It’s our tradition to round up the year with the annual top. Thank you all artists and labels for supporting us with the new music, 2017 was an extraordinary year. Wish you happy holidays boys and girls and see you next year 😉
11. Various Artists — Kale Plankieren: Dutch Cassette Rarities 1981-1985 Volume 1 LP [Knekelhuis]
One of the finest compilations of synth and coldwave around. Selection from the label’s boss Mark van de Maat. We recently saw him performing live with Parrish Smith as Volition Immanent, brutal, powerful, extreme music and Mark was jumping around half-naked. And then you see his Facebook profile picture, a calm guy in glasses. You can feel such contrasts in this record also — music in the dark tones, occult, underground coldwave and new wave it feels intelligent at the same time and even warm inside. The DIY scene of Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrecht, The Hague, and Zwolle. Some of it sounds familiar — for example, Necronomicon’s track The Top is very close to the sound of Richenel 12″ on Music From Memory. It’s because these artists were creating their music almost at the same time, sometimes sharing a label (like Richenel and Necronomicon on the Fetisj) or even gigs (like Necronomicon and Rite De Passage). The stylistic range and tempos are very diverse — from the peculiar ballad from Y Create, iconic synth dance of Rite De Passage, Rotterdans’ insane industrial lullaby to funky sundown of Necronomicon and the funniest headless rhythm of Plus Instruments. A must-have.
10. DJ Normal 4 & Bufiman — The 5 Elements EP Pt. 1 12″ [Aiwo rec.]
Amazing Aiwo rec. is a relatively young enterprise by Volkan Simonic & co from Dusseldorf that absorbs this city young talents in the studio to help them grow their own projects or create something unique together. Last year the Forum record was a great success. This year the crew pulled out two more, and we picked only one into this top: the first part of a collaboration between our faves DJ Normal 4 and Bufiman. Ohh! The Bufiman’s remix of Wind Spell is a solid Remix Of 2017 contender. New agey ultraviolet atmosphere, classic Jan’s primeval vocal samples, live and breathing breakbeat, a lot of sunshine, some extra unknown bird voice giving that crazy hook, impressive breakdown, oh man! True emotions in an original musical form made by geniuses. What else we have here? Moody Water Delusions opens the record. Heavy tribal with jaw harp and basic 90s house keys in Dance Of The Toads. And also atmospheric slash drum-n-bass remix from Schumacher on Wind Spell.
9. Pender Street Steppers — Raining Again 12″ [Mood Hut]
And they are back! After a long break, Canadian duo released one of their finest piece of music. Warm disco drums, creepy synths and the bass open this record with a charm, the guitar solo later confirms this 12″ is really special. Strange warm, almost Balearic feeling is inside of it. All five tracks are original, different style. Dub in both dark and light tones, proto Italian house, slow disco. Filled with airy keys, funny back vocals, relaxed feeling and sort of vague nostalgia. It’s a long-awaited record!
8. Tapan – Europa 2xLP [Malka Tuti]
Nebojsa Bogdanovic and Goran Simonoski’ debut album on Malka Tuti is a titan work. Mostly live music with electronic beats and effects. The music of Tapan reflects the complicated background of the country it’s made in, there’s also heavy Balcanic influence in it. It also sounds like a music for some theatrical piece. The record for an immersive listening experience. Powerful, dubby, rough, epic, smoky.
7. Various Artists — Five Years Of Loving Notes 2xLP [Antinote]
Time goes very fast. Hard to realize how many times I watched Syracuse’ live on label’s 2 years party. Everything changed since then. Many new faces appeared, there was Antinote showcase at Boiler Room. But the love is still in my heart. Tracks sequence on the comp reminds me the take-off strip. First 5 creating robust and light as clouds foundation. Firm analog minimalism from Domenique Dumont and Stephane Laporte worked well here. Raphael Top-Secret, Kogut, Nico Motte and D.K. added tropical delights. Tracks number 6 and 7 are frontier dividing the compilation. Sublime ambient with luxuriant inflorescences of New Age from Shirabe (Warm&Easy) and Nico Motte (Cap De Creus) is the point of summarizing and values rethinking. Like the soul jumped out of the body and flying and observing over it. Since the 8th track, Antinote muscles are in full effect. Stylish intellectual Iueke instantly awakens from meditation with his track Giza. Then Detlef Weinrich screws massive Raut with surgical precision. One of the comp’s fave tracks is a work of Leonardo Martelli — sucking psychedelic house, bringing back into the 90s like in a portal. Metromind from Geena for me is sort of peak-time moment here, it squeezed a tear and reminded that the whole epoch changed. While Natsukashii, The Simplists and Alek Lee created three alternative finals. First is a futuristic melodrama, second — western ending and third — post-industrial road movie. Congratulations Zaltan and company, don’t stop!
6. Jan Van Den Broeke — 11000 Dreams LP [Stroom]
Speaking of labels, it’s easy to pick Stroom as our favorite this year. Ziggy aka Nosedrip and company dig deep in the Belgian “back catalogue” and “private” music to amaze you with every release put together with so much love. We picked a compilation of different projects of Jan Van Den Broeke in our annual top: his solo works under June 11 moniker, The Misz project with Dries Decocker (they released 4 synthwave in the middle of the 80s on Misztapes). Of course, there are tracks from Absent Music alongside Joëlle De Bock, Philippe Van Keymeulen and Renée Lodewyckx. Our musical bro Ziggy Devriendt compiled this private minimal synth, new age and abstract craziness on our fave Belgian imprint Stroom. There are a lot of very minimalistic, touching, candid and personal songs, like My Lesbian Girlfriends, for example, fragile synthetic preach. Or The Monkey House, true Balearic house vibe, quality and fresh sound. Guys were adding darbuka, shakers, guitars and of course synths somewhere. The music of genius. Who Is Still Dreaming made me cry, it’s a true hymn of every unstoppable searcher, the music of whom we’ll write, a timeless music.
5. Odopt — Belgrade 12″ [Discos Capablanca]
The headline of the recent Mixmag interview with Odopt boys, Grisha and Ivan, was “less is better”. It’s their essential idea to put out just the music they are confident about on the labels they love. So after last year’s hit on Born Free, Odopt released its second 12″ on Discos Capablanca. Belgrade, the name of the record, is a special city not just for the boys and the label’s leader Hugo, but also for the whole music world today. Its name connected to the legendary parties at 20/44 and Drugstore, mad contemporary techno of 33.10.3402, the enigmatic Vladimir Ivkovic sets, epic electronica of Tapan. Alien background sounds, rough beats and madmen’s vocal parts perfectly open the 12″. It’s a special pleasure to know the magical connection between the hypnotic edit in Croque Trans Croque and our blog, maybe you will also find it out after listening the podcast of Shiny Boots 😉 Rex Ingram finally screws up the nuts with its combination of industrial techno rhythm and unexpected cocaine disco parts. Look forward to the news from Odopt next year!
4. Céline Gillain – What Happens If I Open My Mouth? [Lexi Disques]
This particular record on Lexi Disques was a late discovery through some Robert Bergman’ mix. This label from Brussels releasing music on 7″, you should check their catalogue – there’re a lot to find. The artwork (created also by Céline) depicts the enigmatic quality of the music, the extra minimalistic production of I Can’t Connect simply strikes you. Ritualistic, alarming, modern and dark, it’s really one of the best songs this year. On the flip side, Céline asks some questions over the tribal dub peppered with pitched vocals. Sort of sacred rhythm you know?
3. Rites Of Passage — Untitled EP 12″ [Bore Hole]
This release grabbed our attention this spring and now it finally gets the physical shape. The Bore Hole label, a baby of Julia «Gestalt Player», Rustem «XAN» and Sasha Tsereteli, released one of the strongest 12″ of 2017. Kirk Stephane aka Rites Of Passage recreates his own world in 6 tracks. Analogue madness is controlled here by some strange rules, textures are rich, the atmosphere is almost apocalyptic. Structures vary from hazy lo-fi ambient to hammering dancefloor tribal. Industrial shapes are combined with a perfect sense of melody and primordial rhythms. This record is a catapult into another dimension, dirty, aggressive and claustrophobic but the one you want to stay in.
2. Bionda E Lupo — Die Kinder Aus Dem Park 12″ [Charlois]
This charming duo debuted last year with EP on Bordello A Parigi. Now we are bathing in smooth lines and soft tones of their second record on Charlois. One of the key figures on industrial, cold, dark minimal scenes now, his monumental knowledge, intelligence, fantasy give him power to create music using Dunkeltier, Sneaker DJ and Gino “Der Hammer” Galan alter egos. The first track is epic Zug Der Vogel. I played it in all recent sets and thinking about the set mixing only this record with itself. This tracks should not have finish point. Then we hear Twoi Glasza — chic, bright, energetic but lost cold wave. Then — great cover on Liaisons Dangereuses — Los Niños Del Parque, lean, rosy and strong. The Bionda vocals reaches majestic notes in the final Eckstein. Divine record.
1. Job Sifre – Worries 12″ [Artificial Dance]
The result of well-done business between two locals, the debut record on Interstellar Funk’ label from a young Amsterdam’s talent Job Sifre. You may know the boy from his Antikunst show on Red Light Radio. And this 6-track EP is a powerful statement. Complex, musically rich electronic body music, it sounds both modern and vintage at the same time. Pulsating industrial and screwing slow tempo electro put everything in its right place. Job spits sparse words between cigarette puffs in the opening track. Apocalyptic funk melodies from the unknown underground clubs of the future. Synths, flying objects and CGI are synchronized. Another debutant and another record of the year!
Words Sasha Tessio (11, 10, 9, 8, 5, 4, 3, 1), Artem Ikra (7, 6, 2)
GIFs Turbo Mamba