Top 16 EPs of 2016

Simple Symmetry - НЕБЫЛИЦЫ [XXX]

Released by the Russian brothers Sasha and Serge Lipsky in January this year on Dutch label ‘XXX'. Their EP 'НЕБЫЛИЦЫ' (means fable in English) is packed with a symphony of sounds ranging from Italo disco to house, incorporating dreamy chugging chords and a cracking piano solo in ‘Whip Me in the Saloon’, arguably the best track of the EP. Simple Symmetry place an emphasis on incorporating global sounds: from Middle Eastern, Chinese folk and Nigerian jazz. They have always played with folk music beginings and non-Western rhythm - in doing so they have created very unique pieces of music – truly multi-cultural music. They really fit the style of Dutch label XXX with previous releases by artists Jack Pattern, JMII, Damon Jee and the Mushroom Project. A relatively new label but I think they are definitely onto something with their brand of music. It gives off a chugging cosmic feel that toes the line between dancing and chilling out making it suitable for all different enviornments. Keep your eyes peeled for XXX004 which comes out at the end of Jan next year.

Crue - Crue 4

The mysterious Crue is behind an array of top quality two track EPs, all 10” vinyl only releases. Both tracks on Crue 4 are luscious to say the least, smooth and full of groove. Keep tabs on Crue he’s one of those under-the-radar gems.

André Hommen - Bassari People [Objektivity]  

André Hommen has been making waves throughout the house music world this year. He is a man that lives and breathes the stuff, quite literally: “If I had to describe what house music means to me - it may sound vague - but all I can say is, house music is my motherland, my home…”. His two-part 'Bassari People' EP is an absolute delight. 'Bassari People' itself combines African vocals and a very-electro sounding synth flawlessly. 'A.R.M.C.' on the other hand offers a spacey slowed-down minimal house track that makes for effortless listening. Hats off André.

R Wong - Life Principles [Temple]

Wonderful, reflective record that spans new age to mellow acid by Montreal’s Richard Wenger on his very own Temple Records. The release marked his first solo outing and was carried out to quite some effect. All four tracks stand equally on their own and are definitely best listened to in the comforts of your home setup. For those who haven’t already heard it, ‘Seven Years’, a beautiful ten minute wave of ambience, is well worth checking out.

Quavius - Quavius [Lustwerk Music]

Florida newbie Quavius released his debut eight track EP on Galcher Lustwerk’s own Lustwerk Music back in September. It’s a bold start with a sound that is fresh and original, and is wholly underrated. Label head Lustwerk, who prefers not to give his real name, seems to have found the perfect right hand man for his hip hop/house revolution. ‘Love The Way’ is beaming with funk and chilled out grooves, and honestly, the EP continues to surprise and impress right till the end. It’s an eye opening record that deserves a whole lot of credit which is why we've included it in our top selections of the year. 

Fuga Ronto - Invisible Escape [Phantom Island]

Fuga Ronto is a project between one of the founders of Phantom Island, Foster and his friend, Ron who is behind the Drumpoet Community label. ‘Invisible Escape' is a carefully put together five track piece that interlinks and floats from track to track - a dreamy twenty five minute ride.

Recondite - Osa [Innervisions]

My favourite EP this year was produced by Recondite and released on Innervisions. It’s a subtle techno record, perfectly capturing the more strung out and ethereal nature of Recondite’s diverse production catalogue. A perfect fit for Innervisions, which has always prided itself on breaking the mould and pushing the more groundbreaking, diversified producers and records. 

Recondite’s trademark minimal and stripped backed beat work is crafted into three different forms. A moody and delicate voyage between dance floor and the heavens in ‘Andever’ with its climatic interlude and heavy atmospherics. The Krautrock synthesised roller ‘Nock’, which intentionally or not, nods towards the likes of Tangerine Dream culminating into a stunning synth piece and ‘Osa’, a more Berlin orientated and experimental cross genre track. 

In 2016, Recondite released only six records We don’t have anything against busy producers, but he’s had another fantastic year - highlighting that less can often lead to more.

Detroit Swindle - Hey Mister [Schnitzel Cuts]

Recently featured as the ‘Record of the Week’ on YO, this EP is from our favourite Dutch duo Detroit Swindle. These two classics have been reworked brilliantly, now certified slammers that set dance floors alight. There’s so much to love about both of these edits from the swinging drums to the warm rolling bassline to the chopped up vocals. DS have shown off all the best best bits from the originals and upped the temperature putting their magic, funky, disco touch on!

Penya – Acelere Remix EP [On The Corner Records]

Penya consists of five members who specialise in afro-latin electronic music. ‘Acelere’ was released at the end of November by On The Corner Records. The EP carries a refreshing sound, incorporating tribal funky house that makes you feel like you are partying at Carnival in Rio. Penya is led by the commanding vocals of Angelica Lopez who gives the collective a strong Columbian flavour. Aldofredo Pulido is on bass guitar; he injects an explorative Venezuelan texture to the band. Lili Elina plays synth and sings with Angelica. Magnus Mehta provides the heart racing Cuban guitar element and Jim Le Messurier is the drummer. Le Messurier is heavily connected in the Afro-Cuban santeria scene and is more commonly known for setting up ‘La Clave’, which is a renowned platform for Latin music in the UK.   

The EP is a collection of remixes of the track ‘Aclere’ by Penya. DJ Khalab and Mess Morize come together to produce a progressive house version that has a distinct afro-futuristic funk vibe. Jose Marquez gives the EP a remix and an instrumental. Marquez’s remix is the true winner on this one. He manipulates the vocals to create a lively carnival esque feel and induces a bouncy bassline that you can’t resist. A tune that is one for the DJ’s who want to instil some Latin fire and groove into their set.

Tell & Name - Grand Ecart [Beat X Changers]

In May two brilliant French producers Tell Name offered a soft, warm and laid-back approach to their production style. The four house oriented originals are split with Tell on the A-side delivering two glittery, pillow soft tracks, both of which contain addictive vocal hooks. Perfect for winding down your evening. Whilst on the B-side Name provides two more delightful tracks full of groove. Overall a solid offering and one that I have had on repeat!

Willow – Workshop 23 [Workshop Records]

Trying to select favourite EPs over the course of a twelve month period is hard. Especially with a year like 2016. I tend to make my decisions based on one of three factors: whether it truly stands out in functionality or uniqueness; those that I keep returning to out of fondness; or those that I hold back on listening to too often in fear of overplaying and loosing the speciality. It’s the latter reason why I’ve chosen Willow’s second release on Workshop (which we featured in our Top Five back in September).  The A2 track has quite rightly taking a top spot on several end of year track listenings. The term ‘Deep’ gets thrown around a lot when describing music these days, rightly or wrongly – but this really is. The warmest sub-bass, minimalist and heart-piercing vocals. The B2 track is as equally emotively charged. Willow’s off-key sound and abstract composition has set her aside from anyone in the ‘outsider’ house category. This EP has been an incredible follow-up to her first EP on Workshop, and I really look forward to her future releases. 

Paride Saraceni - Burning [Truesoul]

Picked up by Adam Beyer for his lesser-known label Truesoul, ‘Burning’ consists of three energetic dance floor weapons by Italian Techno artist, Paride Saraceni. This release came at the beginning of the year and really set the tone for the rest of what has been arguably Saraceni’s best year to date. Only a few months after ‘Burning’, his debut release on ‘the little brother of Drumcode’, he returned with another three tracker which is an impressive feat in such a short space of time on an esteemed underground techno label.

Tissu – Space Loop (Lobster Theremin)

After a 2015 release on murkier sublabel Mörk, Tissu has graduated to big brother Lobster Theremin and his ‘Space Loop’ EP wondrously meshes hazy, cloud soaked dubby techno with both crackly and low pass filtered ambient and deep house to produce a cosmic wonder!

The mark of any good EP is shown here with the absence of a headline-grabbing track. On the A-side ‘Space Loop’ chuggs its way through the stratosphere before ‘RV Jam’ throws in shards of acid and wobbling drum programming. ‘Filter' (Dub) fully occupies the B-Side as a semi-fuzzy groover. Brilliant!

EX-TERRESTRIAL - Paraworld [1080p]

Incredible, futuristic four tracker by Montreal’s Adam Feingold under his Ex-Terrestrial alias on the much-loved 1080p. The record provides the perfect balance between breaks and ambience and draws similarities to the mellower 90’s IDM releases from the likes of Reload/The Black Dog/Autechre. After releases on Apron and Temple as well over such a short period; Feingold is certainly one to keep an eye on in the coming year.

Orphx and Rrose – Summer Solstice Edition [Khemia Records]

Khemia Records is a new London-based label pushing intense soundscaped techno, and what better two artists to have on their second release. Rrose has had a great year with releases on Function’s Infastructure Label, two returns to Stroposcopic Artefacts, an exquisite live set at Dekmental, and a RA podcast.  ‘Emboli’ is simply Rrose at her best: rigorous soundscape work that plunges the listener into layer upon layer of eccentric sonics, which blend tightly to create a hypnotic whirlwind. As futuristic of Rrose, the track is made up of a disarray of droney hums, whilst polyrhythmic pads carry the track forward. The track weirdly resembles some kind of deranged computer or artificial intelligence.  Orphx’s ‘Aurora’ is no less intense. This track is another perfect display of what these two Canadian industrial soundscapists are about: dramatic other-wordly drips and drones, and scathing synths. At over 10 minutes long, the track is marked by its changes. There’s intensifying kicks, drops, distorting murky bleeps, tribal acid squelches, droney builds and an industrial ambient outro. This track has it all, yet remains a proper heady trip that refuses to bore. The EP is innovative and captivating through and through.

Rafael Cerato & Moonwalk - Interstellar [Eklektisch Label]

It’s been a busy year for upcoming UK producer Rafael Cerato, who has released a whopping seven EPs in 2016. For me, the pick of the bunch has been his two-part 'Interstellar' EP [Eklektisch] that he produced with Italian techno heads Moonwalk. Interstellar itself is a song of outstanding production, with long-build ups and dark techno echoes which are sure to ruffle the neck hairs of any d-floor attendees. On the B-side, 'Numb' offers a more housey sound, with an irresistible afro/tribal influence that compliments its more modern sounds perfectly. Put simply, two outstanding tracks!

Chosen by Jack, Fred, Ben S, Chris, Tom G, Hugo, Ben C, Marcus, Ed R & Max