Monday, 7 January 2013

Steve's Best of 2012

Monday, 7 January 2013

Sorry to be a little late off the mark!

2012 was a pretty decent year in electronic music wasn't it? In it, we saw a modern batch of tech house gain a steady foothold - names like Jamie Jones, Maya Jane Coles, Seth Troxler and Maceo Plex rang out often and all over the world.

But what were the highlights? Below is a wee little list of my picks of the year.
A little note:
I haven't placed this 'best of 2012' list into any particular order - nor can I say that each song is my absolute pick of the year. Instead, consider this list to be a collection of my highlights of the year - whether it be a fantastic album, a consistently excellent output of work, killer track, or remarkable breakout year.

Here goes:

My pick's of 2012

John Talabot - When the Past Was Present

Spain's John Talabot teased the ripples of attention from 2011 into a full-blown tidal wave in 2012 following the release of his debut LP 'Fin'.
It was a true crossover hit - one that truly showcased his remarkable talents.
Thick, emotional compositions, intelligent collaborations and delicate alt touches framed 'Fin' and made it one of the enduring successes of the year.


Levon Vincent - Speck's Jam

2012 has been nothing short of frenetic for New York house maven Levon Vincent. A lengthy, all-encompassing world tour followed on from the wild success of two major 2012 works; his 'Stereo Systems' EP and an entry into the Fabric mix series -the 63rd edition.
The subtlety, patience and overwhelming groove present in all of Vincent's work is something inspiring. They represent all of the best things in techno and house music today. 2012 was big for Levon Vincent, but I'm sure things will get even bigger in 2013 as his reputation spreads.


Daphni - Jiao

I don't think that any of us expected Dan Snaith to grab dance music by the scruff of the neck in the way that he has.
First as Caribou and now as Daphni, Snaith is hellbent on raising the bar in clubland and instilling a sense of magic back into the scene.
The release of 'Jialong' in October brought with it not only rave reviews, but also some memorable quotables.. Here is one:

"Set against the backdrop of bland and functional dance music and the mind-numbing predictability of the EDM barfsplosion currently gripping the corporate ravesters, there is a small world where dance music lives up to its potential to liberate, surprise and innovate. It's there that I hope Daphni has a place."

It is refreshing that one of the true leaders of electronic music has such transparency and vision. Here's to hoping that 2013 (and a new Caribou album?) will serve him well.


Matthew Dear - Get the Rhyme Right

The talented Matthew Dear continued to expand his catalogue in 2012 with his fifth full length album 'Beams' - an intriguing and wonderfully written piece that continues the 'tech/pop' exploration from his '10 opus 'Black City'.
Although there are moments that harken back to the lively, fun and upbeat moments from 'Black City', it is the darker, more introspective moments that really showcase his lyrical prowess and musical ingenuity.

My personal favourite thing about 'Beams' was it's enduring appeal. I genuinely found myself coming back to this LP again and again throughout the year - it really works amazingly well as a body of work.

I have eagerly followed the maturation and transformation in Dear's work throughout the years. After starting with a more club orientated sound, he has evolved into a challenging and sometimes brilliant producer. I look forward to seeing what is next.


Todd Terje - Inspector Norse

I really am proud of Mr. Terje. In a time when purists generally thumb their noses at the often sugary world of disco house and his contemporaries have abandoned him for a more psychedelic world - this is what he comes up with. A tune that is so damned excellent that not even the most hardened purist could resist it's bubbly, feel-good charms.
Innocent melodies and soaring climaxes are all ingeniously pieced together by Terje to make what will probably be the most memorable tune of '12.

Well deserved plaudits have consistently flowed in for Terje's work - remember that 'Ragysh' and 'Snooze 4 Love' were both in the top 5 of Resident Advisors Top Tracks of 2011. All of this seems to make it pretty clear that Terje is - somewhat surprisingly - one of the most talented house producers out there today.

Top Mix

Despite a wealth of excellent mixes this year, I really felt that two stood head and shoulders above the rest. One was from Dan Snaith's Daphni, and the other from Blouse heartthrob Nicolas Jaar:

This epic, 7.5 hour beast of a mix was recorded by Snaith at Daphni's Jialong release party in London towards the end of the year.
What astounded me about it was the sheer diversity and range of songs present. Jazz, techno, rock and bass music are expertly woven together to create one hell of a musical journey.


Another year, another notable outing by everyone's favourite wunderkind.
When my Facebook wall was flooded by people of all walks of life gushing about Jaar's Essential Mix, I knew that something special was afoot.
Like Daphni's Bussey Building mix, the variety on here is astonishing - jazz, rap, classical piano, boy band pop and techno are just some of the genres present on this mix. But what is most impressive is the cohesive nature - and  narrative of the mix.

So that's it!

All five of my selections can be downloaded here.
Omar's picks are here.
The whole lot is right 'ere.

Thanks again for an awesome 2012! Here's to a wonderful and (hopefully) post filled 2013!

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