2010 began in a "chillwave", or at least that's what the kids were calling it. Dubstep was either in ascendancy or decline, depending on who you talked to, and either way, high energy sounds (especially rock-centric ones) were on the way out. For the most part, the trend away from rock and roll continued (my hetero-lifemate and I defied the trend, perhaps giving it a good send-off down south with this mix), early in the year.
The electro-banger persisted, in spite of those of us on the other side of that Geiger-counter begging people to stop remaking Pon De Floor with a 4/4 (or morse-code).
What follows then is an off-year list, one in which narrative builds gave way to experimentation rather than the search for climactic moments. What did I look for in my sets? The same things I always do, stuff that's good on or off the floor, with or without pills, of the moment but not a slave to it, and quite possibly crossover music for the bleep-blop resistant.
Here goes, in no particular order:
Jamie Lidell - I Wanna Be Your Telephone (Tiga's Party like it's 19909 mix)
Smooth, instrumentally spare, loquacious and surprisingly epic, this is a down, slow and dirty groove good for catchin' 'em unawares. Only for adventurous DJs (DO NOT SPEED THIS UP! 118bpm is just right, don't ruin it):
Scissor Sisters - Invisible Light (Siriusmo mix)
From the Teutonic wonder-kid, this remix is harmonious with the original, able to stand on its own, and just absolutely smashes it, through and through:
BT - Le Nocturne de Lumiere
Go ahead, count the notes. Count the edits. Count the sheer number of sounds. I dare you. Or just take it in. This is what BT does. These Hopeful Machines is as much an attempt at mainstream success as BT has tried since Emotional Technology, and as such it is a beautiful, powerfully earnest, but genuinely emotional and frankly transcendent record of electronic music. The man writes music for healing that works as dance music. I don't care what style you're into, you simply must hear BT, whatever he's doing. This is the most "underground" cut on the record, deep into the second disc, but even at his most anthemic, he could make the most hardened dance-music cynic sit up. As well we all should:
Om Unit - Searching (Adam Freeland mix)
Adam Freeland has had an amazing year, and he's done it on the DL. After two years working on and touring from his Freeland album Cope, he's turned back to DJ sets, touring and trainspotting. His ears manage to find un-charted records that yearn to be heard, making him a DJ in the classical sense. Do yourself a favor, and go download his most recent set here. My goodness, new things you will hear. The set also includes this bangarang fucking remix of Om Unit from late summer:
TWR72 - Shock
The Walk & Rogerseventytwo are two Dutch guys with wild imaginations. To me, this record is breaks. Period. It's the boom-tap, baby, just wobbly, and then that build and release? Flawless. Listen here.
Ramadanman - Work Them
This kid is twelve or some shit. And he has this kind of rhythm structure in his brain. Whatever, he's the closest thing to dubstep I'm really embracing right now, though there are others. This guy won me over with this song, slowly and gradually, and then I began to discover his other work, which is really impressive for a young-un. He's the most accessible experimenter of 2010. Also, this track is definitely breaks, not dub, in case you wanna fight about it:
Coin Operated Boy - Trust Me (Clouds mix)
Heard this track in an Evil Nine set, really contrasted the disco-vibe of theirs, in a good way. Gnarly, that's what this is, and that's what Clouds is. Just sick as fuck:
Evil Nine - Auto
Speaking of their disco-vibe, they've really rocked it out with that. Their brand new label For Lovers and three sets of long-form DJ mixes have really changed their direction for them in the past year. Still, don't fret, they remain, as ever, Evil Nine. Here's a clip previewing their new three-track EP, Auto being the track one:
Sandro Silva & Anjiro Rijo - Fifty What (Dem Slackers mix)
Every DJ needs a good Hattori Hanzo sword, and here's one crafted by Dem Slackers, another ridiculously young producer, this time out of the Netherlands:
Cassius - I <3 U So
We're gonna finish it off with some elder statesmen, the classic duo you may remember from the time of Fatboy Slim and Basement Jaxx (as if now isn't also their time), here's some remarkable and gorgeous stuff from Cassius, producing perhaps the first instance of "Frenchstep" I'm aware of. Take it away, 2010: