Sunday, January 18, 2009

10 best albums in 2008

Here's my selection of 10 the best e-dance music albums in 2008.

> Bruno Pronsato – Why Can't We Be Like Us LP [Hello? Repeat]

The year started promising - this outstanding LP is a good example of what minimal can be and once was supposed to be – an abstract and boundaries-pushing form of techno (or house, if you prefer) full of unexpected twists, complex percussion, very detailed work with samples. Pronsato’s album was a masterpiece of this kind.

> Ricardo Villalobos – Vasco EP [Perlon]

Too much praised producers sometimes get stuck to the same formulas not being able to surprise any more. Fortunately, it was not the case for Villalobos, who delivered some tasty remixes and this 2x12" EP. The first part (containing also remixes by Schackleton and San Proper) was particularly surprising and interesting when I heard it for the first time and it has succeeded to remain such. Dark, deep and spaced-out atmospheres, accented snares and hi-hats, generous bass flows… Mimimoonstar is based around a jazzy motif which seems to be created from a distorted bell sound, whereas Electronic Water with its tense yet flowing groove has obvious references to dubstep, also leaving some room for some jazzy intonations. An instant classic.

> Lee Jones – Electronic Frank [Aus]

If you like melodies and if you would prefer not having obvious clichés (my case as well), this album by Lee Jones (as well as his other and MyMy productions) is highly recommended. He has succeeded to interweave classic house chords into an innovative micro-house form spiced with many organic yet very fitting samples and instruments. In general, it is very vibrant, positive and uplifting record which sounds completed and homogenous – all tracks are on the right place, no fillers at all. It is hard to pick up any favorites, so good they are, and they work the best altogether as an album, that’s why I haven’t put any particular track in my “tracks of the year” selection. Painfully beautiful.

> Deadbeat – Roots And Wire [Wagon Repair]

Canadian producer Scott Monteith is known for his digital dub and dancehall influenced electronica. However, lately his output on Wagon Repair leans towards more straight dancefloor riddims. While his recent EP’s contained solid yet not very impressive deep and dubby techno tracks, he has certainly scored with this album – tracks like Grounation, Deep Structure, Night Stepping are heavyweight dancefloor rockers. Also, the production qualities are amazing – the beats are very tight, swinging basslines – profound. It makes me think of all kind of -step music, as well as Berghain’s/Ostgut’s sound. Apart from the obvious dance tracks, Roots And Wire still has some reggae action with guest vocals from Paul St.Hilaire aka Tikiman (bless him Jah Almighty!), but these songs fit in greatly for the opening and the final of the album. As a result, it’s an exceptionally well prepared and served food for your mind and body.

> Shed – Shedding the Past [Ostgut Ton]

No surprise this album was voted by many music portals as the number one. Again, basically it offers a very original form of dubstep-influenced techno. Very clean, reduced beats married with gradually evolving ethereal melodies. No more, no less, but it works great.

> Prosumer & Murat Tepeli – Serenity [Ostgut Ton]

By this long-player Prusumer and Murat Tepeli proved that analogue (Chicago) house music can still be kicking and intriguing. Excellent tracks created by quite simple means which affirms the truth that great music doesn’t necessarily need abundance of instruments and state-of-art technology, rather – a good talent and feel for a right groove. This is true house music.

> Minilogue – Animals [Cocoon]

Even if some tracks were heard previously as singles and the general impression about this album was that it sounded very Minilogue-like, it was still very remarkable release. Although it mainly contains their typical phat saturated basslines, progressing melodies and jazzy keys, a few different, deeper tracks are present, too (notably, In A Distance; Cow, Crickets And Clay). Their music may be not too surprising any more, but no doubt it is very well produced, giving impression that the guys can also play actual instruments well. So, the result is not one of those many boring, standardized minimal products, but it sounds bubbling, vibrant and, well, just musical.

> Loco Dice – 7 Dunham Place [Desolat]

Loco Dice together with help from Martin Buttrich has created a very pleasant, moody album, apparently dedicated to Brooklyn. Evolving melodies, distant piano chords, excellent sapmpling and outstanding production in general – the result is a nice balance between dreamy, subtle and delicate soundscapes, on one hand, and well-managed tension, on the other hand. The ultimate gems include such tracks as M Train To Brooklyn which is based around a repeating voice sample and a sound of passing train. Another one, La Esquina, starts off with a repeating piano house chord, accompanied with delayed hi-hats, then additional keys appear and about the midway through a thumping bassline unleashes. And that’s not all – a marvelous album.

> Stefan Goldmann – The Transitory State [Macro]

The first of the two CDs is a slightly edited selection of his tracks mainly for his own Macro imprint which all sound together surprisingly well. So, it’s a kind of retrospective collection. As far as I remember, my first acquaintance with Stefan Goldmann was through Lunatic Fringe. At the time when the use of traditional music elements was so widespread that it started to get annoying, this track didn’t seem anything special, besides the sampling of a Bulgarian choir seemed too direct, i.e. the sample was too big and uncut. Although I still think that Lunatic Fringe is not his best track, the whole album gives a good idea about his sound which is very melodic yet having some deep and even haunting elements. Tracks like Sleepy Hollow, Beluga and The Bribe are among the best.

> Sten – The Essence [Dial]

Sten, who might be more known as Lawrence, along with other Hamburgians, Carsten Jost and Turner, runs the well-known Dial record label. As one may expect, this album contains the typical Dial characteristics, for instance, rather than paying attention to sampling and complex rhythmic structures, it's melodies, atmospheres and instrumentation that stands out. Additionally, this album owes much to the classic Detroit techno sound. At the moment my favorite tracks are Squares, The Essence and Take Me To Fridge. A very solid Hamburg meets Detroit affair.

33 in 2008

Hello, sisters and brothers! The year 2009 has already begun its journey towards its logic end, and, supposedly, the first post should deal with a roundup of the previous year, which, in musical terms, was not bad at all. Although there were no big surprises, the existing branches of what we know as electronic dance music kept growing, thriving and mutating into new exciting forms. So, here we go again – below you can find my selection, a fairly subjective one, of those house ‘n techno tunes which seemed to have been the most important to me in 2008, i.e., either they have been heavily present in my DJ-ing répertoire or simply I have found them being outstanding pieces of the contemporary beat music. I have picked up 33 tracks. Furthermore, posts with listings of 10 best albums and the most important record labels will follow soon.

33 tracks (in no particular order)

> Move D. feat. Fragment – Untitled [Workshop]
> Marcus Meinhardt – Jerry Lee (Marek Hemmann Remix) [Upon.You]
> Heinrichs & Hirtenfellner – Tromp It [Supdub]
> Mutant Clan – Kenesai [Connaisseur]
> Stimming – Una Pena [Diynamic]
> Brendon Moeller – Electricity [Leena]
> Appleblim & Peverelist – Over Here (Beat Pharmacy remix) [ApplePips]
> The Per Eckbo Orchestra – Kodo Verano [Oslo]
> Matias Aguayo – Minimal [Kompakt]
> Ricardo Villalobos – Minimoonstar [Perlon]
> Dave Aju – Anyway [Circus Company]
> DOP – Horns N Roses [Eklo]
> Deadbeat – Deep Structure [Wagon Repair]
> Seth Troxler – Love Never Sleeps [Crosstown Rebels]
> The House Vectorz – We Bring U Muzik [M>O>S]
> Seuil – Double Room [Moon Harbour]
> October – Say Again [Perspektiv]
> Guillaume & The Coutu Dumonts – Can’t Argue With Silence [Circus Company]
> Martin Zadak – Zahara [White]
> Henrik Schwarz & Amampondo – I Exist Because Of You (Henrik Schwarz Live Version) [Innervisions]
> Carl Craig & Moritz von Oswald – ReComposed (R. Villalobos "Uli, Mein Ponyhof" remix) [Deutsche Grammophon]
> H.O.S.H. – Under A Fig Tree [Diynamic]
> DJ Koze – I Want To Sleep [I.R.R.]
> Invisible Conga People – Cable Dazed [Italians Do It Better]
> Reboot – Vandong [Below]
> Guillaume & The Coutu Dumonts – Halleluyah Yeah [Oslo]
> My My – Day For Night [Playhouse]
> Luciano & Mirco Loco – Liah [Desolat]
> Bruno Pronsato – What They Wish [Hello? Repeat]
> Kontext – Plumes [Immerse]
> Sis – Dim Dim [Cecille]
> Stimming – The Anger [liebe*detail]
> Move D – Cube [Running Back]