Best Tracks/Remixes/Mixes of 2012
We prove that 2012 was a great year for music by bringing you a list of our favourite tracks, remixes and mixes from the past twelve months. From Questlove to Chvrches and everything in between.
Danny Wright walks us through the best 25 tracks, Chris Donnelly through the 15 best remixes, and Simon Edmunds shares the best 10 mixes of 2012.
What a year!
25. Sharon Van Etten – 'Leonard'
Tramp was a wonderfully rich and evocative album, at times achingly personal, with Van Etten's voice cutting right through your heartstrings. And 'Leonard' – named after the influence of Leonard Cohen - was the intense stand out. Upliftingly powerful it zeroed right in on the heart, a gorgeous meshing of acoustic guitars and banjo made 'Leonard' a dreamy yet raw waltz.
24. Jessie Ware - '110%'
Jessie Ware's effortlessly modern pop may not have won her the Mercury Prize but '110%' was a vision of how future looking her music could be. Having worked with SBTRKT and Joker, '110%' paired her stylish but passionate voice with skittery beats and pitchshifted vocal samples (plus a Big Pun sample where he disturbingly raps about "craving [his] initials on your forehead"). Yet it's Ware's stunning vocal performance which helps this a bold and inventive pop song really shine.
23. Japandroids - 'The House that Heaven Built'
You could say that 'The House That Heaven Built' is typical Japandroids. A juddering, pummeling rock song, a call-to-action that has your hands thrown in the air whether they wanted to be up there or not, as you find yourself singing along: "And if they try to slow you down/ Tell them all, to go to hell." It's a prime example of what the band do best –distorted yet anthemic guitar rock and thick pounding drumbeats. And those "oh oh ohs" make it all the more irresistible.
22. xxyyxx - 'About U'
Marcel Everett, who goes by the name xxyyxx, is a prodigiously talented 16 year-old US producer making wonderful ambient, trip-hop. This is crisp electronic music that sounds effortlessly slick. 'About You' is the peak of what has come out of his young mind so far. Hypnotic dubby beats and a dreamy ethereal female vocal may seem to enthrall with the zeitgeist but he uses those ideas and takes them to another level. The looped samples, calming synth line and wub-wub bass line means once you're engulfed in his world you won't want to leave quickly.
21. Lapalux - 'Moments' (featuring Py)
The stunning highlight of When You're Gone EP (which in itself is one of the best EPs of the year), 'Moments' saw Lapalux mix his mellifluous production with London's Py's seductive vocals. Her voice is at times sultry, at others worked through machines as she sings about a past relationship. Underneath elements are brought in from the shadows, the song becomes more jagged and the dubstep-inspired bassline that comes in halfway through is the piece de résistance. It also showed that Brainfeeder can barely put a foot wrong.
20. Dirty Projectors - 'Gun Has No Trigger'
"…but the GUN HAS NO TRIGGERRRRRR" sings Dave Longstreth over a barren, faintly R'n'B sound. That's basically all there is. That it was so magically mesmerising is a tribute to the way they can take these elements and make something so perfectly formed and dramatic. The magic is created with just a few picked out bass melodies, a knife sharp beat and beautifully cooing backing vocals. Sometimes that's all you need.
19. Polica - 'Wandering Star'
Autotune, hey? It may have ruined some songs but for Polica it provides an extra dimension with her voice weaved into stylishly melancholic shapes. Swathed in echo and reverb, Give You The Ghost is a record that feels both forlorn and hopeful. 'Wandering Star' is maybe the most explicit in showing the former. Leaneagh's voice floats over spacey synths and she sings "I sit alone in my lonely bed and I think about the day we had. It makes me sad cos you're gone." It ends with her ruminating on how "Now the world turns around me." It's hauntingly beautiful.
18. AlunaGeorge - 'Just A Touch'
Since Aluna Francis and George Reid fused their first names to become AlunaGeorge they've made the sort of deceptively complex though catchy electro/R'n'B (whatever you want to call it) you always seem to be waiting for. 'Just a Touch' begins with squelchy beats, before Aluna joins the fray and steals the show. She seems in melancholy mood: "I don't want to be your shadow... I don't want to kill the mood," yet her vocals make you feel she always brings the party. Then comes the massive chorus and you realise they've got another banger on their hands.
17. Grimes - 'Genesis'
I'll admit it, when that synth line comes in I get goosebumps every time. Simply, 'Genesis' is a stunning pop song, nothing but modern but still evoking feelings of nostalgia for some world you can't place. It's a track of shimmering textures and spaced out wonderment. What gets you is how startling beautiful it is - all spacey beats, seductive synths and otherworldly vocals. The fact that it seems so charming and unaffected just makes it all the more irresistible.
16. Holy Other - 'Held'
Taken from the album of the same name, 'Held' was aptly named. It was a deep embrace, warm and enveloping, a beat that wraps you in a warm blanket of noise. Built upon throbbing vocals and smooth beats it seemingly glides by but carries you along in its wake. Then, halfway through it slowly implodes, elements get removed without reducing its moody impact until by the end it's clear that he's produced something you'll return to again and again.
15. How to Dress Well - 'Ocean Floor For Everything'
Luscious. That's the word that keeps going through my head when I listen to 'Ocean Floor For Everything'. The first single off Total Loss helped create a dreamy submerged landscape you could get lost in. It's all the swirling lo-fi beauty of the landscape and the slow-motion swoon. Tom Krell knows what he's doing – this is an utterly mesmerising song that's as beautiful as it is mournful.
14. Purity Ring - 'Fineshrine'
'Fineshrine' is a song of contrasts. Its sunny, dreamy sounds wrestle with Megan James' lyrics about wanting her lover to "make a fine shrine" inside her body. The hypnotising, hiccupping beat soundtracks lyrics like 'cut open my sternum and poke my little ribs around you'. But, you know, it all works so well and the stuttering, swirling melody and slightly too explicit lyrics weave together to form something beautiful.
13. Crushed Beaks - 'Breakdown'
'Breakdown' was the song where the scuzz-rockers showed that underneath all that fuzz was beautiful restraint and swooning beauty. And who can stop themselves from falling for those 'awoo-oo-ooohs'? It both wintry and sun-drenched, a dreamy lament to a wish that you feel won't be seen through. And then just as you wonder where the garage scuzz had gone, the song goes out in a blaze of garage-rock glory.
12. Kendrick Lamar - 'Swimming Pools (Drank)'
Space-Rap's (yeah, I said it) great new hope certainly came up with the goods on 'Swimming Pools' (Drank). The track is a woozy, claustrophobic slice of noir-rap that's somehow manages the trick of being dense and dark while still feeling like a chart bound pop hit. Lamar addresses dark lyrical themes with an unstoppable flow, over a thick, hypnotic beat from T-Minus. He even refers to himself in the third person and pulls it off. One of the rap game's hottest rising stars lived up to the hype.
11. Rustie feat. AlunaGeorge - 'After Light'
And we see AlunaGeorge return once more to the list – this time adding her skillz to a slice of bombastic and bass-tastic pop from Rustie. He tones down (slightly) his ultra-maximalist approach to create this sensual track, which shimmers and sparkles. George's presence helps build the track and she stamps her personality on it which is no mean feat considering Rustie opens his box of tricks to create a massive chorus of bouncing bass and odd noises. Pop, but not as we've known it.
10. Chvrches - 'The Mother We Share'
Where did this come from? A piece of perfect synth-pop so infectious that as soon as it finished you pressed repeat straight away. 'The Mother We Share' seemed simple enough: bouncing synths, angelic sing-song vocals and underlying melancholy. But that's the point isn't it? Something this simple is always almost impossible to get right. More songs like this please.
9. Jai Paul - 'Jasmine'
Excitingly disorienting and echoing through your head for days, 'Jasmine' showed that, when he got around to it, Jai Paul can put out spectacularly woozy pop tunes. It's the type of song that makes you think your ears are drunk. The distorted bass and chopped up slinky synths are mixed into an exhilarating cocktail topped off with Paul's winning croon. It all makes for a gorgeous slice of sweetly overpowering wonky-pop.
8. Death Grips - 'Get Got'
They signed a deal with Epic, they released their album to fans before Epic knew about, they got dumped by Epic. That's what Death Grips' year will be remembered for (that and some brutally intense live shows). But before that they released 'Get Got', full of rat-a-tat intensity and sonic distortion. Just like those live shows this was a machine gun percussion and a hundred miles an hour stream of stuttery aggression. Death Grips feel like they're playing an inch from your ears – the best way of getting in your face.
7. Diplo & Usher – Climax
Diplo describes it as "some next level electrosoul," Usher calls Diplo's contribution another "strip club classic." Whichever way you want to describe it Climax is the song on which the duo took it up a notch for R&B. Usher's sex-obsessed lyrics are allowed to soar on a beautiful bed of sonic artistry – swooshing across the background they parp and whisper as Usher's voice gets more sultry and his mind dirtier. Luckily you can wash yourself in Diplo's smooth sonic bath. (Or something like that).
6. Liars - 'Brats'
If you haven't danced to Brats this year what have you been doing? When Liars returned with WXIXW it was immediately clear 'Brats' was their dancefloor filler (albeit from a warped other planet). It's a demented mix of dancebeats and off kilter noises and took Liars a place they'd never been before (which is an achievement in itself). An insistent earworm of a beat was processed through Liars' bizarre world and came out like this. A DFA disco number crossed with glitchy, trippy witchcraft. And it's as catchy as anything you'll hear this year.
5. Julia Holter - 'In The Same Room'
Rather aptly the video for 'In The Same Room' portrays the song through a dream sequence. And it's this world, that dreamy state between being asleep and being awake, that Julia Holter inhabits, none more so than on this song.
'In The Same Room' is in many ways perfect: a lullaby of layered vocals and wistful synths, achingly poignant and full of warmingly luscious ambient electronica. It's all the words music journalists like to throw around: soulful, ethereal, enchanting.
But beyond these slightly worthless platitudes this is fantastic because it blurs the lines between Holter's more abstract leanings and the idea of pop. This teeters beautifully in the middle, ambient bedroom pop that does everything it needs to do in under 4 minutes before elegantly disappearing into the night, its echoes rippling through your mind.
4. Kindness - 'House'
I'll admit it, it took me a while to 'get' Kindness. But something clicked one night listening to 'House' again. The soul and pop sensibilities kind of melded together and I realised that this was what it was - sincere, fun, odd pop music.
'House' is a lazily uplifting slice of soul, it's warm and genuine, touching on the familiar themes of love, loneliness and being there for someone else, but doing it with really heart. As the soulful chorus comes in and he sings "I can't give you all that you need / but I'll give you all I can feel" you can tell he really bloody means it. It's uplifting and spiritual without being preachy or overly sincere. Backed by a syncopated piano line, soothingly strolling percussion and affectionate production, the lyrics – "It's enough to say / you're getting older everyday / you ought to love someone / You break down and you pray / hoping something comes your way" – are universal. Why didn't I get this straight away?
3. Savages - 'Husbands'
That Husbands was Savages debut track seems astonishing. A shrieking, untamed beast of a song but still with that ice cold air of unblinking control (I think it's the motorik beat that does it), 'Husbands' is like the best bits of the best post-punk all glued together and allowed to grow into something different, something that could only be now, and could only be made by these four people.
If a song could stare you in the face it would be this. It's all there: urgency, drama, terror, isolation. This is what happens when the familiar becomes alien: "Saw the face of a guy/ I don't know who he was, he had no eyes – his presence made me feel ill at ease." Jehnny Beth sings like she's just opened Pandora's Box and nothing can be the same again.
As she screams "husbands, husbands, husbands" over and over you get the feeling the song could explode and come cascading out of the speakers. All you want or can do when it finishes is breathe, deeply.
2. Perfume Genius - 'Hood'
It takes Mike Hadreas just two minutes to split your heart into a million tiny pieces. On paper 'Hood' doesn't sound like much: a mournful piano ballad augmented by purposeful drumming that's all over in under-120 seconds.
But, as with many of Perfume Genius' tracks, it's all in the details and his bruised, beguiling voice that can convey a range of feelings in a single line. "You would never call me baby / If you knew me truly" he sings and you want to reach through the speakers and give him a hug.
This starkly intimate confession (we hear that he's 'ticking like a bomb') is fleshed out by the instrumentation and a stirring middle-eight which gives the song life and colour.
The melancholic beauty that Hadreas is able to create is captivating. Put Your Back N 2 It deals with big, dark issues and the fact that he's able to do it so elegantly is a testament to his immense skills - the fact that all this is imbued with a sense of hope is even better.
1. Frank Ocean - 'Pyramids'
What an amazing year it's been for Frank Ocean - Channel Orange was the work of a man who seemed so full of ideas and effortlessly cool your head fizzed with jealously and you'd hate him if he wasn't so darn charming. 'Pyramids' was the epic pinnacle. Like five different songs all melded effortlessly together, he created a blockbusting, sprawling space-funk odyssey. It's the song where you can see the breadth of his ideas and influences. It's soulful, dancefloor-inducing, sexy and introspective all at once. Almost 10 minutes long it was a space-aged juggernaut, taking on styles and then shedding them at will, but still managing to maintain a stylish focus.
Sonically and lyrically this is an epic journey moving you around in every direction possible. From ancient Egypt to the sleazy present day this is a trip through a fascinating mind; from the squelching synths of the funk intro to the neon electro shards and climaxing with the inevitable cosmic implosion.
If you've seen the surreal video for 'Pyramids', you'll know the weirdness doesn't stop there. It features Frank with a gun at a bar, in a strip club, riding a motorbike through the desert, and then running into John Mayer as they share a deep, guitar-soloing moment (obviously). Even this weird appearance makes a bizarre sense – it's the audacity of everything about this song, a track where anything seems like it could happen. And does. What else could really be song of the year?
15. The Cast Of Cheers - 'Family (Royal Scams Remix)'
The Cast Of Cheers managed to pack a pretty hefty punch over the past 12 months, cementing their place as one of the year's best guitar bands. The Royal Scams remix of 'Famly' features a pretty massive drum beat and subtle samples that swoop in before launching you into an oblivion of dubstep inspired rhythms. It's hard to drag yourself away from the mayhem behind this particular track.
14. Little Boots - 'Every Night I Say A Prayer' (Tensnake Remix)
Tensnake got to work on some pretty serious synthy overbites when he got to grips with 'Every Night I Say A Prayer' by Little Boots. The electro-orientated, funk-tinged remix has 80s written all over it. Sorry darling, looks like Tensnake's taken you the wrong way through time on this occasion.
13. Yelle - 'Chimie Physique' (Gold Fields Remix)
There's a massive house vibe to Australia's Gold Fields remix of Yelle' 'Chimie Physique', with upbeat keys, blissful choruses and fitting percussives pretty much oversahdowing the original cut (even if the remix loses some of the allure of Yelle's delicate French vocals).
12. Everything Everything - 'Cough Cough' (NZCA/Lines Remix)
Before Yannis and co. crept into the limelight again, Everything Everything emerged from wherever they'd been hiding. They brought the drum heavy 'Cough Cough' with them on their return, which NZCA/Lines quickly turned into a club-friendly hit. Wonderful.
11. SBTRKT - 'Hold On' (SiSi BakBak remix)
It's SBTRKT who normally produces something unworldly and unparalleled, but on this occasion SiSi BakBak produced a divine remix of the much loved 'Hold On'. The remix shreds the original with some insanely loopy drum beats, an eerie as hell collection of ambient sounds, and some dreamy vocals for good measure too.
10. Sleigh Bells - 'Demons' (Diplo Remix)
At number 10, Diplo gets stuck into a full-on remix of Sleigh Bells' 'Demons', using his entire production palette to produce something pretty incredible.
9. Soulja Boy - 'Pretty Boy Swag' (BADBADNOTGOOD remix)
Jazz trios don't often remix other peoples work (in the production sense anyway), so when BADBADNOTGOOD revealed they'd remixed Soulja Boy's 'Pretty Boy Swag', you'd be forgiven for expecting the worst. Thankfully they knocked it out of the park. Never have organ sounds had so much swag.
8. Friends - 'I'm His Girl' (AlunaGeorge Remix)
Finger clicks are in no short supply as AlunaGeorge remix 'I'm His Girl' by Friends, providing a raw edge with sturdy drum beats and steel drums. We're left with a bizarre cycle of gritty urban hip-hop and Caribbean infused choruses, which is probably a million miles from what you might expect the London duo to produce.
7. Sufjan Stevens - 'Futile Devices' (Shigeto Remix)
Shigeto's remix of Sufjan Stevens is like listening to a beautiful lullaby. The simple setup, finger clicks and rasping drums provide an unnerving atmosphere, with Sufjan's vocals transformed into a psychedelic haze. It's simple but effective.
6. Lianne La Havas - 'Lost and Found (Lapalux Remix)'
With such a successful year under her belt, producers from all over the world tried their hand at remixing 'Lost and Found' (and many other tracks from Is Your Love Big Enough). However, La Havas' bluesy vocals, combined with the production skills of Lapalux, meant the Essex-based producer trumped them all.
5. Frank Ocean - 'Thinkin Bout You' (Ryan Hemsworth Bootleg)
Where Frank Ocean's original specialised in a stripped back and mellow performance, Canadian producer Ryan Hemsworth steps things up a level with his 'larger than life' remix, whilst still maintaining the beauty of the original too.
4. Alex Winston - 'Choice Notes' (J£ZUS MILLION remix)
There's a deep sense of beauty in Alex Winston's original vocals, yet J£ZUS MILLION managed to carefully slip in some grimy and exciting rhythms into 'Choice Notes' without compromising what made the original so great. It's a travesty it's not been heard by more people.
3. LOL Boys - 'Changes' (Shlohmo Remix)
Not all remixes have to be bouncy, kids, and Shlohmo is here to prove it with his innovative reworking of LOL Boys' 'Changes', which features some industrial sounds and prolonged synths to create a pretty eerie vibe.
2. Usher - 'Climax' (Dave Sitek Remix)
It was back in July that Dave Sitek's remix of 'Climax' by Usher first broke cover, and within moments of hearing the first few beats, you can hear the dark urgings of brilliance rearing its head. There's no perfect formula to remixes, but Dave makes it sound like there is one; and he exploits it at every twist and turn.
1. AlunaGeorge - 'You Know You Like It' (Bondax Remix)
To choose between this and Dave Sitek's remix of 'Climax' was difficult, but in the end the heavier production, combined with Aluna Francis' warm vocal samples, just tipped the boat in the Bondax boys' favour. We've had this remix on repeat for months now, and it still sounds just as slick as it did on first listen. What more could you ask for?
10. Flying Lotus - BBC Mix Diplo and Friends
Flying Lotus had another stellar year in 2012, releasing yet another wonderful album with Until The Quiet Comes, as well as a hugely impressive rap mixtape under the previously mysterious alias of Captain Murphy.
This set for Diplo and Friends is somewhat of a victory lap after the release of Until The Quiet Comes, and it features a lot of music from that album, the songs taking on a different feel when seen as part of a mix, and Ellison includes enough surprises and great (mostly) track selection to make this a thoroughly enjoyable mix.
New track 'Flotus' is a blissful demonstration of the lighter and more accessible side of Ellison's music, his excellent collaboration with Earl Sweatshirt gets a welcome run, but it's the middle to end section where he goes through remixes of Frank Ocean, 'Niggas in Paris' and 'Hands on the Whee'l which really impresses.
All in all it's a great encapsulation of another brilliant year for Flying Lotus, produced with his trademark sincerity and joy he takes in creating music.
9. Peverelist - Sonic Router
This superb mix from Tom Ford aka Peverelist, head of Bristol's Punch Drunk label, is a dark, skittering dubstep and techno infused set from one of the most respected and forward-thinking producers in the underground scene.
Boundaries have become increasingly blurred post-dubstep, and Peverelist takes his fantastic innate rhythm to create a mix that blurs the boundaries between a whole host of styles, moving through dubstep and techno in a way that you often aren't quite sure how to classify what you are listening to, but its always dark and always bassy.
As Appleblim said of him in an interview with Dummy, "he's just got the groove. And then he can do whatever he wants."
8. Tensnake - FACT Mix
Marco Niemerski, the man behind the massive hit 'Coma Cat' and last year's party anthem that was his remix of Azari & III's 'Reckless With Your Love', delivered a wonderful set of disco and house for FACT back in July, which probably would've been the perfect soundtrack for places that had a summer.
Ranging from warm, upbeat house to some slightly harder moments in the middle, Niemerski's consistently engaging mix moves through tracks by Dusky, Mr Oizo to Julio Bashmore's Au Seve and Disclosure, the highlight maybe coming early on with Aril Brikha's lovely Sailor & I remix.
For a slice of warm and riff-heavy European house, you couldn't do much better this year than this Tensnake mix.
7. TNGHT - BBC Radio 1 Mix
It has been a big year for Hudson Mohawke, and his TNGHT partner, Montreal's Lunice. Their TNGHT project was incredibly well received on both sides of the Atlantic, the praise from America interesting in that it coincided with Hudson working with Kanye on his G.O.O.D Music album. Kanye also recently walked onstage at a recent TNGHT set in New York, and they also had Kendrick rapping (rather poorly it must be said) over banger-of-the-year 'Higher Ground' - all in all there is a real feeling that the music they are making with TNGHT will extend its influence (more than it already has) over both electronic music and mainstream rap production in the coming year.
This BBC mix is what they describe as their 'mission statement' and it's a collection of their influences, ranging from a lot of Southern rap to European bass - always loud, brash and engaged with the less subtle side of the musical spectrum. Tracks from 2 Chainz and Kanye sit alongside their own remixes of Waka Flocka and TNGHT tunes, the mix always feeling cohesive - mostly because their own productions are so influenced by Southern rap and such producers as Lex Luger, and with TNGHT they have announced themselves as potential go-to producers for those they were influenced by.
However the music they make is cleverer than descriptions might suggest, because there is a minimalist approach to what they do, and a hollow space between the heavy bass and that 'lonely snare' of trap music in their productions is a perfect fit with the excess, power and fame seen in rap, because it mirrors a certain hollowness at the centre of all this. One can see why Kanye, chief town crier on the excesses and hollowing nature of fame, came knocking, and one can see this side in their BBC mix which ends the mix with a melancholic Zodiac tune. But for the most part they just enjoy going pretty hard throughout, and that's a lot of fun to listen to.
6. Rustie - BBC Essential Mix
Rustie's massive Essential Mix is a maximalist, ADHD blend of eurphoric video-game-esque electronic music, hip-hop, R'n'B and dubstep delivered at a frenetic pace. It joins the dots between producers such as himself, Hudson Mohawke, Lunice and S-Type to the mainstream rap scene, their current rap producers in Clams Casino, as well as touching bases with Timbaland - focusing on where all these different cultures and sounds meet. It provided the landscape upon which Hudson's TNGHT project would connect with rap's mainstream by demonstrating the huge amount of musical crossover that occurs between current electronic music and rap.
It's a two hour sugar rush of a mix - all over the place, dizzying in it's pace and the ground it covers, but wonderful because of these things, and has such an unshakeable joy to it that sets it as a benchmark and manifesto for this new maximalist group of producers in that it clearly sets them as apart from the Burial-inspired darker dubstep sounds that have owned the electronic scene in recent years.
5. Questlove - J Dilla Tribute Mix Hot 97
Not a mix in the same way as the others on this list, but this hour long J Dilla radio mix by Questlove is simply too good to leave out. If you can stomach the DJ shouting sporadically over the mix, you'll find a lovingly put-together hour long mix showcasing Dilla's genius by one who knew him best. Questlove plays a whole host of classics spanning Dilla's whole career, but it's the rarities and lesser know tracks that might be unfamiliar that make this one so worthwhile - small 30 second clips that are so good one can't believe they weren't fleshed out into whole songs.
We also hear Questlove talking about some of the tracks, telling a story about the genesis of the bassline for Common's Rick James-sampling 'Dooinit', which serves as an encapsulation of what makes this mix so special - it's a tribute to one of the all-time great producers put together by one of his friends, and closest musical allies, that serves as a perfect introducing to new fans as well as extending the knowledge and appreciation of current fans.
You can download the mix by heading here.
4. John Talabot - FACT Mix
John Talabot released one of the dance records of the year with ƒIN, and this mix for FACT is the perfect companion to his beautiful album. Containing little of his own material, Talabot instead focusses on tracks from the like of Omar-S, Rekid and Beautiful Swimmers, showcasing his finely honed skills as a house DJ.
His music has the undeniable sheen of European cool, and this mix is no different - one can almost picture the beautiful Spaniards dancing - Talabot crafting over an hour of impeccable house music, and staying true to his style by never pushing it beyond certain level of intensity, always maintaining the very evocative and melancholic late-night, in want of another word, 'cool' his own music possesses.
His soul-tinged Sakarachi & Straneus remix is a highlight of this superb mix, one that stays with you because of Talabot's great talent for the consistent creation of a very particular type of mood and atmosphere.
3. Floating Points RA.301
In which Floating Points brings the disco in a big way. Not that that's the only thing he brings in this 2 hour mix for Resident Advisor however, instead Sam Shepherd effortlessly takes us on a sequenced journey through his influences by way a kind of history of the dance floor. Beginning in the 70's with disco and soul, moving into house of the 80's/90's, and into the present day post-dubstep sounds, then back for a disco/funk victory-lap, its a joyful mix, one that gives insight into Floating Points as an artist, but overall really feels like one for the listeners.
At almost 2 hours its one of the longest on this list, but it's so infectious that once you start it you just want to see it through each time, a characteristic that is rare with a mix this long.
Crowd-pleasing without ever compromising integrity, this is a beautifully mixed set with superb track-selection, and one you feel would be enjoyed by almost everyone, as well as being a stellar party mix.
2. Ryan Hemsworth LFTF
Although his recent FACT mix received more plaudits and coverage, this mix for LFTF is the Ryan Hemsworth mix of the year, and one of the most fun and enjoyable things that was released this year. Not dissimilar to Rustie's essential mix, Hemsworth produces a mix that reminds one more of Girl Talk mix with less ADHD and if the basis for most tracks were his own productions, and the results are staggeringly good.
It feels like a mix that has been worked on with meticulous detail rather than played live, like Rustie's does, but it is so seamlessly sequenced, the track pairing is so effortless and his own productions (featuring most from his Kitsch Genius EP) are so good that one never feels like it's the parts you know that are holding the mix together. He mixes Danny Brown with the theme to Donkey Kong Country (and it works), plays a 2-step remix of Mariah, throws in the Legend of Zelda theme, as well as finding time to play Disclosure's 'Running' remix, but what stands out is his own material which makes it is no wonder that his stock has risen so much since this mix was released. His FACT mix is also great, but it's on this one where he truly nails his craft and the joyfulness that results from him doing so is wonderful to listen to.
1. Nicolas Jaar - Essential Mix
"I've watched Jurassic Park twice in my life - once when I was six and the second time a couple of weeks ago. It inspired me to think about how gaps in time change our way of perceiving."
Nicolas Jaar's music has always been engaged with spaces, silences and time. In his breathtaking Essential Mix, Jaar turns the DJ mix into an art-form, creating a haunting 2 hour post-modern journey through the landscape of modern music.
The variety of music he covers is huge, touching bases with N'YSNC, classical pianist Keith Jarrett, Jay-Z, and baroque violin pieces. It begins with Angelo Badalamenti describing the process by which the Twin Peaks theme was born - in which David Lynch described a scene to Badalamenti from which he created a piano composition to fit the scene described by Lynch.
One can see why Jaar begins the mix with this, for not only does Jaar do his own spontaneous live-sampling of songs unknown to him, but also because his Essential Mix is concerned with music as the creation of atmosphere, mixing and placing seemingly disparate music together and in doing so creating something unique and genuinely moving.
Jaar does the policemen in different voices and uses fragments from a whole host of music to create a challenging, strange, beautiful and cinematic journey through modern music.