Top 16 Tracks of 2016
Suzanne Kraft – Skype [Kitjen]
Kraft’s debut EP on Kitjen, ‘DJ Safety Track’ was a highlight from the opening months of 2016. Out of the three quirky, leftfield house gems, ‘Skype’ is the most sublime. It’s a truly mesmerizing track that’ll have you grinning ear to ear. The groove’s locked down with the pumping kick and smooth bassline, whilst the dazzling chord progression and bubbly synth line make this such a joyful down-tempo party track.
Red Axes - Avalon [Correspondent Music]
Marking the milestone 50th release on Jennifer Cardini’s Correspondent was the returning Israeli duo Niv & Dori AKA Red Axes. The local heroes in their hometown of Tel-Aviv previously released on Correspondent in 2013; the release ended up being a significant one for both the label and the artists helping to establish them to where they are today. In keeping with their original style the new wave house title track ‘Avalon’ has been been doing the rounds since it’s release last September.
Låpsley - Operator (DJ Koze's Extended Disco Version) [XL Recordings]
2016 saw the breakthrough of UK talent Lapsley with the release of her debut album Long Way Home. On remix duties DJ Koze stepped up to the plate to remix hit track ‘Operator’. Around the time of its release, mid-way through last year, DJ Koze said, "When I heard 'Operator' for the first time, I thought that it was unique and perfect and didn't need a remix at all. But what I could imagine was in fact a ten minute-lasting, slowly unwrapping-itself version”. Koze executed that tweaking it in the best way possible and providing us with a real feel good anthem.
Stream the full ten minute version here.
Kim Brown - Millions [Just Another Beat]
Taken from Kim Brown's Wisdom Is A Dancer album that was released on Berlin based label Just Another Beat. 'Millions' is a track that I have kept returning to since I first heard it. A modern masterpiece, simplicity at its best. Brilliantly structured, based around a few looped notes on a piano. Stirring emotion deeply seeded, lifting hairs on the back of your neck. This track does what only music is capable of doing.
DJ Sotofett - Current 82 (12 Mix) [Keys of Life]
After one of his busiest years, featuring on sixteen records, this 13-minute rollercoaster was perhaps the highlight of them all. It was Keys Of Life’s only release of the year and first since 2014, and this only helped to make the track all the more mysterious. A beautiful, swirling, dub-treated adventure that’s perfect for those early mornings.
Click below to listen.
ANNA - Odd Concept [Diynamic]
One of the Tech-House queens of the year ANNA opened 2016 with her class A banger ‘Odd Concept’. Having played it all last summer Solomun ended up releasing it on his label Diynamic Music as part of the much loved Four To The Floor series on the label. Last year was the Brazilian's best year to date with multiple chart topping releases on Beatport and this year looks set to be another big year with talks of her debut album being released.
Tin Man & Jozef F & Winter Son – Pendle By Night [Acid Test]
Johannes Auvinen aka Tin Man released his 'Fates Unkown' EP, which was the eleventh instalment on Acid Test, a sub label to the L.A based Absurd Recordings. For this project he linked up with Manchester duo Jozef K and Winter Son. The title track and the remix by Erika are no slouch on the EP and the duo’s 303-synth work are second to none but the distinct dreamy melodic influence of Tin Man in ‘Pendle By Night’ is what melted the ears. The track is sublimely hypnotic. Emotive in its nature, the track seeks to speak to the soul with its ambience; however, in all its beauty it still holds enough drama for it to be dropped on the dance floor. A timeless track and one you could expect to hear in the early morning of a festival for a spiritual pick me up. One you should always have waiting in your morning playlist!
Childish Gambino - Redbone [Glassnote Records]
Coming in right at the end of 2016, Donald Glover AKA Childish Gambino drops the absolute gem that is 'Redbone'. The first single of his 1970's Detroit inspired album Awaken My Love and Redbone kills it in a big way. The super funky guitar riff, the subtle slap bass and of course Donald's smooth slightly distorted vocals make this track.
This is an unexpected complete change up from his previous sound and it's gladly revived. The production is slick, but still feels dusty and gleams with analogue crunch. Gambino previous record, Because The Internet was a well received contemporary pop/rap album and rightly so, but 'Redbone'/Awaken My Love is on a completely different level.
With the success of Donald Glovers recent hit TV show, his casting in the latest Star Wars and the release of this incredible record, it seems the sky's the limit for the American.
Henri Texier - Les Là-Bas (Bonobo Remix) [Ninja Tune]
Released on Ninja Tune in April last year was Bonobo’s remix of legendary French jazz bassist Henri Texier's 'Les La-Bas'. Bonobo’s remix manages to carry the original raw guitar strings and set it upon a gentle house swing. It’s a really nice record creating a sound with universal appeal. Arguably one of the best electronic musicians out there, Bonobo continued to go from strength to strength last year. He announced the news that he will be releasing his sixth album Migration at the start of this year and his tour in London sold out literally within seconds. The remix of Henri Texier's track is just another show of musical genius from Bonobo, detached from his usual sound, nevertheless my record of the year.
Colored Music - Heartbeat (Chee Edit) [Japanism]
Fantastic edit by Chee Shimizu of the classic new wave track by Colored Music, released on his new label Japanism. The original is a sought-after gem on the infamous Better Days label and dates all the way back to 1981. Chee maintains all the great qualities of the original but makes it much more accessible for play in the club, highly recommended!
Midland - Final Credits [Re-Graded]
If you haven't heard this on a dancefloor somewhere this year, you simply haven't been to the right places. Midland recently appeared humbled that the tune he made on a dark night in January has proved so popular as a summer anthem, getting airtime by the world's top DJs around the globe. An eerie sample from Lee Alfred's 'Rockin-Poppin Full Tilting' which was a little known release from 1980 is leaked nonchalantly, 'Final Credits' is finely crafted and promotes dancefloor hysteria. No matter how many times you hear it, the tune feels fresh and colourful. If you missed it first (or second) time around on vinyl, it is due to be repressed early this year and will finally receive a digital release.
Bruce - The Trouble With Wilderness [Idle Hands]
This track was the emosh-techno track of 2016. Like with all Bruce’s production, this track is innovative, unique and captivating. The dramatic transitions and the layering of distinctively weird sound textures are what makes the track extraordinary. The whole journey is a head spin, yet the track is hauntingly broody. The pounding flat kick drum creates a meditative pulse which keeps the listener locked in. Dreamy synths, the minimalist composition and the faint vocal echo produces an aura of heart breaking pain. This builds and breaks through the track in waves; it becomes more and more distorted throughout, and is interpreted with jabs and lively percussion. The track comes across as a candid expression of frustration and sadness that turns into some woeful acceptance.
Gilad Kahana – Africa Sheli (Red Axes Remix) (Correspondent)
Red Axes have a cult following in their own right. But there can be no greater sense of vindication than when one of your tracks becomes the staple of the bag, throughout the UK Festival Season, in the hands of a man with one of the UK underground electronic scene’s most cherished statuses…. The Chairman, our Lord and Saviour, Mr Andrew Weatherall.
Robust baseline, floating percussion, doting keys, haunting chants, and an irrepressible drum beat - it’s all there. I paid homage to Señor Weatherall four times this summer, and on each occasion my eardrums were treated to this delight. In those almost ten hours transfixed front-left, mouth agape in awe of the noise emanating from the master’s hands, not once did he become animated…. except to air-drum the fill at 5:10. Says it all really.
Pearson Sound - XLB [Pearson sound]
When looking back over the year, festivals often summarise it very neatly, acting as highlight reels to the bountiful amount of music created. This year’s stand out track at Gottwood and for much of 2016 was Pearson Sound’s mind bending ‘XLB’. I can guarantee you would have heard it at least three times at that festival alone; it was everywhere and quite rightly so. It was a track that made you fall in love all over again. From the opening it grabs you and takes you on a unforgettable ride. It’s one of those melodically simple tracks that you only wished you had produced yourself!
Luxxury - Hold On (Greg Wilson & Peza Remix) [Deep And Disco]
Pioneering Disco veteran Greg Wilson teamed up with Peza, an artist at the core of Wilson’s Super Weird Substance label, to remix ‘Hold On’ by Luxxury which is a classic in itself. Their slightly beefed up, acid-splashed remix adds that bit extra to the original.
Midland - Blush [Graded]
Following another exquisite year Midland has progressed even further as an artist. His DJing style has garnered attention from all over the scene, mainly due to his varied and wide ranging sets - his Essential Mix for BBC1 received the top nod which was thoroughly deserved. In 2016 he got most attention for his Re-Graded release ‘Final Credits’ but for me his original ‘Blush’ is the winner. It’s a track that is as infectious as it is unifying, a track that really fuses the dancefloor and shifts the tone. It’s clubbing gold.
Chosen by Fred, Ben S, Max, Tom G, Oli, Ed R, Ben C, Tobias, Marcus & Jack