And what a year it was!
Music, whether listening to, dancing to, digging and filing records has once again been my drug of choice, keeping me sane and smiling always. Countless hours were spent week in week out socialising, dancing, listening, debating, upgrading audio, etc from the natural hub that has become Brilliant Corners, which has now completed its first year in style -and we’re all ready to keep growing and push things forward. Too many great memories in that space to mention, but on a personal note playing alongside Floating Points back in March was a definite highlight (what a master!), as well as a private after party post Journey Through the Light back in June, house party style…the Klipschorns were literally singing that night. The man Tako Reyenga (of Red Light Records / Music From Memory, more below) also played the best DJ set I’ve heard all year. Inspiring!
Our Beauty & the Beat parties have kept on growing and evolving, selling out every time and culminating with a 17 hour (!) NYE/NYD marathon to ‘celebrate’ the closure of our home for the last 5 years, the New Empowering Church. Unforgettable. Those moments are what I live for, simple. With the best crowd around and such a great momentum, we will hopefully find a new suitable venue soon, at least before our 10 years anniversary in June (!).
Big shout-outs to all my family in Japan too! 2 trips this year, and fantastic gigs everywhere, from Tokyo to Fukuoka. Most importantly I finally got the privilege to experience Precious Hall in Sapporo, and this lived up to all my expectations and beyond. Built on love, this is clubbing at its pinnacle. More visits to follow this year hopefully!
On a sadder note, we’ve also closed the doors of the legendary Plastic People, a club which I frequented weekly, religiously, between 2001 and 2007 or so for Abdul Forsyth‘s Balance nights, where I got most of my schooling musically. A club where arguably the best party I’ve ever been to (François K in 2003, giving everyone a masterclass in djing) happened, and where I held residencies with Voices for many years. A club that defined the tastes of many making waves today. End of an era for sure, even if the spirit lives on.
In terms of quality it was a year as rich as any other, possibly the year where I spent most on new music in a while (that is saying something). My winners are undoubtedly Gigi Masin (1 dream of a compilation and 2 lps of blissful new material in the same year!), Andras Fox (he’s been on a roll for a couple years now, provider of soul music of the highest order) and the labels Aficionado and Music From Memory. Full points to Phil South‘s increasingly impressive Golf Channel too, with records like the Mind Fair lp, DJ Nature lp or the New York Endless 12″ not even mentioned below! Quality control stuck on (very) high!
Apologies for the long list that follows, but it’s only goodies 😉
I can think of 8 records that were unmissable this year, and obviously I’m only talking about what I’ve heard…so much good (and bad!) music out there it is impossible to be exhaustive.
Roisin Murphy – Ancora Tu
My (not so) secret weapon of the year (thanks to a tip from Phil Mison), which came out at the perfect time in my life in a midst of an obsession with Lucio Battisti and a burgeoning Italian love affair. Shivers down my spine kinda business, I usually start melting when the lyrics “amore mio” come in…Miss Murphy proves one more time that she is, indeed, a goddess. How I managed to live that long without this tune I do not know. ‘In Sintesi‘ off the same EP was also a big hit in the summer, an original italo disco tribute with once again Roisin’s sensual singing in Italian. Ti adoro!
Montezumas Rache – Wu Du Wu
”First release on Music From Memory’s sub label Second Circle.
The music in the play “Wu Wu You” is based on a very old ghost dance. The sounds added to the music symbolise the omnipresence of spirits”. I can only add that it sounded exceptional on NYD circa 1pm! Trance music of the highest order.
Abel Lima E Les Sofas – Corre Riba Corre Baxo
Likely to be my most played record of the year, as big as ‘Shaka Bundu’ was last year (which means huge!), an irresistible dance-floor banger from Cape Verde that sounds like the definition of ‘Beauty & the Beat’. Midnight record at NYE too. Huge props to Sofrito for unearthing this instant classic.
Claudette & Ti Pierre – Zanmi Camarade (Tropical Treats edit)
Sofrito killer find of the year #2, this time from Haiti (though you wouldn’t tell), and again ubiquitous everywhere I played. This sounds like nothing else, with haunting vocals (somehow sounding like Edith Piaf in créole) that come alive a big system, instantly comforting arpeggiated synth chords and a simple yet hypnotic drum beat…what a treat indeed.
Andras & Oscar – Music Is My Life
Mr Fox has been on a roll all year, so much so that I could include at least 3 of his productions in my top 10 (listen also to So Glad, his remix of Onyricon’s Sweet Dream – see below – and his Cafe Romantica mini lp). Simple recipe, like Larry Heard as his best, big balls on the bassline, lots of space , soulful vocals and a groove to die for. This nugget turned into a bit of an anthem for me in the last few months of the year.
Nenad Markovic – Weather
From the very first chord you know this is gonna be a special record, with a synth pad sounding as warm and analogue as can be, super fat, and slowly morphing into an instant balearic deep house classic. The whole lp is also well worth a listen, with 3 other great tunes on it.
Denaji – Wuhti (DJ Sotofett‘s Bhakti Crew Mix Feat. Paleo Logos)
This one came out in early January but didn’t slip under the radar. One of the most unique records of the year, sounding fresh and devastating on a dance-floor. Superb packaging too, as usual with Firecracker.
Deep 88 & Melchior Sultana – Lightwave (Dream 2 Science remix)
THE deep house masterpiece of the year, Dream to Science doing what he does best, blissful morning music that is (sorry no link as of yet).
On top of the above there were a lot more great records that came out, so here’s a (not so) little selection of my favorites, in an order that could well form a nice little mix.
Sad City – Apricot
Deep, ambient, organic sounds, field recordings, cinematic music by Glaswegian Gary Caruth on Phonica’s own label. ‘Introduction To Lisboa’ / ‘Sloe’ is a sublime E.P. and great follow-up to last year’s already majestic ‘You Will Soon Find That Life Is Wonderful’ 12”. Did you say apricot?
Woolfy – 17
Woolfy returns on top form with this balearic beauty, sounding equally dreamy on a Sunday afternoon at Brilliant Corners or in the last hour of Beauty & the Beat. A treasure.
Mark Barrott – Baby Come Home
The very definition of balearic if ever there was one, nice and melodic but not cheesy, with an almost hip hop beat – a definite call to the beach.
Moodyman – Cosmic Slope
I blinked and missed the Moodyman lp, but at least I grab a copy of this, a rework of Funkadelic’s Cosmic Slope like only KDJ knows how.
Silver Linings – Sleepless
UK Soul and boogie on the A side, electro funk on the B side, through the modern ears of Benny Badge’ straight outta Melbourne. Hot.
Acid Square Dance – Summer Jam
One of the first records to take me out there in the spirit world during my first solo changa experience. Floaty, hazy yet summery jam indeed.
Onyricon – Sweet Dream (Andras Fox rmx)
Andras Fox one again doing his thing, a balearic masterpiece in this case. Unstoppable, on a label (Aficionado) that keeps on giving (see also pretty much anything by Max Essa, whom I criminally omitted from this list). All 4 mixes on this 12” are dope. Peerless. See also ‘So Glad’ on his ‘Vibrate on Silence’ EP, and ‘Looking Back’ (some great moves and a cool hat too!) on Cafe Romantica.
Apiento & Co – E.S.P. (Lexx Escape From the Island remix) (sorry no link as of yet)
Paul Byrne of the bible that has become the Test Pressing blog teams up with Ian Tregoning of Yello fame and balearic idol Lexx and came up with this deep house beauty. And yet another winner for Golf Channel (on a similar tip seek also New York Endless’s A Consultant’s Agreement).
Afrobuddha – Zone
My brothers Kay Suzuki and Koichi Sakai built this hypnotic, organic mid tempo drum workout to get you in the zone (in space that is). Huge at BATB, obviously.
Talamanca System – Balanzat (Tuff City Kids Remix)
Big with the balearic brigade and for a good reason. The original mix sounds like Soft House Company circa 92, and the remix by Tuff City Kids is massively uplifting on any dance-floor, with or without any beach in sight.
Tornado Wallace – Circadia
Dreamy, original, mysterious, tropical house on the ever excellent ESP label. To file with Young Marco.
Sandman & Riverside – Into Your Story (Kai Alcé DISTINCTIVE Vocal Remix)
Bad ass ‘organic’ vocal house, great vibes and a lot of soul on this serious jam, already a classic.
Taro Tokugawa – Here My Dear
Don’t know much about this one apart from the fact that this has been ‘discovered’ by Samo DJ (whose KWC92 Dream of a Wall City O.S.T. from year was a masterpiece). A deep house beauty.
Floating Points – King Bromeliad
You can only expect quality of the highest order with Sam Shepherd, be it production, depth, musicianship, originality etc. One of the best DJs around too without a doubt. Genius.
Mariam The Believer – Invisible Giving (Wolf Müller remix)
Wolf Muller is all about the drums, the space in the music, the trance, the voodoo, and this remix of goth pop idol Mariam The Believer joins all the dots with class.
Brain Machine – Heaven 8 (Unit 4 remix)
On a darker tip this is a superb remix of Brain Machine (one half being Jon Tye from Seahawks), made in 2008 but only released 6 years later thanks to Stuart ‘Chuggy’ Leath on one of his 3 (!) ever reliable labels.
Donato Dozzy – Test 3
Ambient melodic beauty that went straight on a mix for my mum. No need to say more. Test 7 (as remixed by Tin Man) is also great, on a dance-floor tip. Music for apricots.
Sven Weisemann – Falling Leaves
Majestic ambient / atmospheric tune, which does indeed sound great indoors looking out at the November rain, but I’d imagine would also on mediterranean beach at sunrise. Comes with a remix by Gigi Masin, also splendid.
Tempelhof / Gigi Masin – Hoshi
It is no mystery that all things Italian have made a strong impact on me (including a nose broken on some Italian rocks), and this is easily the album I came back to over and over this year. It’s organic, it’s warm, subtle and it’s got character. Classy, atmospheric, deep soundscapes to make love to on a sunny morning.
Matom – Love Mistakes
Criminally underrated, this record is the brainchild of Matt Edwards (Quiet Village, Radio Slave) and Thomas Gandey (Cagedbaby), recorded in the space of 2 days to celebrate the iconic Hansa recording studios in Berlin. Got a very atmospheric feel to it, slightly dark and jazzy, the perfect companion to a nighttime road trip. This has come as a total surprise to me, so good I bought the cd to my mum!.
Young Marco – Biology
One of the most interesting and original producers of the last 2-3 years has now made his debut album, and this is not to disappoint. Deep, dreamy, subaquatic (‘Sea World’), this is the sound of someone at the peak of his creativity.
Vaudou Game – Apiafo
Raw authentic afro funk from Togo via Lyon on Julien Lebrun’s Hot Casa label. Heavy! Très content!
A.R.T. Wilson – Overworld
Andras Fox once again, in a new age/ambient/soundtrack mood, one to meditate to. Sublime.
Gaussian Curve – Clouds
Gigi Masin, Jonny Nash and Young Marco got together for a week-end to make music…what could go wrong? Ambient masterpiece! It’s the year of Gigi!
Alice Smith – Love Endeavour (Maurice Fulton Mix)
This hasn’t left my bag since I grabbed a copy of the repress on Compost just before the summer. The tune of the year for me (even if this originally came out in 2006), played it every single party and always goes down a storm. Massive.
Poolside – Harvest Moon
Heard this for the first time played by James Murphy at his rather catastrophic Despacio event, this was the only record that sounded good then and indeed which sounds best on a high end sound system. A deep house remix of Neil Young should never work on paper, but it does and it’s a real treasure.
Justine & the Victorian Punks – Still You
Yet another ‘cover’ of Battisti’s ‘Ancora Tu’, a disco not disco type of record with a killer groove and vocals to die for. 5am classic at BATB.
Gigi Masin – Down to the Sea (Music From Memory)
Absolute masterpiece, amazing job from Music From Memory (look out for Joan Biblioni too) to unearth the genius that is Gigi Masin. Everyone needs this, timeless music that will make solves all your troubles. Everything is fantastic on this, if you buy only one record this year this is the one!
Witch – Movin’ On / Kuomboka
Double reissue of 2 LPs by this South African combo previously unknown to me. ‘To Be Felt’ was a signature tune of mine for a while, especially after Silvia noticed it when I played it at BATB in June a week after seducing her – a confirmation that this woman should be mine. ‘Erotic Delight’ is also a beauty, both re-issued by the ever reliable Invisible City Editions.
George Theodorakis – The Rules of the Game (Into the Light)
Again another relatively unknown genius to be brought into the light (sic); new age has never sounded so good.
Marti Caine – Love the Way You Love Me
A tune to make babies to, melts my heart every time. I somehow lost the (very collectable) original lp this was on, so thank God for Bill Brewster to have this reissued.
Francis Bebey – Psychedelic Sanza
2nd compilation of Francis in 2 years, possibly even better than the first one, which says a lot! Psychedelic Sanza indeed! ‘Bissao‘ is the one everyone plays (for good reason) but I love the jungle sounds of ‘Forest Nativity‘ too.
Fatima And The Mamluks – Yalla Yalla
Great work from Stuart Leath @ Emotional Rescue once again to dig out for this project from Georg Kajanus (unknown to me). A mix of new wave, synth pop and oriental influences, subtly updated by Razormaid on my favorite mix of the lot, “Hassan” (Razormaid remix). Possibly my favorite record cover of the year too!
Wild Fire – The Rebels
I’d been after this track since I first heard it on a mix by Invisible City Editions on Test Pressing. Unaffordable as a single, it was compiled by … on Tropical Disco Hustle, which I originally bought for the Waxist edit of Prince Blackman‘s Rockers Delight. Full points!
Destroyers – ‘Lectric Love’
Much welcome repress of this Salsoul oddity, a psychedelic soul nugget beautifully remastered which sounds like a lost Loft classic. Big!
More Italian goodness for me with this, one of those really rare holy grail type of records that finally and thankfully got reissued with love, thanks to Archeo Recordings. Both sides are great, ‘Je-Na’ being my favorite on a more balearic tip, and ‘Pagaia’ a Baldelli favorite, both mixed by Mariano Boncaldo of Klein & M.B.O fame. Another one for the beach!
Much has been said and better than I ever would about these giants; I’ll just bow and stick to the music.
FRANKIE KNUCKLES (Adeva – “What Do You Want From Me” (Frankie’s Deep Dub)
HORACE SILVER (“Won’t You Open Up Your Senses“)
BOBBY WOMACK (“If You Think You’re Lonely Now“)
IDRIS MUHAMMAD (“Could Heaven Ever Be Like This“)
Sandra Sa – Olhos Coloridos
Classic balearic nugget that got a revival last summer, in fact I was obsessed with this for most of the summer. When the vocals come in with the opening lyrics ‘Os meus olhos coloridos,Me fazem refletir’ I find myself fluent in Portuguese. Sounded immense at a few after parties too. Also belongs to the ‘Obsessions’ category above.
Djavan – Samuraï
Same as above, this time, but with the lines ‘Aaaaaiii…Quanto querer’ and ‘Mas eu tô tão feliz! Dizem que o amor Atrai…’! A massive pop record all over Brasil, feat no less than Stevie Wonder on the harmonica, and bit of an anthem around these parts last summer!
Coaty de Olivieira – Caminho Livre
A tip from my friend Waxist, feel good carnival disco/batucada vibe. If you don’t like this you are either deaf or dead.
Emilio Santiago – Vem Menina
Even better that Tania Maria’s original, great starter for any party anywhere.
All of the above and more are to be found on an all Brazilian mix I did for Test Pressing last summer 😉
Black – Van III / Tabanka
Both edits are huge and have been played a lot, on a balearic afro tip. Big up Nelson Gomes off Gala Drop for updating these 2 bombs.
Christy Essien – Rumours (Waxist edit)
A Chrissy Essien favorite gets the Waxist treatment to devastating effects on the dance-floor.
Rino Gaetano – Sfiorivano Le Viole (Lillo Carillo‘s Balearic Disco remix)
To finish this recap like it started, here’s another Italian goodie. Silvia turned me onto Gaetano only a couple months before this came out, a rework of Sfiorivano Le Viole that ups the tempo slightly and edits all the right spots to turn this into a nice little balearic nugget. Sounds like summer, I can even sing along to it (almost).
In 2015 I promise I won’t be using the word ‘balearic’ at all, not even once 😉