Thursday, January 17, 2008

33 in 2007

Selecting the best tracks of a previous year is a tricky business - although the distance gives a kind of better overview, one is tempted to pay more attention to recent tracks not those which were on rotation in first months of that year. Nevertheless I tried to get more or less correct picture by scanning through my charts, mixes and record piles as well as checking other people's the bests of 2007, so the result should reveal the records which either I used to heavily play/listen or which I found just recently by browsing other charts and sort of catching up the missed but worth-to-check tracks.

So, how the year 2007 looked liked in dance music terms? The subgenre called minimal, although this signifier was still quite large and diverse, strenthened its position, to some degree even went pop(ular), conquering places like Ibiza and even partly pushing out proghouse and trance in the mainstream circles. Consequently, as it happens, too many producers taked advantage of the situation and too many avarage or even boring and all sounding the same records appeared. On the other hand, this kind of music, unlike the buzz about nu rave, which was largely created by media and the fashion biz, minimal techno kept being far too complex and mutating subgenre, which had always been also firmly connected to the tradition of house and techno music in general, merely trying to reinvent itself.

Nevertheless, last year there were many maybe not really surprising but still very good records, and because of the bigger competition producers had to be original and find their own ways to stand out, so at the end of a day one's talent and skills were what mattered in production. There were producers still pushing the boundaries within this subgenre, trying out complex rhythmic structures, using more and more obscure sampling methods etc. Regarding this, first of all, Luciano's Cadenza label comes to my mind, probably the best label in 2007 regarding innovative yet organic electronic dance music.

Furthermore, a good track, no matter it's called minimal or something else, got to have either particular mood (call it soul if you prefer) or at least some interesting idea. In my view, these qualities mark the difference between good music and the one which is nothing special or too technical. Even the most devoted minimal techno producers were not ashamed to use some melodic or melancholic elements or, for instance, classic house music chords. Some others used vocals or extensively sampled world music - first of all, the traditional Latin American music, which was a trend on its own and it seemd that almost every respected producer tried to include some phrase in Spanish in his creations, but also Bulgarian choirs (Stefan Goldmann's Lunatic Fringe), African and Berber traditional music (Guillaume & The Coutu Dumonts; Jan Driver), Japanese chanting etc. Others were more keen of incorporating elements of jazz music (releases on Milnor Modern label, Robag Whrume's track Ikke's Schlonze and, of course, Mathias Kaden's and Onur Özer's amazing releases on Vakant, also the whole French funky micro-house community with Circus Company in its avant-garde and artists like Mossa, Nôze and dOP, and last but not least Mathew Jonson and Co), whereas some others sampled classic orchestra instruments (e.g. Jaxson, Sebo K).

Deep techno/tech-house was still alive and kicking - from quality deliveries by Liebe*Detail to more the classic Basic Channel like dub techno sound of Brendon Moeller and Echospace/DeepSpace and the associates.

But not always quantity of tiny details were the key to success - thus Dial's Prince Du Pantha and Efdemin proved that it is possible to create outstanding music mainly relying on smart use of melodies, still keeping beats and samples quite simple. The other trend of "simplicity" was getting back to analogue house (Move D, Theo Parrish) and techno (Carl Craig) sound, first of all which concerned analogue drum-machines.

The others kept exploring that cross-genre which uses elements of bleepy tech-house, rather profound melodies, something of so called neo-trance and electro-house. From this camp producers like Stephan Bodzin, Guy Gerber, Gregor Tresher, Radioslave among many others might be mentioned.


In fact, it wasn't my attention to make a thorough analysis of e-music trends in 2007, I just wanted to affirm that there were many things to choose from. Now, let's get down to my top tracks - here are my 33 faves in 2007 with brief comments. They are in no particular order; in some cases I didn't bother myself to pick just one track, so I left both tracks or entire EP; and some are actually released in 2006, yet they were significant personally for me or generally in 2007.

> Antilope & Tigerskin - Just In Case [Kompass]

A high-voltage dancefloor banger, which loves to be played out loud and which accompanied me on many DJ missions, never letting me down.

> Guillaume & The Coutu Dumonts - Sous L'Arbre [Circus Company]

This guy (Canadian if I'm not mistaken) is one of my recent discoveries. He masterly fuses tech-house beats with jazz and world music samples. Sous L'Arbre is from his last release The Djinns EP on French imprint Circus Company.

> Petre Inspirescu – Racakadoom [Cadenza]

The Romanian talant Inspirescu released a great and highly abstract double 12" Tips on Cadenza, and this particular tune is the funkiest one.

> Simon Baker – The Fly [Connaisseur Supérieur]

It was likely one of my most played records last year... and people still keep responding to its energetic beat.

> Cobblestone Jazz – Put The Lime in Da Coconut [Wagon Repair]

Having been one of the grooviest and coolest Coblestone Jazz's offerings, it was a pleasure to mix it, hear it on the party or just listen at home. They had also an album out on K7.

> Pier Bucci - Chiloé EP [Crosstown Rebels]

Very solid tech-house EP, can't even tell which track I like most. Melancholic melodies, low basses, remarkable production.

> Jaxson – Smokemachine [FreakWaves]

A dramatic and moody track sampling many live instruments - an orchestra on da beat.

> Murat Tepeli feat. Prosumer - Rides [Playhouse]

In fact, I couldn't choose between this release and the one on Osgut Ton, but what matters more is that Tepeli and Prosumer had provided us with some brilliant songs showing that it's still possible to produce no-nonsense house music with soulful feel. Hardly waiting for their LP.

> Matt John – Olga Dancekowski [Bar25]

Matt John had succeeded to create a track with an irresistable groove that keeps one move on and on until finally the breakdown starts telling us a brief story about some Olga... The only problem was when I played back to back with other fellow DJs that usually they were too impatient to wait until this point.

> Mikael Stavöstrand Feat. Big Bully – Please My Pain EP [Thema]

He was actually one of my favorite producers last year, in which he delivered several top notch productions.

> Depeche Mode - The Sinner In Me (Villalobos remix) [Mute]

Although it was out already in the autumn of 2006, for me it got impotant in 2007. I remember that at first that long, bare intro and entire remix didn't really catch me, but once I heard it around 7 a.m. in a club, and hooked I was. Sweet!

> Minilogue - Elephant's Parade [Wagon Repair]

It's all about bass and dark yet jazzy mood.

> Random Play - Just Like That [Puzzle Traxx]

This lovely and groovy gem with funny vocal samples actually came out in December 2006, however, on my radars it appeared later.

> DJ Koze - All the Time / Cicely [Philpot]

DJ Koze isn't the most prolific producer, so every release is something special in a way, and his style is truly original too... Last year's release on Philpot is really cute - All the Time has that Koze's typical tension coupled with spooky yet funny sounds and voice, whereas Cicely is a lovely and melodic more laid-back tune.

> Kollektive Turmstrasse - Grillen Im Park [Connaisseur]

This KT's breakthrough release was an essential summer anthem. It was nice to see the guys performing at Space:Garage.

> Nôze - Remember Love [My Best Friend]

Another catchy and untypical track, which was big throughout the year. Every time I hear these chords and singing it makes me smile and want to chant along.

> Onur Özer - Orion [Vakant]

Wicked syncopated drums and frenzy background sweeps set an energetic drive. Certainly, many Onur's tracks were outstanding.

> Sebastien Leger - Moon [Mistakes]

Despite the fact that electro-house wasn't trendy any more, I don't care - this track was a bomb on a dancefloor. Actually the entire album titled The Planets was remarkable.

> Mark August – Old Joy / Just Like That [Connaisseure]

Neat and melodic production. I'm sure we'll hear more about this guy.

> Ricardo Villalobos – No 1 Encuentro Latinoamericano de la Soledad [Sei Es Drum]

The man of the moment delivered some outstanding remixes last year, a special Fabric mix and a long-player, in which this track is one of the most DJ friendly. Its evolving chanting in Spanish gradually creates a kind of joyous state of mind. Otherwise, Villalobos kept producing long tracks with complex rhythmic structures, loose composition and overall narcotic-like effect.

> Gus Gus - Moss [Pineapple]

This superb electropop tune was an instant hit when it came out and kept rocking dance-floors all summer long, also in Space:Garage.

> Robag Whrume - Ikke's Schlonze [Musik Krause]

Whrume's take on jazz. Is it more jazz or techno?

> Efdemin – Acid Bells (Matt O'Brian remix) [Métisse]

This remix adds some straighter and tougher techno beat to the original, genuily playing around those bells. Designed for dancefloors.

> Lerry Heard pres. Mr. White - The Sun Can't Compare [Alleviated]

It's been out longer than a year, but definetely it got big just the last year. Perhaps, even too big, but nevertheless this lovely acid house track deserved is very special.

> Luciano - Nunca Tiene Bastante [Cadenza]

Arguably the best track from his mighty Etudes Electroniques EP. It has one of the grooviest beats around but echoing spooky laughs add some psychadelia.

> Dubfire - I Feel Speed (Audion remix) [Cocoon]

I share the sceptical view regarding Deep Dish's guy's debut in the minimal scene and that his tracks are overrated. However, M.Dear's remix, which is included in Coccon Compilation F, is excellent - those destorted synths sound almost like electric likembes played by Konono No.1.

> Alex Under - Extrapezlo [Trapez]

One of the funkiest things I've ever heard from A.Under, hard to resist on a dancefloor.

> Kassem Mosse - Untitled A1 [Workshop]

Electro beat with Jonsonesque bassline and nice melodic twists, fading out with some ambient at the end.

> Voodeux - The Spell [Mothership]

I think that this might be my favorite Mothership's release so far - it's dark and beautiful, full of tiny details.

> Brendon Moeller - Jazz Space EP [Third Ear]

B.Moeller along with DeepChord/Echospace guys prove that deep dub techno can still be intriguing and demanded. All 4 tracks are great.

> Prince Du Pantha - Moonstruck [Dial]

This one I've chosen as a representative of his fabulous album This Bliss.

> Kabale Und Liebe - Mumbling Yeah [Arearemote]

Another great example where minimal beat meets soulful vocal. What a gorgious break-down, I bet it would be possible to make a perhaps beatless remix just out of it.

> Al Usher - Gnanfou [Misericord]

An amazing electrofied piece of disco.



> Kalabrese - Rumpelzirkus [Stattmusik]
> DeepChord presents Echospace - The Coldest Season [Modern Love]
> Onur Özer - Kaşmir [Vakant]
> Pantha Du Prince - This Bliss [Dial]
> Melchior Productions Ltd. - No Disco Future [Perlon]

the best electronica LPs:

> Boxcutter - Glyphic [Planet Mu]
> Sun Electric - Lost & Found (1998-2000) [Shitkatapult]
> Gudrun Gut - I Put A Record On [Monika Enterprise]


> Cadenza
> Connaisseure
> Circus Company
> Vakant
> Mothership


the best live acts:

> Nôze @ Fuse, Lessizmore
> Mouse On Mars @ Exit07
> Nathan Fake @ LeMEME festival
> Kim Hiorthoy @ Exit07
> Anthony Rother @ Fuse


the best DJ sets:

> Jeff Mills @ Fuse
> Mathias Kaden @ Fuse, Lessizmore
> Heidi @ LeMEME festival


fxz said...

Brilliant article!
For me 2007 was all about new music - I started to explore a lot of different genres of electronic music - bought lots of minimal / idm / dubstep / electro etc etc records.
Recently I have discovered a new interesting genre - glitch-hop. I think 2008 will be all about glitch for me. :)
However, this review will help me digg deeper in techno music - so thank you for that.

::: hencha a.k.a. neon b. ::: said...

thanks mate!

well, this wasn't a thorough analysis of the continously mutating music in 2007, rather a brief synopsis of general impressions...

I can just agree that there is so much different music floating around that it's hardly possible to cover everything. Regarding glitch/click-hop, it's not a new genre, but there's happening an interesting mixture of these glitchy production techniques and more "pop sound".

Well, let's keep digging, enjoying and sharing nice music!