chunky, rolling house all figure on a pair of tracks that exists purely in a universe powered by a pair of huge speaker stacks and a lot of smiles. what separates it from the host of other records that rediscovered the joys of old school break beats this year is the fact it sounds utterly contemporary. You couldn’t confuse this for something from 1991. Tongue in cheek and yet utterly genuine it just felt like the real thing. A smasher.
And that’s it, folks. Merry Christmas and thanks for reading. We’ll be back after the Christmas break with more ‘cheap and easy’ content, more reviews that are far, far too long, and more op-ed pieces where I forget my point half way through and panic my way to an excuse over two or three follow-up articles. Updates may be occasional over the holidays as buckets of bloody Marys take effect. Have a good one!