Thursday, 29 December 2011

The Best Music of the Year - Albums & Compilations

Hopefully you've all had time to digest my tracks of the year, so now I'm listing my favourite albums and compilations. There probably aren't any surprises to those of you who willingly subject themselves to my endless link spamming on Twitter (yeah, why do you do that to yourselves?) but it's nice to put things in order, isn't it? Collecting and sorting the chaos. Makes it seem like 2011 wasn't entirely a waste of everyone's time.

I only did nine albums of the year as I couldn't think of a tenth (nearly all of my fave albums of the year were from at least two years ago unfortunately), and I didn't want to be like nearly everyone else and just look one up from another rundown. I credit you all with a bit more intelligence than that.


1. Icicle - Under the Ice - Shogun Audio
The sign of a good album for me is that you don't get sick of it, no matter how many times you rinse it. Under the Ice has been the album of 2011 for me for quite a few reasons - it's been the soundtrack to some rather important life-moments, it's helped me get to work on days where I'd rather have peeled my own skin off, it's encouraged people I know to try music outside of their Hospital Records remit, and it's also just made me happy. Fervent overlistening has meant that now I'm a bit bored of everything pre- track three (Breathing Again), but I still rate it as album of the year. Arrows is a fantastic track, I only wish I hadn't heard it so many times. It's my own fault, I suppose. Yes, I do realise most people only gave it 3/5 in reviews, but music is mainly about personal taste, isn't it? A brilliant piece of work, if you haven't got it, sort that out immediately.

2. Silent Dust - Silent Dust - None 60
A very close contender for album of the year, Silent Dust's self-titled album caught me by surprise. A friend linked me to the mix they did for BigUp and I was immediately taken by the atmospheric beauty of the tracks they had created. I particularly love how the entire album seems to hang in the air like mist; tracks like "Levitation Theme" and "Zero Nine Zero" evoke damp city streets and rain flickering in headlights, clicks belonging to what I can't imagine as anything else but a Geiger counter bring gently falling ash and fallout to mind. Somehow it's all incredibly soothing though. That's what I love about it - the music tells stories, it lets you/me imagine landscapes and scenes, and encourages your mind to wander, in a way that lots of drum and bass simply doesn't. They thought I'd forgotten about them too. Was this enough of an outpouring of love, do you think?

3. Marcus Intalex - 21 - Soul:R
An album that I like to think of as a tin of biscuits - bear with me on this. Although I like all of the biscuits (tracks), there are some I like more than others outright (Regrets ft. Riya - Caramel Digestives), there are others I forget that I like and then eat because there aren't any of my faves left and remember that they are amazing (Make Way ft. DRS - all-butter shortbread; Dusk - pink wafers). None of this matters to you of course, because biscuits are a terrible way to describe music. I should explain then, that each track on this album is as well-produced and thoughtfully pieced together as the next, and that throughout it there are huge claps of lightning-and-thunder brilliance that quite honestly take my breath away. An exercise in how drum and bass can be both provoking and intelligent, and this alone is the reason you should go and buy it.

4. Blu Mar Ten - Love Is The Devil - Blu Mar Ten Records
You should already be aware of just how much I love the purple-tinged music of Blu Mar Ten, but I'll go over it again - every aspect of the music that they make is filled with joy. If this isn't enough to make you want to get to know them, how about I tell you that there isn't a bad track on this album? There just isn't. And yes, you saw right, there are no less than eighteen of them on the MP3 version. Into The Light ft. Airwalker has an effortless feeling of lightness; 5 Summers is a work of fingerpainted, joyful art, and Still The One is as fun to listen to as it is to laugh uncontrollably for twenty minutes. The whole album instills me with happiness, but not every song is simply designed to make fools like me grin. Sweet Little Supernova has the type of bass that gives me chills (and makes me see colours), and Problem Child adds a bit of nastiness which is a bit of a welcome break from the somewhat relentless optimism. An absolute joy.

5. Calibre - Condition - Signature
You don't need me to tell you how good Calibre is. He's an amazingly, ludicrously talented man, whom I seem to gain more respect for with every release. This year was fantastic for him, and Condition was met with justified excitement. Stripped back and yet somehow filled with beauty, each track has it's own story and has clearly been pored over in the early hours until it was perfect. That's what I like about Calibre the most I think (bear in mind, 'the thing I like most about Calibre' changes pretty much every week) - you can hear the perfectionism. The special thing about any Calibre album is the sense of sonic pick-and-mix (if you'll excuse the wankiness of that term). The dub of 'No More' and the heavy deepness of 'Shlager' point towards the beginning and the end of a night out, where the delicate warmth of 'Windows' and the depressive yet catchy 'Closing Doors' (ft. DRS) bring it back to perfect headphone material. I think what I'm trying to say is this album is really, really, really good.

6. Kuedo - Severant - Planet Mu
I didn't discover Kuedo until November of this year, and I'm a bit peeved that none of my so-called-friends alerted me to it, given my previous predilection for Vex'd in former years. Severant reminds me of all my favourite electronica artists, but manages to be almost ridiculously accessible - something I feel that many artists are afraid to be. Perhaps that's unfair of me. Maybe some people just find it harder to express themselves in an uncomplicated way. 'Scissors' is the standout track for me, however much of it is borderline perfect, and I know some people have picked out parts I'd have never singled out in a million years as their favourite few seconds or so. That's the beauty of an album like this, you're not just listening out for your the best song, you're listening out for your favourite skipped beat, or the best sample, or that bit that made you laugh because it sounded like a helicopter ditching into a huge bowl of custard. It's wonderful, and I want everyone to listen to it.

7. Zomby - Dedication - 4AD
I rarely buy albums on the strength of their reviews, but Dedication got so many music journalists into some sort of love-drugged simper-stupor I had to see what the fuss was about. A gorgeous album filled with glittering intrigue and aspects of genius, the only criticism I have of it is that 'A Devil Lay Here' loses me and I never really manage to get back in the zone after it finishes. For the tracks that come before it though, I'm more than happy to have invested. 'Natalia's Song' is the closest thing Dedication has to a chart hit, and for that I'm eternally grateful - I don't want my Zomby to step out into the light.

8. Friendly Fires - Pala - XL
An album the exact colours of a roll of refreshers, it smells like summer and cut grass and fires, and makes me think of clouds. It's one of those hugely alcoholic cocktails served in a whole pineapple with ten thousand little brollies and curly straws and sparklers in, and I love, love, love it. I really do hate the face people pull when I tell them I like Friendly Fires. It's the same one they pull when I say I love Springsteen, or The Animals, or Fleetwood Mac (although if you don't like The Mac, then seriously, just fuck off. You're clearly almost dead.) I'm not going to launch into a rhetoric about how shit listening to music to be cool is, just lighten up and order a pina colada every now and again instead of a Red Stripe. You know what I mean? Imagery. Anyway, I've wasted all this review space having a rant, so go and listen to it to see what it's like for yourself.

9. SBTRKT - SBTRKT - Rough Trade
I wasn't sure about SBTRKT when a mate told me to listen to him. "He's got a wanky stage outfit" I protested. "I won't like him. He's not got any vowels, he sounds like a dick." To my dismay, I was wrong (again). He made his entire album free to stream earlier this year, and I listened to it no less than five times in a row before calling said mate and telling her that if she mentioned my micro-tantrum I'd punch her in the thorax. Luckily she only told everybody we went to see him live with. A fabulous album from start to finish, SBTRKT manages to make soulful, attitude-free electronica derived from dubstep and 2-step, and in tracks like 'Hold On' and 'Something Goes Right' uses pop indie lyrics without a knowing nod towards cheesiness, like so many others would do out of self-consciousness. Sampha's voice lends a beautifully soft texture to most of the tracks, and despite my huge dislike for gigs, seeing him sing live was one of my highlights of the year. You should give it a go even just to imagine the smile on my lickul face as you listen.


1. Various - Medschool New Blood 011 - Medschool
Undoubtedly my CD of the year. I've listened to it hundreds of times - if it was a tape, I'd have worn it out. The soundtrack to countless road trips, camping holidays, music festivals (even though I hate them), accidental walks home and train journeys, I can't think of a track from it I don't love. I'll pick a couple of favourites though:

  • Lung - Relapse - A gorgeous combination of textures, a driving bassline, something that sounds like rotary blades and a glittering, shimmery sample in the background that reminds me of City Life by Logistics (one of my all-time favourite songs, actually), this track deserves far more recognition. As does Lung.
  • Eleven8 - Colours of Distance - Stunning. Gorgeous. Wow. And not in a Radio 1 way, I actually mean it. The vocal sample slays me, and when the ludicrously rich bass dives in around the chorus (after "got to let me go..." I can't help but close my eyes every bloody time. I look like a tit, especially on the tube, so cheers for that Edd.
  • Nuage - Missing You - I love Nuage. This track basically explains why. I won't go on, because I could talk about it for years. He's wonderful, he is. I get the feeling I'm going to regret saying that at some point, but for now I'll leave it in.

2. Various - Ingredients Presents Recipe Book Vol. 1 - Ingredients Records
A brilliant and more-or-less flawless account of where deep, minimal and intelligent (although I do hate calling it that, even though it's pretty much true) drum and bass is at in 2011. As the year went on, more and more of the originally obscure artists came to the forefront of the scene, which is just how Ingredients seem to play it. They get there first. Best tracks:

  • Jubei - The Path (Skeptical rmx) - This reminds me of every good night I've had this year. Dropped correctly, this can destroy an entire dancefloor. Also works well on headphones, however you may want to keep a check on your facial expression while you're out in public.
  • Krakota - Be Myself - I already wrote all about this in my tracks of the year post! It's there for a reason, you know!
  • Mute & Mako - Rorschach - Have you heard the bass on this? It's fucking INSANE. It's still got depth and focus behind it though, it draws you in. Pretty much sums up Ingredients for me, really.

3. Various - IM:Ltd Etched In Stone 2 Years Anniversary Edition - IM:Ltd
I dunno if you've heard, right, but IM:Ltd are fucking INCREDIBLE. The amount I go on about them you'd think they were paying me - they aren't (although you'd think I'd get a free t-shirt or something, eh? ;) ). Anyway, I'd have hoped by now that you all know I'd tell the truth even if they WERE paying me. I'm a blunt northern lass. It's pretty much impossible for me to be complimentary on demand. A fantastic portfolio of what sort of thing they like releasing, I genuinely like every track.

  • Fade & Mono - Obelisk - An absolute monster. Dark, creepy, deep and a hurter of a bassline, it's basically made out of all my most favourite things. Plus dancing to it is really fun.
  • Mad Rabbit - Deceiver - A really interesting track from a guy also known as Foreign Concept - you may have heard of him. Bone disintegrating bass as IM:Ltd standard, it's pretty addictive, and those clicks make it really work. That might just be my severe affinity for clicks and claps, however.
  • Kantyze - Eneis Lobby - Deep and heavy shoulder shrugging bizniz, it makes me come over all street and start saying things like "bizniz".

4. Various - Shogun Audio Presents Way of the Warrior - Shogun Audio
Couldn't really miss it out, could I? Such a huge tracklist, and so many big artists and producers namechecked, it'd just be rude. A great mixture of interesting, ostentatious and accessible drum and bass, the whole compilation manages to do what it sets out to do - satisfy the nerdier fans while introducing newcomers to another non-chart level of DnB.
  • Foreign Concept & Bringa - Cemetery - I spent all year waiting for this to come out after hearing Kasra play it on a RA mix months and months ago (what a mix by the way, I'll have to post it up some time), it was actually the reason I bought this compilation in the end. Even if it was the only track on it I liked, I still wouldn't have been disappointed.
  • Commix & Icicle - Ultra Clean - That bass! So much fun to hear this drop on a night out, everybody loves it and it's really fun to dance to. That sounds like a shit reason to like a song, but I beg to differ, I think making tracks for the floor is admirable, especially in these barren days of uber-production and frowny faces.
  • Rockwell - 4U - Some folks loved it to an extreme level, and some folks absolutely hated it. It sort-of reminds me of Nineh Cherry. I really hope that's not an insult. Anyway, I love it, so that's at least one person.

5. Various - Sun & Bass Selection 2011
I didn't go to Sun and Bass this year, and I've regretted it ever since the tickets sold out. Buying this CD was a small way to feel part of the overseas drum and bass phenomena that is the European dance music festival, but it didn't quite transport me there as all the tracks are meant to bring Sardinia in the wintertime to mind. I liked that about it - there's a calm air of melancholy about it all. Festival compilations are generally a bit ropey, but this one is a gem.
  • ArpXP - Winter in Sardinia - I bloody love ArpXP. Click, click, click, click, gorgeous echoing piano,  I often think if I could make music, I'd want to make it like him. That wasn't a poem by the way, I'm just getting tired and forgetting how sentences work. He's from Sardinia, don't you know, so if anybody knows what winter is like there, it's him. By the sounds of it, it's pretty peaceful with lovely sunsets. I might casually emigrate.
  • Lenzman - Diamonds - There's one word that springs to mind whenever I hear anything by Lenzman and that's "washes". It's like having huge crashing waves of cymbals fall all over you - only the sound waves mind, actual cymbals would hurt, and it'd be pretty inconvenient. Fits in with the rest of the compilation beautifully, which shows how good a compilation it is because generally the aceness of a Lenzman tune stands out a mile and a half.
  • Triad - Persistance (ft. Elina Monova) - Deep, relaxing and generally beautiful, I could definitely imagine myself listening to this on a beach at night with a mojito. If you've not heard much from Triad, I'd definitely recommend you checking out more of their stuff, as they aren't confined to drum and bass alone. Start with Vice.
And that's that. The third and final installment of what is now becoming an ALBATROSS AROUND MY NECK will be my EPs of the year, and the artists who I reckon/hope will be huge in 2012. Again, look forward to that. If you don't read it, I'll be so mad.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

The Best Music Of The Year - Songs

A guide to what I think were the ultimate tracks that made this year brilliant. I was going to do a top 50 but it's Christmas, and believe it or not I sometimes like to get out of the house and off the computer. Shocking, but true.

There isn't one iTAL tEK or Eleven8 tune I've just realised, which has made me sad, but I'm not changing it now. Also - it's not hugely obvious, but all the titles are links so you can hear the music for yourself innit. Genius. Enjoy!

1. The XX - Shelter (Alix Perez & Khanage rmx) - Bootleg
My tune of the year without a doubt. Sometime in the summer it was the soundtrack to everything I did. I was caught out on Twitter saying I had it on repeat because it was "the closest I can get to listening to endless perfection". A bit much, maybe, and somewhat embarrassing when Khanage read and replied...but I meant it. Everything about it really is perfect.

A brilliant track from one of my favourite labels around at the moment. Understated, classy drum and bass, and oh, that ever-so-slightly wonky vocal over the top of the sexiest bassline I think I've ever heard. I first heard this on an Alix Perez Shogun Audio podcast back in the Spring (I think), and waited not-very-patiently for it to be released, which it finally was two weeks ago. I bought it on vinyl just to hold it. Is that weird?

A slick roller with an ever-so-slightly cheesy synth and crisp claps that takes it from your standard Reese-based track to something really quite special. This came around about the time I really started hitting DnB hard, so for me it's pretty important. Krakota also very kindly offered up the equally brill (if  not better) VIP version for free recently. Get it here.

4. Break - Framework - Symmetry
Beastly. Ever since Friction dropped this on a Shogun podcast back in August I think it was, I needed it. However I was convinced it was called "I'm Waiting" like a total plonker, and so relentless searching proved fruitless until I heard it again on a handily tracklisted mix somewhere. Can't get enough of that WUGH UH GUHHH WUUURGHA WUGHH WUB WURRB UH WURB WURB. (Sing along, it's pretty accurate, actually.)
I'm not sure Demand have ever released a track I didn't like, and the Xiphactinus 12" is a case in point. Picking the Lenzman remix was a no-brainer though; such clean crashes and swells - I hate to get all visual on your collective arses, but the old synaesthesia dictates that I see ocean when I hear this. Maybe that has something to do with the name of the track however, which I don't understand. Nothing about it is monstrous, fishy or terrifying - quite the opposite in fact. It's a gorgeous wash of sounds with an unmistakable Lenzman hook that in my personal experience can be played five times at a BBQ before people get angry and change the playlist.
A beautiful exercise in just how perfect nearly everything S.P.Y touches is. A bassline you could eat, a pretty, otherworldly synth sound that reminds me of crystal balls for some reason, and the smoothest vocals this side of a Galaxy caramel crooning competition. The whole EP is fantastic, but this is definitely the standout track by about fifty thousand lightyears.
You all know everything about this track already, and there really isn't anything I can say that hasn't already been retweeted by Strategy at some point anyway... The defining tune of the year for a lot of people, it had to be included. I was toying with putting Bateman in instead, but then I realised I'd just be being contrary for the sake of it. A huge track, and a real benchmark in the rise of intelligent, interesting and innovative drum and bass.
Proud owner of probably the fittest synth bass in the universe, Triband always surprises me with how simply brilliant it is every time I put it on. There's not really much else to say about it other than I wish it was about thirty minutes longer. The only reason it's not higher in my sort-of-chart is the sheer amount of solid releases there have been this year - a sentence I really enjoyed writing. Smileyface.
I'm fairly sure this track singlehandedly made my summer amazing. I especially love the looped flute-like mini-melody; it reminds me of birds singing. It's impossible to be unhappy while listening to this. You can try and prove me wrong, but I don't know why you'd want to. Quite simply, it's sunshine and a cold Corona in music form. God damn, I wish I'd been lucky enough to hear it at Sun and Bass this year. I can't really think of anything better.
And now for something altogether more mournful. Anybody who knows me even vaguely will have probably been subjected to at least one conversation on just how amazing Burial really is. He is though. He's just fantastic. This year saw him release a number of tracks on Text, Hyperdub and Inhale Gold much to my manic overjoyment (not a real word, don't care), but Street Halo just tips it into the list by being an incredible and intoxicating mix of sinister and beauty. I always say this about Burial tracks, but listen to it at night on a bus in a city, and it becomes something bigger than music should be able to. Here ends my Burial wax lyrical-ing for the day.

I know a lot of people who were distinctly underwhelmed by Icicle's album Under The Ice this year, but I wasn't one of them. Breathing Again is a cold (yeah, cold, I know, lazy, he's called Icicle, etc), calculated sway into some really quite interesting dubstep territory, which I find extremely appealing. The crack of the drums (I was going to use some twig-snapping imagery, but I'll spare you) pulls it forward, and the whole track is saved from the brink of desolation not by the vocals, but by the haunting sound of what reminds me of a hunting horn. I've made it sound really odd. It isn't, it's really good.
I love this track. It reminds me of Phace and Misanthrop in a strange way, I can't put my finger on it, but there you go. I wrote a very silly fake review about it earlier this year involving a futuristic post-apocalyptic world based on Mars which was supposed to make no sense, but weirdly the more I listen to it, the more it makes sense. Maybe I'm just losing the plot. Rapid firing drums and some plainly evil bass, it seems like an outsider but I really honestly believe it deserves to be in a list with some big players.
One of the most beautiful and touching examples of future garage I think I've ever heard, Equis skips along on a fairly basic 2-step base but adds so many of my favourite musical techniques that it ends up being a scrapbook of my most-loved noises. Radiohead-esque synths, pitch-shifted vocals and almost-missed beats that feel like you missed a step all combine together to make a work of stunning electronica. It was either this or the Submerse remix of 'Oh Lord' - I felt I had to mention that simply because it deserves to be appreciated too. Gorgeous.
A completely ridiculous intro by some completely ridiculous producers, Micro Organism is just bonkers. The pregnant wait before the satisfyingly squishy kick drum starts some momentum got a bit long after the whole world and his robot dog started using it as the start of their mixes for a while, but the way the hi-hats skip across the surface of the track like a really nice flat stone on a lake (see, neurofunk can be pretty) makes me smile no matter how many times I listen to it. There's something really satisfyingly rotary about the whole thing; it's got movement, you can almost see it spinning around in front of you. I love that. It doesn't go anywhere, but I like that about it too. Can't tell you why though, it's just one of those things, I suppose.

There is something about a Blu Mar Ten bass that twitches my synaesthesia like no other. This track, quite frankly, is an absolute joy, and as part of the Blu Mar Ten and Inside:Info Summer 2011 Mix it made my seemingly endless Megabus journeys not only bearable but enjoyable this year. If you're at all interested, this track is turquoise, fuschia and purple, and has a texture like cornflour. Imagine poster paint powder - it's like that. Synaesthsia doesn't make any sense, but I thought you might like to know anyway. The most fun thing about this tune is that you can air piano vamps, and when you get it perfectly in time it's really satisfying. I know. Get a life, Taylor.
I was surprised that this track didn't receive much in the way of hype - I suppose most people already know about Spectrasoul and would buy it anyway, but for such a gorgeously brooding confection with an absolute hurter of a bassline, I thought it deserved some sort of medal. A badge perhaps. Something to show a bit of appreciation. An interesting vocal makes this track stand out for me, making it the perfect mixture of deep and soulful while still retaining some of its general malaise.
A digital only release from Slovakian bass maniacs SoundNBeats, Industry has to have one of the most ridiculous basslines on this list. I find it impossible not to pull my best war face when it's on, much to the general panic of my fellow commuters. Deep without forsaking interest, I actually predict big things for these guys.
I couldn't make a list of my favourite anything from this year and not mention the Time Change EP from IM:Ltd - yes, I'm banging on about them again. Another deep minimal track that manages to be sparse but retains interest, and with a bass so heavy it could crush other very heavy things if it wanted to, Grilled is my idea of a perfect example of the type of really arresting and intelligent DnB that's appearing on the scene at the moment. And that's really exciting.
I first heard this on the Blu Mar Ten/Inside:Info Mix I mentioned earlier, and it's been a favourite of mine ever since. A stepper that's not just good for the dancefloor, I like this track because it reminds me of sticklebricks and because the weird vocal sample really feels like it's driving the whole thing forwards. The electronic blips are pretty cool too. This was one of the tracks on the mix that made me listen to it over and over, but this year I've obsessed over every single release Break had, so maybe that's not surprising.

20. Genotype - The Director - Ingredients
Last but by no means least, this track basically sums up Ingredients for me, and hopefully goes some way into explaining why I'm such a fan. Big heavy bass, a vague sense of impending doom, and the ongoing feeling of momentum, it's tunes like this that showcase why deep drum and bass is gaining such a following - and so it bloody should be. There's an amazing amount of incredible, heavy DnB around at the moment, and this tune was one of the first ones that turned my attention towards it.

In the next few days I'll be posting my Albums, EPs and mixes of the year, and a list of all the people I reckon/hope will get super duper famous in 2012. So look forward to that.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

SP4M - 18/12/11

DJs compare the size of their record collection in 'Expedits', since Ikea's Expedit bookshelves are the perfect size for record storage. - LosBercules
I can't really start off this week's roundup without mentioning Marka. People have gone fucking nuts about it. It's insane. People have even started a group to try and get it to be Christmas No1. Watch the video here if you still don't know what a Marka is. Something about gurana baby mamas, I heard. If you're hankering for something else Dub Phizix-related after only just getting into his stuff, may I suggest the following:

One of my favourite tracks of the whole entire year is coming out on Monday. My vinyl copy turned up on Saturday and I'm not ashamed to say that I shouted "YESS!" at the post lady and then stared at it for ten minutes.


The next release on Mars Recordings on 16/01/12 is a collaboration between Edward Oberon and Paul T. Smooth as a Christmas Bailey's coffee (the best kind of coffee), which is quite a welcome break from some of the darker music on the scene.

 Edward Oberon & Paul T - 'LOVE IS' (MARS003a) 16.01.12 by Mars Recordings

 Paul T & Edward Oberon 'ABSOLUTE' (MARS003aa) 16.01.12 by Mars Recordings

I've become somewhat of a June Miller fan over the past few months. I can't remember the last time I didn't hit the "favourite" button on a track of his, which is quite the accolade coming from somebody as useless at giving out compliments as me. This is on Horizons, who if you like deeper, darker DnB, you really ought to be checking out. They've released some stunners this year.

 June Miller + Reflekt - Sleep [HZNCD07] by Horizons music June Miller & Reflect - Sleep

 Turpentine by Polarity

2010 saw the highest number of vinyl LP sales in the USA since records (as it were!) began. - Terrascope

Kodo is responsible for a track that has been a favourite of mine since I heard it way back in April called The Jackal. The fact that he's from Leeds sort of makes it just a bit better. It's being released on Ingredients (yay) in the middle of January with a belter of a b-side by new guy Tyrone. I'm incredibly excited about this one, definitely can't wait to have it on my shelf.


 KODO - THE JACKAL (EDIT) [recipe026a] by Ingredients:

 TYRONE - BEHEMOTH (EDIT) [recipe026aa] by Ingredients:

Kodo also made The Hunt available for free on the Buried Audio Soundcloud page this week,which was jolly nice of him. Well worth nabbing, along with the rest of the DnB community I'm expecting big things from this guy.

 Kodo - The Hunt [FREE DOWNLOAD] by Buried Audio  Kodo - The Hunt (free download)

A VIP of another one of my tunes of the year. I really should make a list of them. Get the free download while you can.

The wonderful utility that is shuffle did me proud this week, as an old So:Flow track popped up that I hadn't heard since the last time I dragged Medschool's New Blood 010 out. I'm not sure why I let my New Blood compilations get so dusty in-between listens, I seem to recommend them to everyone and love 80% of the tracks. In a way it's good I suppose, because it means being able to discover tracks like this all over again.


It's no secret that I'm currently in the grip of a severe iTAL tEK addiction. His latest EP "Gonga" was released last week, and I seriously suggest you invest in it. Like, now. Chop chop. Also, grab Pixel Haze free while you can:

 Pixel Haze (alternative demo version) download by ITAL TEK

 Optiv & BTK - Mind Over Matter [ Drum & Bass Annual 2011 - RAMMLPD-3 ] OUT NOW!!! by BTK | Dutty Audio

This week I discovered Huncut - a YouTube channel dedicated to Hungarian drum and bass. THis might sound pretentiously niche, but eastern Europe has some pockets of outstanding dance music scenes, and their take on DnB is often much more melodic than what we have here. Two of my particular favourites this week were:



One of the most fun videos I've seen all year. S.P.Y and Nu:Tone play back to back for the Hospital Records D&BATV appearance. Try and watch it without grinning your head off.


What's that? Why am I up at 1am on a school night pretending that I'm not crying with over-excitement and general hysteria? Well, if you must know, I just found out that Burial is releasing his Kindred EP very soon, and to get the hype started Rinse FM played a track from it (Ashtray Wasp) on Scratcha's show on Tuesday. Very, very, very excited. Click the link to hear the show.


One of my favourite tunes at the moment - I'm not exaggerating when I say it's been on repeat for about two days in total since I found it. Synkro coming up with the goods again; I've yet to find a track of his that I don't love completely. It also makes me long for a huge compilation of remixes people have done of XX songs. I've never been a fan of theirs, but the remixes always tend to be a step beyond.

The XX - Night Time (Synkro rmx)

More Synkro if you're so inclined - this mix is a little more housey and techy than DnB, so if that's your thing, give it a go.

"Who taught you to believe that you're inferior?"

 Crystal Castles - Leny (ADAT rmx) by Crystal Castles

Design and Bass Portraiture - a work of genius.



It's definitely not just me who's been begging for this to be released. Does't look like it's going to happen, but we can dream...


Another irritatingly excellent radio show from Alix Perez - get it on the download and take notes.

A great podcast/show/whatever if you don't just like hearing tunes but you want a little bit of an education too. Ant TC1 takes us through some new sounds and some old classics, and there's an interview with Octane & DLR too. Listen out for Weird Science by those two at around the hour mark - it's completely brilliant.

There's nothing like a bit of doomy neurofunk to set you up for the day, I always find. Big up your commute.
 Mindtech Podcast - 015 mixed by Safire by Mindtech Recordings

 Enei - G.R.A.M. Agency Podcast #19 by ENEI

DJ Psylence did a new Ingredients podcast this week which is well worth a listen (or five). Standard Ingredients awesomeness.


Friday, 2 December 2011

SP4M - 02/12/11

"I'd like to be in a band called Extra Seating Downstairs." - Wowser
For some of you, my music posts are little more than an annoyance. They get in the way of the real issues, like how awful Jaffa Cakes are, and pictures of Alexander Skarsgard. For the rest, however, my music posts are how you know me, and it's this I want to address.

On Twitter I share a lot of links and tips to music I've found or rediscovered, and i have started to think that it's a terrible shame these posts get lost into the ether when I start rambling on about politics* (*toast/Tunnocks Caramel Wafers). A few of you said you'd like me to do a weekly roundup of these links, so that's what I'm going to do. This is the trial run. If it's rubbish, we can forget it ever happened. If it isn't, I'll try and do one every week, or every fortnight. We'll see how it goes.

I'd really appreciate your feedback on this - if you don't want this type of post, tell me, otherwise it's just a huge waste of my time. I don't need these for my own use you see - all the music I post I already own, or am about to own. It's all for you guys! Feel special! I wuuuuub you!



A label I love are releasing a song I adore. This was a good day for me.


I discovered Crosses last week. It was a bit of an eye-opener.



You probably already know about my boredering-on-worrying obsession with Clarity. He's got a release coming out soon on an interesting new label called Crescent41.

 Days In - Forthcoming on Crescent 41 by Clarity


This was also the week we were all given a solid release date for MARKA.

Earlier in the week, that Dub Phizix character was on the radio doing an interview and playing he and Skeptical's forthcoming tracks "Marka" and previously unknown (but heard and bloody irritatingly untitled) "Rags". both are ace. Listen to the show again here.


I've been banging on about these ever since my mate @Blesid told me about them the other month. I love their self-titled album to bits, and so it seemed only right to doa bit of off-the-cuff promoting for their remixes EP too. Find it at Beatport here.


"I can spot you a mile off/I'm not stalking you/You just have a new jumper/and I think it looks cute"



This week I have mostly been in awe of Royalston's production. Check his latest EP for more.
Cerulean Blue
Late Nights

An oldie - from Medschool's New Blood 010, The Test is probably still my favourite Royalston track.

The Test by Royalston

I'm pretty much in love with all the music Nuage ever makes.

TRNSL008: Nuage - Collaborations & Remixes by translationrecordings


 Defence - Fathom Audio (SKEPTICAL RMX) - F35 #001 by Fathom Audio


Been waiting a while for this one - ever since Eastcolors put it on his cheeky mix a couple of months ago. Plus Enei won some awards this week, didn't he! Brill.

 Enei & MC DRS - Obsession [CRITICAL] by ENEI


Blu Mar Ten released Pilgrim Soul this week in return for donations to the Mayhew Animal Home. How nice of them :-) 

Get it here.


 Loxy & Skeptical - Engage by Renegade Hardware


I've been going on about KC for a couple of weeks now since I went on a bit of a dubstep/electronica bender, but it's hard to talk somebody up when they can call you on it every time and make you look like a stalker...bloody Twitter :-)

A couple of years old but I'd never heard it - I know, shocking. I was at Momentum last Friday and heard it over their ridiculous speakers (ask anybody, it's like being punched directly in the eardrum) and had to know what it was.


I suddenly became obsessed with Loops Haunt this week. EP out soon, expect me to talk it up A LOT.

My so-called friends had never  introduced my to Two Fingers before, and I'm pretty annoyed about it.

Find a YT playlist of their LP "Instrumental" here, but may I suggest just buying everything they've ever made. You won't regret it.


I love everything about iTAL tEK, from the way he spells his name, to the way his music sounds like when you cut your mouth on a boiled sweet. Reviews, innit. Get to know (I'm sure you already do though.)

From his Blood Line EP (A work of sublime genius. In my opinion.)


Thursday, 1 December 2011

Celebrating 15 Years of Hospital Records

An article I wrote for the Hospitality DnB blog. Enjoy!

Fifteen years ago, Chris Goss and Tony Colman – or The Tonester as he definitely does not like to be called – began the record label we all know and love as Hospital Records. Back in 1996 (yes, it really was that long ago) the pair were happy to release their own brand of soulful, forward-thinking DnB as London Elektricity on this brand spanking new label, but as the public’s appetite for dance music progressed, Hospital became a bit more adventurous. You all already knew that though, of course you did! It’s a well documented factoid that Hospital Records fans are among some of the most loyal and knowledgeable in the world; let’s stop with the history lesson and have some fun.

We thought it would be interesting to find out what some of Hospitality’s well-loved DJs and producers were doing back in the days when sold-out venues and limited edition branded tea towels were nought but a dream. Come with us on a trip down memory lane to find out where they were and what they hoped they’d be doing in 2011 when we still thought there’d be flying cars (probably).


Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Ferocious noise: Pitchfork’s Music Reviews

I wrote another article about things I don't like about music reviews, but this time I tried really hard and it got published on the wonderful Shouting At Cows site, which was nice of them. Enjoy?

“Ferocious Noise.”  This one fairly clumsy descriptive couplet used pointedly as a sentence to describe one poor band’s album has got me up at night. Nothing so far this week has angered me like this; an affront to common sense, a beastly exercise in self-satisfied pretention. The paragraph preceding this had been a set-up for a review, a mediocre thousand words or so, on an album so ludicrously named only the severely fashionable would ever say it out loud. Six out of ten. Fairly average for something so seemingly memorable. “Ferocious noise”. So ferocious it may get played from time to time on nights where all the girls have bowl cuts, and all the boys chain smoke thin Cutter’s Choice rollies and debate Stanley Kubrick’s choices in direction, lighting, music choice and underwear. Judgemental, yes, but they’re the ones with half-mast drainpipe jeans and cheap cigarettes despite their ample bank balance. This isn’t an article about trendy people though, this is an article about how truly, achingly, horrendously shit two thirds of music reviews are – and I blame Pitchfork.


Monday, 21 November 2011

The Only Person In The World Who Doesn't Like Jaffa Cakes

That would be me. The only person in the world who doesn't like Jaffa Cakes. It is lonely being me.

It wasn't always this way - there was a time when I loved them. I'd eat the chocolate first and then remove the orange jelly disc from the sponge cake base and marvel at it. A wobbly sunset. Then I'd eat it, obviously. I'm not a total weirdo.

The thing is, my family got wind of this propensity towards orangey treats. The gifts began. I have never been a very easy person to buy presents for, so when my family and friends see a theme, they grab it with both hands. I don't blame them, I'm a dick to buy stuff for unless you let me make an Amazon list (why won't you let me do that?) My birthday is not very long after Christmas, but it is just far enough away for me to receive two separate presents which I love. The downside to this is the amount of food I have to consume. Yes, have to consume. You can't let it go to waste.


I always receive selection boxes at Christmas, because I love all that tacky shit. I also always get Chocolate Oranges - again, LOVE. Then one fateful day, the whole world found out about my love for Jaffa Cakes and my Toblerones were replaced with tube after tube of the circular cakey horrors, filling me up with not-enough-chocolate; overstimulating my orange receptors. After three years of this madness I could take no more. However, it takes a lot longer for news of me not liking something to trickle down through the family ranks. Think of it like wealth in society. The groups furthest away from my central base (Mum, Sisters, Dog) had no knowledge of my new-found hatred for dry, orange-flavoured cakes. Some of them still send me boxes of the things. "We know you love them!" They say, their happy smiling faces saying "Oh, she's so good for only asking for Jaffa Cakes and not a Wii Fit". I can't tell them now. Anyway, it's just a box of Jaffa Cakes. How much harm is letting them buy them for you going to do? None.

But still they come. Year after year, tubes of them are delivered to your nasty, ungrateful bastard arms and you try to think of excuses. "I'm lactose intolerant!", "I can't digest gelatine!", "My friend was killed by a man dressed as an orange!". You can't though. It's just another tube of Jaffa Cakes. Smile and say thank-you. You are a horrible person.

One day I will tell them all. I'll reveal my horrible secret, that for years I've been misleading them, that I have brazenly lied in their faces - that I do not love Jaffa Cakes. That I in fact hate them. I expect I shall be cast out as I should be, in a world that is almost exclusively filled to the brim with Jaffa Cake aficionados.

I'll give it one more year.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Bad Poetry

I am moving house (as you probably know) and this means a lot of packing. I have found a grand total of nine (9) half-full notebooks so far, some with stories in, some with rubbish drawings and ideas in, and one just seems to have shopping lists in. One had poetry in. I haven't written a poem in at least four years, and I'll be honest, I'm pretty terrible at it. However I thought I'd share one because I liked a couple of lines in it, and I thought you might like to see that I don't just write about adverts and organised noise. Sometimes I write about soppy love, like a dickhead.

It doesn't have a title, I'm not gonna make one up now as I can't remember what this was really about (or even who it was about, if anybody). I can remember writing it, I was on a train to Newcastle to see Justin Timberlake (YOU 'EARD) but I only remembered that after reading it. I remember looking out of the window as we went over a bridge and there was a really deep gully filled with green and thinking about how great all the textures looked. Then I wrote this and fell asleep. Cool story bro.

Your perceptive face, thank God
The warmth of your skin sets in
And soon my hands feel
Knuckle and palm.

In gaze I find new lines, eyes blink
Slow and trace cheekbone – jawline.
I know what you’re thinking.
It’s okay. Smile, hear, remember,
Telling stories in the past tense
Completely intent on staying awake
To be with me.

Forever thankful, I love you.
When we chased storms, remember?
When we chose our stars?
We hid from the night, warm, tight,
Lost in the world we owned.

Looks, touch, steady ribcage
Raise, fall, raise, fall
Raise I hold you tight.
You are asleep.

I wish you could tell me
What I already know.
Tell me again.

Friday, 18 November 2011

The History of UKG as Heard by a 10 Year Old Aberdonian Girl

It's the time of the month where I write something for - this time, it's about UK Garage. Enjoy!

UK Garage was at its peak – in my very humble opinion – in 1999-2002 when I was just about to become a teenager. Compared to the Trance Nation CDs and hyper-manufactured pop I heard every day, it was several hundred thousand light-years away. It felt like hearing a part of the future. Completely dropped into the genre with no background knowledge whatsoever, I found myself lapping up anything with a garage break in it, headphones on at every opportunity, worshipping the Dreem Teem on Radio 1, falling for So Solid Crew’s wobble. There was no loyalties with me, no efforts to take up the more fashionable side – Aberdeen was so far away from the hub of Garage that I was rarely met by anybody who had even heard of it properly, let alone scoffed at my dubious Craig David-based choices. It was a totally happy and uninhibited time where every part of the scene was fair game, and it felt special because it felt important. It felt like the start of something.

UKG's History As Heard by a 10 Year Old Aberdonian Girl

Of course it wasn’t the start of something at all – UK Garage was in full swing by the time it had reached my unaccustomed ears in 1999. Artists like Grant Nelson had been manipulating house into garage since ‘94 and earlier; Todd Edwards had brought a new style in as early as 1995. Speed Garage might have been the order of the 90s, but as it became popular in its own right alongside jungle, the garage I knew and loved came into its own around the 1997 mark. What I had felt as a music epiphany was the result of years of evolution, from house and Speed Garage to the heavily dancefloor and 2-step influenced sound it became at the turn of the 21st century. By the time it had reached the frozen north (of Scotland) it was 1998, and MJ Cole had released what I still firmly to believe is one of the greatest UKG tracks of all time – Sincere. As I said, there’s no point scoring here. It’s highly likely you’ll disagree, if fact, I’d like it if you did. That’s how this becomes a conversation instead of me simply recalling things I once heard.

Friday, 11 November 2011

The History of Hats in Music

One of my odd stories I wrote on Twitter on the train to work.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Traversing Zone 3 on a Raft of Optimism/Stupidity

I'm moving to London in three weeks. Well, Four. Okay, 26 days.

After a month or two of total life upheaval, resignations from jobs and relationships, the creeping sensation of becoming a Young Professional instead of a Graduate, the decision has been made and I've been forced out of my comfy little period property in the depths of leafy suburban Leeds (yes, such a thing exists you cheeky bastards) by necessity and fear. Not 'bad' fear - although until recently I was only aware fear could be such a thing - but fear in another capacity. The type of fear that makes people want to jump off cliffs just to see what living to tell the tale feels like. The type of fear that forces sensible adults to buy 1200cc superbikes or go scuba diving in underwater crevasses. I haven't got a death wish though, I just want to move to London. There's a difference.

This notion of city living has been swimming about in my brain like a little wriggly tadpole for years now, occasionally getting itself stuck between gaps of long-term commitments and the idea of living in Leeds well into my thirties. Until recently it was a far-off dream, something that I could wistfully call upon while looking out of a misty bus window on a wet Tuesday morning. My idea of London has never been romanticised or exaggerated; I always assumed it would rain 70% of the time, that my flat would be the size of an egg carton, that my job would be unrewarding and I'd find it hard to afford anything more nourishing than soba noodles. However things have (luckily) taken an uncharacteristic turn for the positive, and it would appear that I may actually be able to afford to leave the egg carton for the odd evening with friends, and my job might actually be something I enjoy. I'd still be poor, but I'd be mostly happy. Which is nice, isn't it?

In a job interview recently, I was asked "why do you want to move to London?" I thought it a peculiar question to ask a northerner who desperately wants to work in social media and someday have a book published all the while somehow running some sort of successful record company with very little effort or money expended. Not only are the career prospects semi-existent in the capital, how about that there public transport, huh? How about all the live music and nightclubs, eh? My friends who live scattered around zones two and three in previously inaccessible studio flats? "Why do you want to move to London?" My answer? Because up until recently, I couldn't. Because now, I can.

Bedsits like this don't really exist.

Househunting has been the huge churning ache in my stomach that I assumed jobhunting would be. People have dogs when they said they wouldn't; people won't allow chicken in the house (it was all I could do not to turn and storm out right then and there). Some people, would you believe, think they can advertise a house filled with rabbits as "cat friendly". It sure is, but it certainly isn't rabbit friendly. I have spoken to a number of lovely, friendly, funny people in my search for a house, but I have fallen short in some way for all of them so far. I don't like dogs very much, I have a cat who is also a dickhead, I eat meat, I like listening to music and coughing from time to time (how "quiet" does "quiet" have to be anyway? There should be a standardised measurement to see if I fit their strict stipulations), I don't want to sit at the table and eat dinner every night, sometimes I'm late home, sometimes I don't come home, sometimes I lie on the sofa all day and watch Futurama. I didn't realise that all of these things constitute a terrible housemate in one way or the other. My one bonus point is that I do not smoke - however living with non-smokers could be a nightmare anyway, because if they don't smoke, what else don't they approve of? Caffeine? Alcohol? Dairy products? Rigorously-tested pharmaceuticals?

So yes, I'm moving to London in three weeks. Four weeks. 26 days. I haven't nailed down a job or a house yet, I haven't started packing and so far my closest call to getting some accommodation is some flirty text messages with a friendly housemate called "Luke" (Hello "Luke", I hope you're not reading this and finding out what a judgemental bitch I am). The weirdest part of the whole ordeal is that I'm not frightened, no matter how many times I get asked "Oh, aren't you frightened?" Nope. Not even a little. I won't have to get the megabus home from Cable at 8am ever again. That's got to be a step in a positive life direction.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

My iPod & Me - A guest post by Andy Tullock

The bus driver is in a rush today, pulling away from the station before the last old lady has barely crawled her brittle bones onto the number thirteen lowrider. Not that I'm complaining; I'm grouchy and I wanna get home pronto, but also the bus is exuding a greater stench then normal. These harsh urban nights arent filled with neon lights and inspiring images but degredation and demoralising hour-long journeys home.

Don't get me wrong, I'm normally a positive person and so starting my first set of blogs on here in such pessimistic tones is probably not the best way to entice you to my prevails; it's simply to highlight this exceptional mood I happen to be in. So, hearing 'Guns of Brixton' stagger randomly onto my iPod comes as a reassuring hand on the shoulder, a little acknowledging nod. It's the friendly 'I know how you feel' without the need for meaningless conversation. I can sit back and relax as my multimedia playing pal continues his consistent run of good form in this field.

I believe it's a direct reflection on the amount of time I have spent editing, selecting, re-selecting and dissecting the playlists and music that he has to work with. In effect I have nurtured my iPod to my exact needs; taught it the value of certain tracks, whilst encouraging the randomness of shuffling through others. Furthermore by skipping, actively searching and relistening to certain tracks at specific times I have taught my fruitfully-infused friend the sporadic yet all encompassing relationship I have with music. There is always a song for my situation, a melody for my mood, a beat for my emotion. That my iPod reguarly picks this better then I can, he can be akin to the skill of any half decent DJ as he stumbles half cut into his arena.

The unspoken relationship between myself and this minijukebox is one that is becoming more complex & confusing. In the same way that old people become close to pets in time of isolation, my many sprawling journeys of late have developed my love for the little fella. Not only has he stuck to his task with a more then commendable spirit, but twisted and tricked his way through each of the obstacles I have erected in front of him.

To break this down into such examples of tracks at times would not only subject you to mundane mentions of mediocre music, but also alienate a lot through my array of embarrassing artists that sit on my CD shelves. Needless to say there have been times when I have specifcially desired to hear certain tracks, and he has actively found these amongst his cast of thousands without the request from myself to do so. Other times I have been treated to forgotten favourites, genre jumps and ever evolving track trips.

Of course there are times we have disagreed, fallen and argued. Sometimes I have had to take control and guide us in the right direction or merely seek out new material to give him the tools to work with. But like every good relationship it has stayed fresh, we've grown together and have a better understanding of each other for that. There were times when I took all of this for granted but as soon as I did I was presented with a reminder that it is not possible for it to work without the commitment of both. Now I know and acknowledge this we can move and adapt, working with each others suggestions to never let staleness stagnate between us, unlike the stench from this bus.

Andy writes his own words here and here, and lives in Hull.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Love Letter to...Anders Ilar - For The 405

Sometimes it’s easier to avoid speaking about certain types of music, because you know all the comparisons swooping in and out of your thoughts have been made before. It’s difficult to talk about Scandinavian electronica without slotting back into tried and tested descriptions of the musical landscape. The thing is, perhaps the reason that it’s so easy to place such uniquely clean and articulate sounds side-by-side with enviably dramatic surroundings is because the landscape directly inspires them. Yes, perhaps if one more person describes Röyksopp as cold and mysterious or The Knife as expansive and wild, icy, that their latest work sees them ‘thaw’, then we might all be forgiven for giving up on music journalism altogether. The problem is however, I’m trying to write a love letter about a particular aspect of Swedish electronica, and all I can think of is glaciers, forests, grand sweeping cinematic shots of vast freshwater lakes and frozen 4pm sunsets. That these images are so intrinsic to much of the Scandinavian electronica we hear sort-of lends itself to the idea that perhaps there is a definite link there somewhere.

Anders Ilar

You can read the rest of this article over on The405. I hope you like it, because it looks like I'm going to be making these love letters to electronica and dance music a semi-regular thing.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

The Leeds Survival Guide - Blog Post for Hospital Records

It's a big night in Leeds next week - the Camo + Krooked launch party kicks off at The Academy on Friday the 14th, and every Hospital Records fan this side of the Pennines will be doing the best to stomp a big ruddy hole in the floorboards.

I wrote a piece for Hospitality to help those who were a little more southern get to grips with our culture, dress and dance routines.

Hope you like it!
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