Thursday, 17 December 2009

2009: A Retrospective

Ok so I finally relented... after several weeks of anxiety, of convincing myself that regular readers will know exactly what I'm going to pick and of me embracing the casual fear that I would undoubtedly leave out something that a year later down the line I would grow to be completely in love with; I caved in... to the pressure of the 2009 retrospective and especially to the one person who emailed in and told me they couldn’t wait to see our end of year roundup.

This, my friend, is forever dedicated to you.

LPs of 2009:

2562 – Unbalance [Tectonic]

‘Unbalance’ feels a bit like a zenith for techno-tinged dubstep in 2009. There hasn't been an album that sums up the attitude and style of a producer so well since Martyn's 'Great Lengths' and its plush decadence. Similar to that record, these tracks work just as well away from the dance floor, just as comfortably soundtracking that last slow tussle with consciousness as they do your 4 AM drunken peak. – Taken from the SR penned RA review

DOOM – Born Like This [LEX]

Littered with comic book references, vocal skits and spoken word samples from people like Charles Bukowski, from whose poetry the album’s title is taken from, ‘BORN LIKE THIS.’ can only really be described as typical DOOM. A monumental character within rap he’s been accused of faking performances, hidden behind a metal mask for his entire career and yet he’s undoubtedly produced the next in his succession of superbly essential solo albums. – Taken from the SR penned Rock-A-Rolla review that I don’t think ever made it to print.

Martyn – Great Lengths [3024]

I did review this for Woofah but it was never used and sadly those gluttonous verses of my love for Martyn’s music have since been lost to a corrupted hard drive. Still, ‘Great Lengths’ was a purist realistion at the time of its release; a total wake up call for immaculately executed dancefloor dubstep. Superbly produced and constructed with a fiercely individual and warm sound bank it cemented the crossover potential of house & techno into bass music and rocked the shit out of any dance that dared to house it as it did it.

Peverelist – Jarvik Mindstate [Punch Drunk]

Despite its complexities, Tom Ford's approach to music-making seems delightfully linear and his on-album modesty—only nine tracks—goes a long way to juxtapose his studio workings. 'Jarvik Mindstate' is positively bulging with character, swelling with the kind of intrinsic rhythm that you just can't teach or learn. At times it drives a jagged shank into the notion of "dubstep," stumbling away from the altercation over the course of the album, ending up as far away from it as could be possible. – Taken from the SR penned RA review

Mountains – Choral [Thrill Jockey]

Like a less abrasive Fennesz (without the noisy drone bits), Mountains have an uncanny ability to astound. Their music may not be as instantly gratifying as a repetitive riff party but it is incredibly atmospheric. ‘Sweeping’ is almost undoubtedly the best adjective to describe these 6 tracks as they flitter and push themselves past your ears with gusto, enevloping your concentration with their subtle flecks of melody and involved guitar workouts. – Taken from the SR penned Rock-A-Rolla review (Issue 18)

Special mentions go to FaltyDL's 'Love Is A Liability' on Planet Mu, Lukid's 'Foma' and Actress' 'Hazyville' - both on Werk Discs, 10-20's self titled album on Highpoint Lowlife and Raekwon's 'Only Built For Cuban Linx 2' on EMI.

Compilations of 2009:

V/A - Beat Dimensions Vol 2 [Rush Hour]

The ultimate snapshot of this new slumped instrumental hip hop music some dare to call wonky; presented over 2 CDs with an insane level of quality control and a tracklist reading like a whose who in beats. I once heard a Beatnicks compilation that assured me of my love for twisted hip hop and this collection of sketches will undoubtedly do the same for legions of newcomers for a long, long time to come. It is simply utterly next level.

V/A - Skweee Tooth [Ramp/Flogsta Danshall]

Criminally overlooked, the ‘Skweee Tooth’ compilation forged relations between Scandinavia’s almost chip tune like electronica (skweee) scene and the fresh injection of 8bit computerisms in hip hop, recording it perfectly for all comers to embrace. Harbouring numerous gems it’s a glorious collation of the scene’s brightest talents with producers like Beatbully and Rigas Den Andre standing tall alongside Daniel Savio and the beautifully christened Wankers United.

V/A – 5 [Hyperdub]

For some 2009 was the year of Hyperdub; and after 5 years in the game and a whole load of interest in label, Kode 9 saw fit to mark the anniversary with a mixture of the old and new. Collecting some of the best and most vital works of Hyperdub artists as varied as Ikonika, Cooly G, Darkstar, King Midas Sound and Samiyam he presented the music beautifully with a 2nd disc of brand new material from label staples and like minded friends like Mala and Flying Lotus.

V/A – Mary Anne Hobbs presents Wild Angels [Planet Mu]

Simply put, I don’t think there is anyone out there who gets as much access to new talent as BBC Radio 1’s Mary Anne Hobbs and her third compilation outing on the Planet Mu showed just that. Reflecting the Sonic Router mentality perfectly she sat tracks from dubstep’s brat pack; Brackles, Untold, Hyetal and Gemmy alongside beats from Hudson Mohawke, Mono/Poly, Nosaj Thing and Teebs to astounding effect.

V/A - Tectonic Plates Vol. 2 [Tectonic]

With 'Tectonic Plates Vol. 2,' label boss Pinch proved that his imprint has the scope to reel in the big dawgs. Speaking to us in an interview at the time Pinch said: “it’s kind of an extension on the idea of the first Tectonic Plates series which was the idea of being Dubstep Allstars with each vinyl plate being a double A side and then a collection of the tracks on CD, kind of like the label highlights, with an upfront dubplate mix on CD 2.” It also housed the first more dubstep structured beat from Flying Lotus in ‘Glendale Galleria.’

Tracks of 2009 (in no ascertainable order):

Untold - Stop What You're Doing (James Blake RMX) [Hemlock]
Instra:mental - Watching You [Non Plus+]
2562 - Like A Dream [Tectonic]
Mount Kimbie - Sketch On Glass [Hotflush]
Joy Orbison - Hyph Mngo [Hotflush]
Slugabed - Super Freak [Stuff (White Label)]
Scuba – Symbiosis [Hotflush]
Shackleton - I Want To Eat You [Mordant Music]
Shortstuff - A Rustling [Ramp Recordings]
Joker & Ginz – Purple City/Re-Up [Kapsize]
MSTRKRFT – Heartbreaker (Brackles Remix) [Free DL]
Mono/Poly - Distant Form [Rush Hour]
Guido - Beautiful Complication [Punch Drunk]
Martyn – Vancouver [3024]
Tempa T – Next Hype [No Hats No Hoods]
Rekordah - Mint Milano [C8 Cassette]
Martin Kemp/Mickey Pearce – No Charisma/Innami [Blunted Robots]
Joe – Grimelight [Hessle Audio]
Nosaj Thing -1685/Bach [Alpha Pup]
Low Limit – TrapperKeeper [forthcoming on Numbers]
Pariah - Detroit Falls [R&S]
Hyetal - Gold Or Soul [Soul Motive]
Rigas Den Andre – Distordelle [Ramp Recordings/Flogsta Danshall]
Pearson Sound – Wad [Hessle Audio]
Ikonika vs Eero Johannes - We Could Be Ikons [Planet Mu]
Darkstar - Aidys Girl Is A Computer [Hyperdub]
James Blake - Air & Lack Thereof [Hemlock]
Zomby – Digital Flora [Brainmath]
Pangaea – Memories [White]
Jamie Vex'd - In System Travel EP [Planet Mu]

Please note:
These lists are not definitive. There are so many more (especially for the last category).
This is how the Sonic Router contributors and I felt today, on 17th December 2009.
Tomorrow it would most likely be very different...

1 comment:

  1. haha you've gotta love it when life gets all in synch and spookily coincidental don't you?
    I'm looking at your list of best tunes of the year and I'm thinking "Now what was that track that blew me away that L-Wiz was saying was his tune of the year?"
    find the mix
    feel the rush as it comes on
    hear him say the name

    Untold -Stop What You're Doing [James Blake RMX]


    It certainly makes me wanna punch through walls whilst dancing and embrace all that's good in the world!

    feeling the blog folks! enjoying exploring the Sonics muchly!