Thursday, December 29, 2005

The year's highlights in music.

Instead of a simple top ten 12" list, or top ten album list, I'm just going to write here about a few of the things to do with music which really made the year for me. There might be ten of them, or there might not.


The Girls EP on the Shadetek label: Starting a 2005 list with an EP from 2004 might be a bit off the mark, but it was this year when this amazing release made it into my hands. Four great but very different tracks from four great artists. Tiombe Lockheart starts it out in meltingly soulful style, folowed by Team Shadetek bringing a slow asiatic dirge. The flip has a remix of Drop The Lime's Glassy Eye's; a highlight off his album (see below). Modeselektor closes it with an absolute slamming remix of Jahcoozi's Black Barbie. This final is worth the price alone, but getting the other three thrown in is a sweet deal. Look for this year's The Dudes EP to be in my 2006 list. I'm itching for my vinyl mule to visit London again so I can get my hands on it.

The Return of Caro, Caro, on Orac: To be honest, the majority of 4/4 techno I heard this year really didn't do much for me, at all. Perhaps it's because it all had to be held up to this effort from Seattle's own Randy Jones. The Return of Caro is a true album, in the Sgt Pepper's sense of the word - a cohesive body of work, thematically linked from go to whoa. And it's damn fine music to boot. From soulful crooning to whip-cracking enjoinder, Caro's voice is the icing on this cake.

Planet Mu 12"s: This year I discovered and fell in love with Mike Paradinas' Planet Mu label. From the digital ragga of 8FM's Low-bite Riddim, the dubstep of Vex'd's Degenerate, the grime of Virus Syndicate's Slow Down, through to the epic sampladelic jungle of the man himself's Ease Up 12" as mu-Ziq, it was a corker year for this label. I'm glad I found it.

Smash, Jackson and His Computer Band, on Warp: The first three tracks on this album are so sublime it hurts. The fact that the rest of the album doesn't live up to the opening trio is probably a good thing. Perfection in music shouldn't happen that easily.

This Means Forever, Drop the Lime, on Tigerbeat6: Love this album! Hard-and-fast-as-you-like breaks and samples thrown at you, but not relentlessly as some breakcore albums do. DTL breaks up his breaks, and brings some soul to the proceedings. Vital.

Shamelessly Exciting, Jason Forrest on Sonig: When we talk about something that "rocks", it's come to mean more than it did originally. So when I say this album rocks, I actually mean it in that original sense. It is most decidely an electronic music album, but in its samples and sensibility there is a lot of rock-and-roll. Is this the future of electronic music, or just a wildly entertaining side-bar?

Hott DJ mixes: (Modeselektor's Boomkat mixtape, This is Spank Rock, How to Kill the DJ-part 2, Knifehandchop and DJ Aneurysm's Shotgun Wedding). These CDs reinvigorated my faith in the disc jockey as artist, and the magic that comes from simply sequencing and blending two tracks together. If only I had their skills.

Other notables: Ghislain Poirier's Breakupdown, Knifehandchop's How I Left You, Crunc Tesla's What's Really Rad EP, Skream's Angry/Traitor


Blentwell: Crucial clearinghouse of mixes.
Boomkat: Crucial mailer of fine musical selections. Get me to London again!
Mudd Up!: DJ/Rupture's personal blog with interesting thoughts and music regularly posted.
Blackdown: Now I know where to get the skinny on UK's future bass music.


The biggest musical disappointment of the year for me was missing the Decibel Festival here in Seattle. Despite that I did go to some fantastic shows, the best of which were:

Caro at Krakt: Sweet mercy, I love to rave.

Hawtin at the Showbox: Despite the questionable 'do and ever-more dodgy persona, he sure can DJ. Jabstract and Bruno Pronsato slew it too. Top line-up, top night.

Kid606, Knifehandchop, Eats Tapes, DJ Collage at Chop Suey: By far and away the best show of the year for me. I raved so hard, I had a neck-ache for a week, and I was actually jealous of the guy with the glowsticks up the front. Here's hoping there's more shows like this in 2006.

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