As we did for the first quarter of the year, where we selected music from Burial, Scratcha DVA, Scuba, Objekt and more to make up our first top fifteen of the year, we’ve now picked our favourites from April, May and June.
As narrowing down an abundance of great music into 15 releases is so hard, there are a few others we must mention. Dusky‘s ‘Flo Jam’ EP could easily have made this list, as is the case with South London Ordnance‘s 2nd Drop release, Levon Vincent‘s Fabriclive mix, Ziro‘s debut on the newly-minted Crazylegs label, both Lone and Jam City‘s albums, and ‘Rinse Presents: Brackles’ too. This list could go on.
But more importantly, those that made it…
15. Pariah – ‘Rift’ EP [R&S]
Most notably in the completely beatless track ‘Among Those Metal Trees,’ but also in elements of both ‘Rift’ and ‘Signal Loss,’ Pariah, here, seems reluctant to make straight dance music. It is soundsystem music no doubt, but the shadowy re-imagination of the 4×4 time signature lends to a focus on the stretched synth work, rather than the percussion. An intruiging output from Arthur Cayzer, very much suited to R&S.
Stream ‘Rift’ below.
14. Zomby – ‘Where Were You In ’92’
There had to be a Record Store Day release involved here somewhere, and this one stood out. A limited (1000) first pressing of Zomby‘s Werk Discs album on limited edition, luminous green vinyl. The ever-elusive Zomby nods to his early jungle and rave influences in ‘Where Were You In ’92,’ a genuine collector’s item.
13. George FitzGerald – ‘Child’ [Aus Music]
George FitzGerald is at his brilliant best in this EP for Will Saul‘s ever-on-point label, Aus Music. The lead track ‘Child,’ harks back to early house production through the soft and refreshingly simple melody, uplifting vocals and late-night feel. Sharply contrasted, but equally typical of its producer, is ‘Hindsight,’ where FitzGerald adopts a darker, techy standpoint; previously seen in his Silhouette EP, for example. Full of synth drones and weighty kicks, this track represents the opposite end of his production focus; ‘Lights Out’ and ‘Unilateral’ sit in between.
Listen to the whole EP here.
12. Jimmy Edgar – ‘Majenta’ LP [Hotflush]
Modern house with a pristine finish; Detroit’s golden boy hits the spot for Hotflush, constantly twisting through the wierd and sexual ends of house. A selection of the tracks, ‘Sex Drive’ and ‘U Need Love’ spring to mind, wouldn’t have sounded out of place 20-years-ago in a Detroit, ecstacy-filled roller-disco. It somehow works though. Stream two tracks from the album below.
11. Leon Vynehall – ‘Mauve EP’ [Well Rounded]
This is professional house music from Leon Vynehall. Subtly sampled, gently paced and never overbearing, this EP boasts years more maturity than would be expected from a relative newcomer. On top of the studious attention to detail throughout the three tracks, one finds creativity in the unrelenting progression; each phrase including slight rhythmic alterations and surprises. ‘Homage’ is perhaps the winner here; elegantly balanced, head-nodding, house. Lovely stuff!
10. Disclosure – ‘The Face EP’ [Greco-Roman]
Massive expectation came with this EP, and it didn’t dissappoint. The addition of vocalists, Ria Ritchie and Sinead Hartnett, allowed the Disclosure brothers to escape the limitations of sampling and, in doing so, elevate their music to another dimension entirely. No real surprises here, but it’s hard to complain when the music is of such high quality.
09. Boddika & Joy Orbison – ‘Dun Dun/Prone’ [Sunklow]
‘Dun Dun’ is typically stripped-down, functional techno; void of anything unneccessary. ‘Prone’ is slightly more embellished; wired around the driving kick and off-beat hi-hat is a distant, synth melody that adds a degree of humanity to the, otherwise, clinical sound this pair are making right now. Together, another stellar 12″ from two of the UK’s finest producers. Stream a clip of ‘Dun Dun’ below, and ‘Prone’ below that.
08. Mosca – ‘Eva Mendes’ EP [Hypercolour]
Whether on garage tip, as in ‘Bax’/’Done Me Wrong’, or here in more typical Hypercolour, house style, Mosca never fails to deliver a peak-time single, fit to stay in record bags for months. ‘Eva Mendes’ is a shameless, hands-in-the-air, house banger; complete with mosquito samples and catchy melodies. It is perfectly complimented by two versions of both ‘Accidentally’ and ‘Murderous.’ Featuring the vocals of Robert Owens, these tracks ground the EP through a steady progression and tight production. A quality release, not just on the strength of the lead single.
07. Blawan – ‘Long Distance Open Water Worker’ EP [Black Sun]
No-one in the UK is making techno quite like this guy at the moment. This vinyl-only EP is four no-nonsense DJ tools of miliatary delivery and violent rhythm. Not exactly for the faint-hearted but we love it. Stream a rip of ‘Scarborough Harbour’ from Blawan‘s unbelievable Boiler Room set below.
06. Guy Andrews – ‘The Wait/Hands Are Mine’ [Hotflush]
From Blawan to Guy Andrews. This Hotflush 12″ is another top example of gutsy, UK techno. Aimed straight at the dancefloor, both tracks drop with neatly layered percussion and reverberating kick drums, capable of serious damage within a DJ set. Andrews also gave away a free track, ‘Darj,’ in the run-up to this release; its on the same tip and we highly recommend you grab it here.
05. Darling Farah – ‘Body’ LP [Civil Music]
This LP sounds sophisticated but never overwhelming. Its intricate sound design and precise production give relatively simple ideas an intense musicality, which, stretched over eleven tracks, makes for quite an album. Both expertly produced and arranged, ‘Body’ is often no more than distant hi-hats and muffled percussion; it is this sparcity exactly that makes the listening experience so entrancing. ‘Curse’ and the title track, ‘Body,’ seem the standout tracks; the former being perhaps the example of Darling Farah‘s ability to act on the ‘less is more’ theory, and the title track bearing most of the album’s few warmer moments.
04. Actress – ‘R.I.P’ [Honest Jons]
This guy is clearly one of the most intriguing and talented producers around. Past releases have, at points, been equally amazing and frustrating in their reluctance to comply to orthodox structure; but it is in ‘R.I.P’ that Actress finds, for me, the perfect balance. ‘The Lord’s Graffiti,’ ‘Marble Plexus’ and ‘Iwaad’ lend a techno-driven edge to the minute synths and glitches Actress is otherwise known for, whilst ‘N.E.W’ does quite the opposite in essentially ballad form.
03. Joy Orbison – ‘Ellipsis/Ellipsis (Head High Remix) [Hinge Finger]
‘Ellipis’ is the perfect example of Joy Orbison‘s quality as a producer. The now-famed sample, taken from an early Source Direct interview on a Metalheadz DVD, is warped in such a way that it sounds made for this tune. Behind the vocals, though, is quality of this track; the producer’s trademark piano chords of old are there, together with shifting drum scales and atmospheric tones. The Head High, aka Shed, remix is straight ruffage; Joy O‘s delicacy is shown little mercy by René Pawlowitz who turns the vocal sample over rowdy, machinegun drums. Essential.
02. Fantastic Mr Fox EP – ‘Sa’nen EP’ [Black Acre]
Somewhere amongst the inimitably seductive instrumentals, the vocals of Alby Daniels and the polyrhythmic sound design, Fantastic Mr Fox finds space to nod towards underground influences through a mainstream filter. ‘Speak Nuh’ combines the air of contemporary pop with the abrasive pulse of grime, whilst the other three tracks, ‘Pascal’s Chorus,’ ‘Sa’nen,’ and ‘Yesterday’s Fall’ take a more house/garage-indebted approach. This EP was a long-time coming but it’s fairly easy to see why.
01. Moodymann – ‘Picture This’ [Scion A/V]
The Hyponik favourite for this quarter is ‘Picture This,’ a free LP brimming with production quality, culture and influence. Kenny Dixon Jr, aka Moodymann, serves up eight views of Detroit, equally representing techno, house, jazz, soul and funk. In a scene where ‘forward-thinking’ music tends to prevail, this LP comes as a welcome throwback. Entirely carefree of current trends, Moodymann digs deep to re-create the passion of years gone by; notably in a dance music format in ‘Got 2 Make It,’ and in a soulfully acoustic manner in ‘Hold It Down.’ Download for free here.