2010 music-wise was absolutely AWESOME with new, niche genres and cross-genres gaining on popularity (e.g. glitch-hop, west-coast blap and beats, mutant hip-hop beats, future UK – wot u call it – thing) and the wind of creative change blowing most strongly from across the eastern Polish border – from the land of Mother Rossija – where tenths of talented producers (e.g. DZA, Pixelord, Demokracy, Moa Pillar, Pavel Dovgal, Myown to name just a few) are churning wicked tune after wicked tune in all the shades of dayglo synths. German and Dutch beatmakers (like e.g. Halp, Coco Bryce, Doshy, Robot Koch, Swede:art) are finally gaining, quite deservedly, the proper recognition across the world for their brave and creative approach to beatmaking. Central and Eastern Europe is finally waking up and starts participating actively in the global scene (releases by PTR1, Teielte from Poland, Montgomery Clunk from Romania or 1000Names from Bulgaria are absolutely world class). UK urban sound is morphing like crazy, I have lost the track of all the transformations and trends long time ago. Well, to be honest the apparently thriving UK Funky or Future Garage is not my thing, but it seems producers on this scene are flirting more and more often with post hip-hop beats which I can only support whole-heartedly expecting more developments in this area in 2011. Last year was also a tough time for any writer / blogger / journalist, your humble narrator including, who embarked on a futile task of describing the music which escapes any categorization or pigeonholing like never before. Using this opportunity I would like to kindly apologize for misleading or confusing terminology used in this blog. I hope this will continue in the future :)
I may sound like Euro Nationalist (I am not), but 2010 was apparently the Year of European Label. Error Broadcast, Project Mooncircle, Robox Neotech, Tokyo Dawn Records, Numbers, Black Acre, Fremdtunes (to name just a few), are pushing this new mutant sound forward delivering many surprises and consistent, solid quality along the way. Of course one should not make a mistake of perceiving music only via geographical location of the artists or labels, because such distinctions do not work anymore. Which was nicely commented by Low Limit from Lazer Sword on his twitter recently: “a lot of these journalists/blog can't listen to music out of context of the artists' location, & the geographical assumptions along with it. tell me what it sounds like not what it you'd assume it sounds like given the place it was made. ill make footwork in a barn in idaho fukit” Ha ha ha – how true! Music is a global thing now, but I still believe that some local mentality, upbringing, sensitivity and setting in which you create your works of art also plays a substantial role in the total scheme. Ok, enough of this. Let's move to the verdict. And the winners are ...:
DOKTOR KRANK'S TOP RELEASES OF 2010
1. Swede:art. – Emotional Colors (Tokyo Dawn Records)
The sexiest debut of 2010. Sex on the Airplane, Mozambique, Wonky Bikez or Linguistics will be my all-time-favorites for many years to come, I'm positive. A top-notch release full of the best future beats by a super talented producer from Germany. Since the first time I came across the work of Joachim Pruegl at the end of 2009, I really felt his potential, but I've still been surprised with his stellar debut. He has instantly catapulted himself to my personal top German producers league next to the mighty Robot Koch.
Slugabed – Ultra Heat Treated EP (Planet Mu)
I could not decide which release should I name my best release of 2010. I decided to present two prizes, another top first prize goes to the powerful, crazy and twisted synths of Brighton's wizz-kid whose EP ruled in my player in the first half of 2010. Slugabed makes no mistakes, takes no hostages and is merciless. More praise in my review above.
2. Lorn – Nothing Else (Brainfeeder)
Great, dark, deep and moving electronic trips by Lorn who released one the best album of 2010 in Flying Lotus' Brainfeeder. In this case, I personally believe that the pupil outgrew the master. I like Nothing Else better than IMHO a bit overhyped Flying Lotus' Cosmogramma. (Now, try something different. Listen to a nice mixtape produced by Lorn with Lefty aka the L.E.F.T. rapping to the beat from Nothing Else - Lefty aka L.E.F.T Kill the Messenger)
3. Low Limit vs. Lando Kal – Golden Handshake EP (Numbers)
This is what I wrote in my review on glitch.fm “a cluster bomb of deconstructed sonic mayhem which will create havoc on any dancefloor from Paris to New York and L.A. Their music is about party and rave, about breaking the necks, setting bodies on fire in a digital dancefloor bonanza of purity-defying electro lazer assualt. This may sound bombastic, but for me Lazer Sword epitomizes the future of EDM, where hip hop swagger meets post-disco and funky beat, while all end up in a heavy-bass soup spiced up with tons of crunky synths, sick samples, ear-catching cut-ups, bleeps, beeps and whatnot.” Read to rest to learn why I believe this EP to be a motherfucking future party slammer! And why I have been feeding my Car’s sound system with it for months.
4. Robot Koch – Songs for Trees and Cyborgs (Project Mooncircle)
Second full-length release (along with the earlier Listen to Them Fade EP) by the most famous Robot from Berlin has solidified his position among top world producers. I love his unique style of button pressing and fat multi-track sonic textures he creates so consistently and skillfully. His vintage sound works equally well in his own productions as in collaborations with other artists (e.g. great tunes with Doshy and 1000Names). Again, on this release we receive great vocal tracks - Verbal Bruises with Portable Morla and Brujeria with Graciela Maria are among the best, next to Atari You featuring a great emcee from Poland – RQM (who have been part of the Berlin mafia for years). For real, there are not many artists on electronic music scene with such a vision and craft. RESPECT! Peeps from USofA should watch out as Robot Koch is going on a tour across the States in February 2011. Good news is he is working on many projects at the moment, thus we have a guaranteed delivery of superb beats also in 2011.
5. Pixelord – Lucid Freaks pt.1 (Error Broadcast)
Chip tune, 8-bit, wonky perverted button bonanza of top class by the Lord of All Pixels – one of the freshest, most original and experimental releases of the year! Hooked me instantly into beats from Russia, which became a real goldmine of fresh sounding electronic music.
6. Ninja Tune XX – Box Set –
The almighty set of absolutely smashing 6 CD’s released to celebrate 20th anniversary of one of the most respected and forward-looking labales on the planet. A MUST for any open-minded music lover. List of artists featured is simply ridiculous!
7. Doshy – Scatter Remixes (Robox Neotech).
The best remix compilation of 2010! Democracy, Rudi Zygadlo, Pixelord, Halp & Coco Bryce, Monky, Lakritze, Zeno and Doshy himself plus other remixers deliver a super package adding their creative personal touch to very good original material. I wrote in my review: "Robox Neotech is THE LABEL OF THE FUTURE. Trust my werd! Music they serve is soooo refreshing, mind-boggling, full of this kinky, bleepy, twisted lazers and sick beats, dipped in hard to describe RAW, post-industrial spices. Future beats attacking the listener with full force, engaging all your senses and making your wetware circuitry go high high high with liquid, digital emotions. Just listen to the latest offering from Robox Neotech - Scatter Remixes EP. I liked the the original EP by Doshy a lot, but these remixes really made my jaw drop low low low". Read the rest above.
8. PTR1 – Above the structures (Concrete Cut Recordings)
Definitely, the best release from Poland this year (closely followed by Teielte's Homeworkz). Intelligent, mesmerizing and enchanting dub music! A fragment of my review: All five original tracks by ptr1 create a very concrete block of bass-friendly music with absolutely mesmerizing melodies. I listen to tons of electronic productions, coming across tracks showing very good production skills, yet missing one extremely important component - namely soul. Whereas ptr1 has a rare gift enabling him to squeeze beautiful emotions out of the cold analog and digital tools. Just listen to Cold, my personal highlight of the release, this tune reaches deep deep inside my neural structure touching right nerves and proving once again why humans has loved music for millenia
9. Planet Soap – After Silkworm (Car Crash Set)
Another great remix compilation showcasing talents from across the world. Car Crash Set prepared a fat selection of of remixes of tracks taken from "Silkworm" EP by bass-trio Planet Soap from Milan, Italy (released in September 2010). Coming out of nowhere for some, but definitely not for the regular readers of my blog, as "After Silkworm" features the works of many of my favorite producers on the beat scene. Read the rest in my review above.
10. 1000names - Illuminated Man (Black Acre)
Great, full-length album on Black Acre by this Bulgarian duo was one of the biggest surprises this year for me. I heard their previous releases but it was Illuminated Man that has really won me over. I like a kind of consistent, spacey flow to their music in which they throw tons of different bleeps and beeps, outstanding synths or great drums mixing succesffully IDM with post-Dilla hip-hop beats. Such tunes like Haunted Landscapes, Secondary Fauna or Pocket Calculators, though of course reminding of the pioneering work of Flying Lotus, have this 'contemporary vibe' which I am into so much in music recently.
11. Honorable mentions. I can highly recommend any of the following releases:
Magnetic Man – Magnetic Man
Teielte – Homeworkz,
Lazer Sword - Lazer Sword LP,
Finest Ego – Russian Beat Maker Compilation,
Montgomery Clunk – Superbus EP,
Rusti – Sunburst EP,
Rudi Zygadlo – Great Western Laymen,
TAZ - Gold Tooth Grin
SRC - Gold Coinz
Redinho - Bare Blips
Actress – Splazsh,
Starkey - Ear Drums and Black Holes,
Alex B - Moments,
Guttstar – Battery Hues EP,
Sedge Warbler – Welcome to the Universe,
Ben Samples – Choose your own adventure,
Bil Bless – the life mechanisms vol. 2,
Dusk Ensemble – Dusk Ensemble,
Mount Kimbie - Crooks & Lovers,
Illum Sphere - Titan EP