Friday, January 4, 2013

Arnie Becker's best of 2012

So, another year to add to the annals. How does one sum up 2012 in a few sentences? Well, it was like everyone had rented a copy of "Inception" from Blockbusters, since the credo seemed to be "we need to go deeper". There were still was a lot of rummaging around in the early history of  modern dance music, but the biggest shoulder pads all but disappeared when the nu disco wave shifted focus from continental European early 80's italo to the later 80's and early 90's American (or at least Anglo-Saxon) house. The neon colours disappeared into the sweaty darkness of deep house, except maybe the neon yellow of the acid smiley.

Under the strains of what the commercial EDM wave call 'house music', it's great to see that so many people are actually going through the troubles of examining every part of the emergence of 'real' house music. Not least because it's the music I used to listen to, and always has been close to my heart. So it's great to see what a new breed of globalized producers make of it.

Not everyone wanted to descend into dark nightclubs, but preferred to sip on a cocktail on a Caribbean beach somewhere since the tropical disco stayed strong.

As usual, and boringly predictably, I have to complain about how hard it was to choose my favourite 25 tunes. It's like with my All Time Top 10 list that probably contains hundreds and hundreds of songs. So, while I can't see a track that doesn't deserve to be on here, I can see more than a few that probably would too, but isn't. But I guess that's a first world problem.

So, here we go.

#25. Florence + The Machine - Take Care (ColeCo Remix)
The intro track on this list was also our intro track when we did the Tracasseur Disco in Paris last spring. Great original from Florence + The Machine, and a wonderful remix by ColeCo.

#24. Finnebassen - If You Only Knew
Good deep house, like good music in general, don't have to be very complicated. Finnebassen made a melancholic deep house track out of a great bassline that shows that less is more, an inspired Aaliya sample and a lot of percussions. Emo house anyone?

#23. Kolombo - What Would Make Me Think
Kolombo, like Finnebassen, makes bass-heavy deep house, basically with the same ingredients as the Norwegian. Straight four-to-the-floor beats driven by a funky bassline, but without the Scandinavian melancholy and, probably via the Belgian disco angle, closer to classic funk also in its temperament. This is the sort of house that George Clinton and Parliament would get down to.

#22. Toyboy & Robin - No More Sunshine
This is the first of several British house tunes that made it to my list. Toyboy & Robin had a great year and were deservedly picked up by cool label Sccucci Manucci.

#21. Broke One - The Empire
 Yes, yet another percussive and retro sounding house tune. I'm guessing you're starting to see a pattern here. Broke One's "Empire"'s USPs are those lush synth cords in the intro and the break that make you think of another Italian house classics like F.P.I. Projects' "Rich in Paradise".

#20. The Presets - Promises (Plastic Plates Remix)
Plastic Plates had a great release on Kitsuné in "Things I Didn't Know I Loved" which wasn't very far off my list, but I preferred his nu disco take on The Presets a tad bit more.

#19. Simian Mobile Disco - Your Love Ain't Fair
I really liked the combination of the lazy beat, the bending chords and the lamenting vocals on Simian Mobile Disco's "Your Love Ain't Fair".

#18. A.N.D.Y. feat. Nyemiah Supreme - Pump It Up
A.N.D.Y., and you too, might have thought that we didn't like his first proper single, since we didn't blog it back in November, but nothing could be more wrong. It's just that the only thing that matches my great taste in music is my lazyness (as I use to say in job interviews). "Pump It Up" is a great hip house party banger with both ghetto house and classic techno flavours. And doesn't it remind you of another Belgian classic with a female rapper and the word "Pump" in the title?

#17. Patrick L & DJ Nibc feat. Andreas Cavaco - Call Me (DJ Nibc Mix)
Sweden and deep house from Berlin is usually a bad combination. One of the reasons we started this blog in the first place was that we were fed up with club Stockholm's obsession with the type of soulless and generic tech- and deep house that washed over us from the German capital a couple of years ago. Since then both the Scandi-German scene and deep house in general have had some vital infusions of disco, garage and funk and, to a large extent, cleaned up its act. Patrik L & DJ Nibc's "Call Me" is a great example. The Tiger Stripes remix is deep as the Challenger Depth, but still super funky. It's just as good as DJ Nibc's own mix, but in the end I went with Nibc and those lovely 80's Chicago house strings.

#16. Waze & Odyssey - Love That (Burns Hot Enough)

Waze & Odyssey's remix of "Call Me" from the previous entry was one of the first tracks I heard from them. And even if I think they were outshone on that occasion, the duo have quickly sailed up as one of the most important acts of the British garage house scene with a string of awesome remixes and a couple of just as awesome originals. "Love That (Burns Hot Enough)" is an intense peak-time garage track, and it was my favourite W&O track of many. The only problem with the Brits is their love for vinyl only releases, so if you can't find it on your favourite mp3 shop, "I Want You You You" is almost just as hot.

#15. St. Lucia - We Got It Wrong
Even if it might not seem like it, I haven't totally switched to only listening to deep house, retro 90's house and garage house. I think there were a few nu disco tunes up there, right? Anyway, I'm still a sucker for electropop/indie dance/indie disco crossovers. St. Lucia had several of those this year, and even if "Closer Than This" and "September" are favourites too, "Closer Than This" is the one that get the final nod.

#14. Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs - Tapes & Money
Synthpop-techno is another grateful crossover when done right. Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs not only have a catchy name, but his genre-defying music is wonderfully melodic and captivating in its quirkiness. "Trouble" was one of the albums of the year, with "Tapes & Money" the best on the album and a logical single release.

#13. Jonas Rathsman - Since I Don't Have You
One of the things I regret with last years' list is that I didn't pace Jonas Rathsman's "Tobago" at the very top. Placing "Since I Don't Have You" might be hard on our Swedish compatriot yet again, but on the other hand us vikings didn't conquer large parts of Europe and Russia by constant positive reinforcement. Jonas seems to be doing his conquering of the house scene very well on his own.

#12. Goldroom feat. Saint Lou Lou - Sweetness Alive
Goldroom was another friend who had a good year. "Fifteen" was a beautiful synthpop song back in May. "Sweetness Alive" was pure light therapy for us poor Scandinavian's when he released in the worst autumn darkness. Featuring Swedish twins Saint Lou Lou on vocals didn't make it worse. We were also happy to bring him to Stockholm, even if it was during a freak spring snow storm that only comes like once a decade.

#11. Flight Facilities feat. Grovesnor - With You
Flight Facilities' "With You"is another great tropical disco tune, but what makes it stand out is its bitter-sweetness. Sunny, but with an overcast rolling in, you might say.

#10. Fabo - Where I Stand (Karmon Remix)
While a lot of producers moved from nu disco towards deep house, Dutch deep house producer Karmon went in the other direction with his remix of Fabo. The combination combined the best of two worlds.

#9. Van She - Jamaica
Van She's holiday postcard "Jamaica" was one of the great singles of the year; both a pinnacle of tropical disco pop and a link back to old Aussie synthpop favourites of previous years' Best of lists. I liked the Plastic Plates remix, that Jonny included on his list too, but the original is the best version in my book.

#8. Jessie Ware - No To Love (George Fitzgerald Remix)
George FitzGerald was one of many British acts with a meteoric rise during 2012. "Child" was a huge house tune on heavy rotation the last year (if mp3s rotate), but in the end I opted for his techier, yet more melodic, Jessie Ware remix. This choice were to have effect further up the list.

#7. Chris Malinchak - If U Got It
Previous years there has been a lot of weelings and deelings between me and Jonny about who will have their favourite tracks on their list since they have a tendency to overlap. This year we had quite a few close calls, but not the exact same song on both lists. One of those close calls was Chris Malinchak. As Jonny said on his list, it was pretty obvious that he would get a spot, but since he coupled quality output with quantity we just had different favourites. I could easily have included half a dozen Malinchak tunes on my list, but in the end I decided between "Fuego" "There I Was (Again)" and "If You Got It". The piano chords and the vocals made up of liquid honey and gold were the deciders.

#6. Terranova feat. Tomas Hoffding - Paris Is For Lovers (My Love)
Terranova's "Paris Is For Lovers" is a clear flirt with stuff like Byron Stingily's crooning in Ten City, and even more so Mr. Fingers' "Can You Feel It". And that's obviously a recipe for a great tune. "Paris" is techier than the Chicago house classics though, and I'm predicting we'll hear more retrospective house-techno fusions ahead, Then again, the boundaries between these two genres have always been blurry, especially back in its infancy, so it makes sense to start looking at what happened in Detroit back then too.

#5. Isaac Tichauer - Still I Love You
Isaac Tichauer must wonder what we have against him. We like to cover all the exploits of French Express, and here Isaac releases a whole album, for free no less, and doesn't get a peep about it. Again, I'll put that down to lazyness and summer blogging fatigue. "Devotion" is a great album, and it even borrows its name from my favourite Ten City song. "Still I Love You" was the jewel in the crown with its warm, fuzzy bassline ant that vocal sample hook.

#4. Emeli Sandé - Daddy (Disclosure Remix)
More meteoric rises from Britain. The young duo Disclosure was one of the most hyped up acts of the year, and for good reasons. Their great remixes and originals was also a summary of the UK electronic scene of today and the recent past with music ranging from subsoul to post-dubstep to nu garage. "Tenderly", "Flow", "Latch" and "What's in Your Head" are all great tracks, but my favourites were their remixes of soul-singers Jessie Ware and Emeli Sandé. Since I chose George FitzGerald's Jessie remix above, I guess I'll go with Emeli here.

#3. Hot Chip - How Do You Do? (Todd Terje Remix)
It was pretty obvious that Todd Terje would be very high placed on this list. "Inspector Norse" was probably one of the most hyped-up tracks this year, and for a moment, even the old lady next door asked if we had a promo of it. It's obviously a huge tune with its bouncy synth-disco-jazz, and it will be one of the obvious omissions from my list. However, I wanted to have just one entry per artist, so I had to pit the inspector against Terje's second huge tune of the year; his remix of Hot Chip's "How Do You Do?". In the end I went with the latter, with it's classic Detroit techno sound that made you think of Kevin "Reese" Saunderson and "Night of the Jaguar". But it sure was a close call.

#2. Bicep - Vision Of Love
If there were a house tune in Plato's divine ideal world, this is how it would sound. Feel My Bicep has been the go-to place to find 90's house and techno classics for years, so when the duo make their own garage tracks it's like they tap into The Concept of the Perfect Garage Tune. They all sound exactly like the classics of the early 90's, only when you try to find that tune that they remind you of, you can't really put your finger on which tune that is exactly. "Visions of Love" is a perfect example with its relentless, yet super funky, beat and that epic build-up.

#1. Perseus - Seychelles
Perseus' "Seychelles" is my favourite tune of the year, and it was a case of love at first listen. From the kick drum to the congas, from the bassline to those warm keys to that crisp handclap. Woven together with Toni Braxton's crooning it all sent instant butterflies in my stomach. And listening to it now for the umpteenth time it's like any good love story - everlasting.


Anonymous said...

No download link? I was looking forward to your list!

Anonymous said...

me too, i was hoping it was a zipped file.. :(

Anonymous said...

wheres the zip file??????

Anonymous said...

download links PLLLLEASE

Anonymous said...

Can we have a zip pleeease?

Anonymous said...

One more begger asking for a zip! Thank you!

Anonymous said...

even if it's too late, we want a christmas miracle... a zip file with the songs!

Anonymous said...

or where do I buy the compilation?? I really want this!

Anonymous said...

Would be so nice to get the zip file of the tracks, has always been such a pleasure to discover some new tracks while on the go.

Anyway, keep up your good work, big fan of your blog here!

cheers frank

Anonymous said...

I always look forward to these lists, they keep me going throughout the year. I really wish there was a zip for this, it would make my year! Thanks again for the amazing work you guys do

jakesharpe said...

I've been waiting so long guys, when can I get this zip file :(