Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Dexterity's Albums Of The Decade

The only time I'm any good at making lists (or updating this blog) is year-end, when I get to reflect on the past 365 days in music. Because it's also the end of the decade it's also given me a great excuse to occupy time reflecting on ten year's worth of music.

So here's a list of what I thought were the greatest, the most significant or plainly the most leave-on-repeat records of the past decade. I haven't included DJ mixes (bar the one Charles Webster, which is the best summation of this super producer's output under various aliases), or reissues of any music released pre-1990 (bar the Koos, which was unavailable on CD or vinyl for way too long - and because the noises this SA band banged out still sound vital - plus a few other noughties-released 'best of' collections of vital artists like Carl Craig and Aaliyah).

As always I reserve the right to make additions and corrections at any time... Enjoy.

1. Bjork - Vespertine
2. Felix Laband - Dark Days Exit
3. Isolee - We Are Monster
4. PJ Harvey - Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea
5. Matthew Herbert - Bodily Functions
6. Burial - Burial
7. Phoenix - Alphabetical
8. MIA - Arular
9. Metro Area - Metro Area
10. Common - Like Water For Chocolate
11. LCD Soundsystem - LCD Soundsystem
12. Kate Bush - Aerial
13. Hot Chip - Coming On Strong
14. Junior Boys - Last Exit
15. Radiohead - Amnesiac
16. Hercules & Love Affair - Hercules & Love Affair
17. Yeah Yeah Yeah's - Fever To Tell
18. The xx - The xx
19. Grace Jones - Hurricane
20. The Roots - Phrenology

A few others well worth listening to:

69 - The Legendary Adventures Of A Filter King
Aaliyah - I Care 4 U
Akufen - My Way
Aphex Twin - 26 Mixes For Cash
Apparat - Walls
Arcade Fire - Funeral
The Avalanches - Since I Left You
Erykah Badu - Worldwide Underground
Erykah Badu - New Ameryykah: Part One (4th World War)
Basement Jaxx - Rooty
Benga - Diary Of An Afro-Warrior
Blackalicious - Blazing Arrow
Boards Of Canada - Geogaddi
The Books - Thought For Food
The Books - The Lemon Of Pink
Brooks - You, Me & Us
The Bug - London Zoo
Bullion - Pet Sounds: In The Key Of Dee
Burial - Untrue
Cobblestone Jazz - 23 Seconds
Common - Electric Circus
Chromatics - Night Drive
Circlesquare - Songs About Dancing And Drugs
Carl Craig & Moritz von Oswald - ReComposed
Dangermouse - The Grey Album
Matthew Dear - Asa Breed
DJ/rupture - Special Gunpowder
DJ Harvey - Black Cock Edits
DJ Koze - Reincarnations: The Remix Chapter 2001 - 2009
Dusk & Blackdown - Margins Music
Missy Elliott - Miss E: So Addictive
Fennesz - Endless Summer
The Field - From Here We Go Sublime
Fink - Biscuits For Breakfast
Flying Lotus - Los Angeles
Forss - Soulhack
Four Tet - Rounds
Franz Ferdinand - Franz Ferdinand
Gang Gang Dance - Saint Dympha
Jose Gonzalez - Veneer
Gorillaz - Gorillaz
Guillaume & The Coutu Dumonts - Face L'Est
PJ Harvey - Uh Huh Her
Richie Hawtin - DE9
Hot Chip - The Warning
Hot Chip - Made In The Dark
Hudson Mohawke - Polyfolk Dance
Hudson Mohawke - Butter
Interpol - Turn on the Bright Lights
Isolee - Rest
Jay-Z - The Blueprint
Jay Dee - J Dilla Remixes
Junior Boys - So This Is Goodbye
Junior Boys - Begone Dull Care
Jamie Lidell - Multiply
Jamie Lidell - Jim
Kerrier District - Kerrier District
Kid Koala - Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
The Knife - Silent Shout
Kode9 & The Spaceape - Memories Of The Future
Koos - The Black Tape
Felix Laband - Thin Shoes In June
Felix Laband - 4/4 Down The Stairs
Neil Landstrumm - Lord For £39
LCD Soundsystem - Sound Of Silver
Losoul - Belong
Luciano - Tribute To The Sun
Lukid - Foma
Luomo - Vocalcity
Luomo - Convivial
Massive Attack - 100th Window
Masters At Work - Strictly MAW
The Matthew Herbert Big Band - Goodbye Swingtime
MIA - Kala
MIA vs Diplo - Piracy Funds Terrorism
Milanese - Lockout
Mocky - Saskamodie
Moderat - Moderat
Morgan Geist - Double Night Time
Mos Def - The Ecstatic
Mr. Scruff - Keep It Unreal
Murcof - Martes
My My - Songs For The Gentle
NERD - In Search Of...
Omar-S - FXHE Collected
Outkast - Stankonia
Erlend Oye - DJ Kicks
Panda Bear - Person Pitch
Phoenix - Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
Kelley Polar - I Need You To Hold On While The Sky Is Falling
Pole - 3
Portishead - Third
Prefuse 73 - Vocal Studies & Uprock Narratives
Q-Tip - The Renaissance
Radiohead - Kid A
Radiohead - In Rainbows
Radiohead - Hail To The Thief
The Rapture - Echoes
The Real Estate Agents - Marcus Wormstorm & Sibot Are...
The Roots - The Tipping Point
Roots Manuva - Run Come Save Me
Royksopp - Melody AM
Sade - Lovers Rock
Henrik Schwarz - Live
Shed - Shedding The Past
Dani Siciliano - Likes...
The Soft Pink Truth - Do You Party?
Spank Rock - YoYoYoYoYo
Super_Collider - Head On
Swayzak - Dirty Dancing
David Sylvian - Blemish
John Tejada - Logic Memory Centre
Jimi Tenor - Out Of Nowhere
Terranova - Hitchhiking Nonstop With No Particular Destination
Justin Timberlake - Justified
Trentemoller - The Last Resort
Tricky - Knowle West Boy
Trus'Me - Working Nights
TV On The Radio - Return To Cookie Mountain
Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend
Villalobos - Alcachofa
Wagon Christ - Musipal
Charles Webster - Born On The 24th Of July
Charles Webster - Defected presents...
Kanye West - The College Dropout
Paul Weller - 22 Dreams
Saul Williams - Saul Williams
Yeah Yeah Yeah's - It's Blitz!
Zomby - Where Were You In '92?

Well Red

In the Red Issue of super Chew Magazine, now out, yours truly weighs in on albums by The xx, Dear Reader, Basement Jaxx, ProVerb, Bride Reunion and Hudson Mohawke.

Well worth a look...

Friday, October 9, 2009

Mujava Gets MOBO Nomination

South African house music hero DJ Mujava was recently nominated for a Music Of Black Origin (MOBO) Award.

The annual ceremony took place in Glasgow on 30 September and while the Tshwane-reared Mujava - real name Elvis Maswanganyi - didn't win in the Best African category, he was up against some class opposition: fellow South African Lira, Mali's Oumou Sangare and Salif Keita, and Nigeria's Eldee, and Nneka, who took the award.

The recognition follows the massive splash Mujava made last year with the track 'Township Funk' (featured on Civilised Disobedience here). After that 8-bit instrumental kwaito jam was 'discovered' on YouTube, it was licensed to Warp Records in the UK and became one of THE dance anthems of 2008. It was also remixed by electronic dons like Ashley Beedle, Mark Pritchard and Matias Aguayo.

From the township streets to the top of the beat pile.

Monday, September 21, 2009

On Song

From Durban and still just a teenager, Culoe De Song is taking genuine Afro-house out of the local taverns and onto the planet’s dancefloors.

After impressing as SA’s representative at 2008’s Red Bull Music Academy, Culolethu Zulu - as he’s known to the authorities stamping an increasingly busy passport: trips to Sonar in Spain and DJing jaunts in Italy, Germany, Belgium and Holland among them - caught the attention of some of the world’s most renowned house music operations.

Esteemed electronic music hub Resident Advisor invited him to contribute to their renowned weekly Podcast series, as did beat-portal Bodytonic. Then the German label helmed by Âme, Innervisions, released his brilliant ‘The Bright Forest / African Subway’ on 12”, and the A-side made its way into the sets of the international house cognoscenti.

The latest development in the Black Coffee protégé’s burgeoning career comes via MIO: he’s due to release an EP on Japan’s Mule Musiq, titled ‘The Fallen Shiren’, on September 28. This radical label has previously released breathtaking beats from fellow South African Brendan Moeller (aka Beat Pharmacy), DJ Sprinkles (aka Terre Thaemlitz), Isolee and Minilogue.
Eighteen-years old and already all-conquering, the sun’s certainly shining brightly for Culoe De Song.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Chew On This

Dexterity reviews Circlesquare, Mocky, Fink, N.A.S.A., Milanese and Bodycode - the latter two the work of, or featuring, South Africans - in the Futuristic issue of good-looking online publication Chew Magazine.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Another Experiment

Jo'burg's most exciting new (and second oldest) venue, Kitchener's Carvery Bar, hosts three of the most respected, experienced and generally just kick-ass DJ's in the city - including yours truly - this Friday night (3 July).

Joining Dexterity (who's on at half-past midnight) are Kid Fonque and Ben Montressor. More info here.

Entry is free before 10pm and R30 after.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Shrine On, Or Over?

Disturbing news disseminated by Nikki Lucas, who hosts the excellent Future Fusion Global Warning show on various platforms. It's particularly concerning news for me, as I'm in Nigeria on business at the moment and want nothing more than to make it to Afrobeat's Mecca, the New Afrika Shrine...

Lucas writes:

"Throughout Africa today there are many western-style theatres, mainly built by the Chinese, Africa’s latest colonizers-in-waiting. But only rarely are they administered and operated as cultural centres, open and accessible to anyone other than the bourgeois minority in their SUV’s and Mercedes limos. A notable exception to this rule existed in Lagos Nigeria until last week, that is, when it was forcibly closed by the authorities giving less than 24 hours notice and claiming “noise nuisance, illegal street trading, indiscriminate parking, blocking of access roads and obstruction of traffic” as their justification.

The New Afrika Shrine was built and operated by Femi and Yeni Anikulapo Kuti, the eldest son and daughter of cultural icon, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, who built the original Shrine in the seventies, which endured until shortly after his death in 1997 when it, too, was forcibly closed by the Nigerian authorities. Both the old and new Shrines were much more than just music venues. They were a refuge for the homeless and dispossessed, acted as a focal point for dissent and were consequently a thorn in the flesh of the ruling elite. Fela used the stage to launch eloquently savage diatribes against the corruption and mismanagement that was rife in Nigeria, one of the world’s leading oil producing countries, and was a hero to millions for the biting, non-compromising social commentary contained within his lyrics.

In the seventies and eighties people flocked to the Shrine to hear Fela’s latest harangue of the country’s leaders and marvel at the powerful music and spectacle produced by his singers, dancers and musicians. Millions, not just in Nigeria but across the African continent, bought his albums and his tours in Europe and America attracted huge audiences.

Fela paid the price for his brutally frank and widely publicized condemnations of the government and his fierce defense of human rights by being constantly harassed, arrested (more than 200 times) and often savagely beaten, none of which ever diminished the continuing force of his attacks.

Following his death and the forced closure of his beloved Shrine, Femi and Yeni resolved to re-build an even bigger venue on a nearby site and used their share of income from the global sale of Fela’s albums with which to do so. They were determined to maintain their Father’s legacy and considered the heritage of shelter, support and advocacy as being the most valuable contributions they could make towards the development and creation of a united and democratic African republic.

Against all the odds, and despite constant harassment from the authorities, they have successfully continued to the Shrine open for almost a decade and have developed a large and faithful following, as well as providing an effective refuge for disaffected youth and the dissemination of preventive information in defense against the Aids pandemic. Femi and his band, The Positive Force, have graced the stage and kept alive the spirit of dissent and social commentary as the backbone of his work. He and Yeni have acted as host to the ever-increasing number of world-renowned artists who have made the pilgrimage to the Shrine and participated in the Felabrations which take place each year on the anniversary of Fela’s birthday. Despite the global recognition of the Kuti family (a musical about Fela is about open on Broadway and a Hollywood film is being made of Fela’s life and work) and their work as three generations of social reformers, the authorities have maintained their opposition and have taken every opportunity to obstruct the continued operation of The Shrine. This has included countless raids, often in the middle of the night, including beatings and harassment of the many homeless youth who seek shelter there, now once again exposed to the elements.

Now, of course, The Shrine is closed, according to the authorities, permanently. However, after making this pronouncement in writing just a few days ago, they have this morning stated that it may re-open tomorrow. This can, alas, not be viewed as any kind of victory. On the contrary, that a ‘permanent’ closure can be turned around in less than a week only shows that their decision-making process is completely arbitrary. This cat and mouse game, which has been going on for almost four decades must come to an end. When Fela died, the upper echelons of Nigerian government sent letters to the family that were not simply expressions of condolence but were eloquent testimonials to a great man. The present authorities must finally admit that Fela Anikulapo Kuti is Nigeria’s best loved son and accept the earnest request made by the Executors of Fela’s Estate, Yeni, Femi and Kunle Anikulapo Kuti, to:

1. Once and for all end hostilities and harassment.

2. Permanently re-open the Shrine

3. Create the necessary decree to establish and maintain The New Afrika Shrine as a National Heritage Site in recognition of the invaluable contribution made by the Kuti family to the cultural life of the nation.

To assist this process and make clear to the Nigerian authorities that the Kutis, for almost a century have enjoyed the respect and admiration of not just Nigerians or even Africans, but people of conscience around the world, please add your signature to the petition in support of this proposal, to be forwarded to the Governor of Lagos and to Nigeria’s Minister of Justice."

So please do us all - and Fela-obsessed me, in particular! - a favour by signing the petition here. [Update - this link appeared to be down when I posted this originally, and I now believe from contacts here that The Shrine is indeed still open. But sign the petition anyway: Nigerian authorities are a law unto themselves.]

And in case you're unclear about why I'm so eager to get to The Shrine (I spent a Friday afternoon there last year but couldn't make it back for the real deal), the house band it Femi Kuti's Positive Force, and you can grab a taste of the Kuti Jnr.'s melancholy Afrobeat amazingness over at the excellent RCRD LBL, where 'Eh-Oh' is available, gratis.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Energy + Thing = Everything

It's South Africa's sexiest and slickest online mag by a long way. It's called Chew and issue 6 is out now and available for download here.

In between all the immaculate design, there are some stunning fashion shoots (well, Emily Freeman is just stunning, while Chris Saunders' township shoot is out of this world), as well as features on dirty disco rockers The Beams and the brilliant, world-conquering Blk Jks.

If you aren't sold yet, check out my reviews of albums by PJ Harvey, Phoenix, DJ Koze, Bloc Party & Grace Jones on page 90...

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A Dex-periment

Jozi residents should come on down to - and get down at - Kitchener's Carvery Bar in Braamfontein on Friday night where I'll be deejaying in tandem with Offbeat.

Not only will we be dropping beats of the most deliciously dexterous order (from disco and techno to tech house and 'stepno') but the This Is An Experiment soiree happens in what is apparently Johannesburg's second oldest pub (after The Radium).

Also on the DJ bill are Data Takashi, Sound Sensible, andrw and Yoji, and the door charge is equivalent to a pack of cigs. Smokin'...

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Beat Frequencies

Get down heads up: the keyed-in crew at Locksmith Beats Radio have featured one of my sets in their latest Podcast, so head on over and subscribe to their beat stream.

You can also catch me on Beatsradio.net on Tuesdays at 22:00 and Thursdays at 20:00.

The tracklist for Locksmith #007 is:

1. Friendly Fires - Paris (Aeroplane Remix)
2. Stimming - Una Pena
3. Force Of Nature - Sequencer (Stefan Goldmann Remix)
4. Daso - Meine (Lucio Aquilina Mix)
5. Mark E - R&B Drunkie
6. Worthy - Crack-El (Justin Martin Remix)
7. Justin Martin - My Angelic Demons
8. Kid Cudi - Day N Nite (Crookers Remix)
9. Hot Chip - Touch Too Much (Fake Blood Remix)
10. Kraak & Smaak ft. Ben Westbeech - Squeeze Me (Trevor Loveys Remix)
11. Sei A - Smile For Me (Chaim Remix)
12. Cari Lekebusch - Shaded (Compuphonik & Kolombo Remix)

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Pulp Rhythms

Whatever happened to drum 'n' bass?

Earlier in the new millennium it was all anyone remotely interested in dance music could speak about, and double bass-driven rhythmic exploits from the likes of Roni Size's Reprazent scooped critical acclaim and awards including the coveted Mercury Prize. Then the minimal and mechanical techstep animals of Ed Rush, Andy C and co. took over the farm and ruined all the fun...

I have acquaintances who still think the form is alive and kickin' and it still sells by the truckload in the UK, but every time I've been on a drum 'n' bass floor in past six or seven years, I've been bored beyond belief.

The one exception was when Hospital Records' Tony Colman (aka London Elektricity) played a storming set, high in melodic hijinx and variety, to a near empty club in Johannesburg in 2003. That a DJ who exemplifies how wide-ranging, colourful and complex drum 'n' bass can be was ignored by the so-called 'heads' spoke volumes. I haven't bought a drum 'n' bass track since.

But I still love listening to the often magical rhythmic escapades that were ubiquitous when drum 'n' bass at its peak - "Brown Paper Bag", "Pulp Fiction", London Elektricity's 'Pull The Plug' album - and when I received a request recently for soundtrack-ready music that was Tarantino-esque, sleek and swift, I realised how cinematic, soulful and noir a lot of the best drum 'n' bass is.

I sent these classics on and thought I'd share them here too - if anyone can recommend newer drum 'n' bass that's anywhere near as compelling, please post them in the comments section.

Alex Reece - Pulp Fiction
EZ Rollers - Walk This Land (Vinyl rip)
London Elektricity - Pull The Plug
Roni Size - Hi-Potent

Get Simon Reynolds' thoughts on jungle and drum 'n' bass and how they figure in his 'hardcore continuum' - as well as their relationship with garage, grime, dubstep and funky - in a long but revealing talk hosted by FACT in association with the Wire Magazine HERE.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Songs In The Key Of Life

"Don't you ever wonder how the hell does Stevie Wonder see things?" - Hot Chip, "Keep Fallin'"

OK, the man may make a few too many appearances in inappropriate places (most notably lately: on stage at the Grammys with Jonas Brothers), but there's no denying that pop music would not be anywhere near where it is without the efforts of one Stevland Hardaway Judkins, aka Stevie Wonder.

Lately I've had plenty cause to dive deep into into his twinkling well of righteously original tunes, having been booked to DJ at an 80s-themed birthday party as well as at a shop launch where the brief is disco. Stevie works er, wonders in both contexts.

Prepping for these events over the past weekend, I dropped the needle onto my vinyl copies of 'Songs In The Key Of Life' and 'Hotter Than July', and bathed my soul in the glorious heart-tug of tracks like "Master Blaster (Jammin')", "Sir Duke" and "All I Do". I highly recommend this to everyone on a Saturday afternoon.

Having won an incredible 22 Grammy Awards (the most ever by a solo artist), one might expect this legend to just slink off into the shadows, but he's still relatively busy and has collaborated with far cooler cats than Jonas Brothers in recent years.

In 2006 he hooked up with British soul singer Omar on the 'Sing (If You Want It)' album, and their "I'm Feeling You" recently turned up remixed by Henrik Schwarz. If I wasn't convinced already that German producer Schwarz makes the most golden dance music on the face of the earth, I'm beyond sold after listening to this reworking.

Enjoy a Stevie classic and what for me is, by far and away, the song of the year so far...

Stevie Wonder - All I Do
Omar ft. Stevie Wonder - I'm Feeling You (Henrik Schwarz Remix) [Excerpt]

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Art Of Noise

The brilliant Saul Williams posted a bunch of Youtube links from his Twitter yesterday, including songs by Sade, Miles Davis, Gary Numan and Loose Joints. All were awesome, but the one that resonated to the point of getting me to post was this beyond lovely Art Of Noise tune.

Assembled in Trevor Horn's ZTT hit factory, "Moments In Love" has been a fave of mine for a while (and recently became one for Diplo too) and along with a lot of AON's catalogue, it's been the unwilling subject of some of my early production efforts (file somewhere between re-edits and unlistenable, going-nowhere, loop experiments).

Nonetheless I tried a far simpler thing with the 'Daft Slow' version of the tune in order to slot its beauty into DJ sets: sped it up (whilst keeping the pitch the same).

Also well worth downloading is the surprisingly restrained Caspa remix (which you'll find over at These Rocks Pop), which basically tacks a dubstep drum rhythm underneath the original, proving how far ahead of the curve Horn and company were.

The Art Of Noise - Moments In Love (Dexterity's Daft Faster Version)

Monday, March 23, 2009

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Mr. Lawrence

I ended up in serious gridlock this morning, but listening to the instrumental version of the very first piece of music I posted on this blog - the theme from the only film David Bowie is in that's actually worth watching (please correct me if I'm wrong), 'Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence' - certainly eased the tension.

Serendipitously, the first thing I listened to when I got to my desk was by German alt-techno producer Lawrence: a new EP out on Ghostly International's sister label Spectral. And whilst it's nowhere near as dramatic as Sakamoto's massive string-steeped sweeps (Lawrence specialises in subtle and understated electronics), 'Anna Forever' elicited a similar goosebumps-all-over moment. Deeeeeeply enjoyable...

Lawrence - 'Anna Forever' (MediaFire)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

What We're Gonna Do Right Here Is Go Back...

Way back. Well, not really: to 2007 with a little mix and put together for a rather large radio station...

DJ Dexterity's half-hour excursion features Phoenix, Prince, Ark, Hot Chip, Henrik Schwarz, Depeche Mode and Booka Shade and was designed to be eclectic but accessible, move-worthy and headphone-ready - I hope you like it.

Imma really gonna try keep this blog better tended to but it's difficult when Twitter's so much easier!

Mediafire Link (30Min, 30Mb)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Taking CTRL

Another night of outerdimensional sonic transmissions at Hotel Sunningdales under the command of the Loud Clear Collective...

Taking control of the crowd, selectors Chris Keys and Dexterity hook up with the city's most versatile supplier of avant sound, Kid Fonque; together they'll steer the soundtrack through an array of beats: from disjointed to disco, midtempo to techno, sub bass-heavy to house.

This super audio assault will be complimented by a souped-up sound-rig and Sunningdales' improved interior. An unmatched underground congregation that's ecstasy on the senses and easy on the pocket.

Are you feeling lucky?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

FWD (Fast)

This Friday (23 Jan) in Johannesburg: a one-off night showcasing choice finds from the outskirts of the dance music universe, immaculately mixed up by DJs Chris Keys, James (aka Robot Boy), Offbeat and Dexterity.

Playlists will accommodate house, techno, disco, dubstep and other dancefloor oddities that defy description - basically beats you're not going to hear anywhere else.

Open-minded partygoers should apply at Hotel Sunningdales (88 Corlett Drive, Birnam) on Friday 23 Jan - door charge is a paltry, credit crunch-conscious R20.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

DJ Dexterity’s Favourite Albums of 2008

It's been interesting how much consensus there’s been on year-end best music lists. A handful of albums have been cropping up consistently across the blogosphere and on sites like Pitchfork: Fleet Foxes, Bon Iver, Cut Copy, Kings of Leon and the album in my top spot seemingly rubbed many people the right way in 2008. But barring Hercules And Love Affair's self-titled debut - a remarkable transposition of disco tropes into modern shapes that transformed Antony Hegarty into a torch singer every bit as worthy as Marc Almond or Chaka Khan - I thought these touted albums were effective (and affective) rather than radical.

In 2008, I located listening joy in the retro-future flights of fancy taken by Erykah Badu, Raphael Saadiq and Jamie Lidell; in the body-punching drums and sparkling rhymes of Q-Tip (as well as the wheezier and sleazier but highly questionable slant supplied by Lil Wayne); in brilliance from Bristol: the highly-anticipated returns - and returns to dirty, dazzling heights - of Portishead and Tricky; in acts like Foals, Vampire Weekend and Esau Mwamwaya, who turned their attention to Africa and found fresh avenues for alternative music here; in subsonic explorers like Benga, Zomby and Flying Lotus, who ensured that 'bass' music (which has been somewhat annoyingly broken up into a multitude of mini-genres, like dubstep, grime, wonky and aquacrunk) still does damage to dancers’ internal organs; in the strange and unlikely 'pop' music that Gang Gang Dance and Nôze stumbled across; in the audacious bootlegging of Pocketknife and Cousin Cole, who managed to make main floor fodder out of rock and folk oldies like Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen…

It wasn't a great year for electronic/dance albums (it rarely is), but promising emissions - 'wonky' ways forward, if you'll forgive the totally unnecessary use of this year's most shockingly-named genre - emerged from the aforementioned sub-bass operators, and I suspect that the likes of Joker, Headhunter, Rustie, TRG etc. will pull off similar feats in 2009.

There are some also-rans (or nearly theres) that deserve a mention: '808s & Heartbreak', a solid, slightly different issue from Kanye West that might have made the list had T-Pain not already smashed the Autotune to within an inch of its life; the psychedelic kiss that was MGMT's 'Oracular Spectacular', which was officially released in 2007; the so so clever and super-cheeky, but often cheesily cloying, Girl Talk album; Beck's 'Modern Guilt', which was just too flimsy and flyweight in places; and the head-spinning 'Dear Painter, Paint Me' from M_Nus man Heartthrob, which was a little too specialised (but had some of the most exciting moments of any album from last year). Add to these decent but not-too-daring records from Jay Haze, Bauhaus, Bloc Party and Osborne. And as always, because of the daunting mass of music released, I didn't/couldn't get around to listening to records from The Roots, Roots Manuva, Matthew Herbert, Neil Landstrumm, Morgan Geist, Mr. Scruff and Shed.

Here though are 25 albums that I did get around to listening to (most more than once!) and that I thought most effectively grasped the sonic possibilities available in 2008; albums that had my pleasure centres and synapses (and often limbs too) operating overtime…

25. Lil' Wayne - Tha Carter III
24. Esau Mwamawaya & Radioclit – The Very Best
23. The Bug - London Zoo
22. Nôze - Songs On The Rocks
21. Hot Chip - Made In The Dark
20. TV On The Radio - Dear Science
19. AmpLive - Rainydayz
18. Radiohead - The Best Of
17. Flying Lotus - Los Angeles
16. Loco Dice - 7 Dunham Place
15. Theo Parrish – Sound Sculptures
14. Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend
13. Zomby – Where Were U In '92?
12. Foals - Antidotes
11. Raphael Saadiq - The Way I See It
10. Gang Gang Dance - Saint Dymphna
9. Q-Tip - The Renaissance
8. Benga – Diary Of An Afro-Warrior
7. Pocketknife & Cousin Cole - Tambourine Dream
6. Prosumer & Murat Tepeli – Serenity
5. Tricky - Knowle West Boy
4. Jamie Lidell - Jim
3. Erykah Badu – New Amerykah Part One: 4th World War
2. Portishead – Third
1. Hercules & Love Affair – Hercules & Love Affair

Hercules & Love Affair - Blind (Frankie Knuckles Dub)
(not on the album - buy it!)

Friday, January 9, 2009

Top House & Techno Tracks of 2008

Another list for the mass of year-end (or beginning, as the case may be) lists, but I feel I've got to post something (plus I got Friday afternoon off work)...

This may be followed by a list of tunes I liked last year that weren't house or techno, and maybe even a Best Albums list... But don't hold your breath.

These tracks made me excited to still be deejaying in 2008 - a big thanks to Tim Sweeney for opening my ears to the epic in top spot. See if you can spot me in the pic, which was taken at his gig at Carfax last May - for my money (and alongside ?uestlove in the same venue), the party of last year.

But that's a whole other list...

50. Invisible Conga People - Cable Dazed
49. Photonz - Trembler (Discodeine Remix)
48. Syclops - Monkey Puss
47. Trickski - Move Me (Phonique Remix)
46. Henrik Schwarz & Amampondo - I Exist Because Of You (Live Mix)
45. Mlle Caro - Dead Souls (Radio Slave Remix)
44. Booka Shade - Planetary
43. Joris Voorn - The Deep (Jimpster Remix)
42. John Tejada - Torque
41. Prosumer & Murat Tepeli - Turn Around
40. Arto Mwambe - Une Seule Nuit (Mix De Danse)
39. Hot Chip - Hold On (Ewan Pearson Remix)
38. Fields - Song For The Fields (Ewan Pearson Remix)
37. Esau Mwamwaya & Radioclit - Wena
36. Falko Brocksieper - Lament
35. Sunburst Band - Journey To the Sun (Dennis Ferrer Remix)
34. Yazoo - Situation [Hercules and Love Affair Remix]
33. Friendly Fires ft Au Revoir Simone - Paris (Aeroplane Remix)
32. DJ Koze - I Want To Sleep
31. Marco Bailey & Tom Hades - Saint Paul [Gregor Tresher Remix]
30. Turntablerocker - All Night (Original)
29. Force Of Nature - Sequencer [Stefan Goldmann Remix]
28. Ben Mono - Jesus Was a B-Boy (Shir Khan Remix)
27. Fan Death - Veronica's Veil [Erol Alkan's Extended Rework]
26. Kuniyuki - All These Things (Theo Parrish Remix Dub)
25. Simon Baker - Plastik (Todd Terje Turkatech Mix)
24. The Laughing Light Of Plenty - The Rose
23. Noze - Ethiopo
22. Radiohead - Videotape (Man Make Remix)
21. Culoe De Song - Bright Forest
20. Mike Dunn presents The MD X-Spress - Na Na Na (I Walk With God) [Mike Dunn Main Vocal Mix]
19. Afefe Iku - Mirror Dance
18. Morgan Geist - Detroit [c2RMX1 by Carl Craig]
17. Loco Dice - Pimp Jackson Is Talkin' Now
16. Matias Aguayo - Minimal (Markus Rossknecht Remix)
15. Foals - Olympic Airways (Ewan Pearson's Return To The Villa of Joy Remix)
14. Sis - Nesrib
13. Ben Watt - Guinea Pig (Vocal Variation Mix feat. Julia Biel)
12. Ane Brun - Headphone Silence (Henrik Schwarz Remix)
11. Jazzanova - Let Me Show Ya (Henrik Schwarz Remix)
10. Primal Scream - Uptown (Weatherall's Long After The Disco Is Over Remix 2)
9. Mark E - Slave 1
8. Lovelock - Don't Turn Away (From My Love)
7. dOP - Just A Man
6. Guillaume & The Coutu Dumonts - Chilly Willy
5. NUfrequency ft. Shara Nelson - Go That Deep (Charles Webster Acid Version)
4. Panthers – Goblin City (Holy Ghost Extended Disco Dub)
3. Hot Chip - Hold On (Mock & Toof Remix)
2. Hercules And Love Affair - Blind (Frankie Knuckles Remix)
1. The Juan Maclean - Happy House

The Juan Maclean - Happy House (Trim The Fat Jeans Edit)
(this version crams all the high points into half the time, but isn't nearly as hypnotically thrilling as the original - which you should go buy!)