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White Noise: Best Breakthrough Artists of 2012

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Best Breakthrough Artists of 2012

It gets harder every year for new artists to rise up and gain prominence through the fickle hype machine of the internet, in a world where every other Soundcloud user is an anonymous figure copying tired genre tropes. But it's clearer than ever that the one thing that will really get you noticed is quality tunes.

Not all of these are new artists, but for all of these producers this was the year where they truly broke into the limelight, capturing our hearts and imaginations here at White Noise. Because these artists have such diverse tastes and sounds, they will be listed alphabetically to save having to place them in a meaningless order. Without further ado, here are our favourite breakthrough artists of the year. Enjoy!

Vision of Love

90’s house revivalism reached its peak (so far…) this year, but Northern Irish duo Bicep’s astonishing rise to prominence in the dance scene this year was more than a case of being in the right place at the right time. Coming from the success of their Feel My Bicep blog, the pair put out the excellent $tripper white label on Love Fever, where deep New Jersey pads and a jackin’ beat put the pair firmly on the map. They continued the thread in style with the inaugural release on their own Feel My Bicep label, Vision of Love, which offered three massive slices of feelgood throwback, and spawned the ubiquitous title track. But let’s not forget the duo proved themselves a cut above a simple throwback outfit with the superb You / Don’t EP on Aus, which offered two strikingly modern collaborations that explored more contemporary strains of the UK House sound.

Baby I Got That

Young UK duo Bondax came to our attention at the beginning of the year with sugar-sweet bass numbers All Inside and Wet Summer. But it was their September release Baby I Got That which cemented the pair’s talents, an infectious bass / disco hybrid that was one of the year’s essential summer tunes. With a perfect synthesis of clipped vocal snips with longer hooks and bubbling, upbeat melodies, the pair have so far managed to conjure catchy tunes without ever venturing into total Pop territory. With the upcoming release of Gold on Just Us / Relentless in January, it looks like there’s a lot more to be excited about for Bondax in 2013.


Guy and Howard Lawrence couldn’t have possibly predicted the rise to fame that their Disclosure outfit has brought them in the space of a single year. Fusing garage and classic house tropes with bass trappings and more than a touch of pop, the duo’s productions have achieved a crossover success that’s perhaps not that surprising given the sheer quality of their tunes. While Latch and some of their Face EP were a little poppy for White Noise’s tastes, there was no arguing with their Jessie Ware Remix or the brilliant Tenderly / Flow single from the beginning of the year.

Flo Jam

The Dusky duo of Alfie Granger-Howell and Nick Harriman have been producing together for years now, including an album as Dusky on Anjunadeep in 2011. But this year, thanks to some killer tunes and being played by the right DJs, the pair have broken into the big leagues. Dusky produced more bangers than almost anyone else this year, including the emotive epic Lost Highway, Flo Jam’s irresistible bounce and the bassy garage swing of No More. The pair pluck equally from house and garage but the end product is always polished and unpretentious, precision-built for the dancefloor. With their great new release Calling Me on Loefah's School imprint, there are surely big things to come.

Let It Go

Huxley scored a high place on our Top Tunes of 2011 with the fantastic Shower Scene, but this year the house magician from Tring showed his true colours, prolifically putting out a series of unashamed big-room house numbers, with the sharp beats and big basslines to match those fantastic vocal hooks. He opened up the year with the ridiculously large Let It Go and didn’t let up, with an onslaught of other great tunes like Box Clever on the Out Of The Box EP.  With clear production chops and the consistency to match, Huxley nimbly stepped into the big leagues this year, and he doesn't look like he'll be leaving anytime soon.

Symbol 7.1

The Mindset boss put out his first release back in 2008, but this year has really marked a breakthrough for Indigo. With a history of tasty collaborations with like-minded producer Synkro, Indigo put out a series of stellar releases for Exit, Hype Ltd and Apollo that showed a unique talent for combining twitchy beatscience with lush ambient soundscapes. Nowhere was this more evident than on his White Noise Picked Symbol 7 EP for Auxiliary, where the producer hopped nimbly between Oriental strings, impeccably precise drum patterns and pure ambient dread.

Leon Vynehall
Picture Frame

Brighton’s Vynehall turned quite a few heads recently, shining out amongst the legions of upstarts who were toying with the House formula. His debut EP, Mauve on Well Rounded, set the scene with warm soundscapes and slow beats that referenced classic House without ever seeming like pure throwback. But it was over the summer on his superb single Gold Language / Don’t Know Why for ManMakeMusic that Vynehall showed his true colours, producing a lush and genre-defying dance track on the A and one of this year’s most supremely chilled dance cuts on the B. With a return to WRHP due in the new year with the Rosalind EP, the future is looking very promising.

South London Ordnance

Appearing out of nowhere, SLO has had a monumental first year. A prolific release schedule didn’t stop every tune from being of the highest quality, releasing big House numbers on Well Rounded and deeper Bass numbers for the likes of Teal Recordings. Wherever he turned, SLO’s productions all paid careful attention to the lower frequencies, with a keen bass-focus adding flavour to his elastic rhythms. Some slave for years on a single tune, in 2012 SLO was making superb music straight out of the box.

Tom Demac
Critical Distance Pt. 2

Although his debut was as far back as 2004, Tom Demac turned it up a notch in 2012. The producer put out an insane amount of releases this year, often on Hypercolour or its offshoots. He proved himself a versatile House producer, with highlights ranging from the lush Obstructing the Light EP on Glass Table to the monstrous Critical Distance Pt. 2, which was considered at White Noise HQ one of the year’s very best tunes.

Court of Lions

As the only producer on this list who isn’t dedicated to the dancefloor, Vessel stands out about as much on this list as he did from his peers over the course of the year. White Noise has taken an interest in Sebastian Gainsborough since the beginning, but it appears the Wax Dance and Standard EPs were paving the way for something very special indeed. The producer’s debut album for Tri Angle, Order of Noise, touched a nerve for us, as Vessel experimented with an embarrassment of styles to stellar effect.

Honourable Mentions:

These artists are definitely ones to watch for 2013, but didn’t quite release enough quality material to make the list this time round.

Room Service


Funky Steppa




Locked Groove

Can’t See Higher

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At 26 January 2013 at 11:37 , Blogger CASEY said...

School is not Dusky's label, it belongs to Loe, Jan Francis and Katie Thibaud. Dusky were just the first release. Just so you know!


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