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White Noise: December 2013

Monday, 30 December 2013

Best of 2013: Albums

25: Horror Inc – Briefly Eternal [Perlon]
  Dans La Nuit
Marc Leclair (aka Akufen)’s debut as Horror Inc on Perlon wasn’t a timely record. In fact, his brand of precision-edited microhouse would’ve sounded positively archaic in any hands but his own. Yet something timeless tugged at the corners of Briefly Eternal, beyond the beautiful instrumentals and the noir atmosphere. Beneath the immaculate surface lurked a rich, intruiging story, just waiting for the listener to draw it out.

24: Maxmillion Dunbar – House of Woo [RVNG Intl]
Max D’s assured second outing was a joyous record, melding his loves of house, boogie and hip hop in a colourful new-age rush. His melodic range was impressive, with heavenly woodwind coming as easily as fine-tuned synthwork, yet it was the record’s live-style drums and kaleidoscopic pacing that kept us coming back time and again.

23: Fishermen – Patterns And Paths [Skudge]
  Album Clips
Talk about stopping the presses: we only got our hands on this late 2013 release the day before this list was to be published. This turned out to be quite the stroke of luck: Fishermen followed their promising Skudge White EP with one of the year’s most diverse and vital techno records, ably hopping between ambient atmospherics and gritty dancefloor muscle, as at home with humid tribalism as they are with distorted industrialism.

22: Boards of Canada – Tomorrow’s Harvest [Warp]
Reach For The Dead
In retrospect, it probably wasn’t possible for BoC to put out an album that would have lived up to our preposterous expectations. Tomorrow’s Harvest was more dark, knotty and cryptic than any of the Scottish duo’s work to date, yet the pair’s unique touch still lurked beneath these evocative compositions. We may not have loved it straight off as with the pair’s first two albums, but rest assured that we’ll probably still be listening in ten years, trying to work it all out.

21: Omar S – Thank You For Letting Me Be Myself [FXHE]
  Thank U 4 Letting Me Be Myself
Omar S is one of the most revered of Detriot house’s new school, and everything great about the man’s music found a place in this album. Amalthea and Air Of The Day brought the funk in inimitable style, we got not one but two anthems in the form of The Shit Baby and Thank U 4 Letting Me Be Myself, I Just Want and Helter Shelter took lofi to the warehouse, and after-hours was catered for on the sweaty soul of Rewind and Its Money In The D. For a comprehensive survey of today’s Detroit sounds, you need look no further.

20: DJ Rashad – Double Cup [Hyperdub]
Every Day Of My Life

Footwork was granted its best album to date on kingpin Rashad’s debut LP for Hyperdub, taking juke hybrids from their soul and hip hop homes to the future breeds of acid and abstract menace.

19: Floorplan – Paradise [M-Plant]
Baby Baby
Critics often bemoan dance albums being little more than a collection of dance tracks, but that’s because these albums are almost never as good as Robert Hood’s Paradise. This record contained ten muscular house outings veering from euphoric vocals and piano to dubby technoid mutations, a dream for both DJs and the listeners at home.

18: Akkord – Akkord [Houndstooth]
  Hex AD
Akkord’s debut LP showed the duo maturing considerably, shaping their hi-def dread meditations into a brilliant album which allowed the pair’s atmospheric talent to really shine. The menace of the UK’s hardcore tradition was given a futuristic update at once polished and rugged, while the album’s thoughtful structure lent it a narrative of emotion and tension often lacking in techno full-lengths.

17: Perfume Advert – Tulpa [1080p]
Swamp Star
One of the year’s best debuts came out of nowhere on 1080p. Perfume Advert’s live house jams are dense yet funky, loose-limbed grooves skipping across humid atmospherics on a lean LP which eschewed filler, leaving just the good stuff.

16: Walton – Beyond [Hyperdub]
Walton’s excellent debut album showed a restless creative mind effortlessly hopping across genres and styles, fusing light and darkness with grooves plucked from the UK’s rich dance tradition. Whatever style Walton touched turned to gold, from the low-slung stomp of Amazon to the loved-up slink of Every Night.

15: Medlar – Sleep [Wolf]

Another fantastic UK debut came courtesy of Medlar, whose jazz-infused Sleep was a triumph of mood and organic production. Grooves stop and start according to some twisted dream logic, while a kaleidoscopic array of samples colours the productions in vivid strokes.

14: Dadub – You Are Eternity [Stroboscopic Artefacts]
Full Album
Sonic engineers Dadub were responsible for the year’s most immersive techno experiences on the taut monochrome trip of You Are Eternity. The mixed tracks trade in muggy atmospheres and impeccable beatscience, building to an unholy crescendo before returning to restrained ambience. The overall effect is involving, at times overwhelming, and as a whole verges on the spiritual.

13: Nils Frahm – Spaces [Erased Tapes]
Germany’s unbelievably talented pianist decided that instead of a solo album of new material he would release live recordings of his performances and improvisations in concert. This stroke of brilliance allowed the full range of Frahm’s musicality to be proudly displayed, from beautiful reinterpretations of old favourites (Familiar, For, Tristana) to stunning new material such as the fragile, powerful Says.

12: DjRum – Seven Lies [2nd Drop]
Album Clips
Seven Lies made good on the promise of DjRum’s superb Mountains EP, taking the listener on a cinematic journey from hip hop to house to drum and bass. His fluency across genres and moods was staggering, but it was the impeccable mastery over sample processing and song structure which made each of Seven Lies’ tracks glitter like gemstones.

11: Special Request – Soul Music [Houndstooth]
Album Clips
Paul Woolford’s Special Request project came into a league of its own this year, culminating on his furious debut album for Houndstooth. Channelling the vital energy of pirate radio and the lost hardcore generation, Woolford’s rugged hybrids were intense and vital, a big middle finger to today’s generation of polished pop-house practitioners.

10: Holden – The Inheritors [Border Community]
Holden’s wild sophomore album was a powerful statement: rejecting polished sounds and conventional dance structure, his organic compositions on The Inheritors were in turns savage and beautiful, raucous and meditative, often mystical. It was a large, at times unwieldy album, but few others attempted a release as ambitious with as much success in 2013.

9: KWC 92 – Dream Of The Walled City (OST) [L.I.E.S.]
KWC 92’s trip to Kowloon was one of the year’s most evocative records, fusing retro synthscapes with Oriental samples and ghostly ambience to singular effect. The pair ask the listener to devise her own story for this imaginary soundtrack, turning the passive party on the end of the speakers into an active collaborator, forming narrative for the mournful beauty and lurking threat which haunt this stunning album.

8: Logos – Cold Mission [Keysound]
Logos ran the banner for grime’s new generation on Cold Mission, an exercise in both power and patience which reconfigured the genre’s signifiers in new spacious arrangements while never forgetting the lethal power of expertly deployed bassweight.

7: Damiano von Erckert – Love Based Music. [ava.]
All Good
No album made us feel as warm and hopeful as von Erckert’s blissful Love Based Music, and we’re betting that was exactly the point of this funky slab of wax. Funk, soul, hip hop, disco and house all found their place on this beautiful album, each treated with the care and authentic spirit of those genres’ decades-old originators.

6: Jessy Lanza – Pull My Hair Back [Hyperdub]
Keep Moving
Hyperdub’s choice to release an RnB-influenced singer raised a few eyebrows, but few expected the restrained rush of Pull My Hair Back. A pop album par excellence, Lanza’s wonderful vocals brought catchy hooks to a series of brilliantly produced electro-pop vignettes, all mastered with a subtlety and quality control which contributed to an utterly infectious whole.

5: Forest Swords – Engravings [Tri Angle]
Thor's Stone
Since his superb debut Dagger Paths, Forest Swords has never sounded like anyone but himself. Those deep, dubby soundscapes, searing guitar riffs and mystical atmospheres made a stunning return in Engravings, beckoning the listener into a sonic world of mist, myth and pure wonder.

4: Roly Porter – Life Cycle of a Massive Star [Subtext]
Album Clips
Few electronic artists have attempted a feat as ambitious as soundtracking the life of an interstellar body. Yet Roly Porter more than achieved his goal, creating in the process a profound meditation on mortality and cosmic human significance. With a combination of heavenly strings, brutal noise and techno know-how, Porter conjured the sublime, a classic which deserves to echo for future generations.

3: Oneohtrix Point Never – R Plus Seven [Warp]
Daniel Lopatin has the mind of a true original: ever restless, with each release he seeks to expand and shift his sound, to make some new comment or sonic fusion. R Plus Seven channelled a century of American contemporary classical and electronic music history into a vibrant album which sought the beauty in the West’s saturated digital present, and is utterly enchanting from the first listen to the hundredth.

2: Various Artists – Livity Sound [Livity Sound]
Pev & Kowton - End Points
While strictly a compilation rather than an album, the collection of Pev, Kowton and Asusu’s releases on Livity Sound was doubtless one of the year’s finest long-players. There is a unity to the three producers’ sound which came across more clearly than ever when presented as a whole, a club-tooled sound where nothing is superfluous: just the rhythm and a few expertly-deployed melodies were responsible for a host of brilliant, mind-bending dance tracks. It’s almost unheard of for an album of eighteen tracks to feature not a single dud, but if you can trust anyone to keep evolving while never letting the quality slip an iota, it’s the boys at Livity.

1: Jon Hopkins – Immunity [Domino]
Open Eye Signal
While ordering this list proved to be a logistical nightmare, there was never any question which album would take the number one spot. Hopkins’ phenomenal compositions were alive: breathing, growing and contorting before your ears. The wealth of sonic detail never distracted from a pure clarity of thought behind each individual track, and from the blistering techno of the album’s first half to its meditative close each song blazed with musical mastery and a soaring inner beauty. 

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Sunday, 29 December 2013

Best Tracks of 2013: 25-1

After yesterday’s ramble on the nature of year-end lists, we’ll keep this one short and to the point. For all that such lists are worth, here are White Noise’s 25 favourite tracks of 2013.

25: The Mole – Lockdown Party (DJ Sprinkles Crossfaderama) [EP Review]
DJ Sprinkles had a fantastic year, scoring one of the year’s best mixes as well as a brilliant remix package – and the legendary academic / DJ also found time to knock out one of the year’s very best tracks. If you play this out in a set Sprinkles does the work for you: leaning on the EQs, filters and crossfader, splicing in samples here and there, and on the dancefloors this one brought dancers together like no other.

24: A Made Up Sound – Ahead [EP Review]
AMUS’ unhinged Ahead is an unsettling track. It’s not the lurking threat of the looped vocals or the splintered beats, but rather the track’s utter disregard for dance music convention which makes for such a jarring listen. But from the broken remains of melodic hooks and a 4/4 AMUS builds something brave and new, amazing and perplexing the listener in equal measure.

23: Romare – Hey Now (When I Give You All My Lovin’) [EP Review]
At just over two minutes, the closer to Romare’s second EP is by a long way the shortest track on this list, and could easily be considered a jazzy outro to the more substantial meat on the release. Yet something about that Nina Simone sample and the languid piano gives this track an edge, making for a soupy soul number which is more than just an interlude. When the seedy trumpet bursts through the track’s second half the effect is unparalleled, edging us towards the repeat button every time.

22: HNNY – Mys [EP Review]
Scandinavian retroist HNNY doesn’t receive a whole lot of praise in music press. Perhaps his tracks lean too heavily on nostalgia, and here on Mys the beat pattern is more than a little functional. But to disregard him would be to ignore the beautiful simplicity of his music: it may not wear cutting-edge techniques but it has soul in spades. Mys is a glorious track, sensuous vocal cries looped over a thundering bass bounce, perfect for an ear-catching opener or a mid-set slow jam.

21: Innershades – That Girl [EP Review]
Our favourite new producer of 2013 burst out of nowhere on That Girl, a Dancemania-indebted track with menacing synths and a mighty kick-drum. The tracks’ simple structure and rough muscle made it a dancefloor bomb every time, showing just how much can be done with a few perfectly-tuned elements.

20: Chesus – Special [EP Review]
Editing a disco track into a filtered house cut is the oldest trick in the book – but perhaps the reason so many producers give it a shot is because when done well, the blend of euphoric soul and house muscle has an effect like little else. The addictive vocal of Special is honey to the ears, while those glorious strings feel like a spiritual successor to New For U.

19: FCL – It’s You (San Soda’s Panorama Bar Acca Version)
It’s practically just a vocal, yet it’s not surprising that FCL’s It’s You attracted so much attention over the last year. In a year of industrial sounds and lofi aesthetics this track provided a dose of grace and soul, perfect to open a set or mix over more tougher jams.

18: Jessy Lanza – Keep Moving [LP Review]
Jessy Lanza’s debut on Hyperdub was one of the year’s best pop records, and the disco-indebted Keep Moving was an essential highlight. Lanza’s hook’s are urgent and catchy, while the combination of guitar licks, synth stabs and an elastic bassline make for a seductive package indeed.

17: June – Face This (Deep House Mix)
In terms of nostalgic house exercises, this low-slung workout had it all: the looped ‘house’ vocal, the meandering bass bounce, the delectable acid line. House music at its best, pure and simple.

16: Florian Kupfer – Feelin
The relatively unknown Kupfer gave L.I.E.S. its first anthem on Feelin, an addictive vocal sugar-coating lush synthwork, clattering drums and a a meaty bassline.

15: Nils Frahm – Says
Since my friend described listening to this track as ‘like discovering a new world in an underwater ice cave using sonar’ I haven’t really been able to think about it any other way. On Frahm’s triumphant Spaces LP, Says stood out for its majesty and subtlety, fragile piano notes accompanying a glistening arpeggio. The track’s slow build is utterly consuming: by the time you get to that late-game key change you’ll already be lost.

14: Roly Porter – Cloud [LP Review]
The grand opening to Roly Porter’s cosmic exploration was a powerful force: vocals looped beyond humanity, alloyed to a stammering beat pattern and the glacial movement of string figures beyond.

13: Paul Woolford – Untitled [EP Review]
Paul Woolford owned this year. Under his Special Request guise he released the hardcore revival’s most brilliant record, and then on this one-off for Hotflush he issued a worthy successor to 2006's smash Erotic Discourse. The honeyed vocals and anthemic piano line might prove cheesy in other contexts, but married to Woolford’s brawny drums they’re just perfect. One of the few Ibiza anthems that genuinely deserved play beyond the island’s borders.

12: Murat Tepeli – Forever (Prosumer’s Hold Me Touch Me Remix)
Everything came together perfectly on Prosumer’s remix of long-time collaborator Murat Tepeli. The piano line is positively venomous, while the soaring vocal and tight beat patterns open the door to the dark side of euphoria.

11: Pev – Livity [EP Review]
If there’s one producer who released more great tracks than any other this year, Pev was he. Across two collaborative EPs and a solo outing, the Bristolian was on finer form than ever, and the combination of the manic, queasy bassline and those jangling keys on Livity is utterly unforgettable.

10: Floorplan – Never Grow Old [LP Review]
The relationship between religion and dance music in Robert Hood’s music is the subject of frequent discourse, partly of its rarity – yet he’s on to something: the ability of the two to allow a person to transcend the physical, to make a group unite and rejoice, is a striking similarity. Nowhere is Hood more likely to make you believe than on Never Grow Old, an Aretha-sampling beast stitching that achingly soulful vocal onto an adamantine 4/4 skeleton.

9: Special Request – Mindwash [LP Review]
Paul Woolford’s attitude towards jungle and hardcore is striking because of his ability to modernise these sounds rather than just ape them. Mindwash is an unhinged trip whose maniacal bassline never sits still, sounding remarkably current even over a field of breaks ripped right out of a 90s textbook.

8: Damiano von Erckert – Hollywood [LP Review]
The ava label-head’s debut solo album was a glorious journey through the sounds of the past, and it was his pitch-perfect disco number that got us most excited. Perhaps Hollywood could have been made fifteen years ago, but it sounds as brilliant now as it would have back then. Georgia Anne Muldrow gives a phenomenal vocal performance over Erckert’s production dripping with funk: a utterly timeless collaboration.

7: Levon Vincent - ???
Levon took us back with this one: never had he sounded so urgent and floor-focused, conjuring the year’s most distinctive bassline and treating it with his gritty warehouse stylings and a game-changing synth to close.

6: DJ Rashad – Let It Go [EP Review]
Rashad ascended to footwork royalty this year thanks to a series of country- and genre-spanning releases, but even on his ace album he couldn’t quite top Let It Go. The vulnerability on display is almost unheard of in juke’s macho culture, as delicate strings falter under a desperate vocal plea. Yet even when he gets all emotional, Rashad never forgets his roots, and the stammering breaks added a vital urgency to the heart-tugging vocal cuts.

5: Omar S – The Shit Baby [LP Review]
Another year, and Detroit’s unstoppable Omar S still plays no one’s game but his own. This grammatically-challenged cut was as simple as Omar gets: the percussion is all groove: skipping snares, a solid kick and a descending bassline. But the inclusion of D. Taylor’s improvised piano takes this track into the stratosphere, offering a euphoric lead sure to get the crowd beaming as well as dancing.

4: Sophie – Bipp [EP Review]

I can make you feel better! The kind of track that makes a dance journalist use an exclamation mark is rare indeed, but it’s impossible to not get excited listening to Sophie’s second excellent release. Bipp is a breed of inverted pop, its saccharine vocal tied unexpectedly to pops, fizzes and jittery, drumless synths. On paper it sounds terrible, but a single listen would reassure any listener: Bipp is one of the year’s most brilliant, bizarre tracks, and is absolutely impossible to stop listening to.

3: Tessela – Hackney Parrot [EP Review]
If this was a list of the year’s ‘biggest’ tracks, Hackney Parrot would have no competition for the top spot. There are few tunes that make dancers stop in their tracks, but time and again Hackney Parrot destroyed dancefloors, its monstrous drop driving dancers into a frenzy. The stuttering breaks, the syrup-thick synth notes, that abrupt vocal hook: the ‘parrot is pure gold, and it’s going to be tough for Tessela to top.

2: Oneohtrix Point Never – Chrome Country
When I first heard this track I was walking through an airport. The infinite escalators, miles of plate glass and silenced urgency of travellers made for a stunning mental music video, and the song evoked a reverie of the essential beauty of human interaction even in our involved, over-stimulated age. Coming at the end of Daniel Lopatin’s brilliant new album, Chrome Country is a hymn for the digital age, its synthetic choirs frayed by electronic processing, its blissful strings and keys sometimes drowned by a swooning ambient wash. The track’s conclusion introduces a majestic organ – never before has Lopatin’s music sounded so optimistic, so downright heavenly. But we’re right there with him.

1: Palms Trax – Equation [EP Review]
At its best, house music is very simple. Granted, there are many producers who toy with complex rhythmic and melodic structures to great effect, but the old adage ‘gotta have house music’ was extolling something accessible, something universal. Palms Trax’ Equation wears its influences on its sleeve: eschewing the current lofi trend for the polished new-age sound of the Burrell Brothers and Nu Groove. Yet Equation easily transcends its retro trappings: its perfect counterpoint of soaring synths and rolling bassline inviting everyone, young and old, cool and lame, to get on the ‘floor and throw some shapes. No track in 2013 made us want to get up and dance as much as Equation, and for that simple reason, it tops our list.

Best of 2013:
Best EPs of 2013
Best Tracks: 85-26
* Best Tracks: 25-1

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Saturday, 28 December 2013

Best Tracks of 2013: 85-26

While making this list, I couldn’t help but dwell on how inevitably arbitrary the order of year-end lists are. There are a number of problems facing a music site who wishes to post year-end lists, and the roundup of best songs poses more problems than any other. While albums and labels can be compared by their overall coherence and power, short tracks are often incomparable – you might know your favourite twenty songs of the year, but how do you choose between them? Then there are external pressures: not wanting to list the same tunes as other sites, while not wanting to rock the boat so much that your critical opinion is devalued. More to the point – the songs themselves, even in a niche such as dance music, are so different that it seems an utterly pointless task to put them in any sort of order. Exactly how does one decide if x disco track is better than y techno track, when there are so few (if any) points of comparison: the tracks are not trying to do the same thing, so how can they be compared?

With what criteria do we even judge the quality of a track? There are certain songs I love but aren’t in any way mould-breaking, while others I’m not that fond of but greatly respect as innovative pieces of music. In the world of quasi-objective music criticism a problem becomes clear when there's conflict between the music you like and the music you respect. Ultimately, White Noise has never been a review site which has claimed a strong degree of objectivity, and so when it came down to those final choices, I just listened to both tracks and picked which one I liked more – no rationalisation, no heed paid to the prevailing schools of taste or ‘cool’, just the tracks that made me feel warm inside and set my mind/ pulse racing.

The fact is, the world of journalism, particularly online, relies entirely on readers. And for whatever reason (as the existence of buzzfeed will testify), people prefer reading ranked lists to general selections. Is your eye more drawn to a countdown of the year’s best, 10-1, or to an unordered list of 10 highlights? Most would say the former, and so, while picking the best between Pev, Tessela and Levon Vincent may torture me like some sort of clubland Sophie’s choice, I’m gonna give it my best shot.

The point to be made here, before we embark upon this list, is that all of these tracks are really, really great. The top 25 or so are even mindblowing. They probably don’t represent even a fraction of the great music that came out this year, but they’re certainly all more than worthy of your time. So with the waffle out of the way, let’s get to the tunes.

85: Cuthead – Deep Shadows
84: Orson Wells – Leaving
83: Marquis Hawkes - Get Yo Ass Off My Grass [EP Review]
82: Moomin – Au Bord De La Mer
81: Francis Inferno Orchestra – Take No Time [EP Review]

80: Zomby – Memories [LP Review]
79: Dense & Pika – Colt
78: Laszlo Dancehall – Gave Up [EP Review]
77: DJ Fett Burger & DJ Speckgurtel – Speckbass
76: Huerco S. – Apheleia’s Theme

75: Perseus Traxx – Gorgon
74: Les Level – Fever Baby
73: Joy Orbison – BRTHDTT! [LP Review]
72: Headless Ghost – Basik Fire [EP Review]
71: Pev & Kowton – Raw Code

70: Benjamin Damage – 010x [LP Review]
69: R-Zone – Romijn Ravine [EP Review]
68: Tiger & Woods – Golden Bear
67: Head High – Burning (Keep Calm Mix) [EP Review]
66: Kyle Hall – Crushed [LP Review]

65: Deadboy – Nova [EP Review]
64: Motor City Drum Ensemble  Send A Prayer Pt. 2 [EP Review]
63: Machinedrum – Eyesdontlie [LP Review]
62: Objekt – Agnes Demise [EP Review]
61: Four Tet – For These Times [LP Review]

60: Tuff Sherm – Burglar Loops
59: Jon Hopkins – Breathe This Air [LP Review]
58: Randomer – Bring
57: Lucretio – Want
56: HNNY – Boy

55: Tessela – Horizon [EP Review]
54: MGUN – Mask
53: Innershades – Nina At The Boiler Room [EP Review]
52: Voiski – From White To Red [EP Review]
51: Midland – Drumtrak [EP Review]

50: Trevino – Twelve
Since his conversion to the church of 4/4, Trevino’s take-no-prisoners techno has proved a steady source of club-tooled grooves. On Twelve from his latest EP for 3024, he let loose one of his darkest yet, with momentum to spare and a dangerous piano breakdown.

49: D’Marc Cantu – Size & Shape
This weird and wonderful highlight from Cantu’s Alternate Frequency EP was an oddball joy, with an unexpectedly catchy vocal joining jittery drum machines for a unique ride. The track really takes off in the second half as a more melancholic chord sequence joins the fray, sure to spice up any set.

48: Terekke – Amaze
No one does baked quite like L.I.E.S.’ wonderful Terekke. The atmosphere is deep and soupy, the light rustle of percussion and distant synth burbles accompanying a dubbed, ghostly vocal. One for the after-hours.

47: Stingray313 – NKKtwo_2
Detroit’s superb electro-vet DJ Stingray came out on top with this top scifi trip, where slow synth washes counterpoint razor-quick percussion and skittering melodies.

46: Martyn – Oceania [EP Review]
The two house tracks on Martyn’s Newspeak EP were wonderful, but in a year where good ‘bass music’ was in cruelly short supply, Oceania was one of the few miracles. The glittering melodies evoke space-age cities and sunlit superhighways, while the growling bassline and ricocheting percussion will keep feet skipping across the ‘floor.

45: Fuewa – Blhok [EP Review]
Fuewa’s lovely debut EP was an masterful exercise in atmosphere, and nowhere was this clearer than on opener Blhok, where a blissful synth is built over ramshackle percussion and subtle windchimes.

44: Funkinevil – Ignorant (Igno) [EP Review]
Kyle Hall and Funkineven made one of the year’s most striking club tracks in the form of slow-jam Igno, a low-slung roller whose appeal lay in its skeletal structure and gallons of funk.

43: Borrowed Identity – Leave Your Life
The first release on DVS1’s new Mistress imprint was a great success, and the pick of the bunch was this eyes-down roller of the highest calibre. Leave Your Life is a consuming track, taking you deep inside to commune with its heavweight groove.

42: DjRUM – Honey [LP Review]
Until the last minute, Thankyou was going to be the track that represented DjRum’s wonderful Seven Lies album on this list. But it was Honey’s sense of menace which won us over, its vocals beautifully processed, its beats lurching and destructive. DjRum’s attention to structure is also evident in spades, as a dreamy outro makes this more song than track.

41: Stephen Encinas – Disco Illusion
Though it was recorded in 1979, we couldn’t keep this recent reissue of our list. Sultry vocals and cosmic melodies take this disco trip to the next level, the lyrics lifting you into the sky while the unadulterated funk keeps feet rooted to the dancefloor.

40: Raw M.T. – Walkman Is Dead [EP Review]
This track is analog techno at its finest: deep and inviting, made up of few perfectly-tuned elements, cresting at a series of highlights: the final emergence of that threatening acid line, or the penetrating interruption of those metallic snaps. Top notch 5am material.

39: Murat Tepeli – Workinstrugglin
Tepeli’s homage to man’s struggle is an absolute epic, evolving over eleven minutes with precision and feeling, subtle melodies and a simple bassline making for a stark, involving experience. You can be sure this one will still sound great ten years from now.

38: The Field – No. No… [LP Review]
The track whose creation solved Axel Willner’s creative block is a deeply emotive affair, as that plaintive one-word vocal stretches off into an immense, swampy darkness, its humanity stolen as the track reaches its haunting climax.

37: Dark Sky – In Brackets [EP Review]
This softened offering from the reliable Dark Sky was unfairly slept on this year, but it has all the makings of a winner: pretty synth notes play across a stripped, organic beat pattern, while the payoff when the beat clicks back into place after the long, emotional breakdown was one of our favourite musical moments this year.

36: SSOL – Untitled A1
This disco number from Soundstream has all the ingredients of an average disco/house edit: cooing vocals, funky riffs and snapping drums. But there’s something else: a special quality to this edit, whether it’s the energy of those live-sound drums or the smart instrumental editing, which raises SSOL’s cut high above your average filter-disco.

35: L-Vis 1990 – Ballad 4D [EP Review]
Night Slugs label-head L-Vis can be a frustratingly inconsistent producer, but his Ballads EP turned out to be NS’ unexpected highlight of 2013. Ballad 4D was a particular triumph: as submarine bass swipes resonate beneath a stark field of clicks and kicks, it’s an alarming, vital affair.

34: White Material – Put On [EP Review]
Galcher Lustwerk’s Tape 22 EP certainly received a lot of attention this year, but it was his contribution to WM’s collaborative EP that really had us amazed. This wonderfully simple slice of house creates an enveloping atmosphere with just a few elements, Lustwerk’s recognisable vocals adding a sultry atmosphere to the track’s languid bump.

33: Anthony Naples – Faceless
Really, any of the tracks from Naples’ ace Ill Still EP could have placed highly on this list. But for us it was Faceless’ curious nostalgia that won us over: sweet yet melancholy, it constructs a strong groove that only strengthens over whirring synths and metronome woodblocks.

32: Dopplereffekt – Gene Silencing [EP Review]
Gerald Donald’s triumphant return to the scene was crystallised on Gene Silencing, a seething slice of electro dripping with menace and scifi trappings, its tunnelling bass hits and glistening arpeggios whisking us away to distant worlds.

31: Red 7 – I Lost My Shoes On Acid
One of the year’s most exciting white labels was an odd combination indeed: classic vocals set over a taut acid workout: even a painfully old-fashioned hip hop verse couldn’t damage its blissful appeal.

30: Mix Mup – After The Job [EP Review]
Mix Mup couldn’t have chosen a better vocal to kick off his brilliant EP on Hinge Finger. Tina Turner’s promise of a ‘nice and rough’ sound is exactly what we’re given, a lumbering bassline and click-clack percussion creating an unsettling yet seductive world. The late entry of a searing synth line is Mix Mup’s victory lap, perfecting the track’s threatening groove.  

29: ∆ ∆ - You [EP Review]
There’s something indescribable about You’s impact. The vocal is loving yet plaintive, the melody hesitant yet catchy, the stripped drum workout groovy yet not explicitly for the dancefloor. It’s hard to pinpoint just what makes this track stand out, but maybe that curious appeal is its real strength. Either way, it’s been heavily played at WNHQ for almost a year now, and that counts for a whole lot.

28: Jon Hopkins – Open Eye Signal [LP Review]
The lead single from Hopkins’ phenomenal Immunity LP was widescreen techno at its most vital. Every sonic element feels alive: breathing, growing, contorting, emphasising Hopkins’ unique ability to make music that sounds huge without sacrificing subtlety or detail.

27: First Choice– Love Thang (Genius Of Time Rework)  
It’s always dangerous to remix a classic, but Aniara staple Genius Of Time struck gold with this fantastic remix of First Choice. Chilled disco roller gives way to stomping house seduction, before a showstopping bassline brings the funk in inimitable style. If you ever wanted a whole party in a song this is it: and it’s exactly the sort of party we’d want to get invited to.

26: Cliff Lothar – Dro Friday [EP Review]
The Hague’s longstanding electro/italo outpost Viewlexx showed they can still pick out new talent like the best of them on this superb EP from the shadowy Cliff Lothar (who’s next up on Skudge White). Dro Friday was our pick of the lot: a creeping house roller whose melodic and atmospheric intricacy would amaze even if it weren’t for the fantastic vocals that lend this club-track a song-like structure and appeal.

 Join us for the countdown of 25-1 tomorrow!

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