A truly brilliant an inspired year for music and creation. With the year changing, what better opportunity to look back of the highlights from each month.
If you can imagine back to January, a time of planning and projecting hope. It is a great month to hear what pieces are likely to stick with us into the summer. Flying Lotus dropped Flamagra which is filled with pieces that I still enjoy listening to, especially Land of Honey with Solange. FKA Twigs released Magdalene, from which Cellophane and Thousand Eyes really caught my attention. Oli XL’s Jet Generation still gets onto my stereo. There were a great few tracks with features which are worth checking out if you missed them. Dysomia, featuring Jessia with Surrender. Ash Walker featured Laville in the downbeat Sanity and Dugong Jr did a beautiful remix of Hotel Garuda’s Till It Burns Out which features Violet Skies.
My pick of the month though would be K?d which featured RKCB with Discover. This track is one I’m sure to selecting well into 2021. It has fantastic production, great vocals and a thought provoking message, a true one off.
February, the month of love, was sure to bring us pieces that we’d all cherish forever. Tisoki dropped twice during the month. The first was Promise which featured Lil Lotus, before releasing See You Again featuring David Kuncio. Jessy Lanza kicked off her amazing 2020 for releases on Hyperdub with Lick In Heaven. Staying in the divine place, Alphabets Heaven released Cielo on WotNot Music, a great three track release from which I particularly enjoy Hulu. C.O.W continued to display their 8bit world with a full release called Internet on Compost Germany with Cringe Lords particularly standing out. There’s a great video accompanying the piece which is very well worth looking at. Konx-Om-Pax released a stunning track called Return To Cascada on Planet Mu which will be in the selection bag for years to come.
Amidst all of these super strong releases, the highlight of February is from a debuting producer who was about to release an outsatanding EP called Collections on Moving Castle. A preceding track released was Ju81y which is atmospheric and beautifully produced. It is a must listen to if you missed it.
March came and brought uncertainty into the world, companies had to close and cogs in many systems began to stop. Music releases were equally troubled but many worked in different, creative and very difficult circumstances to ensure that producers could release.
Meru from Minsk, Belarus released People’s Lives on Polessie which offered a welcomed variant to dance music. Nazar released an 11 track wonder called Guerilla on Hyperdub from which Mother continues to be an abstract favourite. Aether bravely attempted to adapt Culprate’s At The Gates with superb results and Blatwax returned with This Machine Builds Another Machine on Night Owl Collective to give an uplifting Jazz influenced beat bop.
DJ Ends Siren LP showed productive diversity, artistry and class. More than half of the releases stand out. A particular choice is More Beautiful which is intriguing, pensive and challenging.
April continued to wow with outstanding releases. We saw the first drips of Planet’s Mad by Baauer when Magic was released, perhaps the name was a clue as to what was to come. Ian Chang released a fantastic 9 track work entitled Belonging on City Slang. It contains many great tracks but Audacious which features Kazu is well worth the listen.
String theory EP was released by Lushen on Escalating Sounds containing 14 tracks. Many gems to listen through and a brilliant journey as one piece from start to finish. If you are dipping in, Let’s Go Back is brilliant piece to add to the playlist.
The temperature in May rose and the music released was equally hot. Jaymie Silk released Diasporave 3/3 on Pelican Fly where Nomadism provided an anthemic sound track along with a remix which is also fun. Nathan Micay put forward The World I’m Going To Hell For which is an ongoing favourite released on Lucky Me. For any inquisitive listener, And Relief Washes Over Me In An Awesome Wave is certain to stay with you into the next year.
Rad Hatter released a remix of Petrichor on Division Records, originally made by Tek Genesis and Quiet Bison. The remix exudes magnitude and control over sounds that can be beastly, moulding them into orchestral harmony. An absolute must have.
June brought us some upbeat steppers. Househead Samira dropped Slow Down on Moveltraxx. AWB featured Megan Levine on Never Truly Alone. Both tracks sure to get the head nodding. There were a few LPs released as well. Pinch put Reality Tunnels out on Tectonic which held pieces for a wide variety of electronic music lovers. Many choosing different stand out pieces, but the combination with Emika on Entangled Particles is sure fire banger for any set. Touchy Subject released Phonetic Fanatic on Medallion Sounds. The release is so strong that it would be worth picking up the whole piece. If dipping a toe in, The All Clear is a good place to start.
June also saw the release of the rest of Planet’s Mad by Baauer on Lucky Me. The release was accompanied by a movie which is still available to view on Youtube. This complete piece of work is a vision to behold and a must see for anybody who is into produced music. It saw Baauer receive a deserved nomination for a Grammy.
There was a fantastic collaboration released in July on Lolab records. Philip TBC’s Japan Minimal contained many different Skits, but Are You Hot Enough featuring DJ Kentaro, Ixist and Hiro Watai displays the brilliance of a worldly influences incorporated into a track. Tenkah dropped Checkpoint on Thrills and Beats and Suncrash is just one of the special pieces on there. Another debutant smashed the release with a moody, pharmaceutical themed two sided record, Lora and Lexa by Social Sport released on Echo Train Records. Just Geo’s As This World Burns is a fantastic garage groove roller worth picking up from DWNTHRD. Murlo also released some artistic rollers in Primed For Primal on Coil records.
The artistic releases didn’t stop there. It is highly recommended that you check out Moonglades by Raven Bush released on SA Recordings. A real masterpiece in music creation and concept.
The height of the summer saw a return to some normality in society and along with it, more solid releases. Hudson Mohawke had dug into the back catalogue and released some much sought after and unfinished pieces. Alps2/S released Duck Tape on Ad Hoc records, Sam Day dropped the heart warming Safe And Sound on Below The Surface and Dark0 placed Zero2 on release via Year0001 from which UIC is a great listen. The somewhat illusive producer Forest Drive West let go of Terminus EP which hosts a small collection of fantastically produced gems which R&S must be proud to have released. Void Control is one such gem that is worth picking up.
An outstanding release in August came from worldwide renowned producer A.G. Cook when he released 7G. Collectively, this is a body of 49 tracks out on PC Music which can be broken down into 7 track segments. This is an explorative, imaginative and daring mixture of explorations and interpretations of pop and electronica. An outstanding, revealing listen which holds the ability alter minds of those who prefer to consume music within one genre.
September saw Kingdom release Neurofire on Fade To Mind, a fusion of R&B and bass driven sounds which held a track called Genesis Fem which would slot into many sets. Pessimist pushed forward a masterpiece in drum onslaught in the EP Atyeo on Ilian Tape. The Crawlers is a powerful favourite on there which is worth picking up. Mr Rock records released I Want You by the enigma All Caps. The encapsulating industrial scrapyard sounding production, From Deception is an excellent work. Moleskin renamed as Kamran and released the Transmission EP on 1000Doors. The whole EP is an MCs dream which transports the listener on a space like voyage. Take Off In Tehran is a good start for a full listen through.
Untold is a highlight of the month. It is an artistic, deconstructed listen which is filled with skill and atmosphere. It was created by Sophia Loizou and released on Houndshooth. Vestal Waters is a deep and indulgent listen form the release.
Autumn came bringing a rise in infection and a decline in structure. However music releases didn’t fall. Ninjatune released Machinedrum’s A View of U which contained tracks that would please a whole range of music lovers. Believe in U is fully worth checking out. Ivy Lab had also been busy releasing Fidget on 20/20 LDN. The title track is full of spice. Grungy, harsh beats and full of emotional angst. This EP is a must have for any selector.
Rarely you find an outstanding piece and this month we heard When A Champion Falls by Animadrop on Symphonic Distribution. A track which has loads of technique and poise which leans to a crescendo and magnitude of sound.
Lockdowns resurfaced all around Europe and devastating scenes emerged from many hospitals and the creations of the year were showing effects of the times. Richelle released Have A Great Day on Pelican Fly which is gentle, light and positive. Kypski released an EP called Solidary Confinement which was influenced by lone working at home, but was a creative EP using a technique called Syntablism, recording tracks live as a one off. Kyppschwinger is a great upbeat from the EP. Turkish producer Wapi released a touching EP on 2DIY4 called Don’t Go. The title track being a delicate and sentimental composition which journeys from loss, to denial to acceptance. Iglooghost put forward a touching construction on Gloo called Eoe (Diskolnitate), a pensive listen.
A long awaited re-collaboration occurred when Kirk Spencer featured Louis Scott on Blocka. The exotic influence of Spencer is such a welcome listen in this pulsating feel good track which surely can cross over to mainstream.
With December known for being the month of festivity and gifts, the Bass music scene was definitely delivering. The multi-talented drummer Cid Rim returned with Polarizer on Lucky Me to excite the noise lovers. Plasma Audio released The Man With A Thousand Eyes by Host which contained Pull Up as its opening track, a ripping bass roller. Also Trinergy dropped Bye on Disciple from the two track release Miracle which manipulates noise into a sure fire dance floor smash. Some softer releases include Scro with Last Breath on Bonfire and Kishan who made a remix of Vision by Archie and released on Ditto Music. For a deeper sound, Eva808’s Sultry Venom is another great pick on Innamind Recordings. I Can’t is a great piece to transport a mind to a state of stillness.
As with each month, it is difficult to pick a highlight amongst such brilliant music, but Is Model 86 Dreaming Of Being A Butterfly Or Is A Butterfly Dreaming Of Being Model 86 on Super Generic has such a vast range of conceptual music that it is highly recommended. I Don’t Wanna Go is a strong bassy rocker that can leave a ring in the ear for days to come.
No doubt 2021 will hold many more gems.